John Cena Endorses LA Knight and Biggest Takeaways from WWE Payback 2023 Results

John Cena Endorses LA Knight and Biggest Takeaways from WWE Payback 2023 Results
Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantTwitter LogoFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 3, 2023

John Cena Endorses LA Knight and Biggest Takeaways from WWE Payback 2023 Results

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    LA Knight received the John Cena stamp of approval at Payback.

    LA Knight received the John Cena stamp of approval at Payback.Credit: WWE.com

    A largely lackluster build didn’t stop WWE from producing a well-received Payback 2023, continuing the company’s streak of strong showings on pay-per-view this year.

    Becky Lynch and Trish Stratus set the tone for the night with a hot Steel Cage clash, culminating in The Man emerging victorious and finally giving the WWE Hall of Famer her comeuppance.

    Lynch wasted no time in announcing her intentions to challenge for championship gold, but not a title many would expect.

    Payback host John Cena also made his presence felt in a major way by serving as special guest referee for The Miz vs. LA Knight and endorsing the latter following his win. Whether it was meant to plant the seeds for something bigger between the two remains to be seen.

    The Judgment Day unseating Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens as undisputed WWE tag team champions was a significant shocker and shakes things up both within the tag team division and the faction itself.

    From the endgame for the United States Championship to what’s next for Lynch, these are the top takeaways from this year’s Payback.

John Cena Must Endorse and Elevate LA Knight in Remainder of SmackDown Run

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    John Cena being back in WWE through the end of October creates countless possibilities, but his involvement in The Miz vs. LA Knight match at Payback could be a sign of what’s to come for him.

    One spot during the contest saw Knight and Cena go face-to-face when The Megastar nearly got himself disqualified. After he scored the victory, the two shook hands on the stage and showed respect toward one another.

    It was the ultimate endorsement of Knight by the 16-time world champion, but there should be more to come between them.

    While a one-on-one affair seems to be the most obvious direction to go in, having them team up would work just as well. Knight is already being fast-tracked to the top of the card, and having Cena be a small part of his ascent could do wonders for his career.

    As for their opponents, Austin Theory and Grayson Waller recently joined forces on SmackDown and would be the perfect foils for the two fan favorites.

    That program can play out over the next month and result in a massive momentum-building win for Knight at Fastlane on October 7.

Becky Lynch, Your Next NXT Women’s Champion

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    Becky Lynch putting her rivalry to rest with Trish Stratus and coming out on top was inevitable, but how WWE would follow up on her big win over the WWE Hall of Famer was unknown.

    However, her backstage confrontation with NXT women’s champion Tiffany Stratton may have answered that question.

    Stratton and Lynch already teased tension with their interaction on social media last month, and now all signs point to The Man setting her sights on her NXT Women’s Championship.

    It’s the one title Lynch has yet to hold, and a temporary program with the NXT standout would keep her busy for the foreseeable future, especially if the idea is to hold off on her challenging Rhea Ripley for the Women’s World Championship until later down the line.

    Even if Lynch’s return to NXT is short-lived, it would lend a lot of credibility to Stratton and its women’s division to have her around. It would also give The Man a chance to freshen up her character after being a regular on Raw this past year.

Rey Mysterio vs. Santos Escobar Is United States Championship Endgame

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    Rey Mysterio retaining his United States Championship against Austin Theory at Payback was imperative. The former titleholder had nothing to gain from getting the belt back, and the veteran’s reign has only just begun.

    The long-term story WWE appears to be telling is with Mysterio and LWO cohort Santos Escobar. And if executed properly, it could be a WrestleMania-worthy attraction.

    Of course, the fashion in which he captured the title was suspect. He filled in for an “injured” Escobar and has yet to grant him a rightful opportunity at the title.

    There will come a time when Escobar’s frustration boils over and he betrays Mysterio. Pitting the two against each other with the star-spangled prize on the line should be the endgame, specifically with Escobar going over and taking the belt.

    It’s an angle WWE would be wise not to rush into, though. Escobar will benefit big time from working with Mysterio through WrestleMania season and beating him for his first taste of gold on the main roster.

Tag Team Title Win Breathes New Life into The Judgment Day

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    The tension being teased within The Judgment Day has been Raw’s top story for months, and it was expected another loss for them against Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens at Payback would cause them to go their separate way.

    Instead, Finn Bálor and Damian Priest proved to be a cohesive unit with the interference from Dominik Mysterio, Rhea Ripley and JD McDonagh paying dividends. The chaos was too much for Zayn and Owens to overcome, and The Judgment Day were crowned the new champs.

    Owens and Zayn still had plenty of fresh competition to defend against and could eventually regain the gold, but the key is freshening up the faction and delaying their demise for another day.

    Coming out of the event, all members are holding hardware and once again the most dominant force on not only Raw but also the whole of WWE. Owens and Zayn will again thrive in chase mode while Priest and Bálor can get back to being on the same page.

    If WWE is adamant about elongating the shelf life of The Judgment Day, giving them the tag titles in a shocking turn of events was the way to accomplish that.

Jey Uso Primed for Continued Singles Success on Raw

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    Jey Uso “quitting” SmackDown days removed from Jimmy Uso costing him the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam seemed to suggest the company was waiting until WrestleMania 40 to pull the trigger on the two finally feuding.

    Less than a month later, he’s already reemerged as a member of the Raw roster, at least according to Cody Rhodes at Payback.

    In an unexpected development, The American Nightmare claimed he was able to pull some strings and get the beloved Uso away from his family on Friday nights. This opens up the door for a bright singles future for him on the red brand, at least until the time comes for him and Jimmy to rekindle their rivalry en route to WrestleMania 40.

    WWE did something similar almost a year ago with Rey Mysterio moving to SmackDown after Dominik turned his back on him in order to kill time ahead of their inevitable ‘Mania match.

    Jey currently has so much fanfare that it’s logical WWE wouldn’t want it to go to waste by sidelining him for the remainder of the year. On Raw, he can challenge Gunther for the Intercontinental Championship, make an enemy out of The Judgment Day or maybe enter the World Heavyweight Championship scene.

    Regardless of what he does on the red brand, he’s primed for a successful singles run if his recent rivalry with Roman Reigns is any indication of what he’s capable of on his own.

Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura Falls Flat Due to Predictable Outcome

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    Despite the commendable job WWE has done in repackaging Shinsuke Nakamura as a menacing heel since SummerSlam, a majority of the audience didn’t view him as a legitimate threat to take the World Heavyweight Championship from Seth Rollins.

    Consequently, that was the leading reason why their Payback main event fell flat.

    From an in-ring standpoint, there was nothing technically wrong with their bout. They worked exceptionally well together and told a solid story throughout, with The Artist targeting Rollins’ injured back.

    There was a slight chance of WWE swerving the world with a shock win for Nakamura, but it simply made more sense for The Visionary to retain. Moreover, The King of Strong Style has been marginalized for so long that it was understandably difficult for fans to view him as being on Rollins’ level.

    With the titleholder winning in clean fashion, WWE should head into a different direction for Fastlane and start building up credible contenders for Rollins to defend against. That includes Cody Rhodes, who hinted at challenging him coming out of SummerSlam.

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