WWE Greatest Royal Rumble Review

The Monster Among Men sends Big Cass careening over the top rope to claim the win!
Makes the Universal Title look pretty. Credit: WWE

WWE in Saudi Arabia, if that isn’t the fuse to a potential shitastrophe, I don’t know what is. If you’re interested in my opinion on the political side of this, I’m going to get into it at the end. It means those of you who don’t give a crap what I think can read the review and then x out before we get serious. Fair? Right, let’s see what went down at The Greatest Royal Rumble.

John Cena defeated Triple H

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Cena taking him up on this offer would have been illegal. Credit: WWE

You can tell Vince has been handed a big check to bring this show over because he’s found the key to the pyro cupboard. While I’m going to be doing a lot of complaining about this show, there’s no denying that they made it look like a big deal.

A fact made even more evident by John Cena and Triple H twitching the curtain. While this was far from a great match, it was an intriguing look into where these two men are in 2018. Triple H – in what feels like a situation that straddles kayfabe and reality – is the man in a suit who thinks he’s still a rebellious punk. Crotch chopping and mocking Cena unaware that he looks ridiculous in a bout that quickly became a dick measuring contest.

Cena, meanwhile, is hitting a time in his life when he can’t do what he used to do. The finisher exchanges that used to conclude his fights have expanded to take up the whole thing. After a slow start, this became two kids playing the latest WWE game with five finishers each. Spanning whatever button is required to go straight to the big move.

That intrigue managed to elevate this past the boredom that ultimately ruled the early exchanges. Hunter and Cena are men on the way out and watching them cling to what they used to be, could be more intriguing than anything they do in the ring.

Verdict: Three Stars

Cedric Alexander defeated Kalisto to retain the Cruiserweight Title

Claiming the victory against Kalisto, Alexander becomes the first Superstar to defend the Cruiserweight Title in Saudi Arabia.
Still the champ. Credit: WWE

Guess what? Kalisto is a fantastic wrestler. WWE has an incredible ability to make things like that surprise me. I know how good he is, I’ve seen him wrestle loads, and yet, it still catches me off-guard.

They were smart enough to send these two out with the restrictions removed. It allowed them to have a fast-paced Cruiserweight Classic style encounter which made up for the drop in star power from the opener. There were some genuine wow moments, including Kalisto hitting a Seated Springboard Spanish Fly from the top rope. I don’t blame you if you’re struggling to picture that, I’m sure there’s a GIF out there somewhere if you go searching.

In the end, Kalisto went for Salida Del Sol only for Alexander to push him into the air and bring him down with a Lumbar Check. It was a fantastic counter and an inventive end to a fun match.

Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars

Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt defeated The Bar (Sheamus and Cesaro) to win the Raw Tag Team Titles

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Bray should no longer be surprised when he doesn’t win. Credit: WWE

‘The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is about to become woken.’ You know what you did there, Corey.

I’m going to say something pleasant about Bray Wyatt which I haven’t done in a long time. Teaming up with Matt Hardy is the best role for him. That’s as far as I’m going to go.

Sadly, that wasn’t enough to make me care about this. It was a short nothing match that made it clear it’s time for The Bar to go their separate ways. I quite like Sheamus and Cesaro as a team, but they’ve been out of the singles picture for a while, so there’s a lot of intriguing feuds for them to go back to. You wouldn’t even have to split them up, just switch their focus to singles wrestling.

I’m talking about all of that because I’m struggling to remember what actually happened between the ropes. The Woken Bros won with an Elevated Twist of Fate. There you go, wrestling!

Verdict: Two Stars

Jeff Hardy defeated Jinder Mahal to retain the US Title

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Classic Jinder. Credit: WWE

Bumping several seconds after a Whisper In The Wind that didn’t come close to touching him is the best thing Jinder Mahal has ever done. The laugh he gave me is the only emotion he’s ever gotten out of me that wasn’t boredom. With that in mind, I guess this was his masterpiece. Well done, Jinder.

On the other side of the ring, I will always love Jeff Hardy. He was the wrestler I gravitated to as a teenager, and you don’t forget a thing like that. Sure, he’s a bit slower now and back in the day he probably wouldn’t have missed with the Whisper In The Wind, but he still got a pop when he took his top off which when you consider where they were, says a lot. Bless him.

The match was shit, don’t bother with it.

Verdict: Two Stars

The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan) defeated The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso) to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Titles

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Where does one buy that outfit? Credit: WWE

An extended squash for the burly blokes with the hammers. I have no problem with dominant teams, but you have to wonder where they go from here. The flaw with WWE’s 50/50 booking is that no other pairing has an inch of the credibility that Thor’s cheap mates do.

The Usos worked hard, trying to get the crowd behind their hope spots and bumping their ass off for Harper and Rowan. Sadly, working hard in a five-minute squash is not enough to make it anything more than a five-minute squash.

Verdict: Two Stars

Seth Rollins defeated Samoa Joe, The Mix and Finn Balor in a Ladder Match to retain the Intercontinental Title

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Joe smash. Credit: WWE

Finally, something that was given more than ten minutes. Also, a match that told us how highly WWE’s wrestlers rated the importance of this show. The answer? Not very.

We’ve become used to WWE’s ladder matches being wild affairs with people crashing off and through things. We got a little bit of that here, it was just kept to a minimum and made as safe as it could be. It was clear that for these four talented wrestlers, this was closer to a house show than WrestleMania.

A decision that I don’t blame them for at all. Especially as they still managed to have an entertaining brawl. Joe was my MVP, as he brought a sense of legitimacy that no-one else could. The disdainful snarl on his face as he beats people up brings joy to my heart.

Sadly, he wasn’t to be handed the belt as Seth became the latest star to retain. If you shove these four guys into anything, even something in which they’re giving 70%, they’re going to create excitement. That proved to be the case here.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura fought to a Double Countout meaning AJ Styles retained the WWE Title

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Intense Nakamura. Credit: WWE

Do you know what’s good? Shinsuke Nakamura’s punching AJ Styles in the balls, let’s stop the homophobes from reproducing.

On a more serious point, this character has finally freed Nakamura up to do what he does best. Dominating matches while hitting people. He was a proper prick here, slapping AJ lightly around the head as he broke on the ropes. There was a lack of respect to the champ which gave this story an urgency that they didn’t have at WrestleMania.

Even with that, they still didn’t reach the level we all know they’re capable of. However, I don’t think Styles and Nakamura were supposed to. They were telling the next chapter in their tale and with the inconclusive finish, it’s pretty clear we’ll be seeing this one again.

Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars

The Undertaker defeated Rusev in a Casket Match

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Poor Rusev. Credit: WWE

I hate to say it because I think Rusev did a good job. However, I could have been standing across the ring from Undertaker, and it would have made no difference to this. He was out there to play the fall guy for ‘Taker because The Phenom was all that anyone cared about.

And you know what, if ‘Taker is insisting on still wrestling, that’s the way to do it. Send him out to do the greatest hits and have him bulldoze his way through your mid-card. They don’t lose anything by it and while Undertaker doesn’t gain much the fans in attendance don’t care. They get to see the WWE legend.

What’s sad is that Rusev, despite being one of, if not, the most over guy in the company, is apparently suited to the role of being bulldozed. One day we’re going to look back and scratch our heads as to what the hell WWE were thinking when they didn’t push that man to the moon.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Brock Lesnar defeated Roman Reigns in a Cage Match to retain the Universal Title

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, becomes Suplex City as Universal Champion Brock Lesnar makes his way to the ring.
All the pyro. Credit: WWE

It’s Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar, I imagine most people know what that means by now. The kids are back with their copy of WWE 2K18, and they’re hammering those finisher buttons. It’s the Goldberg feud all over again with an additional five minutes added to the matches and an unwillingness to let the guy they want to win, win.

An attitude that leads to the confused finish we got here. Both feet have to touch the floor, that’s what we’re always told in WWE. Yet, when Brock was Speared through the cage and lying on the remains of it, legs in the air, it was he who was declared the winner, despite Mr Reigns rolling off of him to the ground. Wrestling isn’t a real sport. It can tinker with the rules. However, if you set something up you better stick to it, otherwise you take everyone out of the story.

It was what it was, as once again Roman Reigns failed to get his hands on the belt. I’m not sure where they go from here, .but knowing Vince, I’m sure it will be suitably mental.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Braun Strowman won the Greatest Royal Rumble

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Bryan is the only thing that made me care. Credit: WWE

I’m not going in-depth on this because there is no point. Remember when WWE did that 40 man Rumble and it turned out to be awful because it was packed with mid-card scrubs no-one cared about? Yea, imagine that with another ten people involved.

This was wave after wave of wrestlers I don’t give a flying fuck about. A lot of them are decent talents, but that doesn’t make me care. Does anyone give a shit about Sin Cara and Tye Dillinger at this point?

There were still a few noteworthy moments, including main roster debuts from Babatunde, Dan Matha, Tucker Knight and (if you don’t include 205 Live) Roderick Strong. They were probably all less random than sumo wrestler Hiroki Sumi turning up. What was going on there? Finally, we got some ‘legend’ returns with Hornswoggle and The Great Khali joining the likes of the advertised Chris Jericho.

More importantly, though, any worries about Daniel Bryans cardio have been quashed. He was in there for longer than an hour, and while I don’t think it was an incredible performance, he kept going. The red welts on his chest when we were finished got me excited at the idea of him ever facing off with WALTER. God, I hope he wrestles WALTER.

Sadly, the best moment proved to be Titus O’Neil falling over on his way to the ring and Corey Graves roaring with laughter. It was over an hour of my life that I will never get back.

Verdict: Two Stars

Overall Show

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Even Problematic Paul was shocked at WWE’s plans. Credit: WWE

Before we get into the politics, let me quickly say that this was an awful wrestling show. Please don’t watch it. It’s ridiculously long and yet, everything felt rushed. There are a million better ways to spend five hours.

Now, the serious stuff. I am by no means an expert on Saudi Arabian politics. I’m the opposite. I know nothing. I’ve read a bit in the last week or so and from what I hear they are a country with a young population who are looking for a change. With that in mind, I think there is merit to the idea of a company getting a foot in the door and forcing a gap. If (and it’s a big if) that company latter plans on driving a lever into that gap and making a difference.

However, the reason it’s a big if is that I have no faith in WWE being that company. The propaganda videos they played where inspirational music played over declarations that women are learning to drive in Saudi Arabia were sickeningly transparent in their attempts to change people’s minds, and I do not doubt that Vince was paid handsomely for them. I also don’t believe for a second that they plan to ever bring the women on these tours and to push for social change. They are there to make money.

If they prove me wrong, then fair enough. I will be delighted for the women who get to make history. I suspect history will show me to be right, though, and we’ll see a hell of a lot more propaganda before we ever see two women wrestle in Saudi Arabia.

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