WrestleMania XL Kickoff coverage: Seth Rollins, Rhea Ripley, Becky Lynch, Drew Mcintyre, Paul “Triple H” Levesque, CM Punk, and more


By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WrestleMania XL Kickoff event
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at Wells Fargo Center
Streamed live April 5, 2024 on Peacock and WWE social media channels

-Michael Cole and Pat McAfee hosted the event on a stage set up in the parking lot of Wells Fargo Center, which plays host to tonight’s Smackdown and the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.

-Jackie Redmond and Cathy Kelley checked in from backstage inside the arena. Redmond was in front of the Bloodline locker room. Kelley was elsewhere and spoke about how Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes are not going into WrestleMania fully healthy due to the beating they took on Raw.

-Cole introduced WWE Chief Content Officer Paul “Triple H” Levesque, who came out to his entrance theme and played to the crowd. Levesque shook hands with Cole, then shook hands with McAfee and hugged him. Levesque said he would have done his water bit, but he was afraid his lips would freeze. He said it was cold and he appreciated everyone who showed up.

Powell’s POV: Meanwhile, I’m wearing shorts in the Twin Cities area today. Hopefully the same will be true a year from now if WrestleMania 41 comes to Minneapolis. U.S. Bank Stadium has a roof, but it sure would be nice to take in all of the weekend events in nice weather. Early April could go either way in Minnesota in terms of being in the 60’s or there could be a damn blizzard.

-Levesque said something magical is happening. He spoke about the road to get to WrestleMania, then said the end is just the beginning. Levesque thanked the fans for what’s about to happen. Levesque told the fans to buckle up because they were going to take one hell of a ride together. Levesque did his “Are You Ready?” routine and made his exit.

-Women’s World Champion Rhea Ripley took the stage. There was a “Mami” chant and she played into it. Ripley cut a confident promo about her domination of the women’s division. Becky Lynch came out and cut a brief promo about how she would upset Ripley. Lynch spoke briefly and said the time for talking was over, then faced off with Ripley.

-Cole and McAfee spoke about Gunther vs. Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental Championship. Cole set up a video package while adding that this is Rocky IV. Gunther spoke some of the men who held the title before him and said the history would end with him. Footage was shown of the Sami Zayn and Chad Gable training video, which included Zayn telling Gable that he’s afraid of letting his family down.

-Sami Zayn was introduced by Cole. The crowd sang Zayn’s entrance theme, then switched to singing his old “Ole” theme. Zayn said the Philly fans remember that one. He spoke about how the fans in Philly will let you know if they don’t like you, but they will have your back if they do. He recalled having his first match in the United States in Philadelphia.

Gunther’s music played and he joined Zayn on the stage. Gunther said his first match in the United States as well. He said he came back this week and realized that it’s the same dump it was fifteen years ago. Gunther said Zayn isn’t cut out for this and pointed to Zayn’s “Win Rocky Win” t-shirt and said that’s not reality. Gunther said Zayn is a great challenger, but he’s not cut out to fill his shoes. The fans gave Gunther the “What?” treatment. Gunther said that once he’s done with Zayn, he will still be the greatest and longest reigning Intercontinental Champion in history.

Zayn said he wouldn’t take anything away from Gunther, but he noted that he main evented WrestleMania last year. Zayn said he’s not the underdog. Zayn got in Gunther’s face and told him that he is the one who will beat him. Gunther smirked at Zayn and then left the stage while Zayn’s entrance theme played. Zayn played to the crowd before leaving.

-Cole and McAfee ran through the lineup for Smackdown. They said Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre were still to come. Jey Uso was shown walking backstage and Cole said Jey was up next. A video package aired on Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso.

-Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso took the stage. Jimmy spoke first and said he would take out Jey. He said it would be all about him. Jey said Jimmy would catch a “yeetdown.” They went face to face and wrapped up their brief appearance while Cole hyped Jey facing his other brother Solo Sikoa on Smackdown.

-A video package spotlighted the Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre feud.

-Cole said that he, McAfee, and Corey Graves will have the honor of calling WrestleMania. Cole said it would be the 23rd WrestleMania that he’s called, which led to a “Michael Cole” chant from the crowd. Cole said they would have a special guest sitting next to them during the World Heavyweight Championship match and then introduced him.

-CM Punk walked onto the stage dressed in a suit. Punk said it was like a bit tailgate party “with all you freaks out here.” Punks aid he used to live in Philadelphia. He said he started at the Murphy Rec Center and now he’s here. Punk said he might not be wrestling this weekend, but he will be on commentary. Punk told the fans to enjoy WrestleMania and said he couldn’t wait to see them on Saturday and Sunday. Punk said you can’t have WrestleMania in Philadelphia without him.

-World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins was introduced by Cole. Punk remained on the stage next to Cole and McAfee. Rollins cut a promo about how he and Cody Rhodes will take down Roman Reigns and The Rock. He said it ends on Sunday when he will successfully defend his championship.

Drew McIntyre’s entrance theme interrupted Rollins. McIntyre walked onto the stage wearing a kilt despite the weather. He handed McAfee a container of muffins. McIntyre said he brought them as a peace offering for Punk, who wouldn’t take the muffins. McIntyre asked the fans who was ready for him to have his moment with live fans. McIntyre said he had a PSA message for fans. He said that if you don’t know the superstars, don’t call them by their government names. He mocked adult fans wearing title belts over their shoulders and acting like they won something.

McIntyre told the fans not to support the “Cringe Lord” Rollins, which led to some fans chanting Rollins’ theme. McIntyre said he’s talked a lot of trash and it’s been fun, but Rollins is one of the best he’s ever been in the ring with. McIntyre said Rollins did what he told him not to do and now their match will be an execution. When a Punk chant broke out, McIntyre told the fans not to get Punk’s blood pressure up because he’ll tear something else.

Rollins said it wouldn’t be an execution, it will be a fight. Rollins said it would be the fight of McIntyre’s life. He said that no matter what he goes through on Saturday, he’ll drag his body to WrestleMania on Sunday and will fight with everything he has left. Rollins said he would leave it all in the ring. He said that McIntyre wants to win a title in front of live fans and to prove he’s as good as he thinks he is. Rollins said he would give McIntyre that chance. Rollins said that as good as McIntyre might be, he’s not Seth “Freakin'” Rollins. Rollins said the last thing McIntyre would hear is the entire world singing his song.

-Cole closed out the show, so apparently Cody Rhodes is not appearing after all.


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