WWE: Payback 2013 DVD Review

Occupying a holding spot on the WWE pay-per-view calendar (the post-Mania glow has subsided by June and we’re not yet at the double whammy of Money In The Bank and SummerSlam), Payback may not have been the most “important” WWE show we’ll see this year but it has to be up there as one of the most entertaining and it’s well worth a second look on DVD.

Built largely around it’s “Double” Main events, Payback certainly delivered in one of them. In his first match back since WrestleMania, hometown hero CM Punk tangled with Chris Jericho in not only the match of the night but a sure-fire contender for match of the year. Of course the “best in the world” verbal battle between these two is largely irrelevant (even within the confines of the WWE…hello there Daniel Bryan) but the chemistry between the two was immense and this was a top quality match that beat anything they served up during their 2012 feud. Being in Chicago the atmosphere was white-hot as well. The moves and counter-moves the two put on had the crowd on their feet in the final stretch and there were a number of occasions when we all thought the match was over only for there to be yet more dramatic twists. Credit goes to both men for a fantastic display.

The other half of the Double main event was less successful, but then again it did include Ryback challenging for John Cena’s World Title in a Three Stages of Hell match. Whilst no-one expected a 45 minute dramatic classic a la HHH/Austin, there was the feeling that three falls of Ryback is at least two too many for one night of action. Fall one was a Lumberjack match which at least gave Cena the opportunity to make a dozen or more lumberjacks sell for him at once as he dove off the top rope, in what was an impressive spot to be fair. Ryback won the first fall, clean, in eight minutes which was both momentous and faintly ridiculous given Cena’s win/loss record, but the drama has to be ramped up for falls two and three, right?

Fall two was a tables match which was perhaps most memorable for the large “Goldberg” chant directed at Ryback by the mischievous Chicago crowd. Cena naturally evened things up so we could get the third and deciding fall in an Ambulance Match. Ryback declined to sell the table spot and the two went almost straight back at it. The addition of the ambulance into proceedings at least livened things up and there were a number of creative spots in the vehicle, culminating in Cena hitting the Attitude Adjustment on Ryback on top of the Ambulance. It was a decent enough brawl but couldn’t hold a candle to the other half of the main event. Still, it was far from the train-wreck some might have imagined beforehand.

What really made Payback as an overall show however, was the supporting cast of title defences. From top to bottom it was never less than solid. The three-way opener for the Intercontinental Title between The Miz, Cutis Axel and Wade Barrett was expertly executed and built it’s way to an exciting and perfectly timed finish. All three men busted a gut to open the show in the right way and they succeeded. What was even more surprising was the quality of the Diva’s Title match between Kaitlyn and AJ that followed it. Telling a logical storyline, tailoring the action to the capabilities of the wrestlers and giving them adequate time (ten minutes) to do it properly, this was one of the best women’s matches in long, LONG, time in the WWE. Everything was timed well and the big moves hit their spot, the only real downside was the lack of compassion by the Chicago crowd who even when Kaitlyn was close to tears afterwards serenaded her with a touching rendition of “you tapped out”. Smart crowds are all well and good but Kaitlyn deserved the “correct” reaction from the fans given her efforts here.

The Shield were involved in two separate matches which were decent without ever really getting going. Dean Ambrose’s United States Championship match against Kane lacked a bit of chemistry between the pair and featured something of a 1980s finish as Ambrose won by count-out after a DDT to the arena floor on the Big Red Machine. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns against Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton was better, but suffered from it’s position on the card (after Punk/Jericho) and the fact that it seemed more about the potential for internal discord between the challengers rather than the match itself. Still, it was more than watchable.

The other match on the card was perhaps the strangest of the night as Alberto Del Rio defeated Dolph Ziggler to regain the World Heavyweight Championship in a result few saw coming. Revolving largely around Del Rio taking storyline advantage of Ziggler’s very real concussion injury the match was good, but slightly restrained as a result. As a piece of storytelling though it was very effective and paved the way for a double-turn that was probably the right thing to do given Del Rio is better as a heel and fans were itching to cheer for Ziggler too.

As an all-round card of action, Payback was a very good night of WWE indeed. Absolutely nothing was a struggle to watch and whilst it might be true to say that only CM Punk/Chris Jericho really excelled with their Match of the Year candidate, the Intercontinental and Diva’s title matches were some of the best in their respective divisions for some time and the two World Title matches offered up different forms of entertainment too.

As ever, the DVD production is top class from the WWE and Freemantle Media. We’d expect nothing less. The only disappointment is the DVD extra’s. Whilst the blu-ray has extensive highlights from Raw & Smackdown, the DVD settles for a CM Punk/Paul Heyman segment that is short to say the least and an entertaining recap of The Shield’s verbal battles with Daniel Bryan, Kane & Randy Orton. Still, when the main feature is as excellent as it is, the comparative lack of extra’s is no reason to worry.

– By Matthew Roberts

Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk for providing our copy of WWE Payback. WWE Payback is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from 26th August. You can pre-order your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk now by clicking here.

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