By Jason Powell
WWE SummerSlam 2017 Kickoff Show
Aired live on WWE Network and social media
Brooklyn, New York at Barclays Center
-The Kickoff Show panel of Renee Young, Jerry Lawler, Lita, and David Otunga checked in from their desk, which was located above the first level of the venue rather than the usual main floor location. Young noted that the doors had just opened, which explained why the arena appeared to be nearly empty.
-Charly Caruso checked in from the social media lounge, which was once known as Tom Phillips’ mobile kill room and/or masturbation den. Charly will ask Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins the very worst of the questions submitted by fans a little later in the pre-show.
-Sam Roberts checked in from outside the building where he was surrounded by screaming fans.
-Backstage, Baron Corbin was interviewed by Dasha Fuentes. He said there are consequences for sticking your nose in other people’s business and vowed to make John Cena pay for costing him the Money in the Bank cash-in match.
-The panel focussed on the Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Balor match. All three members predicted a win for Balor’s Demon persona.
-Shane McMahon was interviewed backstage. He said he won’t have any issue with being struck during the U.S. Championship match if it’s in the heat of battle and inadvertent, but he will return the favor if someone intentionally gets physical with him.
-The panel discussed the U.S. Championship match briefly. Lita and Otunga picked AJ Styles to win, while Lawler said he was going with Kevin Owens just so it wouldn’t be unanimous. Great logic, King.
-The Raw broadcast team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T checked in.
1. Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, and Jason Jordan vs. The Miz (w/Maryse), Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel. There were still a lot of empty seats at ringside as the match got underway. They event showed the ridiculously long lines outside the building. The babyface trio was in offensive control heading into a commercial break. The heel trio isolated Jeff Hardy coming out of the break. Jeff eventually tagged in Matt, who got a near fall on Miz following a Side Effect. Matt tagged in Jordan, who worked over Axel and Dallas. Miz made a blind tag and ended up hitting the Skull Crushing Finale on Jordan for the win…
The Miz, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel beat Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, and Jason Jordan in 11:20.
Powell’s POV: This has all the makings of a match won by the heels at the pay-per-view, yet avenged by the babyfaces in a rematch on Raw. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow night.
-A video package recapped the long road to the Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose reunion. Caruso interviewed the duo in the social media lounge and asked them about preparing as a team. Ambrose spoke about feeling aggressive and his dislike of Sheamus and Cesaro. The first question was what their tag team name is. “What?” Rollins asked. He said they’ve been together for a week and they don’t need a name like The Bar. Ambrose said picking a team name could lead to arguments. He said he had a long list for Rollins to check out after the match. The next question was how it feels to be back together after everything that happened. Rollins said it was surreal. Ambrose said he felt 100 percent confident. Finally, she asked what the best moment was as The Shield. Ambrose said they opened up Barclays Center with the first WWE event.
2. Akira Tozawa (w/Titus O’Neil) vs. Neville for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. The 205 Live broadcast team of Vic Joseph and Corey Graves were on commentary for the match. Tozawa held the ropes as Neville crashed and burned while going for a dropkick or a huracanrana. Tozawa caught him with a kick and a running senton. However, Neville ended up clotheslining Tozawa over the top rope and then roughed him up at ringside heading into a break.
Tozawa came back with a nice suicide dive. Tozawa applied an octopus hold. The broadcast team said he was going to retain his title, so you had to know that wasn’t the finish. Neville broke the hold, but Tozawa caught him with a shining wizard for a two count. Later, Neville avoided a top rope senton attempt by Tozawa. Neville performed a Red Arrow onto the back of Tozawa and scored the pin…
Neville beat Akira Tozawa in 11:45 to regain the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
Powell’s POV: Neville regains the championship he just lost on Monday. I don’t understand what the point of the title change was, nor did it seem worth disrupting Neville’s long title reign. By the way, Dot Net reader Tyler England is at the show and noted that it’s a “train wreck” getting into the building.
-Peter Rosenberg replaced Lita on the broadcast team and showed off his Bobby Heenan style jacket.
-Backstage, Roman Reigns was interviewed by Braxton. He spoke briefly about whooping everyone’s ass and walking out with the WWE Universal Championship.
-Elias sat on his chair in the ring with a guitar in hand and spoke about how he was inspired to write the song he was about to perform. He got good heat for asking fans to hold the applause and silence their phones until he was finished. It was the usual with him badmouthing the host city. He finished playing and thanked the crowd before saying goodnight. He acted like they were chanting “one more song.” Elias played another song that included him asking when Brooklyn lost its balls. Shockingly, no one interrupted him.
-Young and the panel were joined by Carmella and James Ellsworth, who took the spot of Otunga. Carmella correctly pointed out that no one is talking about Naomi and Natalya. She said they were talking about her. Young asked them about Enzo being in a shark cage. They both agreed he should stay up there all night. Carmella said he’s annoying. They also made predictions on other matches. Ellsworth rubbed the head of Rosenber, who then asked, “Don’t you have an indie show to go to?” Carmella played to the crowd and then she and Ellsworth left.
-Backstage, the Singh brothers introduced Jinder Mahal, who spoke about proving he is the best of the best over the last 91 days. He said the xenophobic naysayers cheered when Baron Corbin tried to cash in, then cried when he stripped them of their hope. Mahal said Shinsuke Nakamura is a great athlete, but he is not in the same league as him. Mahal said he fights for the glory of the 1.3 billion people in India. Mahal delivered some mic work in Punjabi.
-The panel discussed the WWE Championship match. Lawler said the pressure is on Mahal because he would let down 1.3 billion people if he lost. Rosenberg and Lawler picked Mahal, while Otunga predicted a Nakamura win.
3. Big E and Xavier Woods (w/Kofi Kingston) vs. Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso for the Smackdown Tag Titles. The Smackdown broadcast team of Tom Phillips, JBL, and Byron Saxton checked in on commentary from ringside. New Day wore new gear with unicorn logos. They did some pre-match mic work about Francesca (trombone) being born in Brooklyn and being where they started their record breaking tag title reign. The Usos had Woods down heading into a break.
The Usos, who both worked minus t-shirts for the first time in a while, continued to isolate Woods coming out of the break. Woods made a hot tag around 10:00. E performed a nice suplex on Jey. Woods ended up hoisting E onto his shoulders electric chair style and then dropped him on one of the Usos for a good near fall. The Usos came back briefly, but Woods tagged himself in and kicked Jimmy, then teamed up with E for a uranage backbreaker for a two count.
Woods had a run of offense against both Usos. Jey took him out with a move off the barricade, then caught a charging E with a boot before he could perform a suicide dive. One Uso took out E with a top rope splash from one corner, then the other performed a top rope splash on E for a good near fall. Woods rebounded with a couple of near falls of his own. New Day hit their finisher on Jey, but Jimmy returned to break up the pin despite taking a tornado DDT on the floor just seconds earlier. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for the first time of the night.
Jey tossed Woods over the top rope where his brother was supposed to perform a Samoan drop on the floor. It looked a bit off. E speared Jimmy through the ropes. Jimmy made a blind tag. E saw it coming, but ended up taking repeated superkicks from the Usos. They followed up with simultaneous top rope splashes on E for the win…
The Usos defeated New Day in 19:20 to win the Smackdown Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: A fun match thanks to the crazy near falls. I didn’t expect to see two title changes on the Kickoff Show. Hell, I didn’t expect any of this as I’m now 0-3 in my predictions. Who would have guessed that the heels would sweep on the Kickoff Show? I love it. This match woke up the live crowd by the midway point, and it looks like most of the fans are finally in the building following a long delay.
The panel spoke and then set up a chicken shack commercial with Dolph Ziggler, Enzo Amore, Goldust, Big Show, Mojo Rawley, Becky Lynch, Heath Slater, and R-Truth auditioning to be Col. Sanders. They all ended up fighting and the ad ended with the question of who will be next.
The chicken shack’s logo appeared on the big screen and then Shawn Michaels’ music played. HBK came out dressed as Col. Sanders and did his usual entrance routine. Wow.
Backstage, Paul Heyman took the mic from a backstage interviewer and delivered a promo. He spoke about how Brock Lesnar’s title defenses are special and infrequent. He said it was a three-for-one tonight in the four-way. Heyman said you can stack them up any way you want. He was about to say Lesnar would retain, but Braun Strowman entered the picture and said, “You talk too much.”
-Young and the panel closed the show by discussing the four-way. Lawler picked Lesnar, Rosenberg picked Reigns, Otunga picked Strowman. This closed the pre-show.
Join me for live coverage of SummerSlam on the main page.
The Best of The Boom features Tony Schiavone joining Jason Powell in this May 30, 2018 discussion in which he looks back on when he went to Ric Flair's house for his first pro wrestling assignment, his year with WWE, his one appearance for TNA Impact Wrestling, and more...