The Greatest Royal Rumble is upon us and is surrounded by questions. Is it a big time event or a glorified house show? Will Roman Reigns finally get his big win over Brock Lesnar on a Friday afternoon when many American fans are still at work? Is this a precursor to Saudi Nights Main Event?
The pre-show panel is Bryan Saxton, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T. In a sight that is simultaneously funny and unsettling, men in thawbs pace back and forth behind the panel. I already miss Renee Young.
It’s a typical pre-show, where the panel runs down the card. Selfie promos with The Miz The Bar, Braun Stowman, and The New Day, a backstage promo with Jinder Mahal, and AJ Styles answering questions. Jim Ross joins about halfway in. Highlight of the pre show is Paul Heyman coming out to hype the Universal Title Match.
Show starts with two national anthems. The stadium is gigantic and looks even larger than WrestleMania. Crowd is hot for everything. Commentators are Saxton, Cole and Corey Graves. Cole says the GRR is a celebration of Saudi Arabia’s progressiveness.
Triple H vs. John Cena
This is their first match in eight years. Cena has an entrance similar to his WrestlMania XXV entrance with the Cena Army, except with children. Cool stuff and Cena gets 100% crowd support for the first time in years. The two wrestle a house show match that the crowd eats up. Trips takes a big bump and there is a pretty ugly botch. The two start trading finishers before Cena wins with an AA. Fine match with a hot crowd. Cena addresses the crowd and thanks the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Was the perfect time for a Nikki Bella run in.
Winner: John Cena
Kalisto vs. Cedric Alexander (c) (Cruiserweight Championship)
The crowd doesn’t react differently from an American crowd; mostly silence with the occasional pop for high spots. Alexander retains in a decent match.
Winner: Cedric Alexander
Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy vs. Sheamus and Cesaro (Raw Tag Team Championships)
The crowd doesn’t seem to know what to make of Hardy while The Bar are very over. Typical Bar match, complete with silence from the crowd. Bray and Matt win after an elevated Twist of Fate.
Winners: Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy (New Raw Tag Team Champions)
Jinder Mahal vs. Jeff Hardy (c) (United States Championship)
The crowd already seems to be tired. There is more silence during this match than the Cruiserweight match. That being said, the pops they get are much louder. And we got this moment.
botch alert pic.twitter.com/CVyEz1K8b6
— WrestlinGifs (@WrestlinGifs) April 27, 2018
Winner: Jeff Hardy
The show goes back to the pre-show panel (prayer break?) and we get backstage interviews with Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan. Strange seeing both men go through their catchphrases to absolute silence.
The Usos vs. Bludgeon Brothers (c) (SmackDown Tag Team Championships)
For all the questions around how different the Saudi crowd would be from an American one, the answer is very little. Of course when the match is basically a squash, what is there to get into?
Winners: Bludgeon Brothers
The Miz vs. Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins (c) (Intercontinental Championship)
This should wake the crowd up. Great entrance for The Miz. Cole excited yells that Balor Club has come to Asia to which Graves says Balor Club has been to Asia. In a shocking turn of events, the two begin bickering. Slower pace than most ladder matches. Awesome ending that saw Rollins springboard to the middle of the ladder and steal the IC belt from Balor.
Winner: Seth Rollins
They take a break to introduce some trainees from the recent WWE Saudi Arabian tryouts. The Davari brothers come out to do the evil foreign heel gimmick in a foreign country. The Davaris put over Iran to nuclear heat. The trainees dispatch the Davaris in what will be the career highlight for everyone involved.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles (c) (WWE Championship)
Nakamura’s new heel theme song may be the best entrance song of his career. Cole lets us know that Bruno Sammartino is the greatest WWE Champion of all time. A few hours ago he said the Cena and HHH were the two greatest Superstars of all time. The crowd is alive but it almost seems like it has nothing to do with the match until they break out into an AJ Styles chant. Heel Nakamura is much more fun to watch. The match was building nicely until a horrible double countout.
No contest (double count out)
Undertaker vs. Rusev (Casket Match)
Taker’s entrance goes longer than the SmackDown Tag Title match during which Cole notes “it’s time for Undertaker and Rusev to settle their differences.” Crowd loves Rusev but LOVES Taker. Taker does his legdrop off the apron which I did not want to see. Rusev puts up more of a fight than Cena did, putting to rest the idea that Mania was the perfect send off for Taker. Crowd loved the match and Taker is in great shape for a man his age, but it was just a punchy kicky casket match.
Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar (Steel Cage match for the Universal Championship)
The majority of the crowd cheers Roman before going silent. Brock gets a bigger pop but once again the crowd gets quiet. Maybe it’s respectful silence? I still don’t see the point of a cage match. Brock starts fast with a series of Germans and an F-5. Roman fights back and we see that Samoa Joe is watching in the back. Match was all finishers and signature spots, before they both through the cage after a Roman spear.
During the replay the commentators are about to say Brock’s feet touched the floor first before they notice that Roman’s feet touched first. Graves then says it can be one knee or the back. (Keep in mind, Brock is laying on top of steel mesh and is not in contact with the ground.) The announcers were clearly scrambling to cover for the botch.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Greatest Royal Rumble
This is going to be a long one. Fifty men with ninety second intervals. I’ll try to get all the participants: Daniel Bryan is #1. Dolph Ziggler is #2. Sin Cara is #3 and is quickly tossed by Dolph. Curtis Axel is #4 and Mark Henry is #5. Henry finally gets in and tosses Axel. Mike Kanellis is #6 and gets tossed out in record time. Hiroki Sumi is #7. Staredown with Mark Henry leads to Henry throwing out Sumi then Ziggler and Bryan eliminating Henry. Viktor is #8. Ziggler beigns teasing being eliminated. Wonder what took him so long? Bryan takes out Viktor with one arm. Kofi Kingston is #9 and Tony Nese is #10.
Dash Wilder is #11. Hornswoggle is #12 and helps eliminate Dash. Swoggle is quickly taken out by Neese. Primo is still employed and is lucky #13. Xavier Woods is #14. New Day do a British Bulldogs-like spot then dance. Nese joins in and they eliminate him. Bo Dallas is #15 back, with his Bo-lieve theme. Kurt Angle is #16 and the crowd reactw for this first time since Bryan was introduced. Angle takes out Dallas, Primo, and Ziggler in quick order. Scott Dawson is #17. Golddust is #18 and gets a nice pop. Connor is #19. Elias is #20. Elias starts to sing then runs in to eliminate Connor and both members of the New Day.
Luke Gallows is #21. Bryan and Angle go at it in a dream match scenario. Elias takes out Angle before he can get the ankle lock on Bryan. Rhyno is #22, Drew Gulak is #23, and Tucker Knight is #24. Knight takes out Gulak. Bobby Roode and his song bring us to the halfway point. Roode dropkicks Golddust out. The camera misses Dawson get eliminated. Fandango is #26. Graves wonders how Cole knows Fandango is coming out even though his entrance music is playing. Chad Gable is #27. Gable has Knight in the electric chair position and Cole screams, “Eliminate him!” How? Rey Mysterio comes out at #28 to a huge pop. Mysterio takes out Gallows which the crowd loves. Mojo Rawley is #29 and tosses Fandango. Tyler Breeze is #30 and is eliminated by Mojo in a comedy spot.
Bryan and Gable lock up in what would be an awesome singles match. Big E is #31 and easily tosses Knight. Karl Anderson in at #32. Apollo Crews is #33 and eliminates Gable, who takes a nasty bump on the way out. Roderick Strong comes in at #34. The Messiah of the Backbreaker lives up to his name then uses his Freaky Roddy Strength and tosses Rhyno. Randy Orton is #35. On cue, Orton starts tossing mid carders. Anderson, Mojo and Crews are gone. Heath Slater is #36. Babatunde is #37 and Baron Corbin is #38. Cobrin takes out Roode and Roddy. Titus O’Neil is #39 and trips on his way to the ring! The commentators cannot hold back their laughter. Dan Matha is #40.
"That may be the greatest thing I've ever witnessed."
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) April 27, 2018
They show Titus trip a few more times and it’s funnier each time. Poor Titus will never live this down. Braun Strowman is #41 and the announcers are still making fun of Titus. Strowman tosses Babtudne, Matha, Big E, and Slater before everyone goes after him. Tye Dillinger is #42 and joins the Braun gang up. Titus gets tossed as the commentators keep joking about him. Tye is quickly is out. Things speed up as Rey, Orton, and Corbin all get eliminated. Curt Hawkins is #43 and decides to run instead of face Braun so Braun chases him down, throws him in the ring, then clotheslines him out. Bobby Lashley is #44. Lashley takes out Elias after a botch. Staredown between Lashley and Braun. Bryan’s chest is so bruised it looks like it’s covered in paint. Great Khali is #45 and quickly gets eliminated by Lashley and Strowman.
Owens is #46. Shane is #47 and gets a surprisingly big pop. Would they have a McMahon win the Greatest Royal Rumble ever? Bryan and Shane do the Yes Kicks on Owens. Shelton is #48. Everyone gangs up on Braun again. Big Cass is #49 and the final entrant is Jericho.
Owens tells Jericho to “go back to Japan” and they brawl. Jericho takes out Shelton. Lashley accidentally brainbusters Cass in a scary spot. Braun eliminates Shane by tossing him from the top through a table. Shane has to stop doing that stuff. Strowman then takes out Lashley, Jericho and Owens. Final three are Cass, Braun and Bryan. Cass casually tosses Bryan, who sets the longevity record at 1 hour 16 minuets. It is down to Cass and Braun and the sound in the background is Vince having an orgasm backstage. Braun eliminates Cass to send the fans home happy.
Winner: Braun Strowman
As many expected, the Greatest Royal Rumble was a house show with better production and way more botches. Styles/Nakamura and Brock/Roman had horrible finishes and the Rumble itself dragged at times. The crowd was into it though, and some of the reactions were refreshing to see. And of course, we got the greatest Rumble moment ever.
"That may be the greatest thing I've ever witnessed."
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) April 27, 2018
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