Chicago will host the latest WWE pay-per-view event, Payback, on Sunday night. The home city of CM Punk will likely be rabid for a wrestler who hasn't been seen in months and almost certainly isn't coming back, but the WWE will put its best foot forward nonetheless. The card itself is a mixed bag of mostly retreads, but it has a high upside potential.
Payback will begin on pay-per-view and on the WWE Network at 8 p.m. ET, with a live pre-show and bonus match starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Here's the full rundown of the card. Consider this your cheat sheet to everything that's worth knowing (and some things that aren't).
Hair vs. Mask Match: Hornswoggle vs. El Torito
What am I looking at here? You may remember that these two gentlemen tussled at Extreme Rules last month, in the shockingly enjoyable (with the sound muted) ... *exasperated sigh* ... "WeeLC Match." Hornswoggle is the guy who looks like the inside piece of a matryoshka doll of Chumlee from "Pawn Stars," while El Torito is a tiny bull.
Why you should care: It's a hair vs. mask match! Luchas de apuestas are ALWAYS worth watching, even when they're huge bags of garbage. This BLOOD FEUD has reached the point where Hornswoggle and his cohorts 3MB have stolen THE VERY TAIL FROM EL TORITO'S BODY. Expect revenge. Or perhaps even ... payback? No, probably not payback. That would be silly.
Rusev vs. Big E
What am I looking at here? Rusev is a Russian mauler and/or "Bulgarian Brute," depending on which backstory they're going with on any given week. He is managed by Lana, who loves Vladimir Putin. Big E is a middle-school drawing of boobs with a head plopped on top.
Why you should care: Rusev is an evil foreigner, so if you love America, you should root for Big E. Also, Rusev's first couple of months in WWE were spent destroying ... a certain type of opponent. So fingers crossed that this match ends with the formation of the ALL-NEW Nation of Domination.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Bad News Barrett (c) vs. Rob Van Dam
WWE Payback 2014
WWE Payback 2014
What am I looking at here? Bad News Barrett is a British guy with a busted nose who continually has bad news for everyone. He recently became the Intercontinental champ for the fourth time. We ... we don't talk about his first three reigns. Rob Van Dam is an "ECW Original" with an airbrush fixation and Schrödinger's hair. He's won more titles in the WWE than "Stone Cold" Steve Austin or The Undertaker.
Why you should care: Because Bad News Barrett is going to knock the humidity out of Rob's hair with an elbow and it's going to be great. Or you can play a game where your friends take bets on how many seconds into the match Rob Van Dam will start gasping for air.
Divas Championship Match: Paige (c) vs. Alicia Fox
What am I looking at here? Paige is the pale, English Divas Champion who is still quite new to the WWE main roster. Alicia Fox has been slowly losing her mind over the past month, giving wedgies to timekeepers, stealing announcers' hats and pouring sodas on herself when she loses.
Why you should care: Because Paige is a great wrestler and Alicia is better than anyone gives her credit for. Also because we're all endlessly fascinated to see where this Alicia Fox breakdown business is going. Either she wins the title and becomes an insane champion, or she loses and freaks out again. Either way, we will be entertained.
United States Championship Match: Sheamus (c) vs. Cesaro
What am I looking at here? Sheamus is the beefy jar of mayonnaise doing Flaming Carrot cosplay. Cesaro is the tall balding guy. They're both quite strong.
Why you should care: Tepid build-up to this match aside, these are two of the biggest and best bruisers in the company and they're going to go out there and clubber the absolute piss out of one another. Don't be self-conscious if you find yourself squealing with delight at their feats of clubbering. Just go with it.
Last Man Standing Match: John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
What am I looking at here? John Cena is John Cena. The creepy guy with the big bearded guys is Bray Wyatt. They're a cult (of sorts) and they're trying to show Cena that the time for heroes is over. Or something. I'll be honest with you: I haven't paid a lot of attention, because they really should have wrapped this feud after WrestleMania.
Why you should care: I couldn't begin to tell you. This is the rubber match between these two and it desperately needs to be the last word in this interminable feud (which started out promising). Anything less than a John Cena heel turn (which isn't going to happen) or a CM Punk run-in (which is super-duper not going to happen) is just going to be "whatever." Or they'll surprise us all and give us something really fun and original! (Spoiler: they won't.)
No Holds Barred Elimination Match: The Shield vs. Evolution
What am I looking at here? The Shield is comprised of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns (the guys in the SWAT team gear). Evolution is Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista (who is likely going on hiatus very soon, in part to promote Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy film).
Why you should care: At Extreme Rules, these six men absolutely tore the house down in one of the best WWE six-man tag matches of all time. These are six wrestlers on top of their game right now and the added "anything goes" and elimination stipulations should be all they need to have this main event singlehandedly redeem the whole show. And of course, there's always the chance the Shield could break up, or Evolution could add a new, surprise member ... or both.
And in addition to all of the above, Daniel Bryan is also supposed to announce whether he's going to relinquish the WWE World Heavyweight Championship while he recovers from a neck injury. (I suppose I should further note that Stephanie McMahon has threatened to fire his wife Brie Bella, if he doesn't give up the Championship, but I could barely muster the strength to tell you there's a third Cena/Wyatt match. Let's ... let's just try to enjoy the main event, shall we?)