Payback featured professional wrestling matches that involved wrestlers from pre-existing feuds, plots, and storylines that played out on WWE's primary television programs. Wrestlers portrayed villains or heroes as they followed a series of events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches.
At WrestleMania 32, Roman Reigns defeated Triple H to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for the third time. The following night on Raw, Reigns issued an open challenge for the championship, which was answered by Chris Jericho, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn. This set up a Fatal four-way #1 contender match later in the show, but Owens attacked Zayn, rendering him unable to compete in the match; he was replaced by a returning Cesaro. Styles won the match, earning a title match against Reigns at Payback. The following week, Zayn, after being unable to compete the previous week, faced Styles in a match set up by Shane McMahon where he would gain entry into the title match if he won, but Styles was victorious. On the April 25 episode of Raw, Styles saved Reigns from an attack by Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, then Reigns recovered and attacked Styles. Reigns was laid out when Styles retaliated.
At WrestleMania 32, Zack Ryder won his first Intercontinental Championship in a 7-man ladder match. The following night on Raw, Ryder lost the title to The Miz after Maryse, Miz's wife, distracted him. After Miz retained the title against Ryder on that week's SmackDown, Cesaro defeated Kevin Owens on the following edition of Raw to become the #1 contender for the championship and earn a title match against Miz at Payback.
On the April 11 episode of Raw, Shane McMahon started a tournament where the winners will face The New Day for the WWE Tag Team Championship. On the April 18 episode of Raw, it was announced that the finals of the tournament would take place at Payback.
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens have been feuding with each other since Owens made his debut at NXT TakeOver: R Evolution in 2014. At NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable, Owens injured Zayn in their NXT Championship match. Zayn returned at the Royal Rumble, eliminating Owens from the Royal Rumble match. On the March 7, 2016 episode of Raw, Zayn made his main roster debut and brawled with Owens. At WrestleMania 32, Zayn cost Owens the Intercontinental Championship in a ladder match, which Zack Ryder won. The following night on Raw, Owens attacked Zayn preventing him to compete in the Fatal four-way #1 contender match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. A match between the two was subsequently made for Payback.
On the April 11 episode of Raw, during a segment of The Highlight Reel where Chris Jericho was interviewing himself, Dean Ambrose interrupted and gave him a letter from Shane McMahon stating that The Highlight Reel has been cancelled and will be replaced by Ambrose's new talk show, The Ambrose Asylum. On the April 14 episode of SmackDown, after Jericho's match with Sami Zayn ended in disqualification, Ambrose, who was doing commentary with Kevin Owens during the match, helped Zayn fend off Jericho and Owens. On April 18 episode of Raw, after Ambrose defeated Owens, Jericho attacked Ambrose with a Codebreaker, setting up a match between the two for Payback.
At WrestleMania 32, Charlotte defeated Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch with interference from her father Ric Flair to become the inaugural WWE Women's Champion. The following night on Raw, Charlotte held a ceremony to celebrate the new title and the women's division, but her arrogance led the other women in the ring to leave except for Natalya, who told Charlotte to learn a lesson in humility. After Charlotte stated that the Flairs will always be better than the Harts, Natalya locked her in the Sharpshooter submission hold. The following week on Raw, Natalya defeated Charlotte in a Women's Championship match, but by disqualification, therefore not winning the title. A rematch was subsequently scheduled for Payback, with Natalya announcing that her uncle Bret Hart will be in her corner.
On the WrestleMania 32 Kickoff pre-show, Kalisto defeated Ryback to retain the United States Championship. On the April 21 episode of SmackDown, Ryback defeated Kalisto in a non title match, earning a title rematch against Kalisto at Payback.
Despite losing to The Undertaker at WrestleMania 32 in a Hell in a Cell match where he would gain control of Raw if he won, Shane McMahon was given temporary control of Raw from The Authority the next night by his father, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. After Shane ran Raw for four consecutive weeks, Authority co-leader and Shane's sister Stephanie McMahon returned and announced that Vince will decide at Payback whether Stephanie or Shane is given control of Raw for good.
At WrestleMania 32, Baron Corbin won the André the Giant Memorial battle royal. Corbin made his main roster debut the following night on Raw, fighting Dolph Ziggler to a double-countout. The two would proceed to attack each other, thus setting a match between the two at Payback.
Main event match
The original match started with no stipulations than being a title match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Roman Reigns was the champion, while AJ Styles was the challenger. Styles took the advantage at the beginning of the match, sending Reigns to the floor. Later, Styles applied the Calf Crusher submission hold, but Reigns got to the ropes to break the hold. Styles then knocked Reigns off the ring apron and hit his first springboard Phenomenal Forearm to Reigns (on the outside), sending both men through the announce table. Styles tried to drag Reigns back into the ring and failed; while Styles beat the count to return to the ring, Reigns was counted out to lose the match, but he retained his title.
However, Shane McMahon appeared and restarted the title match with a stipulation of no count-outs. When Styles tried an aerial attack, Reigns hit him in the genitals and was disqualified, again losing but retaining his title. This time, Stephanie McMahon restarted the title match and added another stipulation of no disqualifications. Reigns countered a Phenomenal Forearm attempt with a Superman Punch, but Styles kicked out of the pin attempt. Reigns followed with another Superman Punch and prepared to execute a spear, but Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows pulled Styles from the ring.
Able to attack Reigns without incurring a disqualification, Anderson and Gallows executed a double-team Boot of Doom on Reigns. A recovered Styles then hit Reigns with a second Phenomenal Forearm, but Reigns put his foot on the ropes to break the pin attempt. The Usos then came out to brawl with Anderson and Gallows, and Reigns responded by attacking the four men on the floor, first throwing Styles onto them and secondly diving onto them himself, but this resulted in Styles hitting a third Phenomenal Forearm (from the barricade) on Reigns, then a springboard 450 splash in the ring, but Reigns kicked out of the pin again. Ultimately, Reigns dodged another springboard move by Styles to hit his first spear of the match and pinned Styles for the win to retain the title.
Backstage, the McMahons (Vince, Shane and Stephanie) were conversing. They agreed for a title rematch with the Extreme Rules stipulation between Reigns and Styles at Extreme Rules.
As soon as the broadcasting of the event had stopped after the main event, WWE Champion Roman Reigns reportedly turned on the fans in the Allstate Arena, yelling angrily at them. Reigns had faced a hostile reaction from fans during the main event. For a photo on WWE.com showing the Payback main event, a fan's sign saying "When it Reigns, it bores" was edited by WWE to merely show "When it Reigns". Also, fans in the building were not updated on the status of the injured Enzo Amore.
Critics gave mixed reactions to the event. In particular, they mocked WWE promoting the event as the start of "a new era" for WWE, with Vince McMahon decreeing that both Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon would run Raw together earning the commentary that "more McMahons isn't new but the same thing they've been doing for two decades", while the women's title match having a "lame finish calling back to 1997 out of context" in a repeat of the Montreal Screwjob during the 1997 Survivor Series. It was concluded that the "new era" was "only branding", as WWE are "still doing the exact same things", "with the same tired playbook", with "way too much of the counter-productive storytelling WWE has used for years".
Bob Kapur and Matthew Asher of Canoe.ca rated the overall show 3 out of 5. Kapur described WWE "straddling the line between the old and the new" at Payback. While "the new stuff worked well for the most part", "the old stuff" did not really work. Both reviewers felt that "the return to the already-tapped-dry well of McMahon Family drama" was overlong, with Kapur saying that it was also unnecessary if WWE had abided to the stipulation they set for Shane's match at WrestleMania 32. Kapur felt that the main event was merely "a showcase for [the McMahons'] storyline, and took away any significance of the title", while both reviewers panned the "two match restarts". Decrying how Shane and Stephanie ("non-wrestlers") overshadowed the main event, Kapur lamented: "Meet the new era, same as the old era. We all get fooled again." The main event was one of three matches rated 3 out of 5, the lowest rating issued (but some matches were not rated), while Owens-Zayn was the highest rated at 5 out of 5.
Dave Scherer of Pro Wrestling Insider gave his thoughts on the event. In the tag match, Enzo Amore's legitimate injury looked "ugly as hell". For the main event match, Scherer endorsed it as "a really well worked, good match, even if the fans still hated Reigns after he won." Special praise was reserved for Kevin Owens, with Scherer declaring that he "came off awesome tonight." For the Intercontinental title match, Scherer "didn't like the finish" and thought Cesaro should have been booked to win. The women's match was "solid" but its "finish was ridiculous and it was like a fart in church." Regarding Corbin's loss to Ziggler on the pre-show, Scherer said, "If you were hoping that WWE would learn from having new guys lose to older guys, well you can give that up ... Ugh." Vince McMahon's decision was described as nonsensical, given that as a "businessman", he had just taken his "best asset and put it in a tenuous state". Lastly, after Vince said that he only listened to himself, not to the fans or the media, Scherer endorsed that "Truer words were never spoken."
James Caldwell of the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter rated as Owens-Zayn as the best match of the event with 3.75 stars out of 5, writing that "You could feel their passion wrestling each other and the crowd matched their intensity". The second best match was Ambrose-Jericho at 3.25 stars, which was "building to a really good finish, then blew a tire right before they reached the destination." The next-best match was the United States title match on the pre-show at 3.0 stars, which Caldwell wrote was "one of Ryback’s best matches in a long time and they engaged the crowd with a hot finishing sequence." The main event, rated 2.75 stars, was hurt by "the Shane-Stephanie business" and "the anticipated outcome of Reigns winning Super Cena style kicking out of multiple finishers", which "added fuel to the anti-Reigns fire." However, "Styles looked like he belonged in this spot three months into his WWE run". Lastly, the women's match and Vince's announcement were described as having "laughably bad endings ... back-to-back in the middle of the show".
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Kickoff Show: Dolph Ziggler defeated Baron Corbin (7:43)
- Kickoff Show: Kalisto (c) defeated Ryback to retain the WWE United States Championship (8:33)
- The Vaudevillains (Aiden English & Simon Gotch) vs. Realest Guys (Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady) in a No.1 Contenders' Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals Match to determine the #1 contenders for the WWE Tag Team Championship ended in a no contest (4:00)
- Kevin Owens defeated Sami Zayn (14:29)
- The Miz (c) (w/ Maryse) defeated Cesaro to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship
- Dean Ambrose defeated Chris Jericho (18:28)
- Charlotte (c) (w/ Ric Flair) defeated Natalya (w/ Bret Hart) to retain the WWE Women's Championship (13:09)
- Roman Reigns (c) defeated A.J. Styles in a No Count Out No Disqualification Match to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (25:05)
|Payback||The Vaudevillains||No Contest|
|4/18||The Dudley Boyz||8:33|
|Raw||The Dudley Boyz||Pin|
|4/11||The Lucha Dragons||3:09|
Other on-screen talent
- Payback Official Website
- Payback 2016 on WWE Network
- Payback 2016 Kickoff Show on WWE Network
- Payback 2016 Kickoff Show at CAGEMATCH.net
- Payback 2016 at CAGEMATCH.net
- Payback 2016 at Online World of Wrestling
|2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016|
|2016 World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-views|
Royal Rumble • Fast Lane • Roadblock • Takeover IX • WrestleMania • Payback • Extreme Rules • TakeOver: The End • Money in the Bank • Battleground • Back to Brooklyn • SummerSlam • Backlash • Clash of Champions • No Mercy • Hell in a Cell • TakeOver: Toronto • Survivor Series • TLC: Tables, Ladders, & Chairs