WWE Payback 2023 was a night to remember in Pittsburgh, delivering a whirlwind of excitement and unexpected turns despite featuring just six electrifying matches. At the heart of the event stood Judgment Day, a dominant force that left an indelible mark on the wrestling landscape by clinching the undisputed WWE tag team championship. While Seth Rollins successfully retained his world heavyweight championship against the relentless Shinsuke Nakamura in the main event, it was the unscheduled appearance of Dominik Mysterio that stole the spotlight and added a layer of unpredictability to the night’s proceedings.
Judgment Day’s MVP: Dominik Mysterio
Dominik Mysterio played an unscripted but pivotal role in the success of his teammates, Finn Balor and Damian Priest. In a gripping Steel City Street Fight, they managed to secure the undisputed WWE tag team championship by defeating Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Dominik Mysterio’s surprise intervention, wielding Priest’s Money in the Bank briefcase to secure the victory, was a game-changer. His involvement didn’t end there, as he lent his support to Rhea Ripley in her fierce defense of the women’s world championship against Raquel Rodriguez, ensuring Ripley’s title reign continued.
Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus (Steel Cage Match):
- Advertisement -
Becky Lynch and Trish Stratus delivered an intense showdown inside a steel cage. Stratus attempted multiple escapes, but Lynch’s resilience prevailed. In a dramatic turn of events, Zoey Stark made her presence felt, significantly influencing the match dynamics. Ultimately, Lynch emerged victorious with a Twist of Fate, delivering a thrilling encounter that exceeded expectations. Grade: B+
The Miz vs. LA Knight:
Payback host John Cena’s surprise involvement as the special guest referee added an element of unpredictability to The Miz vs. LA Knight match. Despite Miz’s initial protests, Cena assumed the officiating role. The contest saw Miz and Knight trading blows both inside and outside the ring, showcasing their determination to outdo each other. LA Knight ultimately prevailed, securing a valuable endorsement from John Cena himself. While the match may have felt slightly prolonged, the right outcome was achieved, setting the stage for intriguing future developments. Grade: B-
United States Championship – Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Austin Theory:
Rey Mysterio, the United States Champion, faced the young and determined Austin Theory. Mysterio’s experience clashed with Theory’s raw talent, resulting in an engaging encounter. Theory demonstrated his strength and resilience, targeting Mysterio’s mask and attempting various pinfalls. However, Rey Mysterio showcased his enduring prowess, countering Theory’s offense and delivering a thrilling 619 to secure the victory. While the match felt somewhat subdued, it did not overstay its welcome, leaving room for both competitors to evolve in the future. Grade: B-
- Advertisement -
Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship – Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn (c) vs. Finn Balor & Damian Priest:
The Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship match was an all-out war, featuring Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn defending their titles against Finn Balor and Damian Priest. From the outset, chaos reigned as the two teams engaged in fierce combat both inside and outside the ring. Balor and Priest seized the advantage, utilizing kendo sticks and trash cans to gain the upper hand. Dominik Mysterio’s timely intervention provided Judgment Day with the necessary edge. The match delivered chaos, drama, and unforgettable moments, ultimately culminating in Balor and Priest capturing the tag team gold. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn’s valiant efforts fell short in the face of relentless interference, solidifying Judgment Day’s dominance. Grade: B+
Cody Rhodes Joins Grayson Waller on “The Grayson Waller Effect”:
- Advertisement -
A captivating segment unfolded as Cody Rhodes appeared on “The Grayson Waller Effect.” Rhodes announced a game-changing addition to the Monday Night Raw roster, welcoming Jey Uso to the ring. The segment brimmed with intrigue as Waller and Rhodes engaged in verbal sparring, leading to an unexpected superkick by Jey Uso. Uso’s move to Raw injected fresh excitement into the ongoing storyline of The Bloodline, leaving fans eager to see how this development unfolds. Grade: A-
Women’s World Championship – Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Raquel Rodriguez:
The Women’s World Championship clash between Rhea Ripley and Raquel Rodriguez showcased raw power and tenacity. Both competitors stood their ground, refusing to yield to the other’s might. Rodriguez’s early knockdown marked a shift in momentum, but Ripley’s resilience shone through. Dominik Mysterio’s ringside presence added an element of uncertainty to the proceedings. The match was marked by power struggles and impactful maneuvers, with Ripley ultimately securing the win after a hard-fought battle. Grade: B+
World Heavyweight Championship – Seth Rollins (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura:
In the main event, Seth Rollins defended his World Heavyweight Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura, with Japanese wrestling legend Keiji Muto observing from the ringside. The match kicked off with a technical exchange, but Nakamura wasted no time taunting Rollins about his injured back, initiating an assault on that vulnerable area. Rollins exhibited remarkable resilience, countering Nakamura’s attacks and even performing a frog splash. The contest featured a gripping narrative of Nakamura targeting Rollins’ back while Rollins showcased his determination to protect his title and his family. After an intense exchange of strikes and submissions, Rollins ultimately secured the victory with a well-executed stomp. This match blended classic storytelling with modern wrestling sensibilities, solidifying Rollins as a fighting champion. Grade: B+
WWE Payback 2023 proved to be a rollercoaster of emotions, filled with shocking moments and superb athleticism. Judgment Day’s dominance, Dominik Mysterio’s unexpected influence, and Cody Rhodes’ intriguing announcement left fans eagerly anticipating the next chapter in the world of wrestling. As the WWE continues to evolve, these unforgettable moments will undoubtedly shape the future of sports entertainment. Stay tuned for more thrilling WWE action!