By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE WrestleMania Backlash Kickoff Show
Tampa, Florida at Yuengling Center
Streamed May 16, 2021 on Peacock and WWE social media pages
-The Kickoff Show was hosted by Kayla Braxton, who was joined by the panel of JBL, Booker T, and Peter Rosenberg. The crew ran through the pay-per-view lineup and announced a Sheamus open challenge for the Kickoff Show.
-A video package focused on Roman Reigns, Cesaro, and the drama with Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso. The panel discussed the match and delivered their predictions.
-Bianca Belair beating Sasha Banks to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship at WrestleMania was chronicled in a video package that then recapped Belair’s feud with Bayley.
-Sonya Deville joined the panel to discuss the Smackdown Women’s Championship match.
-The panel discussed the lumberjack match involving Damian Priest and The Miz.
-Deville returned to discuss the Raw Women’s Championship with Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka. Deville defended her decision to add Flair to the match by saying the fans want to see it and she did her job. Deville said that if Ripley wins, she will emerge with more confidence than ever before.
-Dominik Mysterio was shown walking backstage when he was confronted by Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode. He asked if they were going to wait until later. They acted like they were going to let him pass, then attacked him. Roode put Dom down and then he and Ziggler dumped something on top of him. WWE referees ran in to check on Dom.
-Sheamus made his entrance for his open challenge. Sheamus noted that he’s been issuing open challenges to anyone who wants to step in the ring with the champ. He once again noted that he would not be putting the U.S. Championship on the line. Ricochet made his entrance.
1. U.S. Champion Sheamus vs. Ricochet in a non-title match. The Raw broadcast team of Adnan Virk, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton were on commentary. Ricochet dropkicked Sheamus to start the match. Sheamus caught the leg of Ricochet and smirked. Ricochet slapped Sheamus, who then knocked him down with a clothesline.
Sheamus called Ricochet “Ricky” while putting the boots to him. Ricochet eventually battled back and dazed Sheamus with a kick. Ricochet clotheslined Sheamus using the top rope and then performed a springboard clothesline and a standing shooting star press. Ricochet followed up with a Lionsault and covered Sheamus for a two count.
Ricochet tried to hoist up Sheamus on his back, but he couldn’t pull it off. Sheamus came back with a knee to the face. Ricochet came right back with a backstabber. Ricochet performed a springboard 450 splash for another near fall.
Sheamus avoided a top rope move, but Ricochet rolled through. Sheamus went for a Brogue Kick, but Ricochet rolled him up for a two count. Sheamus got up and blasted Ricochet with a knee strike and then pinned him clean.
U.S. Champion Sheamus defeated Ricochet in 7:10 in a non-title match.
After the match, Sheamus got his coat and hat and started to deliver a promo, but Ricochet attacked him from behind. Ricochet cleared Sheamus from the ring and then put on his hat and jacket. Sheamus chased Ricochet out of the ring.
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match. It’s absolutely absurd that Raw struggles to fill its three hours, yet last week’s WWE Main Event featured Ricochet vs. Mustafa Ali, and Naomi vs. Nikki Cross. It will be interesting to see if they follow up with Ricochet and Sheamus on Raw or if Ricochet continues to be wasted on WWE Main Event. Meanwhile, tonight is a real test for Virk, who has struggled thus far on Raw. Does he have a big match call? It’s also Pat McAfee’s debut as a color commentator on pay-per-view, but I have far fewer concerns about him than I do Virk at this point.
-The WWE vaccination PSA aired.
-A video package showcased the WWE Championship match involving Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre, and Braun Strowman.
-The panel discussed the WWE Championship and agreed that the ring needed to be reenforced. Rosenberg played up MVP being at ringside with Lashley. The hosts delivered their predictions and offered final hype for the main card.
Join me for my live review of the WrestleMania Backlash main card in a separate story available via the main page.