June 13, 2024

Payback is an apt title for Saturday’s WWE pay-per-view with many of the promotion’s top stars heading into the event with that exact thing on their mind. From a steel cage match to a street fight and several title matches, there are plenty of intriguing scraps set for the card.

Becky Lynch and Trish Stratus are set to clash inside of a steel cage in one of Payback’s featured matches. After months of Stratus taking shortcuts to get the better of Lynch, “The Man” will finally be in an environment with no easy escapes for her WWE Hall of Fame opponent.

Similarly, world heavyweight champion Seth Rollins will be looking for payback when he takes on Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura turned on Rollins and has made it clear he knows Rollins’ secret, that his back has been injured for years and is leaving the champion in constant pain.

Those are just two of the attention-grabbing matches on the Payback card. Let’s take a look through the full card along with predictions from the CBS Sports experts.

2023 WWE Payback viewing information

Date: Saturday, Sept. 2
Location: PPG Paints Arena — Pittsburgh
Start time: 8 p.m. ET (kickoff show starts at 7 p.m.)
Watch live: Peacock 

2023 WWE Payback predictions

World Heavyweight Championship — Seth Rollins (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

This feud has injected new life into Nakamura’s character. By turning him heel and allowing him to cut promos in his native Japanese, he is getting points across clearer and with more intention. Still, it doesn’t seem as though there’s any realistic way WWE puts the title on Nakamura, who is more of a plug-and-play roster member, able to be slotted in wherever needed for a month or two. Nakamura isn’t the force in the ring he once was, but can hold up his end well enough in big matches. Rollins’ run as champion will continue on a bit longer — possibly until Damian Priest cashes in the Money in the Bank contract, which shouldn’t be written out as a possibility on Saturday night. Pick: Seth Rollins retains the title — Brent Brookhouse (also Shakiel Mahjouri)

Women’s World Championship — Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Raquel Rodriguez

Ripley’s title run has been handled well and she is much more prepared to hold the title than she was during her first reign, with far more confidence in herself and on the microphone. Rodriguez is a compelling challenge as one of the only women on the roster who can match Ripley on a power level. Still, Rodriguez doesn’t feel as though she has been built up to the point where she could be a believable top champion, though that could come in the future. Ripley and Dominik Mysterio as a title-holding couple, plus Priest as Mr. Money in the Bank — and possibly world champion — being stuck with a jealous Finn Balor could be the next step for the group. Pick: Rhea Ripley retains the title — Brookhouse (also Mahjouri)

Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship — Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn (c) vs. Damian Priest & Finn Balor (Steel City Street Fight)

My theory on the direction forward for Judgment Day is that Balor is going to be the lone member without a title very soon, leading to his partnership with JD McDonagh taking priority over his loyalties to Judgment Day. That doesn’t work if he and Priest win the tag titles, though tag champions with an uneasy alliance is a wrestling story as old as the “sport.” Owens and Zayn retaining the belts and continuing their title reign as the tag division picks up a bit of steam makes perfect sense, especially if miscommunication costs Priest and Balor. Pick: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn retain the titles — Brookhouse

The outcome of Payback’s matches seem very predictable but something has to give. I’m picking the tag title match for Payback’s big upset. WWE clearly sees Judgement Day as a focal point of Raw. Despite their infighting, it doesn’t seem as if the group is anywhere close to a legitimate split. They need to win enough to offset their losses. Balor has lost consecutive world title matches and is desperate for a win, particularly after Ripley’s threats about shaking up the faction. Owens and Zayn winning at WrestleMania is an unforgettable moment, but injuries and a lack of direction have impeded their title run. A loss will free the champs up for more interesting stories while giving Judgement Day a needed boost. Make the switch. Pick: Judgment Day wins the titles — Mahjouri

United States Championship — Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Austin Theory

It was odd to see WWE pull a fast one over fans and reward Mysterio with the U.S. title over Santos Escobar. Still, the masked man is a safe choice as midcard champion and it’s great seeing the 48-year-old compete at this level. Theory benefitted from a huge push and beat John Cena at WrestleMania 39. It doesn’t get much bigger than that. Unfortunately, his U.S. title run wasn’t memorable and he’d benefit from distance from the title. Mysterio should retain so the title can benefit from some fresh matchups on SmackDown. Pick: Rey Mysterio retains the title — Mahjouri (also Brookhouse)

Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus (Steel Cage Match)

Stratus’ return has been somewhat uneven in terms of her in-ring work. Adding Zoey Stark as her protege was a smart move that took some of the heavy lifting off of Stratus’ plate. WWE loves to frame cage matches as somehow preventing interference and the more they lean into that, the more you know that interference will make up a big part of how things play out. Stark will involve herself plenty here. Were this the start of the feud, it’d be very tempting to pick Stratus to win after that interference, fueling Lynch on for revenge. Things between Lynch and Stratus have run their course, however, and now Lynch, the actual full-time roster member, needs to get the win and move along to the next part of her career. Pick: Becky Lynch wins — Brookhouse (also Mahjouri)

LA Knight vs. The Miz

The fans are treating Knight like a bonafide superstar and it’s time for WWE to do the same. Winning a sponsor-affiliated battle royal at SummerSlam was comforting but not significant enough to curry confidence. His feud with The Miz has been rather entertaining, but losing to “The A-Lister” would be absolutely deflating. This isn’t a feud that needs to last a long time. Even if WWE wants to extend the program past Payback, it should not come at the expense of Knight losing. This needs to be Knight’s slow-burn rise towards a world title. Pick: LA Knight wins — Mahjouri (also Brookhouse)

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