Predictions for Payback 2016

AJ Styles

Later tonight, WWE rolls into Chicago for their traditional post-WrestleMania pay-per-view… Extreme PayBackLash! Wait, why have they changed the name of this show again?

Marketed half-heartedly as the first pay-per-view of a new era, coming a month after a WrestleMania, and in a time period where WWE has debuted new faces, brought back some old ones… oh, and had Shane McMahon go from losing a Hell in a Cell match for control of Raw, to hosting it for four weeks on the spin. That last storyline (or whatever they’ve done) should come to a head with Vince McMahon announcing who’ll run Raw “for good”. Or until they want to do this storyline again. Expect Stephanie to get SmackDown and Shane keep Raw. Or vice-versa. It doesn’t really matter, does it?

Tonight we’ll be seeing the finals of the number one contender’s tournament for the WWE Tag Team titles, plus AJ Styles’ first WWE pay-per-view main event, and two other matches that could potentially steal the show. So, with a hat-tip to the guys over at 888sport it’s time for a quick run-through my predictions and some betting odds for this evening’s show.

Pre-show: United States Championship – Kalisto (c) vs. Ryback
Given the size difference between AT&T Stadium and the Allstate Arena, I wonder if more people will actually have seen this in Dallas than tonight? Both of these guys have been pretty anonymous since WrestleMania, although they haven’t gone full-blown Witness Protection Program anonymous (like Zack Ryder). This is genuinely a throw-away rematch, and since this title is dead in the water, I wouldn’t be surprised to see WWE throw it on Ryback for the hell of it. Prediction: Ryback wins the title. Odds: Kalisto (2/5), Ryback (17/10)

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (c) vs. Cesaro
Since returning on the night after WrestleMania, Cesaro’s been locked in a feud with the Miz, who sent Zack Ryder back into obscurity after ending his one-day IC title run. Although I know other guys have held the belt (*cough*Kevin Owens*cough*), Miz seems to be the guy who has this belt every time I look up, almost in a “he’s stale the second he wins it” kind of way. This storyline also screams “first match”, so this’ll probably not see a title change. Prediction: The Miz. Odds: The Miz (7/20), Cesaro (39/20)

Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin
Oh man, where do you go with this? Corbin is the classic guy that WWE wants to push, but he stuttered out of the gate with squash wins (in name only) over Zack Ryder, Damien Sandow, and twice over Fandango. This should be a storyline that’s one and done, but I can see WWE giving Corbin the win and continuing the feud. Prediction: Baron Corbin. Odds: Baron Corbin (23/20), Dolph Ziggler (8/13)

Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
Another odd one here, quite a few people had this pegged to be the Intercontinental title feud after WrestleMania, but instead these two former friends who are destined to fight forever end up in a mid-card feud that by rights will steal the show. The storyline should end with Zayn getting a monumental win, but I can’t see anything else than Owens grabbing a hard-fought win. Prediction: Kevin Owens. Odds: Kevin Owens (2/5), Sami Zayn (7/4)

Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
So, you take a guy who beat the current number-one contender for the WWE title… clean, at WrestleMania. And put him in a match against a guy who was obliterated by Brock Lesnar. And have them in a feud over who runs a talk-show segment? At least it’s not a Japanese shampoo commercial, I guess… In-ring, this should be good, but I’ve had a hard time caring about Jericho on his latest WWE run – and that’s something reflected in the odds. Prediction: Dean Ambrose. Odds: Dean Ambrose (1/9), Chris Jericho (17/4)

WWE Tag Team Championship Number One Contendership Tournament Final: Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady vs. The Vaudevillains
After being called-up from NXT in the days after WrestleMania, these two teams have enjoyed a somewhat different trajectory. Sure, they’ve both had wins on WWE TV – and losses in NXT (with the Vaudevillains losing to Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa in a match taped the day before WrestleMania; whilst Enzo and Cass lost to the NXT tag team champions). But both of these teams’ undefeated streaks on the main roster have led to polar opposite crowd reactions. Thanks to Enzo’s mic work, the Jersey boys are beloved, whereas the Vaudevillains are “meh”. It’s a crap-shoot who wins this, but I’m tempted to go for Enzo and Cass, for the sake of an entertaining tag title feud with the New Day. Prediction: Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady. Odds: Enzo & Cass (18/25), The Vaudevillains (evens)

WWE Women’s Championship: Charlotte (c) vs. Natalya
Unfortunately for this, the majority of focus on this away from the ring has been on the legendary figures accompanying the women to the ring tonight. Ric Flair’s latest airport antics garnered some attention (possibly for the wrong reasons, depending on which version of events you’ve read), whilst an out-of-context quote from Bret Hart would have you believe that he’s apathetic at best about his appearance. I’m hoping that both Charlotte and Natalya are going to be allowed to try and replicate their NXT Women’s title tournament final from two years ago (at NXT Takeover), but my gut tells me there’ll be some involvement from Messrs Flair and Hart. I’m still going to say this’ll be a good match, in spite of the guys on the outside. Prediction: Charlotte. Odds: Charlotte (3/10), Natalya (11/5)

WWE Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. AJ Styles
Four weeks on from making Roman Reigns “the guy” at WrestleMania, he faces his first major challenge in the form of AJ Styles. The past few weeks have seen Reigns effectively face three foes, in Styles, and the former Bullet Club duo of Luke “Don’t Call me Doc! Or use my Twitter handle” Gallows and Karl Anderson… but still come out on top, since WWE’s trying to book him like a killer babyface. Unfortunately, AJ hasn’t displayed much in the way of heel-ish behaviour. Thankfully, this match is in Chicago (well, Rosemont), so decent reactions are pretty much guaranteed, and Reigns will become the defacto heel in this match. As for the result, this is a feud that’s going to have legs, and whilst I don’t think they’re going to pull the trigger on the Bullet Club/Balor Club/whatever Club, I can see Anderson and Gallows getting involved… but I don’t see a title change. Prediction: AJ Styles (via DQ). Odds: AJ Styles (15/4), Roman Reigns (1/7).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ian Hamilton has been a wrestling fan since 1992, and when he’s not watching WWE, New Japan or his latest wrestling love, PROGRESS, he’s usually suffering through Sunderland AFC and the New York Jets. He’s got a couple of books out on Amazon – “Wrestling’s Sinking Ship” and “Gone Too Soon”, and can be reached via his website,, or on Twitter @theianhamilton