WWE WRESTLEMANIA XL KICKOFF SHOW REPORT (4/6): CM Punk, Wade Barrett, Pat McAfee, Jackie Redmond, Michael Cole preview event outside stadium

By Mike Meyers, PWTorch contributor


APRIL 6, 2024

Kickoff Panel:  Pat McAfee, Big E, C.M. Punk, Michael Cole, Wade Barrett, Jackie Redmond

An expansive crowd was shown outside the main entrance of Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pre-recorded clips were shown of the Rock, Seth Rollins, Rhea Ripley, and Becky Lynch arriving at the stadium.

Panel: Pat referred to being in “Chilly Philly,” and said nothing is cooler than Michael Cole in transition sunglasses. CM Punk flubbed his first line, saying “You can’t have Philadelpha in Philly…” Michael doubled over laughing, and Punk put his arm around Michael and said, “I started drinking.” Punk shared in the laugh and recovered easily. When Pat told the crowd that the Rock is their final boss, a “Rocky sucks!” chant broke out.

Video package:   The Bloodline vs. Cody Rhodes & Seth Rollins

Jackie Redmond was shown outside the Bloodline locker room. She said the Bloodline is riding high after Paul Heyman’s Hall of Fame induction last night. She threw to Byron Saxton outside of Cody Rhodes’s tour bus. He said he spoke with Cody earlier, and he said tonight was the most important match of his career. Byron threw to Kayla Braxton, who was outside of Seth Rollins’s locker room. She spoke of Seth’s dual matches on both nights of WrestleMania.

Video package:   Rhea Ripley vs. Becky Lynch

Panel:  Punk said that Lynch isn’t washed, but we haven’t seen anyone like Ripley in a long time. Big E said this match would be about physicality, and cited her victory at the Mae Young Classic. The crowd started a “Mami” chant.

Video replay:  Paul Levesque sit-down interview from WWE’s global headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut

Panel:  Cole asked Punk about this being the “Triple H Era.” Punk said that everything is “shockingly different” from his last run in WWE. He said he asked himself if he wasted time, if he should’ve come back sooner, but that Big E told him that it was good and that Punk needed to get away. Pat said the only thing that hasn’t changed was the passion of wrestling fans.

Video package: Jey Uso vs. Jimmy Uso

Panel:  Pat used a selfie stick to capture the crowd doing the “Yeet!” salute. Big E said he’s known Jey for most of his career, and he said he’s truly proud of Jey for emerging from the tag scene to a main event status. Punk recalled Owen vs. Bret at WrestleMania Ten.

Peter Rosenberg was shown at a local bar with Braun Strowman. He said he’d be nervous if he were Cody Rhodes, but he needs to finish his story. Strowman said American Mules were on him, and he began pouring drinks with a sponsoring vodka.

Jackie was backstage with Sami Zayn. Zayn said it’s been a crazy day, and that reality is setting in for what’s about to go down tonight. Zayn was very deliberate here. He said he’s really nervous before a big fight, but he said this was not self-doubt – it’s the type of nerves you feel when you’re about to go to war. He said he’s going to ride these nerves into war.

Panel:  The panel made references to Rocky IV, comparing the 1985 blockbuster to Gunther vs. Zayn. Big E wondered how much tread is left on Zayn’s tires, and said he’s “going to get his ass beat, over and over” tonight. Pat said Gunther is going to slap the soul out of Zayn.

Panel:  Punk asked if everyone in tonight’s main event has their own bus, then referenced Lex Luger’s “Lex Express” as another example of how much things have changed.

Video package:  WrestleMania history from Pat McAfee’s show

Cathy Kelley was backstage with Trish Stratus. Stratus said that Lynch was the best she’s ever been in the ring with. She admitted to not having wrestled Ripley, so she doesn’t know if “The Man” can overcome Ripley. Cathy asked if we could expect to see Stratus back in WWE anytime soon. Stratus simply said, “You just never know.”

Panel:  Cole asked how difficult it is to hold a title for a year, as Ripley has. Punk said that holding a title that long makes everyone around you want to take you down a peg. Big E aid that Ripley has “hit her final form.” Michael pitched to Kayle Braxton who was backstage with JBL. He said that he and his college buddies pooled their money to watch Hogan slam Andre at WrestleMania 3. When asked what match he was looking forward to, he cited Rey Mysterio & Andrade vs. Escobar & Dominik Mysterio. He called Rey a deadbeat dad, and was like Darth Vader: A horrible person who wears a mask. He compared Dominik to Ghandi and Nelson Mandela, enduring prison and becoming a role model. Regarding the main event, he said he never thought he’d see someone as dominant as Bruno Sammartino, but that Roman Reigns is that man.

Video package:  Kansas City Chiefs, Trey Smith, and young Joey

Panel:   Yet another “CM Punk” chant broke out behind the panel. Jackie introduced Wade Barrett. He touted NXT’s “Stand and Deliver,” which happened earlier in the day. Jackie asked about the repurcussions of Rhodes and Rollins losing tonight. Punk said tonight is about home field advantage for Sunday’s main event.

Cathy Kelley was backstage with Finn Balor and Damien Priest. Priest said they are pissed off at the odds being stacked against them (the defending tag champs) in tonight’s six-pack tag team ladder match.

Panel:  Big E said, his New Day love aside, that he’s excited for R-Truth, and called him “the ageless wonder.” He said he’s never had a WrestleMania moment, and at 52 years old, it’s his time. Jackie asked about the cold temperatures in a ladder match. Punk said there’s a “shrinkage factor,” and let that hang before saying, in a ladder match, “your will to compete shrinks.” He urged Jackie to get her head out of the gutter. Jackie shrugged this off and threw to a video package.

Video package:  Philadelphia charitable organizations

Panel:   Jackie asked about the debut of Jade Cargill. Punk said, “Her name is Jade, she’s cut like a diamond.” Punk and Big E acknowledged the significance of strong Black women being featured on this stage. Barrett said that Belair, Cargill, and Naomi are “hastily thrown together,” and as such, they will struggle against Damage CTRL. Nick Aldis, SmackDown general manager, joined the panel. He said they are building a dynasty, and that he needs to look to the future. He said at the top of his list was Jade Cargill.

Video package:  “Wrestlemania 1,” written and narrated by Michael Cole

Cathy Kelley was backstage with Natalya. Natalya said she was most excited for “Yeet vs. No Yeet,” Jey Uso vs. Jimmy Uso. She said she loves stories of sibling rivalry, and that we were due for another brother vs. Brother match.

Kayla Braxton was backstage with Santos Escobar and Dominik Mysterio. Dominik said it doesn’t matter that Andrade is now Rey’s partner: The strategy is the same to destroy Rey Mysterio. Escobar said that Andrade is going to find out what happens when you turn your back on Escobar.

Panel:   Punk said that Escobar and Punk need to go after whoever cut their hair, and suggested they start wearing masks. Big E said, “Imagine hating your dad so much that you team up with a group of strangers just to beat your dad’s ass again.”

Video package:  The Bloodline

Video replay:   Lonnie Ali & The Rock from last night’s Hall of Fame ceremony

Video replay:  Jackie Redmond interview with Rollins & Rhodes

Panel:  Punk cited the emotional week Reigns has already had, what with inducting Paul Heyman into the Hall of Fame. He said the tag match is high-stakes for everybody. Big E says he loves a spectacle. He commandeered Pat’s selfie stick to show the dwindling fans behind the panel who had not yet taken their seats. Punk said that he can’t trust Seth Rollins because of the way he dresses. Barrett said that Rollins has made a big miscalculation, what with his match tomorrow against Drew McIntyre. He said it’s a mistake for Rollins to take part in tonight’s tag match. Barrett said Rhodes and Rollins will need luck on their side to overcome the Bloodline, and if the Bloodline wins tonight, it’s a “guaranteed loss” for Rhodes tomorrow against Reigns. Regarding Rollins vs. McIntyre, Punk said, “If anybody can do it… Well, it would’ve been me, but I got injured.” Punk said he couldn’t focus because of the freezing cold, and tipped his hat to the fans in attendance. He urged the fans and panel alike to soak in this moment. Jackie said The Rock is “the people’s champ,” but it sounds like “the people” want Cody Rhodes as their champ.

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