WWE WRESTLEMANIA XL KICKOFF SHOW REPORT (4/7): CM Punk, Big E, JBL, Wade Barrett, Pat McAfee, Jackie Redmond, Michael Cole preview event outside stadium

By Mike Meyers, PWTorch contributor


APRIL 7, 2024

Kickoff Panel: Pat McAfee, Big E, CM Punk, Michael Cole, Wade Barrett, Jackie Redmond, JBL

Video package: Recap of WrestleMania night one

During panel introductions, Big E commandeered a selfie stick and walked up and down the gated-in fans behind the panel’s desk. CM Punk was introduced along with his two Slammy awards won earlier today: “Oh my God Moment” and “Return of the Year.”

Video replay: Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns press conference after night one

Panel: Cole said that he believes Cody is screwed tonight. Punk said if Cody’s got a chance, it’s a slim one. Big E said that we don’t know what the Bloodline rules are; that it will be “a lot of running amok.”

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

Panel: Cole asked Punk about his return to WWE, piggybacking off of the material in the Levesque interview. Punk said that he and Levesque might be a little too similar, which is why they didn’t get along for quite a while. He said it’s great to be back, seeing old friends (gesturing to Big E), and making new friends (gesturing to Pat). Both seemed receptive to Punk’s remarks.

Video package: Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes

Byron Saxton was outside Rhodes’s tour bus – Byron said he’s seen WWE medical staff boarding his bus. He said he’d remain outside the bus to gather more information.

Video package: Logan Paul vs. Randy Orton vs. Kevin Owens

Panel: Cole touted the weather improvement from night one. He pivoted to say he’s never seen anyone transition to WWE like Logan Paul. Pat said Paul doesn’t need to be doing this, but he does because he loves it. Big E said he’s afraid for Kevin Owens – not for what people might do to him, but what he might do to himself under tonight’s spotlight. Punk said that Paul doesn’t appreciate the history of the United States Championship the same way Orton and Owens do, and that they’ll have chips on their shoulders as a result.

Byron was with Iyo Sky, and asked about how well she and Bayley knows each other. Sky said it was a stupid question, and that at the end of the day, Bayley is “just a challenger.”

Byron threw to Peter Rosenberg in the last row of the stadium’s upper deck. Peter suggested that fans stop by the WWE store to pick up a hoodie if seated in this section.

Video package: WrestleMania stats

Panel: Big E asked the crowd how many Bloodline supporters there were, then asked how many “Cody Crybabies” there were. Cody supporters were louder.

Video package: Iyo Sky vs. Bayley

Panel: Punk said it hurts his heart to see Bayley betrayed by Damage CTRL. Cole called Sky one of the most underrated champions. Big E said he is second guessing having children because he’s afraid of them betraying him.

Peter Rosenberg was now in the front row seats at ringside and he briefly interviewed a fan who traveled to Philadelphia from Washington, D.C.

Panel: Pat said that fan paid a lot of money for his front row seat, but now he has to sit next to Peter Rosenberg.

Video package: Fox sports analyst Tom Rinaldi narrated a piece on photo journalist Neil Leifer, who captured the iconic image of Muhammed Ali standing over Sonny Liston

Byron Saxton was back, and said he spoke to Cody Rhodes. Rhodes said he is okay to compete tonight. Regarding “Bloodline rules,” Rhodes said, “This match is the card that I’ve been dealt, and tonight I will not fold.”

Video package: Wrestlers speak to the “Best parts of WrestleMania”

Panel: Wade Barrett and Jackie Redmond replaced Pat and Cole, who left to take their positions at ringside. Jackie asked the crowd to give her a “Hell yeah!” if they’re excited – they obliged. CM Punk warned her that this was gimmick infringement. Jackie asked, “Am I in trouble?” Punk said, “Not with me! You just better watch out if you go to Texas.”

Video package: Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre

Panel: The crowd behind the panel was singing Rollins’s entrance music. Big E mentioned that Rollins is battered from night one, and McIntyre is fresh and hungry. Barrett said that Rollins made a “rookie error” by overcommitting himself this weekend, and will get a second loss tonight against Drew McIntyre.

Video package: Snowboarder Cody Field, three-time Special Olympics gold medalist

Panel: Cody Field joined the panel, and he successfully engaged the fans behind the set. He said he was honored to represent the millions of Special Olympics athletes around the world. Jackie asked what the best part of his WWE experience has been. He said the highlight was meeting his idol, Cody Rhodes. Jackie awarded Cody a commemorative WrestleMania 40 gold medal.

Peter Rosenberg was backstage and took the viewers on a WrestleMania “gorilla walk” backstage leading up to the stage entrance. He stumbled upon Drew McIntyre, who said Chelsea Green stole his Slammy award, so if he sees her, have her arrested. McIntyre said people are making a lot of jokes about his pandemic title reign. He urged people to think about the past, to remember the fear and being at home. He said to remember who was there for them: Drew McIntyre.

Peter reached the work area where Levesque will be monitoring tonight’s events, then walked through the curtain and onto the main stage. The lower bowl was already full as Peter approached the ramp to the ring.

Panel: Jackie said the crowd outside is getting smaller as the crowd inside is getting bigger. She welcomed JBL to the panel. He shouted at the crowd, “Don’t be afraid to chant my name!”

Jackie brought up tonight’s Philadelphia street fight, and threw to Byron who was with Street Profits, Bobby Lashley, and B-Fab. Lashley said they’re ready to put an end to Final Testament, because the Pride have bigger fish to fry. Ford says there’s only one thing to choose tonight: Violence. Lashley led them out of the room.

Cathey Kelley was with their opponents, the Final Testament. Karrion Kross said game plans are for cowards who lack confidence. He said they like to get into the chaos and see who can hang with them when they take things “to the extreme.” Kross was wearing an ECW tee shirt.

Panel: Barrett said something has snapped with the Pride, and that Final Testament are going to pay for it. JBL said that he and his APA partner Ron Simmons would love to be a part of this fight.

Video package: LA Knight vs. AJ Styles

Panel: JBL called Knight “the dog that caught the car,” and called Styles a modern-day Shawn Michaels. Big E referred to Knight being “over,” and referred to “bookers” and Knight’s catch phrases. Barrett described a scent in the air, labeled it “kavorka,” then said it’s making his loins tingle. Big E asked that Barrett refrain from talking about his loins as Jackie threw to a commercial break.

Video package: Cody Rhodes, Philadelphia fans, “Finish the story”

Panel: Jackie said that to finish the aforementioned story, Cody must face insurmountable odds. JBL said the winner of Reigns vs. Rhodes will be talked about for the next hundred years, and compared their story to a Shakespearean tragedy. Big E said he was taking this in as a fan, and that he felt like a kid again seeing the main event story unfold. He added, “All of us crybabies are counting on Cody tonight.” Barrett said “the story” was finished 12 months ago, and all we’re doing is re-reading the final chapter. He recommended that Rhodes begins a new story on page one. Jackie asked why the fans feel so connected to Rhodes. JBL said Rhodes doesn’t need help from the fans, and that none of them can be in the ring with him. He added that Rhodes has no chance against Roman Reigns. Big E said that being a champion isn’t just what you do in the ring, but what you do for the fans outside of the ring.

The broadcast cut abruptly to show Punk’s entrance to “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour. The panel said we’re getting started with Rollins vs. McIntyre.

Find Mike on Twitter: @themikeshow42

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