Last month at Extreme Rules, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins was able to retain his title by escaping from the cage in a match where Randy Orton was banned from using his signature RKO finish. To the surprise of very few, he got a helping hand from WWE Director of Operations Kane, but the odds makers clearly thought that was the storyline going in as Rollins was a heavy favorite to retain. At this point I feel compelled to emphasize that point because some people are confused about what betting on professional wrestling actually is. The outcomes are of course predetermined, but the decisions of the people WRITING those outcomes are not. Despite all evidence going in that it was planned for Rollins to retain, it only takes a five minute meeting where Vince McMahon tears up the script and calls all of the writers idiots for plans to change – often virtually at the last minute. You’re never actually wagering on who will win or lose in the ring – you’re betting on what makes the most sense from the point of view of the people in power. In last month’s case Rollins was a “safe bet” because not even Vince McMahon would take the title off him after having him beat Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 31. Here’s what will really flip your lid – the announcers at WWE Payback will talk a lot about the odds tonight during the show. They’ll say “the odds are against Seth Rollins in a fatal four-way” and “the odds aren’t in his favor.” That’s their job of course – to try and put “sports” back into “sports entertainment.” Don’t confuse their “odds” for actual odds though. If it was a shoot then Randy Orton, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose would gang up on him and leave him laying unconscious in a heap, then turn on each other to see who was left standing to pin him. The writers might even script it to look that way in the end, but WWE has long term plans for Rollins and the actual odds reflect that, as he’s -2450 against the field at +1150. Once again Rollins is a “safe bet” at Payback. In fact the field is -99999 against anyone but Rollins winning. For the outcomes that are most likely to be rewritten before the show airs look for the close lines. Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus is nearly a coin flip at -205 for the Celtic Warrior and +165 for the former golf caddy. Bray Wyatt vs. Ryback is equally close, as Wyatt is the -225 favorite and “Feed me More” comes in at +175. The longest odds other than Rollins turn out to be on the pay per view pre-show, as the newly minted “Mega Powers” of Macho Mandow and AxelMania are -565 to beat The Ascension at +375. Even if you’re not on the creative team it’s not hard to see The Ascension are treated like geeks and pinned every week. WWE Payback should be no exception. Writing any other outcome would be… weird. Please remember to wager responsibly and only what you can afford.