Main Event has been an interesting addition to the WWE TV schedule; an old-school one hour show where they heavily promote a marquee match-up, throw in another bonus match or two and bring in a worker for a solid sitdown interview.
So far, the show has thrown up some tremendous match-ups with some of the company’s big names but they started 2013 with a risky combination that actually paid dividends in the end and did something they have failed to do in a long, long time – make the secondary titles mean something to the general public.
ANTONIO CESARO (c) vs. THE GREAT KHALI (w/Hornswoggle & Natalya) – WWE United States Championship Match
Khali was named number one contender to the title after winning a battle royal the previous week. Cesaro has swept all before him when defending the title thus far and although Khali is further down on the totem pole than perhaps he ever has been, his sheer size always makes him a threat in the eye of the fans.
Cesaro is resplendent with his man-bag, whilst Khali is accompanied by Hornswoggle & Natalya, in a comedy trio that is just destined to go wrong further down the line.
The usual offence to start, Cesaro goes for the strike and bail tactics but Khali keeps cutting off any momentum until the champion goes for the knees and works those over, bringing the 7’3″ giant to a horizontal base.
Khali eventually overpowers Cesaro and dominates him with chops and clotheslines but the champion rebounds with a tremendous second-rope springboard European uppercut, which floors the big man.
And then Cesaro does the unthinkable and picks Khali up for the Neutralizer! It is an impressive spot that will look brilliant on any future Cesaro video package. The spotlessly clean 1-2-3 follows for another successful title defence.
Antonio Cesaro pinned The Great Khali following the Neutralizer to retain the US Title
*1/4 – the usual Khali match but an extra 1/4* for the amazing Neutralizer that Cesaro hit at the end
After the match, Cesaro swats away Matt Striker and begins to badmouth the American audience before colour commentator the Miz, of all people, stands up and grabs his patented ‘M’ mic to defend his country. It’s part-Jim Duggan, part-Lex Luger on the USS Intrepid, love it or leave it stuff and should lead to a Miz-Cesaro feud down the road, perhaps at the Royal Rumble.
Our RAW rebound is Dolph Ziggler and AJ laying a verbal beatdown on a grinning John Cena about his horrible 2012 before Mr Rise Above Hate douses them in poopy from the ceiling.
Former Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston is out next for an interview at the announce desk. It’s an interesting concept as I presume that the fans in the arena can’t hear what Kingston has to say. He’s still a bit uncomfortable on the mic, which is certainly curtailing any push up the card, and it makes it more uncomfortable that the man he beat for the title, Miz, is at the table and is now playing a fan-pandering face.
Kofi gives props to Wade Barrett but that brings out the new Intercontinental Champion and he runs down Kofi as a loser and challenges any of the guys in the back to a gauntlet match.
WADE BARRETT vs. YOSHI TATSU
Remember when they put facepaint on Tatsu and made him a mini-Muta and at least interesting? Neither does anyone else, Tatsu is the epitome of expendable. Barrett finishes with the Bullhammer Elbow in a matter of seconds.
WADE BARRETT vs. JTG
The jobber scale goes further down with JTG, who is apparently now a face. He actually gets in a bit of offence but gets pushed off a monkey flip and then blasted with the Bullhammer Elbow for three.
WADE BARRETT vs. JUSTIN GABRIEL
These two at least have some history from their days in the Nexus and Corre. Gabriel gets in some great offence with his trademark kicks and high-flying moves but goes to the well once too often and gets caught with the Bullhammer for the Barrett victory.
They really need to do something with Gabriel because he has an exciting moveset and can connect with the audience.
WADE BARRETT vs. KOFI KINGSTON
Kofi is the surprise fourth opponent and he makes easy work of a fatigued Barrett with the Trouble in Paradise for the three, which perfectly sets up their rematch for the title, taking place on SmackDown later in the week.
Kofi Kingston pins Wade Barrett after the Trouble in Paradise
*1/2 for the whole thing here. They did a good job of making Barrett and Kingston look strong and building anticipation to their rematch for the IC title.
Summary: The match quality wasn’t great but both secondary champions looked great coming out of this and they forwarded storylines around both titles.