SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
(Meyers’s Peacock Analysis: This is the inaugural WWE PPV on the Peacock streaming service. The immediate first impression is that it provides no pause / rewind / fast-forward features for live events. This is a considerable downgrade in functionality from the WWE Network right out of the gate. This is confirmed on Peacock’s website.)
“Peacock lets you fast forward, rewind and pause movies and TV shows. Please note if you are watching a live event, channel, or trending content these features may not be accessible.”
Kickoff Panel: Kayla Braxton, Booker T, Booker T, Peter Rosenberg
-The panel did a rundown of tonight’s matches, ending with McIntyre vs. Sheamus which led into a video package illustrating the 20-year history of these wrestlers. Afterward, Lawler said there’s no such thing as friendships in this business, and when you’re patting someone on the back, you’re just looking for a place to stab them. The panel unanimously picked McIntyre to win tonight.
-The panel reviewed footage of Banks defeating Jax to defend her championship from Smackdown. The panel implied that the Banks and Belair pairing is a mere aside to their upcoming match at WrestleMania. They even moved the discussion past tonight’s match at hand and discussed the premier matchup of Belair vs. Banks at WrestleMania.
-A video package was shown for Orton vs. Bliss. Lawlor said the footage gave him the creeps, and reminded him of watching the Exorcist. Booker admitted that this concept was beyond his area of expertise. Peter said he wants nothing to do with Orton or Bliss, but he’s interested in what happens tonight.
-After a Big E / Crews video package, Sonya Deville joined the panel and briefly bickered with Kayla about their outfits because women are catty and petty. Deville said Big E is her friend, but that Crews is scary. She said that Big E was always dying to break away and stand on his own. Peter admitted that it’s “amazing” that Crews is discovering his heritage, but said Big E is defending his very livelihood.
-The panel reviewed the Shane McMahon / Strowman situation, a match that was seemingly dropped from tonight’s card. Sarah Schreiber was backstage where Shane was being evaluated by trainers behind a closed door after a knee injury suffered earlier in the day. Deville said she’d be nervous about Shane going into that match while injured. Peter said even if Shane was 1000% (a statistical impossibility), he still might pick Strowman to win.
-Seth Rollins was shown backstage with Kevin Patrick. Rollins gloated about his own “drip,” motioning to his uniquely patterned suit. He said that Nakamura is just as bad as Cesaro, and that he was going to teach him a lesson in respect. He hoped that Cesaro learns a thing or two while watching this match from home tonight.
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe
(1) RIDDLE (C) vs. MUSTAFA ALI (w/ Retribution) – United States Championship Match
Ali immediately rolled out of the ring at the match’s outset. He re-entered and locked up with Riddle. Ali grabbed Riddle’s hair and forced him into a corner. Riddle fired back and ground Ali and fired knees into Ali’s ribs. He gut-wrenched and slammed Ali, landed a Bro-ton, then covered for two. When Riddle went for a second Bro-ton, Ali intercepted by kicking Riddle in the back with both boots on his way down. He dragged Riddle to the corner and spun him around to collide with the ring post, then knocked him to the floor with a baseball slide. He rolled Riddle into the ring and covered for two.
Riddle landed a few punches but Ali leveled him again with a kitchen sink knee. He locked his legs around Riddle’s midsection on the mat. Riddle pried Ali’s legs apart, but Ali stayed on top with a blow to the back of Riddle’s head. He fired Riddle into a corner, then drop kicked him from behind into the same corner. Ali covered for another two.
Ali hit Riddle with a backstabber then covered for two. The announcers pointed out how Ali was gripping his own braced left knee. Ali went back to the leg lock around Riddle, this time locking his chin as well. Riddle broke free with elbow shots and slowly got to his feet. Ali reversed out of a suplex, went for a neckbreaker, but Riddle countered and moved into a sleeper on the mat. Ali rolled over and pinned for a surprise two-count.
The action picked up at the six-minute mark. Riddle suplexed Ali then landed a running knee to the chest. He power bombed Ali and hit the Final Flash and covered for another two. Riddle climbed to the top turnbuckle and launched into a Floating Bro, but Ali got his knees up, blasting Riddle in the back on his way down. Both men writhed on the canvas. Ali went for a tornado DDT but Riddle caught him in mid-air and planted Ali with a fisherman buster. He covered and Ali kicked out at two and quickly applied the Koji Clutch. Riddle crawled toward the edge but Ali leveraged him back toward the middle. With the bottom rope out of reach, Riddle stood and dead lifted Ali then slammed him to the mat.
Ali was the first to his feet but he caught a kick to the face in the corner. Riddle was sat on the top turnbuckle and lifted Ali into the Bro Derrick from the middle turnbuckle. He covered Ali for the three-count.
After the match, Ali screamed at Retribution in the ring and screamed at them, “How many times are you going to fail me?” One by one, members of Retribution turned their backs on Ali and left the ring, exiting up the ramp. Mace and T-Bar remained, but executed a double choke slam to Ali. They left together while Ali snarled on the mat.
WINNER: Riddle by pinfall in 9:20.
(Meyers’s Analysis: The match was predictably decent, but its main purpose was to be a vehicle for Retribution’s turn against Ali after he aggressively blamed them for tonight’s loss. We’ll have to stay tuned for the trajectories (or lack thereof) for Retribution and whether they will remain a faction without their miserable leader.)
-The Kickoff show concluded with a Daniel Bryan / Roman Reigns video package.