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WWE WRESTLEMANIA BACKLASH KICKOFF REPORT
MAY 16, 2021
REPORT BY MIKE F. MEYERS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Kickoff Panel: Booker T, Kayla Braxton, JBL, Peter Rosenberg
-The panel ran down tonight’s card, including the latest addition to the Kickoff show: A Sheamus open challenge match.
-After a Reigns / Cesaro video package, JBL said that family problems are nothing new, and that while Cesaro will someday be a champion, it won’t be tonight. Booker disagreed, and said that Cesaro is a multi-time tag champ and has the benefit of hunger. Booker reflected back on his first world title shot against Jeff Jarrett and claimed that history is on Cesaro’s side.
-A Bayley / Belair video was shown, and Sonya Deville joined the panel. Deville said that Bayley is a grand slam champion and has a lot of experience, but that Belair is “hot off the presses,” and picked Belair to win tonight. Booker said that “it’s not about perfume and makeup for Bayley.” JBL said that Belair is one of the rare talents that brings the sport to another level.
-Kayla pivoted to the Priest / Miz lumberjack match, and Booker narrated a recap video. Kayla wondered if the match would involve lumberjack bunny rabbits at ringside. Booker and JBL suggested that Priest might regret asking for this style of match. Kayla said Miz always has something up his sleeve. Peter pointed out that Miz lost his championship to Bobby Lashley in his last lumberjack match. Booker and JBL picked Miz to win; Peter picked Priest.
-Kayla asked if Deville was proud of herself for adding Charlotte to the women’s championship match with Ripley and Asuka. Deville said that Charlotte knocks on doors and grabs the brass ring, and that she shouldn’t be written off. Booker asked what this says to the locker room, to the ladies who don’t get the same benefits as Charlotte Flair. Deville said she is tired of that argument, about Charlotte getting by on her name. She said that Charlotte deserves to be in the title picture. JBL said that triple threat and four-way matches “screw the champion,” but admitted that it will be a great match.
-Booker T narrated another recap video, this one for the Mysterios vs. Dirty Dawgs. Dominic was shown running into Roode and Ziggler backstage. Ziggler head butted Dominic, then Roode proceeded with a beat down. They toppled a large piece of equipment onto the prone Dominic, then escaped off as authorities appeared on the scene to aid Dominic.
Announcers: Byron Saxton, Adnan Virk, Corey Graves
(1) SHEAMUS vs. RICOCHET
Sheamus got on the mic before Ricochet’s entrance and stated that tonight’s open challenge would not be for his United States Championship. He claimed that those opportunities must be earned.
Ricochet lit up Sheamus early with a running drop kick , but Sheamus soon leveled him with a clothesline. Sheamus immediately slowed the pace, landed some blows, and tossed Ricochet across the ring. Sheamus hit an Irish Curse backbreaker, then delivered his signature clubbing blows to Ricochet’s chest. Sheamus applied an arm bar while shoving Ricochet’s face into the canvas.
From his back, Ricochet landed a series of quick strikes against Sheamus, then stunned him with a jawbreaker. Ricochet got to his feet and rained down a series of elbow strikes, then an enzuigiri. Sheamus staggered but didn’t go down. From the apron, Ricochet launched into a springboard clothesline off the top rope, knocking Sheamus down. He hit a running shooting star press, then a moonsault off the middle rope. He pinned Sheamus for a two-count.
Both men got up slowly, and Sheamus was cradling his ribs. Ricochet briefly had Sheamus in a fireman’s carry, but Sheamus slipped down to the mat. Sheamus landed a hard knee strike to Ricochet’s jaw, but Ricochet went on to hit a backstabber, leaving Sheamus on the mat. Ricochet slowly rolled to the apron and hit a springboard 450 splash off the top rope. He covered for another two-count.
Ricochet climbed to the top rope and rolled through another 450 when Sheamus moved. Sheamus missed a Brogue Kick, allowing Ricochet to roll him up for a quick two-count. Sheamus got to his feet and successfully landed the Brogue Kick, then covered for the three-count.
Sheamus’s music played, and Sheamus began to speak on the mic, but Ricochet got back into the ring and attacked from behind. He stole Sheamus’s hat and jacket and wore them mockingly as Sheamus watched angrily from ringside.
WINNER: Sheamus by pinfall in 7:10.
(Meyers’s Analysis: I was hoping for an elevated continuation of the Main Event feud between Ricochet and Mustafa Ali on this kickoff show, but at least half of them showed up here to face Sheamus. Good action, and a decent story of the larger, plodding Sheamus using his power to contain the smaller firecracker. The ending was strange, as Sheamus won the match fairly, but the alleged babyface Ricochet attacked from behind and went on to mock the match winner. Ricochet is a lousy role model for sportsmanship.)
Back on the panel, Peter said that although Braun Strowman is the “monster among men,” Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley are also monsters. Booker said Lashley reminds him of Xerxes, the fourth King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire. JBL laughed and asked if he ever wrestled Xerxes. Booker also suggested that MVP is an x-factor that could impact the match outcome. JBL said that MVP is a smart guy, and that smart guys take care of their meal tickets. Peter, JBL, and Booker all picked Lashley to retain his championship.
Find Mike Meyers on Twitter: @themikeshow42