WWE Payback 2023 is a WWE PLE that took place on September 2, 2023. The event aired from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA.
John Cena was announced as the host of the show just a day before the event. Seth Rollins vs Shinsuke Nakamura match for World Heavyweight Championship headlined the event. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn defended Tag Team titles against Judgment Day’s Finn Balor & Damian Priest.
- Becky Lynch vs Trish Stratus – Steel Cage match
- Winner: Becky Lynch
- The Miz vs LA Knight(John Cena was a special guest referee)
- Winner: LA Knight
- Rey Mysterio(c) vs Austin Theory – WWE United States Championship
- Winner: Rey Mysterio
- Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn(c) vs Judgment Day(Finn Balor & Damian Priest) – Steel City Street Fight for WWE Tag Team Championship
- Winner: Judgment Day
- Segment: Cody Rhodes on The Grayson Waller Effect
- Rhea Ripley(c) vs Raquel Rodriguez – Women’s World Championship
- Winner: Rhea Ripley
- Seth Rollins(c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura – World Heavyweight Championship
- Winner: Seth Rollins
NOTES & STORYLINES
This is the eighth PLE from WWE in 2023, and the twelfth PLE including NXT PLEs. This is also the seventh event in the Payback series. The event was a regular event in WWE PPV calendar from 2013 to 2017. The event also took place in 2020.
WWE revealed on June 16, 2023, that Payback will return to WWE PLE Schedule in 2023, and would take place on September 2. The tickets went on sale on June 27, 2023. Around 12,500 tickets were reportedly sold. The official attendance was announced to be 14,584.
John Cena announced that he would be the host of Payback 2023 during SmackDown September 1 episode. On the show, Cena announced that he would be the special guest referee for The Miz vs LA Knight match.
Cody Rhodes joined The Grayson Waller Effect talkshow segment where he revealed that he had used his influence to bring Jey Uso to RAW roster. Jey Uso had quit WWE and The Bloodline on August 11 SmackDown episode and was not seen ever since.
Seth Rollins(c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura – World Heavyweight Championship
Shinsuke Nakamura volunteered to team up with Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes for a tag team match against Judgment Day when Sami Zayn pulled out on RAW August 7 episode. After they won the match, Nakamura attacked Rollins with kinshasa. Next week, Rollins and Nakamura met in the ring and agreed to a match for World Heavyweight Championship. When they were shaking hands on it, Nakamura told something to Rollins, which seemed to have disturbed Rollins deeply. Nakamura took advantage by hitting him with another kinshasa. On RAW August 21 episode, WWE announced this match for Payback 2023.
On August 28 RAW, Rollins called out Nakamura to play out any more of his mind games that were left. A video featuring Nakamura aired on the big screen where Nakamura said he would not only beat Rollins, but pummel him such that even his wife would remember that he was responsible for Rollins’ condition. Nakamura then attacked Rollins from behind with another kinshasa.
Rhea Ripley(c) vs Raquel Rodriguez- Women’s World Championship
Raquel Rodriguez and Liv Morgan stood up to Rhea Ripley’s bullying Natalya. Rhea warned them of not getting engaged in her matters. On July 17 RAW episode, Rhea injured Raquel’s knee which ended up costing them the Women’s Tag Team Championship match against Sonya Deville & Chelsea Green. Rhea also injured Liv Morgan later. Raquel was not cleared for action but still engaged in with Rhea in the latter weeks. On August 21 RAW episode, Raquel attacked Rhea once again before revealing that she was cleared for action and their match was booked for Payback.
A video featuring Raquel’s promo aired on August 28 RAW episode, where she claimed that she was stronger than Rhea. Rhea countered with a promo saying Raquel could only talk. Raquel came out to attack Rhea and forced her to retreat.
Becky Lynch vs Trish Stratus- Steel Cage Match
Trish Stratus turned on Becky Lynch in April 2023 after a pinfall on Trish led to them losing WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship. Trish then defeated Becky as Zoey Stark attacked Becky to join Trish. The storyline between them continued with Trish and Zoey doubling up on Becky often. They were all part of women’s Money in the Bank ladder match, but were unsuccessful in winning the briefcase. After MITB, Becky once again started to ask for a match against Trish. Trish put up a condition that Becky needs to beat Zoey in order to get a match against her. Becky defeated Zoey on July 24 RAW episode.
Trish was ordered to face Becky on July 31 RAW, but Zoey attacked Becky just after the match started to cause a DQ. A rematch was set on announced on August 14 RAW, but that match ended in a double countout draw. Zoey joined the post-match brawl to take Becky down. Adam Pearce then told Trish that her next match against Becky will be a steel cage match. On August 21 RAW, WWE revealed that the match will take place at Payback.
Rey Mysterio(c) vs Austin Theory – WWE United States Championship
Santos Escobar defeated his LWO stablemate Rey Mysterio to win United States Championship Invitational tournament to earn a title shot. The match was set to take place on August 11 SmackDown episode, but Theory attacked Escobar backstage and injured him. He once again attacked Escobar during the entrance, making him unable to compete. Rey Mysterio replaced Escobar in the match and defeated Theory to win the title. The following week, Theory defeated LA Knight to become the #1 contender for the title once again. WWE then annouced the match to take place at Payback 2023 event.
LA Knight vs The Miz
LA Knight eliminated The Miz from Battle Royal at Summerslam 2023. The Miz did not handle this loss well, and started hurling insults at Knight. Knight confronted The Miz on August 7 RAW episode for a verbal fight. Miz cost LA Knight the United States title #1 contender match against Austin Theory on SmackDown August 18 episode. Knight distracted The Miz on RAW August 21 episode where he was beaten by Akira Tozawa. The Miz said Knight’s popularity is just a blip, and called him a fad and Napster. The commentary team later revealed the match between them at Payback. Just before the match, John Cena announced that he would be the special guest referee for the match.
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn(c) vs Judgment Day(Finn Balor & Damian Priest) – Steel City Street Fight for WWE Tag Team Championship
The rivalry for Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn with Judgment Day started on RAW May 15 episode when Finn Balor and Damian Priest defeated them in a tag team match. The storyline continued and it led to Owens, Sami and Cody Rhodes beating Judgment Day in a trios match. Both sides were involved in several segments and brawls after this. On RAW July 10 episode, Judgment Day defeated Owens, Sami & Cody Rhodes in a trios match. On July 17 RAW, Owens & Sami retained the title against Priest & Dominik. On July 24 RAW, Dominik defeated Sami to retain NXT North American Championship after Sami was distracted due to an attack on Owens by Priest and Rhea.
Owens was sidelined for a few weeks due to this beatdown. Sami continued the rivalry with the help from Seth and Cody. Owens returned on August 21 RAW where they lost a tag team match via disqualification against Balor and Priest when he used MITB briefcase to hit Balor. Courtesy of this win, Balor and Priest got a title shot which was announced for Payback. Owens & Sami later cut a promo regarding their frustrations with Judgment Day and said they have got the match turned into a Steel City Street Fight.