Well Payback 2023 was definitely a decent show. While definitely not as great as other PPV spectacles in WWE’s schedule, Payback has always been a decent enough show with a few fantastic matches crammed in amongst the rest of the mid ones. So with Payback 2023 now in the books, why not look take a look back at the best Payback Matches? Check out more wrestling lists here and without further ado here are the best Payback matches.
Best Payback Matches Ranked
10. Braun Strowman vs Roman Reigns (WWE Payback 2017)
Honestly when you think about Braun Strowman has been one of Roman’s defying rivalries in WWE. And a big part of that is great matches like this one. A utter hoss fest which sees Strowman pretty much obliterate Reigns from bell to bell with a chokeslam through a table and the steel steps becoming well acquainted with Roman’s ribs. Also, Strowman countering a Superman punch into a suspended triangle choke is a very underrated counter and sums the match up as a whole. If you’re a fan of utter hoss fest violence, this is definitely the match for you. Also, it’s weird seeing Roman beaten so comprehensively.
9. Seth Rollins and Murphy vs The Mysterios (WWE Payback 2020)
Despite taking place in the cursed pandemic era of wrestling, this match still more than delivered. Mostly because it took place before the story SAW red. And yes that was a pun about the eye for an eye match. Anyway, despite being a bit formulaic in places this is still a belter of a match which isn’t difficult considering the talent involved. The finish is neatly executed as Rey Mysterio counters a powerbomb from Rollins leading to a 619 and splash to give the Mysterio’s the rubber match victory. Again, nothing too amazing on display here but a fun enough PPV tag match.
8. Dean Ambrose vs Chris Jericho (WWE Payback 2016)
This is probably the most forgotten good match in Payback’s history. Considering the two men involved, the match was always going to be good. The only thing that lets it down is the fact just as the match is getting good Ambrose gets the win a bit out of nowhere. By this I mean Jericho goes for a Lionsault which Ambrose counters into Dirty Deeds. A neat finish yes but it came just as the match was hitting its stride so that had to dock it a few points. Luckily a certain company came along and gave them a platform to have far better matches.
7. Becky Lynch vs Trish Stratus (WWE Payback 2023)
Speaking of Payback 2023, this along with a certain other match are undoubtedly the highlights of the show. And if anything this proves that maybe WWE were right to push the match back from Summerslam. Anyway, the match is terrific with callbacks to the first ever women’s cage match in WWE, with both women using the Widow’s Peak and Twist of Fate respectively. Another highlight of the match was the insane superplex spot from the cage which Stratus sold like a gunshot. Now while Zoey Stark interfering for Trish at one point does negate the point of having the cage there at all, that is not enough to take away from the fantastic match. Oh, and the possibility of Stark vs Trish later down the line is never going to be a bad thing.
6. CM Punk vs Chris Jericho (WWE Payback 2013)
Look in my eyes. What do you see? A complete lack of controversy…. As awkwardly timed as this list is to more Punk news, looking back at this match does negate that slightly. Mostly because Punk and Jericho nearly always had good chemistry in the ring. Whether it’s the Springboard Clothesline into a Codebreaker or the numerous great nearfalls, both men showcased how criminally underutilised they were on the roster in 2013. Then again this match had two of the best in-ring performers of their generation squaring off so no wonder it turned out good.
5. Seth Rollins vs Roman Reigns vs Randy Orton vs Dean Ambrose (WWE Payback 2015)
If there’s one thing I love in wrestling, it’s chaotic multi man world title matches. And while the finish is dampened by the Authority bailing Rollins out, the match leading up to it was very solid. Whether it was the mini Shield reunion to send Orton through a table or Seth getting ruined by everyone in the match, there’s plenty to enjoy. Especially once Reigns and Ambrose start going at each other which even back then proved Reigns could go with the best of them. Now yes, the aforementioned Kane interference spot unfortunately makes the winner predictable but the match leading up to it was very good.
4. Judgement Day vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (WWE Payback 2023)
And here’s the other major highlight of Payback 2023. An utter war of a Steel City Street Fight, this hopefully puts the feud between Judgement Day and Owens and Zayn to bed for a bit. Whether it’s Owens putting Dominik through a table with a swanton bomb, the continual efforts of JD McDonagh to get Judgement Day to like him or Rhea going full Roman Reigns and spearing Owens through a barricade, there’s so much wonderful chaos. Also, props to Owens and Zayn who not only had sick hockey jerseys but paid respect to the late great Terry Funk too. What a match and hopefully some very interesting ways to take the Judgement Day storyline. This is more than worthy of featuring in the best Payback Matches list.
3. Roman Reigns vs AJ Styles (WWE Payback 2016)
Now yes, I know what you’re going to say. Yes, their match at Extreme Rules was better. Yes, the constant McMahon stoppages were tedious. But still even with those, this match is great. Probably says a lot more about Payback than it wants to but anyway. As expected from these two there’s plenty of high spots like Styles hitting a Phenomenal Forearm through Reigns through an announce table, the interference of the Club and Usos and a neat Phenomenal Forearm countered into a Superman punch. The fact that it’s been nearly 7 years since AJ and Roman have clashed is criminal as even with the shenanigans this is a top quality world title match. Some may even say Phenomenal…
2. Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn (WWE Payback 2016)
Ah yes, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn: a tale as old as time. Despite them being all buddy-buddy now, back in 2016 Owens was very much committed to ruining Zayn’s life as he occasionally wants to do. Again, their match at Battleground 2016 is definitely better but this is still a solid effort. Notably, the finish sees Zayn go for a Helluva Kick only to be superkicked by Owens then given a sick looking Pop Up Powerbomb for an Owen’s win. Again, I could go on listing spots but I’d be doing the match a disservice as their chemistry in the ring always produced memorable matches.
1: The Shield vs Evolution (WWE Payback 2014)
And the best WWE Payback Match is… The Shield vs Evolution. This is for several reasons as firstly it’s just a superb 6 man no holds barred elimination tag match. And secondly, because of what followed this match. After dominating Evolution in this match and getting another star-making performance, Seth Rollins sells out on the following Raw betraying the Shield and siding with Triple H. Wonderfully thematic really… Also, the fact that both teams had great chemistry, with Rollins launching himself off a balcony onto Evolution as just one example, which naturally leads to some intense action.
WWE Payback 2023 is available to watch on the WWE Network or Peacock. Click here for more details.
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