Who will win the war between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn? Will Vince McMahon give control of Monday Night Raw to Shane or Stephanie? Can the Phenomenal Challenger pull off the upset of The Guy to grab the WWE World Heavyweight championship?
All these questions and more will be answered at Payback (2016) live from the Allstate Arena in Chicago on Sunday night. Of course, the company is coming off its biggest pay-per-view event of the year, in WrestleMania 32 on April 3, so building off the success of “The Show of Shows” will be crucial for WWE, making Payback of even greater importance. Here, we go match by match, predicting the winners of each bout … and yes, there are bound to be surprises, which we take a stab at, too. Now, ring the bell!
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
If WWE wanted to, it could have Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn fight in every pay-per-view event across the entire calendar year and they would never get tired of it. This is seriously the feud that could live forever, with the mere sight of each other enough for KO and Zayn to rip each other apart. When this one is all said and done — the match, not the feud — we see KO bending the rules and scoring the win by any means necessary in what could be the WWE Universe’s favorite match on the card.
Prediction: Kevin Owens
U.S. Champion Kalisto vs. Ryback
Kalisto was able to keep Ryback at bay at WrestleMania 32 to retain his U.S. championship, but The Big Guy has been rolling since that loss. Ryback would like nothing more than to avenge that loss and feed on the U.S. gold. We think he’ll do just that.
Intercontinental Champion The Miz vs. Cesaro
Sheer physicality and superhuman strength have never been in question for Cesaro. Still, the King of Swing has always been thought to lack that certain “it” factor … and it’s because of his lack of a sticking personality. Over the course of April, though, WWE has done its part to allow Cesaro’s personality to pop. Instead, he’s been outshined by the likes of The New Day and more recently, The Miz and Maryse. Though the A-lister will wind up going for a ride, we expect The Miz to have just enough Kryptonite to get the best of the Swiss Superman. We could see the belt changing hands if there’s an instant rematch the next night on Raw, though.
Prediction: The Miz.
Tag Team Tournament Final: Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady vs. The Vaudevillains
The Tag Team champions, The New Day, saw how its future competition stacks up this past week on Raw. Now, the question is, will Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady or The Vaudevillains win the right to face them? For the sheer entertainment value that a New Day-Amore/Cassady feud can deliver alone, we’ll give them the slight nod in this Tag Team Tournament Final to declare the No. 1 contenders for the tag straps. Hey, all their joking and slick talk aside, The Realest Guys in the Room showed a lot by defeating the Dudley Boyz earlier in the tourney to get to this point.
Prediction: Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady
Vince McMahon Decides The Fate of Raw between Shane and Stephanie
Yes, this is dubbed as Vince McMahon choosing between his son, Shane, and daughter, Stephanie. What would add drama to the situation is if Triple H appears and requests control of Monday Night Raw for himself. After all, The Game could make the argument that he’s been more of a constant staple and pillar for the company than either of Mr. McMahon’s kids. But we see Vincent Kennedy McMahon’s decision going a slightly different way.
Prediction: The WWE CEO gives 50-50 control of Raw to Shane and Stephanie, perhaps giving each child 90 minutes to run the three-hour weekly program.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin
After breaking out to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32, Baron Corbin immediately took his talents to Raw the next night, only to have a meltdown after being counted out, viciously nailing Dolph Ziggler with the End of Days. The Showoff should suffer the same fate at the hands of the Lone Wolf at Payback.
Prediction: Baron Corbin
WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte (with Ric Flair) vs. Natalya (with Bret Hart)
This match may not carry its advertised luster if Ric Flair isn’t by his daughter’s side Sunday night. On Wednesday, the two-time WWE Hall of Famer was treated for a head injury at Logan International Airport in Boston in what’s being described as a bizarre incident by TMZ Sports. Bret Hart is slated to be in the corner of his niece, Natalya, so Flair’s presence is vital. We think The Hitman could help Nattie pull off the upset, but if that happens, we’d bet anything that Charlotte regains her title the next night on Raw.
Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho locked Dean Ambrose in the Walls of Jericho atop the announcers’ table on Raw earlier this week. But The Lunatic Fringe’s utter disregard for Y2J and what he has accomplished over his storied pro wrestling career should stand for something, right? Don’t be surprised if this is the match of the night.
Prediction: Dean Ambrose
World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles
WWE has done a solid job keeping us guessing over how the Bullet Club’s Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows will make their presence felt in this match between The Guy and his Phenomenal Challenger. While we can’t see Reigns dropping the World Heavyweight title so early into his, well, reign, we do think an interesting situation will shake out with AJ Styles and the Bullet Club.
We wouldn’t be surprised to see Anderson and Gallows turn on The Phenomenal One under the orders of Finn Balor, making a surprise appearance and planting the Bullet Club’s flag in WWE’s soil at the expense of Styles. By the way, do you know the Phenomenal Forearm that Styles nailed Reigns with on Raw? Well, what if Reigns were to meet that move with his own leaping Superman punch? What an ending that would be.
Prediction: Roman Reigns