Your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE PAYBACK 2016!

In this day and age you can’t just “predict” a PPV anymore, you have to to account for the capricious whims of WWE’s septuagenarian, sleep-deprived egomaniac owner. You can’t just “preview” a PPV…you have to preview how things should go, in a reasonable and sane world, and then add “so of course…” and explain what Vince McMahon will probably do instead.

So consider this your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE WYATT FAMILY SHENANIGANS!


(Wyatt family not included)

Last time on SO OF COURSE, WWE ran its thirty-second “WrestleMania” PPV, the culmination of months of storylines, RAW episodes, feuds and disappointment. So so much disappointment. Seriously, if you’re one of those people who just started watching WWE after WrestleMania (and according to the ratings, that’s all seven of you), then you have no idea how good you have it now. Raw in March was a seemingly never-ending bout of the drizzling sizzlers. The same 20 minute Triple H and/or Stephanie promo to start things off, the same feudless fights between midcarders no one has a reason to care about, the same tired main events featuring some combination of Sheamus or Alberto Del Rio, the same slow pace that makes three hours feel like thirty, with that final hour akin to a trek across the Sahara.

WrestleMania itself was like a bigger production version of this. It was long (from the time I sat in my seat to the time I exited the stadium I was there for close to eight hours), most of the finishes were bewildering (and a few were just stupid) and it ended with little hope for the future.

And then everything changed the next night. Despite losing, and with no logical explanation offered, Shane McMahon is the defacto head honcho of Monday Night Raw. And even though he is just an on-air character and isn’t actually making any decisions, the show has improved tremendously.

Me sitting down to watch Raw in March:


Me sitting down to watch Raw in April:


Why the change? For one thing, storylines are being developed based around wrestlers, not authority figures (Shane has been mostly behind the scenes). For another thing, the stories themselves don’t feel like they’re being written—and rewritten—on the fly. Again, Shane isn’t actually running Raw, people. It’s still the same monkeys with typewriters churning out hot garbage that Vince McMahon is prone to scrap at 5pm on Monday. But it’s like…that didn’t happen at all this month. It’s like they all sat down and decided “okay let’s have some good Raws for a change.” Nothing management-wise has been altered; they just decided not to suck for a change of pace. It’s actually maddening when you think about it, since it shows that the company has the ability to make good television; they’ve just been stuck in a cycle of apathy for what’s felt like five years or more.

So now we come to Payback, which is being billed as “The first PPV of the New Era.” Obviously that’s been Shane’s buzzphrase since he took over a month ago, but it’s still a pretty big promise. If this show ends up being run of the mill, with bad finishes and bad booking all over the place, WWE is going to lose a lot more fans (and they’ve already lost a ton since WrestleMania). Right now a lot of fans don’t trust WWE, and even though this month of Raw has been amazing, a lot of fans are hesitant to get on board till the company proves they really have turned the corner. This event will go a long way to determine whether or not they have.

So what’s cooking for the big show? Let’s break it down…


Almost everything about this feud is “the right call.” First of all, they debuted Baron Corbin with an obvious “first feud” in mind, something that guys like
The Ascension and Apollo Crews weren’t afforded. Good call. Second, Dolph Ziggler is the perfect “first feud” for a guy like Corbin. The Lone Wolf isn’t exactly the flashiest or the most agile in the ring. He’s a bit of a lumbering monster with a sadface bellybutton. Ziggler’s a guy who can flop all over the ring and make a bigger opponent look like a million bucks. Again, good call here. The only thing I don’t like about it is the lack of a motivation for it. Why is Corbin attacking Ziggler, apart from the cliched “I want to make a statement in my debut” angle? He showed toward the end of his NXT run some real depth of character and a good promo ability. If they had let him use it, this feud could have been a bigger deal than it was. That’s still the one thing WWE doesn’t do that NXT does well: In NXT every feud is given a story and the time to tell it, both in the ring and on the mic. There’s no wasted time on NXT. On WWE, however, several feuds have “programs” (wrestler-A is fighting wrestler-B) but not all of them have “stories” that drive the motivations of the heroes and villains. More of that, please.

As for the match itself, it won’t set the world on fire, but as long as they don’t go too long with it (which was a problem in their first match on the Raw-after-Mania), the Chicago crowd should be engaged and Corbin should get some nice heat. In the end though, Corbin needs the win to keep his momentum going.

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