Now that the Summer season is winding down, the WWE Superstars of Raw and SmackDown are rearing up to get some much-needed revenge on their current rivals. That means longstanding feuds, such as Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus, are set to meet their ultimate conclusion. And newly installed beefs, such as Rhea Ripley vs. Raquel Rodriguez and Seth "Freakin" Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, will also get spotlighted on WWE's September PLE spectacular. On September 2, several marquee competitors and their biggest offenders will settle their issues at WWE Payback 2023. Now let's break down every announced matchup for this event by delving into my WWE Payback 2023 predictions!
WWE Payback 2023: Matches and Predictions
WWE Payback 2023 Predictions
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (c) vs. The Judgment Day (Damian Priest and Finn Bálor) (Steel City Street Fight Match for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship)
Preview & Predictions: You know what? The Judgment Day has so much going for it...except for some meaningful victories as of late. It's been a total bummer tuning in every Monday night lately to witness some form of the stable fall in defeat to any combination of Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Seth Rollins, and Cody Rhodes. Now we're set to see the current Undisputed WWE Tag Team champions clash with their most hated rivals to date in Damian Priest and Finn Bálor in a tornado tag team match that's sure to feature everything but the kitchen sink.
After so many instances where those two badass emo dudes have taken the loss, I think the powers that be will finally throw them a bone here. Seeing as how Rhea Ripley also gave them a hell of an ultimatum beforehand (WIN...or else), I think the storyline leading up to this wild title match sets up a major victory for the two leading members of The Judgment Day. The Undisputed Tag Team titles are coming to Damian and Finn, which will strengthen their weakened levels of unity. And I'm predicting some assistance from JD McDonagh on behalf of Finn that will finally convince Damian to take him seriously as the latest member of their stable.
Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Austin Theory (WWE United States Championship)
Preview & Predictions: You know what? I kind of feel bad for Austin Theory. As a fan of his back during his days competing in EVOLVE, I just knew he had what it took to make a splash in the WWE. He's certainly established himself as an integral member of the roster thanks to his recent United States Championship run. But that reign and his push altogether have been relegated to an afterthought due to a lackluster WrestleMania 39 match against John Cena and some less-than-ideal booking after the massive victory Theory walked away with from that match. Rey Mysterio beat Theory for his championship prize and now we're here to run this match back to see if the former champ can reclaim it. I just don't see Theory getting his baby back, though - Rey Rey's going to beat him once again and most likely go on to defend it against his fellow LWO brother-in-arms Santos Escobar once this event concludes.
LA Knight vs. The Miz
Preview & Predictions: "LEMME TALK TO YA!" LA Knight continues to be the hottest thing in WWE - every time his music hits, the crowd comes unglued and hangs onto his every word. While the ideal situation would have been him challenging and beating Austin Theory for the US Championship back at SummerSlam, Knight is currently in a slow-build to something major down the line. In the meantime, he's getting the chance to work with The Miz in a bid to further solidify his winning record and keep him in the mix on both Raw and SmackDown. It's clear to me and everyone else with a functioning brain that Knight will come out on top here and continue on his road to bigger things down the line. I'd love to see Knight parlay this victory into a US Championship opportunity at October's Fastlane PLE!
Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Raquel Rodriguez (Women's World Championship)
Preview & Predictions: Our gothic mami deserves so much better, man. Rhea Ripley hasn't gotten much in the way of interesting challengers ever since she captured the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship from Charlotte Flair back at WrestleMania 39 and transitioned that title into the Women's World Championship. Defeating Zelina Vega at Backlash and Natalya at Night of Champions just doesn't really scream "impressive title reign for the ages" to me. I am thankful that an old NXT rival of Rhea is stepping up to the plate here to add a bit more intrigue to the Raw women's championship landscape. Raquel Rodriguez is a powerhouse and equal in strength/height in comparison to Rhea, which should help this match stick out on the card for its expected fierceness and brutality. As for who will be winning here, it's obviously going to be Rhea. And once Raquel's BFF Liv Morgan returns, I'm sure she'll target Rhea soon after.
Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus (Steel Cage Match)
Preview & Predictions: Damn, these two have been butting heads for a good while now! Now I'll admit - this feud hasn't really done a whole lot for me. I'm glad Zoey Stark has gotten a nice rub from this whole ordeal thanks to her association with Trish Stratus. But that's the only positive I've been able to derive from this stale storyline. The promos have been meh and the matches have been equally lackluster. But for some reason, I feel like Becky Lynch and Trish are really going to go above and beyond here to end their long-running feud on a high note with this Steel Cage Match. I'm confident that both women will produce the proper matchup that's befitting of your typical blood feud. Zoey will pop up here to aid her Hall of Fame ally, of course. But those attempts will fail as Becky will finally come out on top by vanquishing Zoey and proceeding to make Trish tap out.
Seth "Freakin" Rollins (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (World Heavyweight Championship)
Preview & Predictions: Now this Payback 2023 matchup really piques my interest! Seth Rollins, who's been having a banger of a title reign as Raw's reigning and defending World Heavyweight Champion, is now contending with a newly heel-turned-Shinsuke Nakamura. And thanks to a pretty badass Nakamura promo that was recently aired, everyone learned that Seth is currently dealing with a nagging back injury that's been intact for a couple of years now. By whispering in Seth's ear that he knows about his bad back, Nakamura has gained an advantage via mind games that I'm happy to see him bring into the picture for this feud. With this added element to the match, it really makes it seem as if Seth has a real chance at losing his title due to the mystery circulating around the severity of his injury.
Now I would love to see Nakamura finally claim a world title during this late stage of his career to make up for the botched post-WrestleMania 34 run that did a number on his credibility back in 2018. And it would make sense for Seth to drop the title here since his back injury can be used as a way to write him off the show while Nakamura runs Raw in his absence. But I know deep down in my heart and soul that there is no way Seth is dropping the title anytime soon. With PLEs such as Fastlane and Survivor Series on the horizon, I get the feeling that Seth will still be holding the title and competing in marquee matches on both of those shows. Sorry, Nakamura...
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