For WWE fans today, Sami Zayn can seemingly do no wrong. Even when he mistakenly thanks the name of a different city, as he did during a post-match promo at the Road to WrestleMania house show in Kitchener, Ontario on Sunday night. But even after he heard the combination of slight boos and hearty laughs from the audience after mis-speaking and giving thanks to the city of Kingston, he was able to turn things around. With a wink and a smile, he covered by explaining that he “had been a bad guy for a long time until recently. So you know I had to mess with you.” All was forgiven, and Zayn continued to soak in the cheers from the fans, taking photos and signing autographs to close out a fun night in the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.
Of course, it was no question that the crowd would forgive Sami for his gaffe. Indeed, the fans had been cheering and chanting for Sami since his music hit and he came out to join Braun Strowman and Ricochet in the main event as they teamed up to take on Imperium. Ricochet and Strowman had actually taken the fight to the evil faction earlier in the night, and the challenge for a six-man tag team match was made. Sami’s emergence as their partner led to the loudest cheer of the night – which, given the enthusiasm and raucousness on display all night, was no small feat.
And when Sami hit the Helluva Kick on Ludwig Kaiser, the crowd counted 1-2-3 along with the referee and exploded as if Sami had won the World Championship. And even though that wasn’t the case, he was certainly the King of Kingston… er, make that Kitchener on this night.
1. In a match for the Intercontinental Championship, Gunther was disqualified when Giovanni Vinci ran in and hit the challenger Ricochet. After the bell, Vinci and Ludwig Kaiser double-teamed Ricochet until Braun Strowman ran in for the save. They said they would find themselves a tag team partner and challenged Imperium to a six-man tag team match later on that night.
2. Rhea Ripley beat Racquel Rodriguez after hitting the Riptide. This was a great match. Ripley was perfect, wrestling like an old-school heel, using classic tactics while constantly riling up the crowd, who booed her constantly and were solidly behind Racquel. After Ripley’s WrestleMania match with Charlotte, a lengthy program with Racquel would be most welcome – their chemistry is incredible.
Rhea Ripley makes an entrance at the WWE Road to WrestleMania show in Kitchener, ON – March 5, 2023. Photo: Bob Kapur
3. LA Knight made an open challenge, and Santos Escobar answered the call. The match was very good, with Escobar mocking Knight by stealing his “Yeah” chant, which had Knight flustered. In the end, Knight got a bit too cocky and started jawing with the crowd. This allowed Escobar to roll him up for the win.
Knight complained about the referee making a fast count, and challenged anyone else to come out, and Drew McIntyre made his way to the ring. Knight thought Drew had come out to support his claim that the referee had screwed up, and suggested that Drew punish the referee with a Claymore. Drew asked the audience who deserved the Claymore: the ref or Knight, and the crowd, of course, chose Knight, which led to a match.
4. After a back-and-forth match, Drew McIntyre put LA Knight down for good with a Claymore.
LA Knight before losing two straight at the WWE Road to WrestleMania show in Kitchener, ON – March 5, 2023. Photo: Bob Kapur
5. Solo Sikoa and Kevin Owens had a slobber-knocking fight that saw Solo disqualified when he got desperate and hit KO with a chair. After the match, Solo set up a table in the ring and tried to put KO through it. But Owens broke loose, hit Solo with a Stunner, and smashed Solo through the table instead.
Solo Sikoa agrees to table his issues with Kevin Owens at the WWE Road to WrestleMania show in Kitchener, ON – March 5, 2023. Photo: Bob Kapur
6. Ridge Holland took on Cruz Del Toro who was accompanied by his Legado Del Fantasma partner Joaquin Wilde. Interestingly, despite their faction leader Escobar being treated as a fan favourite earlier in the night, Del Toro and Wilde were quite villainous during this one. Wilde tried to interfere on his partner’s behalf a few times, but it was all for naught. After hitting a few of his Brawling Brutes buddy Sheamus’ moves during the match, Ridge hit a Twisting Powerbomb to put Del Toro down for good.
7. Charlotte Flair successfully retained the Smackdown Women’s Championship by beating Shauna Baszler after hitting Natural Selection. After Zayn, Charlotte was the most popular star on the show based on the reaction for her and the numerous “Woooo!” chants for many of her moves. The ending of the match was very well done, as it followed a moment earlier in the match when Shayna had blocked a Natural Selection attempt. This second time, she wasn’t able to avoid it, as she had been stunned after missing a Moonsault attempt.
Charlotte Flair at the WWE Road to WrestleMania show in Kitchener, ON – March 5, 2023. Photo: Bob Kapur
8. In the main event, Ricochet, Braun Strowman, and Sami Zayn beat Imperium when Sami pinned Kaiser after a Helluva Kick.
Gunther punishes Ricochet at the WWE Road to WrestleMania show in Kitchener, ON – March 5, 2023. Photo: Bob Kapur