The idea of running pay-per-view events on back-to-back weekends was a questionable one for WWE, but after a thrilling edition of 2020 WWE Payback on Sunday night, it was clearly the right decision. After the previous week’s SummerSlam delivered heaps of exciting action, Payback proved an even better event without a single true misstep in terms of in-ring action.
The night’s main event saw a major title title change as Roman Reigns won the universal championship in his first match since March 1, beating “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman in a no-holds-barred triple threat bout. Reigns was not in the match until after Wyatt and Strowman battered each other and broke the ring with a massive suplex. At that point, Reigns and new “advocate” Paul Heyman entered the fray with Reigns attacking both men before hitting a spear on Strowman to win the title.
The action capped an event that deserves a place in the conversation for the best wrestling card in 2020 with thrilling action from the opener between Apollo Crews and Bobby Lashley for the United States championship to Reigns’ title-winning moment.
2020 WWE Payback results, grades
Riott Squad vs. The IIconics (Kickoff Show): After a fast start from Ruby Riott, BIllie Kay threw her into Liv Morgan’s knees. Moments later, Riott used an unexpected blind tag and then hesitated to tag Morgan back into the ring, wasting little time to show that things still aren’t clicking well since the two reunited. The IIconics went on a sustained run of isolating Riott. When Riott could reach for a tag, Kay knocked Morgan off the apron and then told Morgan the blow came from Riott. Morgan hesitated to get back on the ring apron but eventually decided to put her trust in Riott, jumping onto the apron and taking the tag but did have a minor botch after the hot tag, slipping off the middle rope on a springboard and then missed the turnbuckle visibly when ramming Peyton Royce’s face into it. Shortly after, The IIconics hit Deja Vu on Riott, but Morgan made the save and dragged Riott to the corner for a tag. Morgan and Riott teamed up to finish off Kay with double knees into the Riott Kick. The storytelling through the match was solid, but Morgan fell apart visibly after her botch and the match went with it. The IIconics are valuable roster members but can’t carry a match, and when one of the other side falls apart, it shows more visibly. Riott Squad def. The IIconics — Grade: C
United States Championship — Apollo Crews (c) vs. Bobby Lashley: The challenger dominated early with sheer power, but Crews’ craftiness allowed him to send Lashley from the ring before hitting a moonsault from the apron to the ring. Crews took back over on the outside, eventually driving Crews into the ring post while holding him on his shoulders in a fireman’s carry. Crews’ big comeback was cut off by a Lashley dominator for a two count. Crews failed to hit the toss powerbomb but did hit a spinebuster into a standing moonsault for his own two count. Crews took over with his own power, hitting a press slam and a pair of German suplexes before heading to the top rope for a frog splash. As MVP got fired up at ringside, sensing the match was slipping away, Lashley responded by dropping Crews and locking in the Full Lashley to win the title. As The Hurt Business posed for the cameras, Crews attacked from behind before leaving and vowing to get his title back. This was a very solid match that showed off Crews’ dynamic offense and Lashley’s power game well. Taking the title off Crews is questionable, since he could have ran through the entire Hurt Business roster, but it’s a move that keeps the group a solid force on Raw. Bobby Lashley def. Apollo Crews (c) via submission to win the title — Grade: B
Big E vs. Sheamus: Sheamus had trouble getting going early as he was repeatedly taken off his feet by Big E. A bit later, Big E missed a splash on the apron to let Sheamus take over, going to work on Big E’s knee with stomps and a leg breaker. Sheamus stayed focused on the knee, grounding Big E with constant leg attacks before an Irish Curse backbreaker. Sheamus was a bit ahead of Big E again on a comeback attempt, throwing up a knee to counter the spear through the ropes, and then again cutting him off with an Alabama slam as Big E tried to taunt over Sheamus’ supine body. Sheamus locked in a modified sharpshooter, but Big E was able to grab the bottom rope and then hit the spear through the ropes to the floor. Sheamus tried for a Brogue Kick but was caught with a powerbomb and a Big Ending for the finish. The chemistry between Big E and Sheamus is outstanding for a power vs. power pairing and this was a very good showcase match for Big E’s singles run potential. Big E def. Sheamus via pinfall — Grade: B+
King Corbin vs. Matt Riddle: Corbin hit Riddle with a clothesline as he jumped in the ring before the match began. Corbin stomped Riddle in the corner and took him outside…