By Jason Powell
WWE Extreme Rules 2017 Kickoff Show
Aired live on WWE Network and social media
Baltimore, Maryland at Royal Farms Arena
-Renee Young hosted the Kickoff Show with guest panelists Sam Roberts and David Otunga. Yes, he’s back from filming the instant classic movie. Otunga pointed out that he is Steve Harvey’s personal fitness guru and a movie producer.
-Charly Caruso checked in from the social media lounge. She said she would have an interview with Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy during the second half of the Kickoff Show. She will be asking the worst of the questions the fans submit via social media.
-The hosts pimped WWE Network and the 30-day trial for fans who are still creating new email addresses to get free access (and a few people who are new to the network).
-Renee hyped Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz and set up a video package on the Intercontinental Title match. Roberts put Young on the spot and asked her for a prediction on her husband’s match. She picked Ambrose to win. Otunga said Ambrose is so passionate that he kinda wants to see him go crazy on Miz. Roberts was the voice of reason in noting that if Ambrose did that he would lose the title. Roberts picked Miz to win.
-A video package focussed on the Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley feud. Nia Jax sat in on commentary and said she has faith in Bliss winning the match. Otunga asked what it would take for Bayley to win. Jax said she thought it would take a miracle because she doesn’t think Bayley has “that extremeness in her.” Jax also mocked how many times Bayley’s story has been told.
-Roberts questioned whether Bliss’s antics on Raw were wise given that it would infuriate Bayley. Jax said Bliss had her beat psychologically before they even entered the ring. Jax took offense with something Roberts said. She said he’s lucky she is classy and doesn’t snatch him bald (catchphrase infringement). Jax added that she would rather face Bliss for the championship.
-The next video package was for the Neville vs. Austin Aries match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Roberts spoke about how the cruiserweights are known for high flying and not enough time is spent talking about the submission style. He said fans know that the cruiserweights can do more than jump off the top rope and what would be on display. Roberts and Otunga both predicted that Neville would retain the cruiserweight strap.
-The panel discussed the mixed tag match. Roberts said his Twitter page went crazy when Sasha Banks was pinned by Alicia Fox. Roberts said he wants Sasha and Rich Swann to win so they will dance again. Ugh.
-After a commercial break, Caruso interviewed Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy in the social media lounge. Matt was in normal mode and spoke about how they were excited for the cage match. The first question was why they came back to WWE. Matt said the timing was right. He said they started in WWE and want to finish there. Jeff recalled promising fans in 2009 that they would be back.
The Hardys were asked why they chose the cage match. Matt said they beat them in different matches and this was the last chance for Sheamus and Cesaro because the Hardys are moving on to different competition. Jeff said he just loves cage matches. Jeff was asked if had a message for their opponents. Jeff said it is their last chance as Matt said. Matt said they will cement their legacy as the most exhilarating team in history and all of time and space. Matt said they will leave fans breathless. Jeff said he just hopes he leaves with his teeth.
-The panel discussed the cage match. The fans cheered as JoJo entered the ring behind them. Roberts noted that the Hardys have won every match against Sheamus and/or Cesaro. Roberts said they had to lose sometime and predicted a title change. Otunga went with the Hardys to retain.
The Raw broadcast team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T checked in on commentary. “It’s great to see David Otunga back, Book,” Cole said. Booker replied, “Yeah, it is.” Cole added “Tonight.” All three broadcast team members laughed…
1. Kalisto vs. Apollo Crews (w/Titus O’Neil). Kalisto performed a springboard leap onto Crews on the floor. Kalisto tried to follow up with another springboard move, but Crews caught him with a superkick on the way down. They cut to a WWE Network commercial. After the break, Crews suplexed Kalisto inside the ring. Titus barked orders and encouragement. Crews stopped to bicker with Titus briefly.
Kalisto took offensive control after the bickering. At 7:30, Kalisto performed a nice DDT for a good near fall. Crews came back and performed a standing shooting star press for a two count. Titus climbed onto the apron and yelled at Crews, who walked over to him and repeatedly asked Titus what else he wants him to do. Kalisto walked up behind Crews and performed Salida Del Sol for the win…
Kalisto defeated Apollo Crews in 9:40.
Powell’s POV: The wrestlers did a nice job for the bulk of the match and performed some flashy offense. Unfortunately, the finish was lousy. I’m not sure what WWE wants fans to make of Crews. Titus gets doofus heel heat, and it’s hard to tell whether they want fans to boo Crews or hope that he will split with Titus. The Kickoff Show panel framed this as Titus costing Crews the match by over-coaching, but Crews looked like a goof for stopping what he was doing to listen to Titus. For that matter, he looks like a goof for being associated with Titus to begin with.
-The Kickoff Show panel discussed the match and then set up a video package on the five-way main event of Extreme Rules. The video focussed on Brock Lesnar waiting the winner of the match and showed a graphic with Lesnar and rapid fire clips of his potential opponents.
-Kurt Angle sat in with the hosts. Angle said the main event winner will have beaten four other men and would therefore “have a pretty good chance against Brock Lesnar.” Angle was asked if he worries about injuries. Angle said they can’t wrap the wrestlers in cotton and injuries happen all the time.
Otunga asked Angle for insight when it comes to being in the ring with Lesnar. Angle called him the most dominant force of nature he has ever faced. Angle ran through some of Lesnar’s credentials. He said the only way to compete against Lesnar is to try to wear him down. “He’s the most dominant wrestler I have ever faced,” Angle said. Otunga asked who matches up best with Lesnar. Angle said they all have a shot, but he predicted that Samoa Joe would win the match.
-Otunga predicted a Wyatt win, Angle went with Joe, and Roberts went with Rollins. Roberts said he still wanted to know what that text message on Raw was all about. Young closed the show.
Join me for live coverage of WWE Extreme Rules in a separate story on the main page.