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At WrestleMania 32, Kalisto pulled off a little-big-man upset that would have done Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero proud, fending off a frothing Ryback to retain his United States Championship on The Grandest Stage of Them All. Now, on the WWE Payback Kickoff, he’ll have to do it again.
Blame it, in part, to the rough road traveled by the champion in recent weeks. Since his triumph at The Show of Shows, The King of Flight has been dogged by heartbreaking losses, one untimely mid-match injury and an inability to maintain the kind of momentum he had going into WrestleMania. What goes up must come down.
There’s also the argument to be made that The Human Wrecking Ball’s loss at WrestleMania was the exception, not the rule: Ryback is undefeated since WrestleMania, including a victory at the expense of the U.S. Champion himself. By The Big Guy’s reckoning, that means he’s in line for another crack at Old Glory. Given Kalisto’s tumultuous post-WrestleMania stretch, Ryback has picked his timing fantastically.
Then again, he’s made the mistake of underestimating Kalisto before. Ryback’s rallying cry going into WrestleMania was that a good little guy can’t match up to a good big guy. He was shown up in a big way when it came time to deliver, but with the little guy having stumbled in the aftermath, Ryback’s chosen to simply hammer his original point harder. This U.S. Title rematch on the WWE Payback Kickoff is, if nothing else, a tale of diverging momentums. But Ryback should be wary this time around of declaring pre-emptive victory: What goes down often comes back up again, too.