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WWE Payback 2015: Seth Rollins retains World Heavyweight Title

Seth Rollins retained the WWE World Heavyweight Title

Seth Rollins retained the WWE World Heavyweight Title at WWE Payback. Credit: AP/Don Feria

Seth Rollins retains the WWE World Heavyweight Title in a Fatal Fourway match over Roman Reigns, Randy Orton and Dean Ambrose

Some guys just refuse to be booed -- count Reigns among those in that camp. After being summarily dismissed by the fans the same way his cousin Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was back in the day, Reigns put together a performance against The Big Show to make people finally take him seriously at last month's Extreme Rules.

In the early moments he picked up where he left off, leaping out of the ring to take out his three foes.

While Reigns' newfound popularity was expected, Kane's participation in the match was initially a mystery. The director of operations for The Authority wouldn't say before the match whether he would keep his job by covering Rollins' back or do what he really wanted to do -- ring Rollins' neck.

Kane initally supported Rollins -- and it cost him. After Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose formed a Shield reunion just long enough to triple powerbomb Orton through the announce table, Reigns and Ambrose turned on Rollins. Kane tried to intercede, but that prompted Reigns and Ambrose to give a pair of powerbombs to Kane on the Spanish announce table with Rollins laying on top. (They had to do it a second time after the table initially didn't give.)

Ambrose and Reigns then hit the ring to decide it amongst themselves, agreeing that the loser would buy the beers. Reigns almost got the beer and the title with a spear on Ambrose, but Rollins recovered and jumped in the ring just in time to break up the count.

Eventually Orton got back in the fray, giving a pair of RKOs to J&J Security. Rollins set up to finish off Rollins, but Kane jumped in the ring just in time to get an RKO from Orton.

That allowed Rollins to hit Orton with boss Triple H's signature move, the Pedigree, to retain the title.

Triple H came out to congratulate his charge after the match. It for for show, but chances are backstage "The Game" had real-life kudos for all the performers. It's big to pull off a thrilling title match when there was virtually no chance of a title change.

Mission accomplished.

Neville beat Bad News Barrett by countout

Barrett refused to re-enter the fray after getting nailed by one of Neville's ring-to-floor highlight reel moves.

Barrett tried to attack Neville from behind after the match, but Neville responded with a comeback that included the ultimate insult: hitting Barrett with the Red Arrow finisher while Barrett was still wearing his "King of the Ring" garb. 

It's too early to know if Neville is going to be Rey Mysterio -- a star -- or Justin Gabriel -- a flyer who turned out to be no more than that.

But it's going to be fun to sit back and see.

Naomi and Tamina defeated The Bella Twins

The match didn't last long, which is significant during the current fan-inspired #givedivasachance atmosphere.

But in this sense it was OK, as WWE is establishing Naomi and Tamina as long-term heels. It's a welcome departure from the past, where Divas switched from heroines to evil-doers seemingly monthly -- if not even sooner.

The match advanced something as opposed to just filling time, and as long as it goes in that direction one can conclude that the WWE is listening.  

John Cena beat Rusev in an "I Quit" match to retain the United States Title

Yes, it's fun to boo Cena. But there's always a little wrinkle in his performance that reminds one of the territory days, when the wrestlers showed up at the same buildings every week and had to do something to keep interest piqued.   

Usually with Cena it's something that allows him to be violent while remaining virtuous. Sunday night he was at his best, telling Rusev he would put him through the wall surrounding the ring if he didn't quit -- then fulfilling his promise. He begged the referee to ask Rusev again before hitting him with a metal retaining wall stashed near the entrance.

Rusev mounted a comeback and eventually rendered Cena unconscious with the Accolade.

But that left Cena unable to quit, so Rusev revived him with a bottle of water before unscrewing a turnbuckle. Rusev tried to nail a rising Cena in the head with the metal end, but Cena ducked and used the now-removed ring rope to wrap around Rusev's face while putting him in the STF.

Rusev screamed something in Bulgarian, prompting Lana to go into the ring and yell, "He quits!"

The referee believed her and called for the bell.

Later, Rusev threw Lana out of his locker room. He was mad, but the rest of the fans seemed satisfied as they traded the tired "Let's Go Cena! Cena Sucks!" back-and-forth for a "This is awesome!" chant during the match.

They were right.

Bray Wyatt pinned Ryback

In "The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior," Jim Ross talked about how the Warrior provided "a lot of sizzle, prior to the bell."

This match felt the same way. Yes, everybody holds up their cellphones to light up the arena when the lights are turned down for Wyatt's entrance, but it's become kind of the cool thing to do instead of a true allegiance. The same passion doesn't seem to transfer to the actual match.

Ryback is in a similar quagmire, with a "Feed Me More" chant in the middle of the match that died embarrassingly fast.

In the end Wyatt got the pin, hitting Sister Abigail after using an exposed turnbuckle to nail Ryback.

But it's hard to say there were any true winners.

The New Day defeated Tyson Kidd and Cesaro in a 2-out-of-3 falls match to retain the WWE Tag-Team Title

Often WWE does some of its best work when it doesn't try to get too clever. This title match was one of those examples.

Before the match the New Day seemed like they were heading dangerously close to opining on Baltimore post-riot, with a rant about how the crowd at Royal Farms Arena needed to change. But thankfully the conversation headed into the classic "Your city's sports suck" heel gimmick, using the presence of Orioles star Adam Jones at ringside as their muse.

After Kidd pinned Kofi Kingston to win the first fall, Xavier Woods begged the referee to let him implement the "Freebird" rule. (The Fabulous Freebirds and others have been granted the "any combination of the three can defend the title" stipulation, but the same two had to both start and finish the match, Xavier.)

Kofi pinned Kidd during the second fall, and Woods did manage to get in the match, replacing Kingston to score the deciding fall in a rollup to retain the belts for himself, Kingston and Big E. All the referee saw was his back. Misdirection like this hasn't been seen since the Killer Bees would go under the ring and put on masks so they could hoodwink the ref with an illegal man. 

Any time the Freebirds and Killer Bees get mentioned in the review of a tag-team match, it was a pretty darn good tag-team match. Old-school works.

Sheamus pinned Dolph Ziggler

In one sense it shows off some depth to have two of WWE's best pure workers kicking off the pay-per-view. Then again, you wonder why a match that is almost certain to be the second-best on the card was so buried behind matches that likely can't match up, like Ryback vs. Wyatt.

We'll see if Ziggler has to take some time off after suffering what appeared to be a huge accidental gash on his head attempting a head butt. The match went home quickly, with Sheamus hitting the Brogue Kick for the win. Ziggler did manage to give Sheamus a "stinkface" in the corner to make up for Sheamus not paying off the stipulation from last month's "Kiss My Arse" match. 

On the pre-show, The Ascension beat Curtis Axel (aka AxelMania) and Damien Sandow (aka Macho Mandow)

The Ascension got the win via pin. Axel and Sandow (portraying Hulk Hogan and "Macho Man" Randy Savage) got the win for actually playing someone else better than The Ascension (aka the wannabe Road Warriors/Powers of Pain/Acolytes/Brood/Doom/Dungeon of Doom) or whatever on earth the WWE had in mind. It's a team that begs for a manager (think Skandor Akbar with Devastation Incorporated). WWE made a smart move hanging on to Corey Graves as an announcer after concussions thwarted his in-ring career. Wonder if WWE ever moves him back to ringside as a mouthpiece. He seems born for it.

On the pre-show, R-Truth pinned Stardust

After the match Stardust sulked about being misunderstood, while R-Truth marveled at actually winning a match. Not much new here.


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