G5: Payback, Seth Rollins, Hacksaw, more

Another of WWE’s pay-per-view events, Payback, is behind us. How did the show stack up against everything else WWE has produced this year?

Seth Rollins defected to Evolution on Raw and turned his back on The Shield. What do the NZPWI staff think of this development?

Jim Ross thinks Cesaro and Sheamus have been playing the wrong roles in their feud, and Cesaro should embrace his support from the fans. Do we agree with JR’s assessment?

Plus, WWE Hall of Famer “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan has been announced for this year’s Auckland Armageddon Expo, so the team share their favourite memories from Duggan’s 30-plus-year career.

1. Brie Bella quit WWE, John Cena beat Bray Wyatt in a Last Man Standing Match, and The Shield destroyed Evolution at Payback. How was the pay-per-view, and where does it rank in terms of WWE’s output this year?

Stevie:
Thumbs down from me, but part of that is because I watched NXT Takeover before it. That was so good, I was certain WWE wouldn’t let themselves be outshined by their developmental division. But they were. I liked the end of the main event but man, was the rest of the event hard to get through.

Dion:
It was OK. It felt like an episode of Raw, oddly enough. I’m not sure if it’s simply a case of no world championship match giving it that vibe for me, though. The Last Man Standing Match and the No Holds Barred Elimination Match were great to watch, though.

Craig:
I was pleasantly surprised. I am ashamed to say I watch Total Divas religiously so I have become a massive fan of Brie Bella and thought she was fantastic. Cena, regrettably, was always going to win Last Man Standing but I thought it was Match of the Year candidate. The problem with Cena winning is where does Bray go to from here? My guess is he’s on hold till Bryan returns but Bray is hot at the moment and him losing stalls his momentum. (Notice no one chants Husky Harris any more). The Shield wiping Evolution was a complete shock but props to Triple H creatively. That was “best for business”.

Blake:
I think the best way to explain my feelings about Payback would be to say that it was a fun pay-per-view. It certainly wasn’t the greatest, but then, it isn’t meant to be WrestleMania. While I feel the Last Man Standing Match should have ended differently, I enjoyed the pay-per-view overall. 7/10.

Luke:
I was completely caught off guard by the results from this year’s Payback pay-per-view. I did not expect as many wins in favour of the faces but moving forward on Raw it all made more sense. Though, I thought it was another solid pay-per-view considering Bryan’s injury.

David:
Payback was one of those solid-in-ring-yet-unremarkable pay-per-views you tend to get between WrestleMania and SummerSlam. All the guys turned in decent performances, but, just like an episode of Main Event, it didn’t necessarily mean anything in the long run. Still definitely worth the $24.95 price-tag, but I won’t be in a hurry to own the DVD.

2. Seth Rollins shocked the WWE Universe when he turned his back on The Shield and joined Evolution at the end of this week’s Raw broadcast. Your thoughts on the incident?

Stevie:
I’m going to wait and see. Ambrose is the born heel of the group, so it was a shock to see Rollins turn. But Seth has picked up his promo game a lot recently, so he may be the best positioned to be a ‘complete’ main-eventer. Unless he’s portrayed as Triple H’s lackey.

Dion:
I’m yet to watch Raw this week, but I’m looking forward to watching the segment. It’s a really interesting move, and we’ll see how it plays out. Rollins is definitely the last guy I would have expected to turn on The Shield.

Craig:
For one it doesn’t make sense whatsoever and we’re expected to suspend belief. Why would you jump ship from a winning stable to join a bunch of losers? It also doesn’t make sense that it happened on free-to-air TV. Forget the network stuff, the pay-per-views or “special events” as they like to call them have to have a “special” element.

We were asked on this forum not long ago who would be the breakout star in the next 12 months and I suggested Rollins. This is an amazing opportunity for him and I stand by my assessment he’ll be bigger than Reigns. I’m excited about the heel turn, he’s going to be a massive star, but the execution of this heel turn has left a lot to be desired.

Blake:
From a fan’s perspective, I hated it. From a smark’s perspective, it was done brilliantly. While, at first, I was raging against the idea, a bit of time allowed me to think about all the things WWE has done in the past where they managed to turn what appear to be atrocities into diamonds. Hopefully, this will be the same.

Luke:
I did not expect it to be Rollins! I was expecting Ambrose to turn on The Shield and boy did WWE pull a swerve on me. I think this is best for business for everybody involved. Rollins in Evolution is perfect for his development in the company and it has created an entirely new dynamic to The Sheild’s relationship as well as the storyline with Evolution. Exciting times!

David:
I’ll reserve judgement until Rollins explains himself, presumably on next week’s Raw. I was certainly shocked to see him turn his back on Ambrose and Rollins, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me at the moment. Rollins went to war with both Randy Orton and Triple H at Payback, and I think he was responsible for the black eye Triple H had while welcoming him into the group on Wednesday. There are a lot of loose ends with this one, and I’m afraid I can’t get behind it until they’re tied up.

3. Jim Ross blogged about Cesaro and Sheamus this week, claiming both men have been “miscast” in their current roles and should trade places as heel/face, allowing Cesaro to be the fan favourite. Do you agree with JR’s assessment?

Stevie:
Absolutely. And if you watch their matches without commentary, I dare say you’ll feel like their roles feel like the opposite of what WWE tells you they are.

Dion:
I agree 100 per cent. Sheamus is easier to hate than love, and fans want to back Cesaro, even while Paul Heyman does his best to play the heel.

Craig:
JR’s opinion was vanilla when he worked for WWE but I think he talks a lot of sense on the blurred lines between modern day heels and faces. He’s particularly interesting talking about it on his podcasts. Sheamus is a mini Cena in that the kids love him and for that reason his character is stale. I love Heyman with Cesaro and I think it makes them more interesting together. The danger would be that if Cesaro was to turn face, he could become as vanilla as Sheamus. The problem is that unless Cesaro king hits Daniel Bryan, he’s going to continue to be cheered. Imagine if he king hit Cena, he’d be a fan favourite overnight.

Blake:
I disagree strongly. While I love Cesaro, I feel that having him “cast as a heel” is far too basic of an explanation. You’ll notice that he isn’t really making any major remarks to cast him as a typical heel or face; instead, Paul Heyman is working his usual genius while legitimising Cesaro’s place in WWE. As for Sheamus, I really don’t care that much. He wasn’t that fantastic as a heel United States Champion, he’s not that fantastic as a face United States Champion.

Luke:
I agree. Cesaro was getting huge ovations heading into WrestleMania, including some of the biggest pops during the event and the Raw after WrestleMania. I feel it was a mistake turning him heel though I feel being with Heyman will still benefit him in the long run. As for Sheamus… I don’t have much love for the Irishman.

David:
People’s reactions toward Cesaro and their desire to cheer him are only going to make things that much better when he inevitably does embrace the fans and ditch Paul Heyman. He’s playing things bang-on at the moment. I don’t know that Sheamus needs to be a heel. He’s less popular than previous United States Champions, and taking the title off Ambrose didn’t help his cause, but he’ll find his feet again soon.

4. WWE is reportedly offering financial planning advice and university scholarships to any former member of the roster. Is it WWE’s responsibility to take care of its formerly contracted performers like this?

Stevie:
WWE certainly feels it’s a good thing for them to be doing and I agree. Along with their rehab program for former talent, it looks like they’re actually supporting the people that made them so much money over the years.

Dion:
It is not their responsibility whatsoever, but it is fantastic that they are doing so. I’m actually really pleased to hear they’re looking after former workers like that.

Craig:
Absolutely 100 per cent yes. They are a billion dollar company and these guys are independent contractors. There are too many examples out there of wrestlers falling off the tracks once they leave WWE. It is bad publicity for the company and unless it is addressed head on, media outlets will continue to portray WWE as “greedy corporates” that have exploited former employees. If WWE addresses the issue head on, the can then get a good news story like Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

Blake:
Yes.

Luke:
No. I think it is a stupid idea. Maybe giving them financial advice is a good idea but university scholarships? No. No! No! No!

David:
It’s not WWE’s responsibility to take care of former talent but if the money’s there, and if it gives a second chance to someone who maybe got into WWE without a “Plan B” in terms of life after wrestling, this can only be a good thing.

5. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan has been announced for the Auckland Armageddon Expo this October. What’s your fondest memory of the WWE Hall of Famer?

Stevie:
When he became a janitor in WCW and found the TV title in the trash. It was so silly that I couldn’t help but find it hilarious.

Dion:
I discovered wrestling in 1988 and Hacksaw was certainly a big star during that era. His feud with Andre the Giant and tag teaming with Demolition are right up there for me. He’s never going to get away from “HOOOOOOOOOO!!!”, but that and the 2×4 are a couple of reasons why he is so unforgettable. I can’t wait!

Craig:
Duggan clearing the ring of Soviet wrestlers with his 2×4 on the early days of Superstars of Wrestling with McMahon and Ventura as the commentators and then sitting down on a chair in the middle of the ring.

McMahon: “He’s a patriot.”
Ventura: “He’s an idiot.”

Blake:
While I am fully aware that Hacksaw has been involved in far more prestigious moments, matches, and rivalries, I genuinely loved the WWE Dating Game. It was so ridiculously goofy, but it worked so well. Also, Maria. Enough said.

Luke:
Definitely not his run against Team Canada in WCW.

David:
After October it will definitely be his Armageddon appearance, but for the moment – as someone who missed a lot of the 80s and 90s – I really enjoyed “Hacksaw” on the pre-show panel for this year’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view. He was articulate, funny, and seemed much more capable of holding a broadcast position than I expected a man famous for yelling “Hooooo!” would have been.