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Immediate WWE Payback Thoughts

So... how long before the "Will CM Punk show up?" rumors begin circulating tonight?

Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus in a Steel Cage Match was the perfect opener for this type of show. Hard-hitting action, and there were more than a few moments where it felt like a legitimate struggle to escape the cage. While Zoe Stark's interference was a given, the way it played out still added to the drama of the match. The Man badly needed this win, and I'm glad they had the right finish. Wasn't a huge fan of the Stark-Stratus aftermath, but I get why it happened.

Not sure why they wouldn't have announced John Cena as the special referee last night instead of the "hosting" stuff. That would have been a far better promotional tactic. Stll, the interaction between Cena and The Miz was fun for old times' sake.

LA Knight vs. The Miz was a big test for Knight to prove he was more than just a catchphrase, and he did well. I do have to say, though, that Miz has been getting a lot more aggressive in the ring this year, which has definitely added something to his game. Cena was a decent referee, too, which helped the pace of the match. Not great - but watchable.

While Rey Mysterio vs. Austin Theory was arguably the greatest Cinnamon Toast Crunch Match in modern history... I'm not sure why this one was on the PPV. It felt like an episode of SmackDown.

A Becky Lynch vs. Tiffany Stratton feud? Hmmm... interesting.

Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. Finn Balor & Damien Priest was way better than it had any right to be. I was expecting a fun brawl, but it ended up having some massive moments, including the hockey spots, the Terry Funk tribute, the dive off the balcony and of course the genius interference from Dominik Mysterio, JD McDonaugh and Rhea Ripley. Fantastic piece of work.

Cody Rhodes on The Grayson Waller Effect seemed a bit random at first, but given the Jey Uso news, it makes a bit more sense. And I'm truly glad that they have recognized the singles potential of Jey Uso, not just for more match but for the longer term.

Racquel Rodriguez vs. Rhea Ripley was pretty skippable and nothing special. I'd really like to see them put Ripley against a better opponent already - is it too early to start thinking about a Becky Lynch feud?

Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura told a fairly consistent story... but the match was plodding and not worthy of a PPV main event. Perhaps it's because I really wanted to see Nakamura win here (it would have made for a nice switch-up for a while), but this one just didn't keep my interest. Yes, it continues to show Rollins as your workhorse champion, but they could have accomplished that in a more exciting way.

The Steel Cage and Streetfight matches were pretty awesome tonight.... but the rest was kind of middle of the road, especially given WWE's track record with PLEs this year.


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