By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE WrestleMania 35 Kickoff Show
Aired live April 7, 2019 on WWE Network (second hour on USA Network)
East Rutherford, New Jersey at MetLife Stadium
[Hour One] -The Kickoff Show opened with a shot of fans outside the stadium while Jonathan Coachman welcomed viewers to the show. Coachman was joined by a panel that started with Sam Roberts, Paige, and JBL.
-The hosts ran through the WrestleMania card. JBL mentioned that he will be on commentary for Kurt Angle’s final match, and Paige will be part of the broadcast team for the WWE Women’s Tag Title match.
-Charly Caruso and Pat McAfee checked in from the WrestleMania stage. McAfee wore a dress shirt and jacket along with shorts (he’s just so crazy!!!).
-The panel discussed the Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre and there was a CGI graphic above the ring featuring both men.
-Coachman plugged the Kickoff Show matches and it includes the Raw Tag Title match. He noted that the WWE Cruiserweight Championship match will open the show.
-Kayla Braxton interviewed Big E and Xavier Woods backstage and asked them about winning the gauntlet match to get Kofi Kingston into the WWE Championship match. She also asked if there’s any concern that Kingston’s tank isn’t full after everything he went through to get into the match. Big E said his tank is so full that it’s like when you overfill your gas tank and get gas on your hand.
-Edge and Christian joined the panel in place of Paige and JBL and discussed the WWE Championship match.
1. Buddy Murphy vs. Tony Nese for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. The 205 Live broadcast team of Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Aiden English were on the call. The bell rang to start the match and Murphy immediately went for a running knee, which Nese avoided. The wrestlers fought on the ropes. Murphy hoisted up Nese while standing on the send rope, then dropped him onto the top turnbuckle. An ad aired for the WrestleMania main event via split screen.
With Murphy hanging over the middle rope, Nese performed a moonsault onto him for a two count at 4:45. Murphy suffered a cut above his left eye. He went for Murphy’s Law, but Nese countered into a pin for a two count. Murphy came right back with a high knee, then Nese caught him with a reverse huracanrana. Murphy ducked to ringside to avoid a running knee, and Nese performed a Fosbury Flop dive.
At 9:00, Murphy performed a 450 for a good near fall. Murphy came back with Murphy’s Law and had the pin, but Nese put his foot on the rope. Murphy ran into a superkick. Nese suplexed Murphy into the corner, then followed up with a running knee and scored the pin…
Tony Nese defeated Buddy Murphy in 10:40 to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
Powell’s POV: A good match and a title change to open the show. The stadium is full enough to look and sound good, so it wasn’t like this played to a half-empty stadium like we’ve seen for the opener some years.
-Caruso and McAfee spoke with Sal and Q from Impractical Jokers…
-Paige and JBL were back on the panel in place of Edge and Christian, and Jerry Lawler sat in while they discussed the Shane McMahon vs. The Miz falls count anywhere match.
2. WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal. The broadcast team was Michael Cole, Renee Young, and Percy Watson. Lilian Garcia was the ring announcer. A group of entrants all walked out together. Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan, Lana, Ember Moon, Maria, Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose, Nikki Cross, Mickie James, Carmella, Kairi Sane, Dana Brooke, Zelina Vega, and Candice LeRae were among the entrants. Naomi and Asuka received separate entrances. Maria was the first woman eliminated. Cross was eliminated by Asuka. Naomi was out third.
Moon performed an Eclipse on Lana, who came back and eliminated Moon a short time later to a lot of boos. Sane lit up Lana with chops. The Riott Squad trio ganged up on Lana, and Logan eliminated her. Sane performed a top rope elbow drop on Logan. The Riott Squad eliminated Sane. Brooke eliminated Riott and Morgan back to back. Rose and Deville eliminated Vega. There was a super hokey elimination of Brooke, as Deville held the top rope down early and Brooke kept running and went over it. She ended up being knocked off the apron. James eliminated Rose, then Deville eliminated James.
The final three were Asuka, Logan, and Deville. Asuka worked over both women. With Deville on the apron, Asuka swept her leg with a kick to eliminate her. Logan eliminated Asuka. As Logan was celebrating, Carmella returned to the ring and waved at her. After a brief battle, Carmella eliminated Logan to win the match. Carmella hugged an older man at ringside, presumably her father…
Carmella won the WWE Women’s Battle Royal in 10:30.
Powell’s POV: I was actually excited by the idea of an unexpected winner when it looked like Logan won. For what it’s worth, ROH used the same approach last night when Kenny King disappeared and came back at the end to win the Honor Rumble.
-Coachman and the panel spoke about the WrestleMania main event. Paige noted that she was 12 when she first met Becky Lynch. They all agreed that it’s the rightful main event. Lawler recalled Lynch telling him that she’d been watching him on Youtube and wants to throw a punch like he does at one of her opponents.
[Hour Two] -An opening aired for the USA Network portion of the show, which was also shown on WWE Network, Youtube, etc. Coachman reset the show and introduced the second hour panel of Roberts, Shawn Michaels, and birthday boy David Otunga. Michaels wore a leather vest, a white t-shirt, and a necktie (he’s even wackier than McAfee!!!). Michaels spoke about DX going into the Hall of Fame and said it was long overdue for Chyna to be inducted.
Coachman led the panel through the WrestleMania lineup. The panel discussed the Triple H vs. Batista match and leaned on Michaels due to his friendship with both men. Michaels spoke about leaving on your own terms and how Batista perceives that Triple H held him down and so he didn’t get to leave on his own terms. When it comes to Triple H, Michaels said: “He stood next to me to get famous and now I work for him. You either deal with it like a man or you don’t”…
3. “The Revival” Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder vs. Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins for the Raw Tag Titles. Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young were on commentary. Cole noted that Hawkins normally wears New York Mets colors, but he shook things up by wearing green for the New York Jets. Wilder tagged in and Graves referred to him as heavy handed (following the knockout punch he threw at Bret Hart’s Hall of Fame attacker). “You don’t want to get into a fight with this young man,” Cole said. Funny.
Ryder was isolated for a stretch and then performed a double neckbreaker on both Revival members. He went for a hot tag, but Dawson knocked Hawkins off the apron. Ryder eventually backdropped Dawson and made the hot tag to Hawkins, who cleaned house and played to the crowd with a war cry. Hawkins got a two count off a backslide. A short time later, Hawkins had Wilder pinned, but Dawson pulled him to the floor to break it up.
Dawson performed a brainbuster on Hawkins at ringside. A “let’s go Hawkins” chant broke out. Back inside the ring, Hawkins was limp when Dawson tried to pick him up. Dawson slapped him, then got him to his feet only to have Hawkins catch him in an inside cradle for the 1-2-3. Cole noted that Hawkins’ 269 match losing streak was over…
Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins defeated The Revival in 13:20 to win the Raw Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: A good tag match that was well received by the live crowd. So three region specific winners to start the show with New York natives Nese, Ryder, and Hawkins winning, and Carmella being billed as the Queen of Staten Island. Thank goodness Enzo Amore and Big Cass are now working elsewhere. Curtis Axel and Chad Gable must be praying that Minneapolis will get WrestleMania one of these years. I assume that the broadcast team joking about the Wilder punch is a sign that management is cool with it (like pretty much everyone else). Hey, maybe they should bring back Brawl For All, er, never mind.
Akbar Gbaja-Biamila from American Ninja Warrior spoke with Caruso and McAfee on the side the stage… Booker T joined the broadcast team…
4. Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The broadcast team was Tom Phillips, Aiden English, and Byron Saxton. The advertised entrants were Braun Strowman, Colin Jost, Michael Che, Andrade, Apollo Crews, Titus O’Neil, Tyler Breeze, Jinder Mahal, No Way Jose, Bobby Roode, Chad Gable, Kalisto, Gran Metalik, Lince Dorado, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Heath Slater, Rhyno, Viktor, Konnor, Ali, Shelton Benjamin, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Otis, Tucker, EC3.
Che and Jost received an entrance. Jost wore Odell Beckham Jr.’s new Cleveland Browns jersey (he was traded from the New York Giants. The Hardy Brothers received a separate entrance. Phillips asked if Matt Hardy could win the match for a second straight year. They must have went to commercial on USA Network, as the panel spoke while the Hardys’ entrance music played for an extended amount of time.
Braun Strowman made his entrance coming out of the USA Network break and then the match was on. Strowman was jacked and didn’t wear a singlet top. Jost fled to ringside. There were several rapid fire eliminations including EC3. Luke Harper was in the match and he and Strowman had a staredown, but they were cut off before they could lock horns. The quick eliminations continued and Heavy Machinery performed a double suplex on Strowman. Braun was tossed through the ropes to ringside.
Otis did a double caterpillar on The Ascension, who were shockingly eliminated seconds later. Strowman returned to the ring and eliminated both Otis and Tucker. Harper picked up Ali for a suplex on the apron. Strowman kicked Harper and both men fell to the mat in a cool elimination spot. The final five in the ring were Strowman, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Andrade, and Crews. Andrade performed a huracanrana on Crews from the apron to eliminate both men.
The Hardys were trying to eliminate Strowman when Jost and Che returned to the ring and tried to help. Strowman got free and eliminated the Hardys, leaving him alone with the Saturday Night Live Weekend Update anchors. Jost called for a mic and was booed. Jost said there are other solutions and not everything has to end in violence. A man in a suit entered the ring. Jost said the man was his therapist and he wanted Strowman to work through some of his anger. The therapist tried to lead Strowman in a breathing exercise. Strowman destroyed him.
“Get him,” Jost told Che, who was wearing amateur wrestling headgear. Che didn’t move until he tried to eliminate himself. Strowman caught him and hit him to knock him off the apron. Strowman went for a big boot on Jost, who ducked. Jost tried to eliminate Strowman, who shoved him to the mat. Strowman picked up Jost and tossed him over the top rope and onto a group of wrestlers below for a safe landing elimination.
Braun Strowman won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in 10:20.
Powell’s POV: Harmless fun. The live crowd enjoyed Strowman going after Jost, who got good heat for anything he did. Braun breaks the streak of New York related wins on the Kickoff Show. At this point, EC3 better hope for WrestleMania at Progressive Field in Cleveland, as it may be his only hope. Seriously, why is he being treated like a nobody?
-The panel spoke about the battle royal. Roberts asked how Andrade could do something so stupid by essentially eliminating himself.
-A video package aired on Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch. The panel delivered predictions to close the show.
Check out my WrestleMania 35 main show review in a separate post on the main page.
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