heyman-axelThe dust has settled from Extreme Rules and the build to WWE’s newest PPV ‘Payback’ can begin. We all know Cena will be back to accept The Ryback’s challenge, but will the ratings go back up now that he’s back? Since the show is in Calgary, will Bret Hart Appreciation Night be part of the live telecast or will WWE fill the show with squash matches and comedy segments? How will Curtis Axel fare after his ‘shocking’ re-debut last week? Who really is the weak link in the team of Daniel Bryan and Kane? Will Dolph Ziggler return to start building his WHC match with Del Rio? Also, will Jerry Lawler ever Believe In The Shield?

Bret Hart: So they actually put The Hitman on the live show. It wasn’t the actual Appreciation Night segment, but at least they acknowledged being in Calgary and featured him. It was during a backstage argument between Kane and Bryan and the camera panning to reveal Bret was a nice move. Giving a pep talk to Bryan was a way to involve him briefly without taking away anything or taking up too much time. His ‘advice’ to Curtis Axel later on didn’t work as well. However, getting to see The Hitman on WWE television is never a bad thing.

Daniel Bryan: I’m liking this new direction for Bryan’s character. Not only is he good at portraying aggressiveness, but what’s being talked about in backstage segments is translating to the ring. Bryan is arguing with Kane that he’s not the weak link of the team, so he tries to overcompensate and is extra combative during a match. The connection between backstage and in-ring is something not really seen in WWE lately. Being overly aggressive costs him and Kane their rematch against The Shield for the Tag Titles. It appears that this and Bryan’s new attitude will be the catalyst of his breakup with Kane.

Highlight Reel: Chris Jericho hosting The Highlight Reel with Paul Heyman as his guest? Yes please! Having two of the best talkers in the company right now going at it verbally makes for great television. What made it even more interesting is that they avoided the obvious topic of Curtis Axel and Jericho instead went for another Paul Heyman Guy in CM Punk. After calling out Punk for walking out and some great back and forth with Heyman, Y2J perhaps surprisingly challenges Punk to a match at Payback in Punk’s hometown of Chicago. The debate will now start if this is the best way to bring Punk back, however the ease at which Heyman accepted Jericho’s leads one to believe that he has something up his sleeve.

Ryback: The crowd is already chanting ‘Goldberg’ when Ryback is in the ring and the comparisons have been made for months. So WWE decides to give him a biker jacket to wear that’s similar to Goldberg? Are they purposely making the comparison or is this just some way to get more merchandise sold? Knowing WWE it’s probably the latter. They’re either going all in on the Goldberg comparison for some reason or Ryback is actually a member of Aces & Eights trying to cause havoc. Oh poor TNA…

3 Stages Of…?: Initially Cena’s counter challenge to Ryback to make their match at Payback a 3 Stages of Hell match seems like a good idea since they obviously had to do something bigger then Last Man Standing. However, on further review there are some issues. This will be only the 4th edition in history with the previous 3 all involving Triple H. Since the concept is used so sparingly, it would mean this is an incredibly hot feud, right? The 1st edition happened between H and Stone Cold after Hunter was revealed as the mastermind behind Austin getting run over by a car. The 2nd was the culmination of a bitter rivalry between HHH and Shawn Michaels. So when stacked up against those two, Cena-Ryback just doesn’t have that same appeal or background. Perhaps both guys can raise it to that level, but not if Ryback cuts more cringe-worthy promos.

Axel: In the main event of RAW, Curtis Axel defeated John Cena………………….via countout. Ha! As if WWE would actually have SuperCena lose clean to anyone. It had the traits of a typical Cena match as he got beat down for most of it and made some comebacks. However, Ryback’s distraction via ambulance draws Cena away and gives Axel the win. Not exactly the best way to start his ‘career’, but the victory doesn’t feel like it means much since it was overshadowed by the Cena-Ryback feud. They should have him start picking over victories over opponents where he can beat them convincingly.