WWE Payback was one of the wilder shows of 2020 with a handful of newsworthy results. Considering WWE only had one week to build it up, this was an efficient pay-per-view that proved to be very necessary despite initially seeming rushed.
By nights end, three championships changed hands as several long-term storylines are either on their way to a payoff or just getting started.
Loser: Apollo Crews
After an impressive run as United States champion, Apollo Crews faced a stiff test in Bobby Lashley and unfortunately lost. After improving on the mic with every passing week and clearly gaining more confidence as a a rare credible WWE babyface, Apollo Crews now faces a setback.
With up-and-coming talent struggling across the board in WWE, Crews will need to tread water as best he can to avoid getting lost in the shuffle.
Winner: Big E
WWE finally seems to be catching on to what has been one of the most obvious choices for a few years.
Big E was given the proper time before, during and after this match to show his unique and transcendent skillset capable of carrying an entire promotion. The more WWE does right by Big E, the more he’ll reward them by becoming a universally accepted top babyface—the likes of which haven’t been seen since the early 2000s.
Winner: Matt Riddle
Matt Riddle picked up another big win, but this was only an overall minor success as WWE has now incorporated his marriage and personal life in this storyline. Even worse, after Corbin’s post-match attack, Riddle’s feud with Corbin appears to be continuing. Given WWE’s propensity for 50/50 booking, Riddle’s next match against Corbin doesn’t bode well.
Winner: Shayna Baszler
In an ingenious finish, Shayna Baszler submitted the two top women stars of the entire pandemic Sunday night at Payback. In doing so, she instantly returned to form as more of a monster and less of a vampire.
Baszler and Nia Jax are set up to follow the successful “odd couples” that has led to Team Hell No and The Rock and Sock Connection.
Winner: Keith Lee
Keith Lee had his best-case scenario play out after defeating Randy Orton clean and decisively. Much was made about Lee’s bungled debut this pas Monday, but initial overreaction is the product of WWE’s track record of squandering talent.
By having Keith Lee beat top heel Randy Orton, however, it has become crystal clear that WWE sees Lee as something special and intends on promoting him as such. As long as WWE avoids sabotaging Lee through 50/50 booking, Lee’s future on the main roster bodes well.
After taking a loss to Dominik Mysterio, WWE teased a potential split between Seth Rollins and Murphy as The Monday Night Messiah appeared visibly frustrated with his disciple. WWE has done little to build up Murphy alongside Rollins, as Murphy is typically used to get pinned whenever WWE wants to protect Seth Rollins.
If Rollins cuts bait with Murphy at this point, an otherwise promising on-paper pairing with a top star will have done nothing for Murphy’s career.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns followed up his shocking heel turn with a Universal Championship win as the hottest storyline in wrestling continues to captivate. RETRIBUTION has been nowhere to be found since Reigns returned, raising suspicion about a potential working relationship between the two sides.
SmackDown figures to continue its recent ratings rally with a heel Roman Reigns now a two-time Universal champion.