Tonight’s Kick-Off show is presented by regular host Renee Young with a panel of legends that include Booker T, Jerry ‘the king’ Lawler ‘Mr Wrestlemania’ Shawn Michaels, and Lita.
This year’s Kick-Off includes a discussion lounge with Paul Heyman taking questions. Also Podcast host Sam Roberts is outside mingling amongst the crowd!
CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
NEVILLE(c) v AUSTIN ARIES
Aries made his intentions known as he tried to hit the Last Chancery early on in the match to which Neville rolled out of the ring and was having no part of it. Neville regained control as he countered the attempted missile dive from Aries with his foot to halt the determined challenger. Neville took control into the break with a big drop kick on Aries who also felt the barrier as Neville forced his authority. Aries turned things around as he hit a running missile through the second rope onto the champion then a huge missile drop kick after Neville had attempted to superplex Aries off the top rope. However, an unexpected incident in a match can totally change the complex of a match and a snap German suplex saw Aries landing on his head that left him looking dazed and in trouble as Neville finally followed up with a dead lift German that saw Aries kicking out on instinct alone. Neville worked the head of Aries who looked out of it but being the veteran he his Aries took Neville off the top rope with a hurricanrana and a great 450 splash that got a near fall before applying the ‘last chancery’ that Neville countered by raking the injured eye of Aries that had him falling victim to the ‘red arrow’ as Neville retained the title. Cool opening match that saw a potential concussion for Aries who showed his professionalism in completing the match.
ANDRE THE GIANT BATTLE ROYAL
Braun Strowman and the Big Show share the eliminations between them before a stare down occurs until Strowman sends Show out of the battle royal. Strowman is the obvious threat and the rest of participants team together to send the favourite over the top rope and this match becomes anybody’s to win. Ziggler spends a lot of this match dancing on the apron until Mojo Rawley sends him flying out of the contest and it’s Rawley himself that we see in the final three alongside Jinder Mahal and NXT Sanity member Killian Dain. The real story of this battle royal is Rawley’s friend Patriot’s own Rob Gronkowski having his drink thrown back at him by Mahal! Gronkowski take actions into his own hands and enters the ring as a female security guard, who obviously doesn’t get what is going on tries to stop him from entering! Gronkowski hits a running barge into Mahal as Rawley eliminates Dain and follows up by eliminating Mahal to win the match. Unlikely anyone would have predicted this finish in a rather poor match.
DEAN AMBROSE(c) v BARON CORBIN
An attempted bulldog from Ambrose saw Corbin counter and send Ambrose sliding hard into the ring post that obviously hurt the champion as he did not move for a moment and would hold his ribs throughout the match as Corbin took advantage and controlled Ambrose who really look to be hurting. I think Corbin realised somewhere Ambrose was hurt and tried to throw himself in the stairs to legitimately give Ambrose a chance to regain control. In true Ambrose Style the Lunatic Fringe took a ‘deep six’ that scored a near fall for the challenger. Corbin seemed frustrated as he struggled to put Ambrose away and that would cost him as he attempted to hit ‘end of days’ as Ambrose reversed to hit ‘Dirty Deeds’ to retain his championship.
Great opening match to start the Kick Off show, however the Battle Royal did not work and Strowman having an early elimination was not a good idea with the ending being embarrassing. Ambrose being relegated to the Kick Off show would not one feels go down well with him, and two potential injuries so early in the night does not fare well for the roster.