Liam Hoofe reviews WWE’s The Greatest Royal Rumble event…
The Greatest Royal Rumble, the WWE’s first ever PPV event held in Saudi Arabia, took place this Friday evening. The event saw seven of the company’s title defended and their first ever 50 man Royal Rumble match. The WWE has pulled out all of the stops to impress the Saudi audience, bringing in some huge names and booking several marquee matches, but could the event deliver on the night? Let’s take a look at each of the matches and find out.
John Cena defeated Triple H
The WWE decided to kick the night off with one of the event’s marquee matches, Triple H Vs John Cena. For a match with little to no build, the crowd were fairly into things here, with the bout pretty much relying on both men’s star power, as opposed to any real sense of narrative.
This also worked against the match, as the whole thing felt as if it had little to no tension. Cena and Triple H have never particularly set the ring on fire in any previous encounters, and tonight’s match was no different, with both men just hitting their signature moves for pops. The in-ring work was fairly methodical and Cena picked up the routine win with an Attitude Adjustment.
Rating: ** 3/4
Cedric Alexander Defeated Kalisto
What’s this!? The Cruiserweights on the main show? The decision to put the two men on the main card paid off here, as the Saudi crowd seemed much more receptive to both men than a usual WWE crowd. While they weren’t red hot, they were still engaged, especially with Kalisto. This was a fairly standard cruiserweight affair, with both men hitting several high spots in a fairly fast tempo encounter. Cedric Alexander picked up the victory here and will move on to a bout with Buddy Murphy at Backlash.
Rating: *** 1/4
Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt Defeated The Bar
This was one of the night’s most predictable matches and it was a fairly standard tag team affair. Bray and Matt had plenty of shenanigans going on to engage the crowd, while Sheamus and Cesaro were consistent as usual in the ring. On the whole, this was nothing more than fine.
Rating: ** 1/2
Jeff Hardy Defeated Jinder Mahal
Well, this happened. This match wasn’t pretty at all, which is unfortunate because I enjoyed their match on Raw, and I thought Jinder looked strong against Gable this past week as well. At least Jinder didn’t win, and the match was fairly short, clocking in at around seven minutes.
Rating: * 1/2
The Bludgeon Brothers Defeated The Usos
The Usos were allowed to get in more offence here than usual, and the match was better than their Mania encounter, but it still failed to capture the imagination. The Bludgeon Brothers have been booked to look unstoppable, and in many ways, that’s a shame, because Harper and Rowan could both work an excellent match with The Usos if given the time and booked equally.
Rating: ** 1/4
Seth Rollins defeated The Miz, Samoa Joe, and Finn Balor
This was a really fun ladder match. All four men put in a solid shift here, and this was easily the best match of the night so far. While there were no stand out moments, the match utilised the ladder match gimmick well. The finish set up a potential feud between Finn Balor and Seth Rollins down the line, and it was a nicely executed spot. This was a good encounter, it’s a shame it didn’t get a little more time, but given what they’ve got to fit in, I guess that will be the case for most of the night.
Rating: *** 1/2
AJ Styles Vs Shinsuke Nakamura went to a Double Countout
The crowd were much more involved here than the New Orleans crowd were at WrestleMania and the match definitely felt more energetic than their previous encounter. The match itself was really good, and Shinsuke’s character work remains spot on. My only gripe here was the finish. A double count-out does continue the feud but it wasn’t executed particularly well, and there a DQ finish, perhaps with AJ losing his cool and low-blowing Shinsuke would have worked a little bit better.
These two have still yet to dazzle fans in the ring the way they can, but there were signs here, as there were at WrestleMania, let’s hope it’s third time lucky.
Rating: *** 1/2
The Undertaker Defeated Rusev
This match went a lot longer than I expected, clocking in at around 10 minutes, and Taker did a lot more here than he did at WrestleMania. This was basically a greatest hits montage from The Deadman, who picked up the win by putting both Rusev and Aiden English into the casket.
Rating: ** 1/2
Brock Lesnar defeated Roman Reigns
This was a step-up from their WrestleMania bout. The two men had the exact match you’d have expected them to have inside a steel cage. The two men went straight at it from the bat, hitting each other with power moves and quickly working their way into finishing moves. I lost count of the number of finishers that were hit here, but I know Reigns got more in than he did at Mania. The only issue I have with matches like this is that they instantly devalue the finisher, and the match becomes repetitive fairly quickly.
The finish, which saw Reigns spear Lesnar through the side of the cage was something different, but it does mean we have to sit through one more of these matches further down the line, and that Lesnar’s title reign continues, unfortunately.
Braun Strowman won the first ever 50-man Royal Rumble match
Well, this was an interesting experiment but in all honesty, I wasn’t a fan. Titus O Neil falling over was by far the best thing that happened in the match, the rest of it just felt like a parade of jobbers until at least number 30. Considering the talent the company had available in the building, they could have done a lot more with this, and the crowd, who had been largely enthusiastic for the night, went quiet for large portions of this bout.
There were some cool showdowns at times, and Daniel Bryan kept the crowd entertained for large portions with one hell of a performance in the bout, breaking Rey Mysterio’s long-standing iron-man record. Chris Jericho got a big pop when he came in at number 50 and got the fans invested for the final few, and Braun throwing Shane through a table was easily the match’s best (intentional) spot.
Braun winning was the right choice, but this was average at best.
Rating: ** 1/2
Verdict: After weeks of build, the WWE delivered a fairly standard show in Saudia Arabia. The WWE title and the Intercontinental title matches were fun, but no match really stood out. This was a fairly average show, which considering how much the WWE has invested in it, is a bit of a shame. Titus O Neill does deserve a 5 star Meltzer review though.