Each week on WWE Main Event, the WWE Universe is typically shown a highlight reel of the Superstars competing in the week’s featured contest. This week, however, United States Champion Antonio Cesaro took issue with the production values of his video package and unsurprisingly blamed the standards of American television. WWE Main Event commentator and WWE Superstar The Miz interrupted the Swiss-born Superstar’s rant, clearly annoyed with the U.S. Champion’s constant berating of America. The Awesome One told off the United States Champion, explaining The Swiss Superman could easily self-deport himself back to this homeland. Before their heated exchange could go any further, Michael Cole settled the animosity, reminding the United States Champion of the daunting task ahead of him: former World Heavyweight Champion, The Great Khali.
The Punjabi Playboy successfully won a 20-Man Over-the-Top-Rope Battle Royal on the final WWE Main Event in 2012 to secure an opportunity for the United States Championship. Before the match, the Indian Superstar ensured the WWE Universe in Richmond was firmly in his corner by chanting “USA!” before making his way to the squared circle flanked by a smitten Natalya and “Baby New Year” Hornswoggle.
Certainly The Swiss Superman’s most giant challenge to date, The Great Khali immediately used his size and strength to gain an early advantage over the U.S. Champion. The Punjabi giant sent Cesaro reeling after giant slaps to the chest and quickly knocking the Swiss Superstar to the outside. In the early moments of the battle, it seemed as though The Great Khali would simply dominate his opponent as he delivered crushing blows with Hornswoggle and Natalya providing encouragement and distractions. As The Punjabi Playboy stalked Cesaro to the outside, however, he lifted one leg over the top and The Swiss Superman pounced, using the ropes to strike at Khali’s leg, driving him back to the mat.
The crafty maneuver was exactly what the United States Champion needed to recalibrate his strategy against his gigantic challenger. With The Great Khali in his most vulnerable position, Cesaro targeted the Punjabi’s leg and knee, using a variety of aggressive strikes and technical holds. Each time the massive fists of the Indian-born Superstar tried to fight off the champion, Cesaro refocused his efforts on Khali’s legs.
As a former World Heavyweight Champion who has battled the likes of Batista and John Cena, The Great Khali displayed his resilience and made it back to his feet. Unfortunately, The Punjabi Playboy’s second wind wasn’t enough to slow down Antonio Cesaro’s quickness and agility. Nearly as soon as Khali was back on his feet, the United States Champion managed to send him crashing back to the mat with a flying uppercut. The Swiss Superman then seized the opportunity to execute his most impressive Neutralizer to date, picking up and planting The Great Khali — seemingly with ease — and securing the victory.
Following the contest, Matt Striker interviewed the victorious champion, who clarified he does not have a disdain for the United States, but is superior to the citizens of America. Cesaro then focused his attention to The Miz and the two Superstars again exchanged heated words — further stirring the pot that seems ready to boil over.
Former Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston joined The Miz and Michael Cole at ringside and called Wade Barrett’s victory for the title on New Year’s Eve a “one time deal” and promised to reclaim the championship on SmackDown. Barrett took issue with Kingston’s comments and made his way to the ring, declaring that “The Wildcat” would never reclaim the prestigious title as long as The Bare-Knuckle Brawler wore it around his waist. To prove his claims of being a fighting champion, Barrett then challenged any WWE Superstars to a Non-Title Gauntlet Match.
Barrett’s first challenger was Yoshi Tatsu, who was quickly taken down and disposed of with the Bull Hammer elbow smash to the face. Following the Japanese Superstar was JTG, who — despite a brief offense — was also removed from the contest following a devastating Bull Hammer.
The Intercontinental Champion’s third challenger was his former Nexus and Corre cohort Justin Gabriel. The Superstars have clashed many times over the past few years, and Gabriel used his quickness and agility to stop the momentum Barrett built up against Tatsu and JTG. Despite a handful of near-falls and a fast-paced offense that expended a great deal of Barrett’s energy, Gabriel was unable to secure the victory and he, too, was put down with the Bull Hammer.
The bare-knuckle champion’s fight wasn’t over, however, as Kofi Kingston seized the opportunity to battle his opponent this Friday on SmackDown. “The Wildcat” jumped into the ring and kept the Intercontinental Champion reeling, never allowing him to counter or strike back. Kofi delivered Trouble in Paradise and claimed the victory — leaving Barrett with a very clear message heading into their championship rematch on SmackDown.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Antonio Cesaro (c) defeated The Great Khali (w/ Hornswoggle & Natalya) to retain the WWE United States Championship (10:02)
- Kofi Kingston defeated JTG & Justin Gabriel & Wade Barrett & Yoshi Tatsu in a Gauntlet match (11:45)
Other on-screen talent