- WWE’s Greatest Royal Rumble delivered a six-hour show from King Abdullah International Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Here's what we learned from the event.
WWE’s Greatest Royal Rumble delivered a six-hour show from King Abdullah International Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The show closed out with Braun Strowman winning the first-ever 50-man Royal Rumble by last eliminating fellow giant Big Cass.
Overall, the event served as a standalone affair that did not create new storylines nor saw any titles change hands beyond the duo of “Woken” Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt winning the vacant Raw tag-team titles.
For the results:
- John Cena defeated Triple H
- Cedric Alexander successfully defended his Cruiserweight championship over Kalisto
- “Woken” Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt won the tag-team title tournament over Cesaro and Sheamus to become the new Raw tag teams
- Jeff Hardy retained his United States championship over Jinder Mahal
- The Bludgeon Brothers successfully defended the SmackDown tag titles over the Usos
- Seth Rollins won a ladder match over Finn Balor, The Miz and Samoa Joe to retain his Intercontinental championship
- WWE champion AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura wrestled to a double count-out
- The Undertaker defeated Rusev in a casket match
- Brock Lesnar retained the Universal title in a controversial cage match finish over Roman Reigns
- Braun Strowman won the 50-man Greatest Royal Rumble
Here are my five top takeaways from a very unique show:
1. Braun Strowman was the perfect fit as the winner of the 50-man Greatest Royal Rumble match. WWE did not have a superstar from Saudi Arabia to capture the live audience’s imagination, but Strowman is a specimen who is more monster than man and clearly caught the attention of the crowd.
The win clearly illustrates the company’s faith in Strowman, as well as Vince McMahon’s preference for a big man to be the face of his company. Strowman even posed in a Hulk Hogan-like manner for the faithful in Jeddah, and there is no doubt that his future includes multiples runs as world champion.
2. Daniel Bryan is the best underdog in pro wrestling, so it was only fitting that he was unable to last from the first entry all the way to the end of the Greatest Royal Rumble match.
Big Cass continued his feud with Bryan by eliminating him from the Rumble, and WWE has done a solid job in presenting Cass as a legitimate threat only weeks after returning to the company.
3. Not all was positive from the show.
Brock Lesnar defeated Roman Reigns in a steel cage match with a controversial finish.
Reigns speared Lesnar through the cage to end the match, and Lesnar was announced the winner as the broadcast team scrambled to explain that Lesnar’s feet hit the ground first. When replays clearly indicated that both of Reigns’s feet hit the ground before Lesnar’s, color commentator Corey Graves quickly mentioned that Lesnar was awarded the match presumably because his body hit the mat first. The spear from Reigns was a tremendous spot, but the landing was clearly difficult to execute.
The matchup between Lesnar and Reigns is quickly in danger of reaching overexposure, and WWE would be best served by keeping the two titans away from each other until, at the least, the summer. Lesnar’s part-time schedule actually serves as a major asset in maintaining his status as a special attraction, and hopefully will keep him away from Reigns solely through his absence.
4. Speaking of overexposure, AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura wrestled to a double count-out. Following the match, Shane McMahon announced that Styles would defend the title (again) against Nakamura at the Backlash pay per view on May 6.
For those keeping track, the Backlash match will mark the third time in less than a month that Styles has wrestled Nakamura. The encounter has quickly transitioned from “dream match” to a common sight. This is a further example that the WWE championship, despite all its lineage, currently stands as the company’s secondary title behind the Universal championship.
5. The Greatest Royal Rumble had the feel of an old-school WWE house show.
That is not necessarily a bad thing, but the show was specifically designed to attract a new audience in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the viewers were along for the ride. The card was reminiscent to the 1980s house shows that would highlight local talent (harkening back memories to Dino Bravo getting the spotlight at a house show in Quebec), and the matches offered little storyline in advance and no titles changed hands.
With so many stars returning for the Greatest Royal Rumble, the show had some similarities to the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. We now move forward to Backlash in May, which will focus more sharply on WWE’s full-time talent.