By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Extreme Rules Kickoff Show
Aired live on July 15, 2018 on WWE Network and social media
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at PPG Paints Arena
-The Kickoff Show was hosted by Renee Young and the panel had Booker T, Sam Roberts, and David Otunga. The cage was hanging above the ring for the Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens match.
-Charly Caruso checked in from backstage and addressed Hulk Hogan being reinstated into the WWE Hall of Fame. She said all of the superstars and the entire WWE Universe are excited to have him back.
-Caruso also spoke briefly about the Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley match, and Team Hell No challenging the Bludgeon Brothers for the Smackdown Tag Titles. She said Shinsuke Nakamura would be joining her to answer the very worst of the questions submitted via social media.
-Finn Balor joined the panel and smiled a lot. He also said he doesn’t envy Owens having to face Strowman in the cage match. Booker asked Balor about facing a bigger man in Baron Corbin. Balor said he’s been doing hit his entire life and said the bigger they are the harder they fall. He also said you have to make enemies to get to where you want to be. He said if being the enemy of Stephanie McMahon puts him back in contention for the WWE Universal Championship then so be it. Balor wrapped up his brief time with the panel.
-The shark cage is also hanging inside the bigger cage. Roberts played up the possibility of Ellsworth climbing through the cage because he’s thin and has no chin to get in his way.
1. Andrade Almas (w/Zelina Vegas) vs. Sin Cara. The Smackdown broadcast team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton called the match. Almas was dumped to ringside 30 seconds into the match. Sin Cara went for a suicide dive, but Almas moved aside and shoved Sin Cara into the barricade. Sin Cara started to fight back inside the ring, but Almas knocked him back to ringside with a spinning back elbow. Almas posed in the ropes heading into a commercial. [C]
The match was shown on a split screen during the break. Almas simply worked the arm until the break was over. Sin Cara came back with a reverse huracanrana that spiked Almas into the mat and picked up a two count. The wrestlers ended up fighting on the ropes a short time later. Sin Cara was hung up in a tree of woe briefly. He escaped it and shoved Almas off the top to the apron.
Sin Cara performed an odd move from the ropes that resulted in Almas taking a bump on the floor. Sin Cara rolled Almas back inside the ring and hit a frogsplash. Vega stood on the apron and distracted the referee from making the count. Almas came back and hit the hammerlock DDT for the win…
Andrade Almas defeated Sin Cara in 7:10.
Powell’s POV: I hope the presentation of Almas and Vega improves starting with Tuesday’s Smackdown. She’s a terrific talker and they haven’t given her much of a chance to show that on the main roster yet. The broadcast team continues to play up the idea that the Almas feud has awaken something within Sin Cara. We’ve seen him lose so many times over the years that it actually comes off like Almas isn’t a big deal because he needed a distraction or he would have lost.
-Renee Young spoke with Shinsuke Nakamura, who stood backstage. Nakamura didn’t respond when he asked if he could hear her. She asked about Jeff Hardy’s offense coming from different angles. Nakamura stood there and smiled without responding. She asked again if he could hear her. “Yes, go ahead,” Nakamura said. She asked the question again. Nakamura smiled and said, “Bad connection.”
Sam Roberts took a turn by asking about how important the match is coming off the rivalry to Styles. Nakamura called him a clown. Booker T took a shot. Nakamura said he respects Jeff Hardy, but he will take away his U.S. Championship. They wrapped up the interview, then the panel spoke about how they believed Nakamura could hear them all along…
-Young set up footage of Kurt Angle throwing out the first pitch at the Pittsburgh Pirates game.
Powell’s POV: It’s too bad this show isn’t in Minnesota. The Twins may have used him for an inning since their pitchers gave up 19 GD runs yesterday.
-The panel spoke about the Raw Women’s Championship match. They were interrupted by Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre. Ziggler said the women’s match will be great, but he’s the premier champion. McIntyre said he would have the best seat in the house for the best match on the show. Ziggler said the fans have the back of Rollins and that’s amazing, but he has McIntyre watching his back in real time. Ziggler said he may never lose again. Booker asked him about stealing the show. Ziggler said no because he’s about winning.
Powell’s POV: The Ziggler character is finally about winning matches rather than meaningless talk about stealing the show and not getting chances even though his character was losing constantly. This is a major turn in the right direction and I officially don’t hate the character now due to this change.
2. “New Day” Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods vs. “Sanity” Eric Young, Killian Dain, and Alexander Wolfe in a tables match. The Smackdown team called the match. The bell rang and the teams immediately traded punches. At 1:50, Big E set up for his shoulder block through the ropes, but Young and Wolfe were waiting with knees. They cut to a split screen break while Young and Wolfe were working over Big E. [C]
E and Woods held up Wolfe and Young while Kingston came off the top rope and stomped both wrestlers. Later, Kingston took out Dain with Trouble in Paradise. Wolfe and Kingston fought near the ropes while Young was laid out on a table below them. Kingston went for a suplex, but Wolfe blocked it. Wolfe bit the face of Kingston, then Young leapt off the ropes and clotheslined Kingston through the table to give Sanity the win…
Sanity defeated New Day in a tables match in 8:00.
Powell’s POV: Mark it down, two heel acts actually went over on the Kickoff Show. It also keeps the odd streak of having Sanity win every other television match going.
-Young announced that Ronda Rousey is in the building and reminded viewers that she would be present for the Raw Women’s Championship match between Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax. After the panel spoke about the matches, they showed Rousey walking somewhere in the building with her husband Travis Browne and another woman.
-A video package focussed on the Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley match.
-Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy appeared on the screen. Wyatt said they were here and next.
Join me on the main page for my live review of the actual Extreme Rules event.