Powell’s WrestleMania 33 Kickoff Show live review: Neville vs. Austin Aries for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

By Jason Powell

WWE WrestleMania 33 Kickoff Show
Aired live on WWE Network and second hour on USA Network
Orlando, Florida at Camping World Stadium

The Kickoff Show opened with a shot of the stadium, which is starting to fill up with a good number of fans. Hopefully this means there are not long delays like last year. The panel of Renee Young, Booker T, Shawn Michaels, and Jerry Lawler checked in…

Backstage in the social media lounge, Charly Caruso and Maria Menounos checked in. Paul Heyman will join them later in the show…Sam Roberts checked in from the floor of Camping World Stadium, which they continue to cal the Citrus Bowl…

The panel pimped the network and set up a video package on Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton. Michaels and Booker picked Orton to win, Lawler picked Wyatt…

The next discussion was about Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles. Lawler played up the angle that the latest long layoff from wrestling might be too much for Shane. Booker praised Styles and said he has proven himself in WWE. Michaels said Shane will do everything under the sun, but it won’t be enough. Lawler said Styles better not underestimate Shane. All three panelists picked Styles…

A Triple H vs. Seth Rollins video package aired. HBK said Rollins would forever doubt himself if he loses. “If Seth Rollins loses, he’s done,” Michaels said. All three panelists predicted a Triple H win…

Powell’s POV: This was the best pre-show pitch thus far. Michaels did a good job of laying out what’s at stake for Rollins. By the way, the venue appears to be filling up nicely. Hopefully that means there will be a near full house when the cruiserweight match apparently kicks off the show. Hey, are you reading the ad-based version of the website or mobile website? Treat yourself to ad-free coverage for just $2 for one month and enjoy tonight’s member exclusive audio review of WrestleMania that I will host a long with Jake Barnett and Will Pruett. See the story below this one on the main page for details.

Peter Rosenberg checked in from the WrestleMania stage. He said the ramp is 80 yards long. Unlike the broadcast team of Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino at at New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom, Rosenberg was actually allowed to walk on the WrestleMania ramp… The panel discussed the Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho match.

Lita replaced Lawler on the panel. She spoke about there being two titles on the line for the women at WrestleMania. Renee spoke about most the women starting their WWE careers right up the road at the WWE Performance Center. Booker and HBK predicted Alexa Bliss to retain, Lita went with Naomi winning in her hometown.

The panel discussed John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse. Guest ring announcer Al Roker was featured in the graphic…

Ring entrances for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship took place. Austin Aries was the first man to make his entrance at WrestleMania 33 and it’s his first WrestleMania… There’s a great tunnel with a video wall behind where the wrestlers first enter. The broadcast team of Tom Phillips and Corey Graves checked in. Neville made his entrance for his first WrestleMania match…

1. Neville vs. Austin Aries for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Phillips noted that Neville hasn’t lost a singles match since October. The ring was made up in typical cruiserweight style. Aries sent Neville to ringside. Aries charged for a move, but Neville caught him with a kick that drew gasps from the crowd. Neville followed up with a missile dropkick for a two count before they went to a commercial.

Powell’s POV: I really wish they would come up with a way to remove the commercials from the network feed. Paid subscribers should be able to see the full match, especially a WrestleMania match, without any commercial interruptions. On a positive note, the building looks packed. I’m sure there are still open seats, but it’s not the half empty stadium that last year’s Kickoff Show matches played to.

Neville was still in control coming out of the break. Aries came back and performed his spinning elbow drop. A short time later, Aries performed a suicide dive. He threw Neville back inside the ring and covered him for a two count. Aries performed a missile dropkick off the top rope and got another two count.

Neville came back with a wicked German suplex that dropped Aries right on his head. It looked even uglier on the replay. Aries recovered. Neville went for another German, but Aries flipped over and went for a discus five-arm, but Neville kicked him and performed a German suplex into a bridge for a two count.

Aries connected with the discus five-arm that knocked Neville to ringside. Graves said he didn’t know if it was awareness or luck that saved Neville. Aries went to ringside and rolled Neville back onto the apron. Neville caught Aries with a kick. Neville went up top. Aries cut him off and performed a huracanrana off the top rope. Aries hit a running forearm in the corner and followed up with a 450 splash for a great near fall. Aries applied the Last Chancery. Neville gouged the bad eye of Aries. Neville went up top and hit the Red Arrow for the win…

Neville defeated Austin Aries in 15:40 to retain the WWE Cruiserweight Champion.

Powell’s POV: That was one hell of an opening match. I bit on the 450 splash and the Last Chancery. I really like the decision to go with Neville. He’s been phenomenal as the heel champion, and I’d like to see Aries eventually win the championship after a long chase. Here’s hoping Aries is okay after that German suplex. He seemed find and simply sold his bad eye afterward. That was one ugly bump. On a side note, it’s so cool to see Aries go from working local indies to working his first WrestleMania match. Support independent wrestling. You never know when you’re going to see a guy who will go from your local armory to WrestleMania.

The panel spoke and and hyped that Payback on April 30 would be part of a 30-day free offer for new subscribers who ordered today. They set up a WWE Network video package. The video focused on the classics, all the pay-per-views and NXT specials, Edge & Christian show, Bring It To The Table, a WWE 24 documentary on Goldberg, Ride Along, and more…

They reset the show for the USA Network broadcast team. Renee Young, Booker T, Jerry Lawler, and Shawn Michaels spoke briefly and then they went to Big Show making his entrance. The ring was already filled up with wrestlers and the Dre Trophy was already at ringside. The broadcast team was Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton. JBL asked Saxton if he lost a bet and had to wear the suit. Fair question. Braun Strowman also received a televised entrance. Rob Gronkowski was shown sitting at ringside…

2. Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.  Strowman immediately eliminated one of the Shining Stars. Kalisto and Simon Gotch were gone seconds later. The rapid fire eliminations continued. Strowman and Show squared off. Sami Zayn attacked Strowman. The wrestlers all fought on opposite sides. Strowman broke through his side and dumped Big Show over the top rope to eliminate him. A group of wrestlers eliminated Strowman. “It’s anybody’s game,” one of the broadcast team members said.

Cole spoke about Killian Dain and noted that he’s from the Sanity promotion. Luke Harper stood out as an unadvertised participant. R-Truth was eliminated. Ziggler eliminated Rhyno. Aiden English was eliminated. Cole noted that a number of people were eliminated during the commercial break, so it looks like they stuck with the match on the network feed, but USA Network viewers didn’t see the eliminations.

American Alpha eliminated a couple of guys, but they were both eliminated a short time later. Tian Bing eliminated Tyler Breeze and Fandango. The broadcast team put him over. He was eliminated moments later by a Dolph Ziggler superkick. Mojo Rawley eliminated Bo Dallas. Apollo Crews and Ziggler were eliminated. Titus O’Neil eliminated Luke Harper with a kick.

The final five was Zayn, O’Neil, Jinder Mahal, Dain, and Mojo. Zayn eliminated Titus. Dain eliminated Zayn to boos. Rawley and Mojo traded blows. Mojo performed a running shoulder block that knocked Dain down. Jinder threw Rawley through the ropes and then worked him over at ringside in front of Gronk, so you had to know where this was going.

Jinder got in the face of Gronk. He took Gronk’s cup, drank from it, and then threw water on him. Jinder returned to the ring. Gronk climbed over the barricade. Security ran over and stopped him, then they backed off. Gronk removed his Mojo t-shirt and entered the ring. Gronk got down on all fours and performed a running shoulder block on Jinder to a nice pop. Gronk left and then Mojo eliminated Dain, and eventually Jinder to win the match. Gronk entered the ring and celebrated with Mojo by slapping his chest repeatedly…

Mojo Rawley won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in 14:15

Powell’s POV: For our non-NFL fans, Gronkowski is a star player for the New England Patriots. WWE will get lots of love from the sports networks for this one. Mojo winning won’t excite the masses, but getting Gronk in the ring at WrestleMania is a pretty big deal. My apologies for not getting all the eliminations, but that was chaos.

The panel spoke about the battle royal, WWE Network, and the Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar match…

Inside the social media lounge, Paul Heyman answered the worst of the fan questions submitted via social media. Heyman was asked how many suplexes Lesnar will give Goldberg. Shockingly, Heyman didn’t say the exact number. Heyman was asked whether he has any additional clients. Heyman said Charly and Maria were his next clients and he would put them on every network five days a week. The last question was what would the future of Lesnar be if he lost. Heyman said the future would be someone waking up Lesnar because clearly it would only be a bad dream. Lesnar said Goldberg’s greatest comeback ever ends tonight…

The hosts spoke and hyped Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin for the Intercontinental Title coming up next on the Kickoff Show… Peter Rosenberg checked in from the floor again and said his first WrestleMania was when HBK retired Ric Flair…

The Smackdown broadcast team of Tom Phillips, JBL, and David Otunga called the match. Mauro Ranalllo was still absent. Phillips narrated highlights from the Ambrose and Corbin feud…

3. Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin for the Intercontinental Championship. Corbin attacked Ambrose to start. Ambrose came right back with a suicide dive and worked over Corbin at ringside briefly. The sound cut out briefly as Corbin came back with kicks in the corner. A short time later, Corbin took Ambrose to ringside and ran him into the barricade. Back inside the ring, Ambrose caught a charging Corbin with an elbow, then side stepped another charge, causing Corbin to go through the ropes in the corner.

Ambrose went up top for his flying elbow. Corbin caught him with a Codebreaker type of move on the way down. They went to ringside a short time later. Corbin charged, Ambrose moved, and Corbin crashed into the ring steps. Ambrose went up top and performed his flying elbow onto Corbin at ringside. Saxton played up Ambrose having injured ribs and questioned how much damage he did to himself.

Back inside the ring, Ambrose performed a running clothesline, but then he ran into an elbow from Corbin. Ambrose shook it off and performed a neckbreaker for a two count. At 8:10, Ambrose went for his teetering clothesline, but Corbin blasted him with a kick. Corbin followed up with a spinning slam for a two count. Ambrose came back with his rebound Lariat.

Corbin knocked Ambrose down and yelled at him that he was leaving with the Intercontinental Championship. Corbin went for End of Days, but Ambrose avoided it and hit Dirty Deeds for the win…

Dean Ambrose beat Baron Corbin in 10:55 to retain the Intercontinental Championship.

Powell’s POV: A fairly flat match. The live crowd didn’t seem to really connect with the match and the wrestlers didn’t really give them much to get excited about. I was looking forward to this match and found it underwhelming. The match being on the pre-show is surprising. At the same time, they played to a full stadium and their match aired on USA Network, so they can’t be too disappointed that it wasn’t on the main card. Going into the match, I felt there was a chance that Ambrose would win at Mania only to have Corbin beat him on Smackdown. We’ll see if that happens on Tuesday.

The panel spoke and then the WWE Network commercial aired again… The panel discussed the Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns match. Rosenberg checked in from the first level of the stadium and spoke about the match. Sam Roberts checked in while standing in front of scream fans and also spoke about the match. HBK chimed in on facing Taker, then they aired a video package on the Undertaker vs. Reigns match…

Powell’s POV: It sure looks like Taker vs. Reigns is the main event. It is in my mind regardless of what goes on last. That’s it for the Kickoff Show. Join me in a separate story via main page for live coverage of the actual WrestleMania card.


Readers Comments (1)

  1. “I was looking forward to this match and I found it underwhelming.” – Dean Ambrose’s MO, really.

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