WWE Payback 2017: 5 Must-See Matches from PPV’s History

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4. AJ Styles vs Roman Reigns (2016)

Payback 2016 was the first pay per view of WWE’s “New Era.” The main event of last year’s Payback was AJ Styles going one-on-one with Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.  The Big Dog defeated Triple H for the title at WrestleMania 32, this was his first title defense.

AJ Styles became the number one contender following an awesome Raw After ‘Mania main event where he defeated Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho and a returning Cesaro. Only three months into his WWE run, the phenomenal one was challenging for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship headlining the first post-WrestleMania pay per view.

WWE was very aware what kind of reception Reigns was going to get from the Chicago fans, so throughout this match not only was the Big Dog booed like the top heel but he did, in fact, react to the crowd like a monster heel. Styles felt like the company’s top babyface since he debuted at the Royal Rumble. Needless to say, the fans at the Allstate Arena that night were soundly behind the phenomenal one.

Fans that are critical of Roman Reigns will dismiss this match because when it was all said and done, he won. However, this match was not simply “Roman Wins LOL.” The former Mr. TNA was booked incredibly strong against Vince McMahon’s chosen one, that cannot be ignored.

When Styles decided to come to the WWE, fans were worried that he would be booked similar to Diamond Dallas Page or Sting. He was another talent that made his name elsewhere and came to WWE just to get buried by Vince’s homegrown talent. Instead, we saw Styles deliver a phenomenal forearm to Reigns that put him through the announcer’s table.

In fact, the former leader of Bullet Club beat the former Shield member twice in one night. The first time via count-out after the aforementioned phenomenal forearm through the table and the second time via disqualification after Roman accidently delivered a low-blow.

First, Shane McMahon came out and proclaimed that’s not how main events ended in the new era. Then after the DQ, Stephanie McMahon came out to outdo her brother and add the No-DQ stipulation. After interference from Gallows and Anderson, and then the Usos; the champion would retain after hitting the spear and getting the decisive pinfall victory.

This match should not be dismissed as them pushing Roman “down our throats.” This was a good match. AJ Styles impressed those backstage who matter most, so much that a year later he is a former WWE World Champion and is considered “the face that runs the place” on SmackDown.