It may not be one of the big 4, but the annual event has given us good action…so, here are our top 5 Payback battles, as we get into ranking the best.
Now, it’s easy to sort of overlook a non-major premium live event.
After all, Payback tends to be a bit of rebound event.
But Payback? We’ve only been enjoying it since 2013, making the 2023 edition the 10th anniversary show…sort of.
10 years, yes. But, due to some lapses, not ten shows.
And in those ten years, we’ve gotten this show twice in June, twice in May, once in April, August and now September.
So, as we look back at the six previous shows, let’s call out the five best or most significant matches the show has given us, from good to great.
Chris Jericho versus CM Punk (2013)
Depending on how things go…you are talking about two future WWE Hall of Famers.
Granted, both men currently work for AEW, but back then they obviously did not, since the company didn’t yet exist.
Two of the best to ever do it (who are still generally pretty good), locked horns at the first-ever Payback. In doing so, they delivered one of the best matches on any Payback.
Seth Rollins versus Dean Ambrose versus Roman Reigns versus Randy Orton (2015)
Remember that future Hall of Fame theme from the 5th best match?
Same idea here. This fatal four-way featured four of the best in the business-then and now.
The SHIELD was no more at this point, but it gave fans a lot of fun, with some reunion moments during the match.
Roman Reigns versus AJ Styles (2016)
Not the first time Reigns makes the list, nor will it be the last.
Here is yet another classic between two of the best in the business today.
Reigns was not even as good then as he is now. Styles was already a long-established top flight talent globally, even before stepping foot in a WWE ring.
Together, they delivered one of the better Payback battles.
Sami Zayn versus Kevin Owens (2016)
These two are best friends once again in 2023, but back in 2016, they were bitter enemies.
It is a bit of a cycle for these two. Since their time on the independent circuit, and then during their time in NXT…and the on again, off again feud followed them to the main roster and even a Payback match.
Any time these two get to work together-either as partners or as opponents-good things happen. This match was no different.
Bray Wyatt versus Braun Strowman versus Roman Reigns (2020)
On paper, this triple threat match might not seem all that awesome.
I mean, sure, all three have held world championships, but none will ever be confused with great technical wrestlers.
So if that is the case, then why is this match here?
Simply put, this match is of historic significance.
Because this is where the reign of the Tribal Chief begins.
His record-breaking run begins at Payback in 2020.
Arguably, there were better quality matches on this very card. I’d call out Rollins and Murphy versus The Mysterios, for example.
However, while that tag match was an early example of what Dom Mysterio could become, it pales in comparison to the day one of the longest world title reigns in WWE history began.
It may be safe to expect that matches from future Paybacks will surpass some matches on this list…perhaps eventually all of them.
But for now, these five stand out as five of the best or most significant matches Payback has ever given us.