The phrase 'WWE Kickoff Show' doesn't exactly conjure images of great matches. On the contrary, these pre-PPV warm-ups are generally held in such low esteem that many fans don't even bother to watch them. They're skippable, and given the bloated length of WWE's major events these days, that's understandable.
The reasons for this are straightforward. Kickoff Shows primarily exist to warm the crowd up for the big event, and WWE typically fill them with the night's coldest matches. This means they're usually home to lower-card feuds, hastily thrown together title fights, and other bouts with little to no crowd investment. Filler, basically.
But Kickoff Shows aren't always the expendable snoozefests they're made out to be, and while the in-studio pre-show panels can be tedious, WWE occasionally throw viewers a bone with a genuinely great match or two. Such instances are rare, but there have been a handful of occasions where pre-show bouts have legitimately outshone those on the main card, raising the question of why they weren't featured later in the evening.
Their lowly card position means you may have forgotten they ever took place, but these hidden Kickoff Show gems deserve your praise and attention.
10. Neville Vs. Bad News Barrett (Extreme Rules 2015)
Neville's initial forays into the main roster didn't yield a lasting push, but did produce a number of solid bouts against upper midcard stars. His matches with Wade Barrett were always bags of fun, and while this Extreme Rules 2015 contest wasn't quite as good as their rematch at King Of The Ring, it was still a strong clash between two underused Englishmen.
The event took place in Chicago, which practically guarantees a red-hot crowd, and the fans were into both men throughout. Neville was particularly entertaining, wowing the audience with elite athleticism, while Barrett tried to slow things down, grounding the high-flier with a stifling grapple-based assault.
Neville's comeback saw him pepper Bad News with a forearm flurry before taking to the skies, but the momentum swung back in Barrett's favour, allowing him to land a number of signature moves. The former NXT Champion gutted it out, though: he kicked out of each one, downed his opponent, then hit the top rope and put Wade away with the Red Arrow.
Barrett was originally set to compete against Daniel Bryan that night, but Neville made for a great replacement, and delivered the strongest bout of his main roster run up to that point.