By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Extreme Rules Kickoff Show
Aired live July 14, 2019 on WWE Network and social media
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at Wells Fargo Center
-Jonathan Coachman, Charly Caruso, Beth Phoenix, and Sam Roberts hosted the show from the usual spot on the main floor. Coachman noted that it’s Caruso’s birthday.
-A video package recapped the Undertaker and Roman Reigns vs. Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre feud. Coachman said the match will open the Extreme Rules main show.
-An ambulance was shown backstage with two EMTs standing behind it. One of the panelists mentioned that WWE is taking every precaution due to the nature of the event. Kevin Owens and Kayla Braxton entered the picture and she said she was surprised to see him after what happened last week. An upbeat Owens said he had a match against Dolph Ziggler. Owens said he doesn’t work for Shane McMahon, he works for WWE, and if WWE is having Extreme Rules in Philadelphia then you can be sure he’ll be there.
-The panelists discussed the Last Man Standing match between Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Lashley. Caruso said Strowman suffered a ruptured spleen amongst other injuries during the stunt with Lashley on Raw and wondered what type of condition he will be in.
-Backstage, Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans spoke about their winner take all mixed tag match. Corbin spoke about the things he could do to Seth Rollins. He mentioned the possibility of hitting him with Lace’s teapot, but she made it clear that’s not an option. They were on the same page beyond that heading into the match.
1. Finn Balor vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the Intercontinental Championship. The Smackdown broadcast team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton were on the call for the match that was announced earlier in the day. Nakamura caught Balor with a knee to the ribs. Balor came right back with a kick to the head from the apron. Balor followed up with a flip dive and then ran Nakamura into the barricade a few times before rolling him back inside the ring. Nakamura applied a cross arm breaker, but Balor quickly reached the ropes to break the hold. They cut to a split screen break just over 5:00 into the match.
Balor went up top for his finisher, but Nakamura got to his feet and cut him off. Nakamura performed a sliding snap German suplex, then set up for his finisher, but Balor delivered a standing double stomp and followed up with a running dropkick. Balor went for his the Coup de Grace. Nakamura avoided it and then hit Balor with a knee to the back of the head. Nakamura hit Balor with a Kinshasa for the win…
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Finn Balor at 7:40 to win the Intercontinental Championship.
Powell’s POV: It was refreshing to see that they didn’t have Balor get his win back after the strong showing from Nakamura on Smackdown. Rather, they doubled down by having Nakamura beat him to win the championship. I actually enjoyed the lopsided Smackdown match more, but it was still cool to see the show open with a title change.
-The panel reacted to the title change. Roberts’ mic was out briefly, but the volume increased as he happily said “Nakamura is back.” They set up a video package on the WWE Championship match.
-Caruso interviewed New Day from the pre-show desk while the trio were backstage lined up in totem pole position with Kofi Kingston on top, Big E under him, and Xavier Woods at the bottom. Big E wished her a happy birthday, then Kingston said they will be wearing all the gold at the end of the night.
2. Drew Gulak 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. Gulak looked into the camera during his entrance and said it was time to take back what he never lost (Gulak beat Akira Tozawa in a Triple Threat to win the title). Gulak received a hometown pop when he was introduced as being from Philadelphia. Joseph recalled that things worked out well for Nese when he had home turf advantage when he won the title at WrestleMania.
The bell rang and Gulak immediately dropkicked Nese. There was an early “Let’s go Gulak” chant. Nese clotheslined Gulak over the top rope to ringside and received some boos. Gulak came right back with a clothesline from the apron onto Nese at ringside. They cut to a split screen commercial break at 2:10
Powell’s POV: It was another ad for Extreme Rules, meaning it was the second time they interrupted a match to air ad for Extreme Rules within a pre-show that’s fully dedicated to selling people on Extreme Rules. Why?
At 5:20, Nese overshot Gulak a bit on a 450 splash that resulted in a two count. McGuinness was quick to put it over as being more dangerous because the knees of Nese landed on Gulak. Nese set up for a sunset driver, but Gulak held the ropes. Gulak executed a big powerbomb that led to a near fall. Gulak hoisted up Nese in torture rack position and then performed a neckbreaker that led to the clean pin…
Drew Gulak defeated Tony Nese in 7:25 to retain the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
Powell’s POV: A decent match that ended with a surprisingly quick clean pin. I thought they would do more to make Nese look more competitive since he’s the former champion who wasn’t pinned to lose his championship, but this was fairly quick and certainly decisive. My guess is that they play up Gulak having a home turf advantage if they want to go back to this.
-The panel discussed Extreme Rules and Caruso worked in a plug for SummerSlam. Coachman set up a video package on the mixed tag match. The panel delivered final hype for the match and closed the pre-show.
Join me for live coverage of the WWE Extreme Rules Kickoff Show in a separate report on the main page.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast With Jason Powell featuring guest Jim Ross discussing his role in AEW, Tony Khan as a leader, whether Ross knew Shawn Spears was going to hit Cody with a chair shot to the head, working with Excalibur and Alex Marvez, his new book and speaking engagement deal, and much more.