By Curtis Kosier
Friday, while most of you were working, the WWE put on the Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia.
John Cena vs Triple H
Winner: John Cena
Analysis: 3/5. It was a very basic match from these two, but it was a very fun bout. You could tell that the crowd was loving it. The sequence of going back and forth with both men almost hitting their finishers is very overdone, but it worked for this match in this setting. The match could have been better, but average matches are what you get with no build up. I was surprised Cena won because of how he was squashed at Mania, and the rumors of there being a rematch with Taker next year.
Cruiserweight Championship Match: Cedric Alexander © vs Kalisto
Winner: Cedric Alexander
Analysis: 2/5. This was your basic Cruiserweight division bout with lots of high flying action. Alexander and Kalisto are both decent in the ring, but the 205 Live division has been struggling to gain traction with fans for a while. At least it allows them the opportunity to get spots on such a star-studded card.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match: Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt vs The Bar
Winner: Woken Hardy/Wyatt
Analysis: 3/5. I am really loving this new tag team of Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt. I really wasn’t sure if the “broken/woken” gimmick would work in the WWE, but my doubts have been put to rest. These two are entertaining as can be. I almost spit out my drink when Wyatt did his hand-stand thing and Hardy yelled “MAGIC!” There was nothing special done in the ring from a wrestling standpoint. All wrestlers involved can put on good matches, but the gimmick of the Woken team was enough to make this a very enjoyable match.
The question now will be where they go from here.
How long will Bray Wyatt be under Hardy’s spell before the inevitable breakup?
United States Championship Match: Jeff Hardy © vs Jinder Mahal
Winner: Jeff Hardy
Analysis: 1/5. I thought that Jinder might go over here, and they would have a triple threat at Backlash. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Jeff is awesome, and Jinder is an athlete, but this match was a train wreck. Jinder had a really bad botch when Hardy completely missed him, but he fell anyway.
— Clare 🗯️ (@Clurrrrrrrrr) April 28, 2018
I suspect this is the last we will see of this feud with Hardy on Smackdown and Mahal on Raw. Hardy will be defending his title against Randy Orton at Backlash.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: The Bludgeon Brothers © vs The Usos
Winner: The Bludgeon Brothers
Analysis: 2/5. The Bludgeon Brothers proved that they are a dominant team with this win. They also showed some real athleticism, which has been a major concern of mine (especially for Rowan). With there being no officially announced Smackdown Tag Title match for Backlash, I suspect there to be a rematch or perhaps a #1 Contender’s match next Sunday.
Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: The Miz vs Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins © vs Samoa Joe
Winner: Seth Rollins
Analysis: 4/5. I would have liked to have seen more in this match, but the finish was incredible. Balor was so close to the title, and Rollins leaped from the top rope onto the ladder, and took the title from Balor’s fingertips. That was such a refreshingly good finish compared to how these ladder matches normally end with an exhausted guy slowly climbing to the top to win. The rest of the match provided enough spots to keep everyone on the edge of their seats. The crowd, which was been pretty hot all night, was very into this match. Every competitor took some tough bumps, and made this a very memorable match.
Again, the finish with Rollins stealing the title from Balor’s fingertips was brilliant, and perfectly executed.
WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles © vs Shinsuke Nakamura
Winner: AJ Styles
Analysis: 4/5. Two of the best wrestlers in the world went at it again, and it was a good match. This match was better than their WrestleMania match, because of the emotional involvement that comes into play with a classic “face vs heel” match. The double count-out ending was kind of cheap to me, and the post-match attack by Styles is interesting because he is supposed to the good guy in this feud.
I guess we will see where it goes at Backlash next Sunday.
Casket Match: The Undertaker vs Rusev
Winner: The Undertaker
Analysis: 3/5. It’s always a pleasure to see The Undertaker in the ring. Just like his match at WrestleMania against John Cena, this match was exactly what it needed to be. Anything more than what this match would have been too much, and any less would have been a disappointment. Again, it is tough to get invested into a match with such a small buildup and obvious finish. Despite that, this was fun to watch, and I don’t think the literal burial will be that damaging to Rusev long-term.
WWE Universal Championship Steel Cage Match: Brock Lesnar © vs Roman Reigns
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Analysis: 3/5. I am very tired of seeing these two in the ring together. The finish of the match earned this match its 3rd star, but it was very boring and predictable otherwise.
They both are good talents, and they sell tickets. But it is just so hard to invest in matches with these two. You know going in that Brock will get the upper hand, Roman will even the playing field, and Lesnar will still find a way to win. The ending had a nice spot with the cage breaking, but it was poorly executed as Roman’s feet hit the floor first. I’m sure Roman will bring that up on Raw. They need to get the belt off Lesnar, but it can’t be to Reigns anymore.
These two don’t have enough of a story left to tell with each other to have another rematch. Reigns will be facing Samoa Joe at Backlash, and Lesnar will likely be off TV for a while.
50 Man Greatest Royal Rumble Match:
Entry order: Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Sin Cara, Curtis Axel, Mark Henry, Mike Kanellis, Hiroki Sumi, Viktor, Kofi Kingston, Tony Nese, Dash Wilder, Hornswaggle, Primo Colon, Xavier Woods, Bo Dallas, Kurt Angle, Scott Dawson, Goldust, Konnor, Elias, Luke Gallows, Rhyno, Drew Gulak, Tucker Knight, Bobby Roode, Fandango, Chad Gable, Rey Mysterio, Mojo Rawley, Tyler Breeze, Big E, Karl Anderson, Apollo Crews, Roderick Strong, Randy Orton, Heath Slater, Babatunde, Baron Corbin, Titus O’Neil (Botch), Dan Matha, Braun Strowman, Tye Dillenger, Curt Hawkins, Bobby Lashley, The Great Khali, Kevin Owens, Shane McMahon, Shelton Benjamin, Big Cass, Chris Jericho.
Winner: Braun Strowman
Analysis: Royal Rumble matches are fun, because of the variety of superstars you see. But there’s also so much going on in these matches that it’s impossible to give it a star rating. You could tell the crowd hit a wall with fatigue during this match. I am thankful this event started at noon eastern time, because I would’ve been feeling the fatigue if it was a “special 7 p.m. start time” for the eastern time zone. This match was your generic rumble match, until Titus O’Neil made his entrance. In the BOTCH OF THE CENTURY, O’Neil tripped and slid underneath the ring.
“That may be the greatest thing I’ve ever witnessed.”
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) April 27, 2018
I laughed for about 5 minutes, and the announcers had some fun with it as well. That is a botch that will never be forgotten. The energy really picked up with the last 10 guys in the match. Strowman LAUNCHED Shane O’ Mac off the top rope and through the announce table. Very impressive spot from both guys. Big Cass eliminated Daniel Bryan, who had set a record for being in a rumble match at an hour and 16 minutes. Braun Strowman won by eliminating Big Cass. It was long, slow, and boring for a while. O’Neil’s hilarious entrance was the turn of events that brought about a very fun last 20 minutes.
Match of the Night: Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
Match to forget: Jinder Mahal vs Jeff Hardy
Show stealers: Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, and Braun Strowman.
And that was the Greatest Royal Rumble!
I went 6 of 10 on my predictions in my GRR Preview column.
I would call that a very successful experiment of if WWE can hold major events outside of North America. Look for there to be another GRR event next year, with the slim possibility of other PPV’s also being held overseas in the future. In my opinion, the lack of women really hurt this show. Having a rematch of Asuka vs Charlotte, or somehow getting Rousey involved would have done wonders for this event. Had they been able to replace some of the lower-card matches with a couple of good women’s matches, this could have been a five-star PPV. With all that said, this was a star-studded show with mainly average matches. I will give the PPV a 3/5 overall rating. There’s going to be a quick WWE PPV turnaround with Backlash being held next Sunday night on the WWE Network.