The Raw Breakdown Project is an examination of WWE's Monday night show from a designer's perspective. Each week, I track appearances, matches, segments and whatever else I find interesting and/or amusing, then compile my results in an infograph.
For this Payback Breakdown, I clocked the Kickoff Matches and the main show itself. The show began with an abrupt injury to Enzo Amore, but managed to have some brilliant matches (Owens vs. Zayn!) in light of a tough situation. This PPV felt somewhat different, as everyone from the announce team to Vince McMahon himself made a point of talking up the WWE's "New Era." I'm still not totally clear what that means, but if this "New Era" consists of longer Women's matches (Natalya vs. Charlotte, despite a callback to the '97 Montreal Screwjob, ended up running 20:02 from entrance to ending), then I'm all in.
Even the main event had my full attention, as Stephanie and Shane's power struggle added a pair of stipulations to the bout between A.J. Styles and Roman Reigns. Much to the consternation of the Chicago crowd, the night ended with Reigns victorious, but with a rematch between the two already set for the main event of Extreme Rules, I'm curious to see how WWE progresses moving forward.
Here's a brief explanation of what was tracked last night:
Focus on Announce Team: Any time the camera is focused on Michael Cole, Byron Saxton and JBL, or the Payback Kickoff Panel (Renee Young, Booker T, Jerry Lawler and Corey Graves).
Video Packages: Any and all video packages promoting the card.
In-Ring Action: The matches – can be scheduled or impromptu. Must have a referee present. Timer starts when/if the first entrance music hits, and ends when the camera cuts to the next segment. If the match is already in progress when we return from commercial, the timer will start then. Match timer is paused for commercial breaks.
In-Ring Segment: Any non-match segment that occurs in the ring. Promos before matches do not count (as they are considered part of the match segment). If there is a promo that results in a match, the segments are counted separately. I counted the New Day's cold open last night as an in-ring segment.
Backstage: Anything that happens backstage or "off-site."
Recaps: I only time recaps when they are separate from the segment at hand. I consider the recaps within segments (the ones relevant to the one at hand) as part of the segment.
Commercials: Self explanatory. Yes, I counted every Camp WWE commercial.
Got it? Great! Here's my Payback Breakdown: