WWE is wasting no time jumping right into its next pay-per-view, holding this Sunday's Payback event just seven days after SummerSlam. That show ended with Roman Reigns making his surprise return and attacking both "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman, and now "The Big Dog" will challenge both men in a No Holds Barred Match with the Universal title on the line. Elsewhere on the card Apollo Crews will defend his United States Championship against Bobby Lashley, Keith Lee will take on Randy Orton and Sasha Banks and Bayley will defend their WWE Women's Tag Team Championships against the unlikely duo of Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax.
We've assembled ComicBook's team of wrestling writers to break down the biggest questions heading into Sunday's show. Who do you think will walk out as Universal Champion? Let us know in the comments below!
How Do You Feel About WWE Putting This Show a Week After SummerSlam?
Connor Casey: I hope this is a one-time thing. One week of television isn't enough time to hype up an entire pay-per-view card. I'm glad that it's not all rematches from SummerSlam, but I do not want this to become the norm.
Ryan Droste: It's okay for a one time thing (is this an excuse to put the belt back on Roman very quickly?), but shouldn't be come the norm. I think this might be the first time WWE has held a PPV this close to another since This Tuesday In Texas in 1991?
Evan Valentine: I'm not that big of a fan of it, to be honest. I think the monthly schedule gives fans to somewhat decompress following the major storylines coming to a head with each pay-per-view, and having this arrive a week following SummerSlam takes something away from the weekly shows to be honest.
Matt Aguilar: Typically I'd be more annoyed than anything, but honestly, I'm not too mad about it. The card actually looks interesting and doesn't seem to be a bunch of retreads, which was my greatest fear. I don't want to see this become a standard thing mind you, but in this case, I'm cool with WWE doing something different.prevnext
Is Roman Winning Right Away?
Connor: I'll say yes. Reigns' return at SummerSlam was excellent and, based on what we've seen so far, I dig what they're doing to change up his character. I'm not crazy about Wyatt having yet another lackluster championship reign, but having Roman be an unstoppable world champion as a tweener (neither heel nor face) could give SmackDown the jolt of life it desperately needs.
Ryan: I hope so, yes. This Braun Strowman vs. Fiend feud stinks.
Evan: Yes. *laughs* My desire for the "Fiend Faction" is leading me to believe that the bout results in Braun officially joining with Bray, but I can't see a world where the big return of Roman sees him losing his first official match back.
Matt: WWE has painted themselves into some corners recently, and this is yet another example. I think yeah, after that huge return at SummerSlam, how do you not give him the win here? Thing is, you then sacrifice Fiend yet again, and it took so long to build him back up to a credible threat, so you will undoubtedly undermine all that effort by having Reigns pulverize him here. Feel like that could've been handled better, but it would be worse for WWE to squander that awesome return from Reigns.prevnext
Do Sasha Banks and Bayley Drop the Tag Titles?
Connor: We keep inching closer to the long-awaited Sasha vs. Bayley feud, and the next thing that needs to happen is they lose the tag titles. I'm not crazy about them losing to an impromptu team like Shayna and Nia, but it feels like it's going to happen.
Ryan: It definitely feels like it is happening. Like Connor, doing it to an impromptu team like this feels....odd. Then again, the women's tag division isn't exactly deep. I'm not a huge fan of them dropping the belts here, even if I do think they've dropped the ball with Shayna Baszler big time this year. It seems like it is going to happen, though. For that reason, I'm actually going to pick *against* them losing here and say they wait a few weeks before they finally drop the tag titles.
Evan: With the loss of Sasha's belt to Asuka during SummerSlam, the wheels are in motion to destroy the friendship storyline that has run just a bit too long for me. With Sasha stripped of all her belts, it could point her directly at Bayley.
Matt: Yeah, I think this is the next step in the fall of the Golden Role Models. That would leave Banks without any belt, furthering the rift between her and Bayley, and it would also give Shayna and Nia something kind of interesting to work with, so win-win all around.prevnext
How Worried Are You About Keith Lee Right Now?
Connor: I'm definitely concerned after what I saw on Raw, but all of this is still salvageable. There are already reports out there that Lee is getting new music on Sunday and picking up a win over Orton (by any means) would instantly establish Lee as a main event player. Don't hit the panic button just yet, but keep it nearby.
Ryan: I am very concerned. WWE does not have a great track record at taking someone from NXT and making them a star on the main roster. More often than not, they have dropped the ball. Especially in the men's division. I'm not sure how anyone signed off on that theme music or that outfit, which proves to me that not a lot has been learned here. They need to do a quick match that Lee dominates and wins here to recover.
Evan: As Lee stated, "the music is out of his hands" and I'm excited to see his match against Orton. I'm not too worried...yet.
Matt: Connor keeps trying to talk me down, and I understand where Lee is coming from, but he's not the problem, it's how WWE handles NXT stars on the other brands. I just don't trust them with NXT stars until they start to buck the trend, and with Bianca Belair, Shayna Baszler, Matt Riddle, and more nowhere near where they should be, they're going to have to prove it before I believe it. Having Lee win against Orton will be a step in the right direction, and don't get it twisted, Lee is a damn star, but I am worried, and likely still will be after Payback.prevnext
Do We See Drew McIntyre on This Show?
Connor: If he runs in and helps Lee beat Orton then I'm all for it. Otherwise, give him the night off.
Ryan: I hope not because if he is, it's going to be in the Orton/Lee match and I don't think that's the direction they should take. Have Keith Lee dominate on his own. A backstage promo seems likely, though.
Evan: Imagine if he runs into the Roman, Braun, Bray match wearing a "Wreck Everything And Leave" shirt. I'm sure we'll see him in some capacity, but not with an official match after his big win against Orton.
Matt: Agree with Connor and Evan on this. He might show up, but it should be in a small role in the Lee or Reigns match.prevnext
Who Is Your MVP of WWE for 2020 Right Now?
Connor: I think it has to be Asuka. Of all the people on the roster, she seemed to handle the Performance Center setting better than anyone and has delivered some absolute bangers with Sasha Banks and Bayley. McIntyre is a close second.
Ryan: The team of Sasha and Bayley. McIntyre would be close behind, I think he's been a great champion under difficult circumstances.
Evan: It's The Fiend. It's the most interesting storyline running right now and Bray Wyatt has created a character and personality so bizarre, you can't help but love it.
Matt: Bayley and Sasha, and yes, they are a package deal at the moment. This program doesn't work without either one being at the top of their game, and they've given a boost to not just SmackDown but also Raw and NXT, not to mention their work on pay-per-views. Every time they appear they deliver not only great matches but also genuinely funny promos, featuring everything from Bayley Dos Straps to Sasha's hilarious impression of The Undertaker. They are money whenever they are on screen, and the crazy thing is we haven't even received the big payoff yet to their feud, so Ding Dong, this choice is easy.prevnext
WWE Has a Draft Coming Up. Who Do You Want to See Moved to Another Roster?
Connor: Have Seth Rollins and AJ Styles switch. Seth is quickly running out of opponents to feud with on Raw's midcard and Styles could get some excellent work out of programs with Drew and Keith. Yeah, I know he asked to leave Raw, but Paul Heyman is gone now!
Ryan: Well now that Paul Heyman has returned to SmackDown, not long after Styles reportedly left Raw to get away from him, I'm going to bet Styles moves back to Raw. There's a huge lack of top level heels on the Raw roster as potential challengers for Drew McIntyre.0comments
Evan: So here's a weird thought, but why not split up Big E and Kofi Kingston, bringing one of them to opposing shows, have them ascend the ranks and become champions of their respective slots, and then battle one another in a match that would shake the New Day to its core?
Matt: I think the Street Profits would be a great fit on SmackDown, which would also mean that Bianca Belair moves to SD, and I think the roster would be a better fit for her as well. I think Miz and Morrison need to be split up, as Morrison is primed for a great solo run and Miz needs to get back to being the best heel in the game, and splitting them up between the brands would kick off both.prev