Today, WWE heads to Saudi Arabia for the Greatest Royal Rumble. 50 men look to take the biggest Royal Rumble in a historic event for the WWE! Plus, Roman Reigns look to win the WWE Universal Championship from Brock Lesnar in a steel cage. All that and more at the first ever Greatest Royal Rumble!
We are LIVE from the King Abdullah Sports City’s King Abdullah International Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton have the call for tonight.
Triple H vs. John Cena
Triple H shoves Cena down off the first lock-up. Cena pushes him down on the second. Test of strength sees Triple H win and Cena push up, but get kicked in the midsection. Triple H with a shoulder tackle and he gives Cena a “You Can’t See Me.” Cena comes back with a shoulder tackle, but misses in the corner and HHH with a right hand. Triple H works Cena down and locks in the sleeper hold. Cena up and he ducks the punch for shoulder tackles and a side slam, but HHH rolls out to land a clothesline. Cena back up and they exchange punches, but Triple H with a facebreaker knee. HHH looks for the Pedigree, but Cena counters to the AA. Triple H out and Cena drops him for the Five Knuckle Shuffle. HHH gets up and lands a back suplex of his own to land a Five Knuckle Shuffle with a “Suck It!” for a nearfall. Pedigree blocked and HHH thrown outside over the top turnbuckle in the corner. HHH sent into the barricade and post outside and Cena goes back inside for the guillotine leg drop. HHH steps back and catches him a bit on a spinebuster or powerbomb recovery for a nearfall. They exchange punches and HHH gets hit with a drop toehold into the STF. HHH moves out and gets Cena with a spinebuster for a nearfall. HHH with mounted punches in the corner, but Cena moves him out for a side slam and Five Knuckle Shuffle to set up the AA. AA lands, but HHH kicks out. Cena looks for another and HHH falls out to counter into the Pedigree. Cena kicks out. Cena looks for an AA and HHH counters with a roll-up for a nearfall, but Cena turns it into the AA. Cena loses the leg and HHH grabs a crossface. Cena gets the arm up and HHH to his shoulders for an AA. Catapult into the corner and another AA land for Cena.
Winner by pinfall: John Cena
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Good opener where they played all the greatest hits and the crowd was really into it, which made it a bit more fun than it probably was. Not bad by any means though.
Post-match, Cena with the microphone and he says it is an honor and privilege and he wasn’t going to miss this event for anything in the world, no matter what is going on in his universe. Cena thanks the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and thanks the fans.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander (c) vs. Kalisto
Chain submissions to start and Kalisto with a springboard arm drag out. Kalisto backflips into a hurricanrana to put Alexander down. Alexander charges Kalisto on the apron and gets the top rope pulled down on him. Kalisto with a springboard flip dive senton outside. Alexander catches him with a head kick to knock him off the apron and lands a flip dive of his own outside. Gutwrench applied inside by Alexander. Kalisto out, but he runs into a dropkick that gets Alexander a nearfall and he goes back to the gutwrench. Alexander with takedowns with the gutwrench. Kalisto with an arm drag out and he gets flipped to the apron. Kalisto with a spike hurricanrana and tornado DDT for a nearfall. Kalisto elbows out of the corner and Alexander with a Michinoku Driver for a nearfall. Alexander on the apron and he dives into a head kick. They fight up top and Kalisto looks for a hurricanrana, but Alexander hangs on. Springboard Spanish Fly off the top by Kalisto gets a nearfall. Kalisto with leg kicks and Alexander with forearms and chops. Lumbar Check by Alexander blocked for a hurricanrana by Kalisto and Kalisto looks for Salida del Sol. Alexander pops him up into a Lumbar Check.
Winner by pinfall and STILL WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Cedric Alexander
Rating: 3.25 out of 5 stars
The ending here felt a bit abrupt and rushed and the crowd was a bit flat after the opener, though they got it over as it picked up. It was good in the time they gave it, but definitely could have been more.
WWE Raw Tag Team Championships: “Woken” Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt vs. The Bar
Hardy starts with Cesaro and pushes him back in the corner. Hardy says “DELETE!” and Cesaro says “The Bar!” Wyatt in with a double-team, but he gets pushed back in the corner and Sheamus in. Big boot from Sheamus, but a clothesline from Wyatt and Hardy returns. Leg drop and senton combo send The Bar out. Sheamus clotheslined in the corner and hit with a neckbreaker for a nearfall by Hardy. Twist of Fate blocked and Cesaro gets involved by snapping the head on the top rope. Hardy rolls out and gets laid out by Cesaro on the floor. The Bar works Hardy in their corner for a nearfall. They work Hardy on their half of the ring. Hardy with a jawbreaker on Sheamus, but Cesaro in with a gutwrench suplex for a nearfall. Sheamus with a knee from the apron and they work Hardy down to prevent the tag. Cesaro with a boot to kick Wyatt off the apron and Hardy again isolated. Hardy lands a Side Effect on Sheamus to get the hot tag to Wyatt. Wyatt like a house of fire and a running diving elbow gets a nearfall. Sheamus and Cesaro get a nearfall on Wyatt that is broken by Hardy and Hardy and Cesaro sent outside. Sheamus looks for the Brogue Kick, but Wyatt spider crawls as Hardy gets to the apron. The distraction allows Wyatt to land Sister Abigail and he holds Sheamus up for an assisted Twist of Fate.
Winners by pinfall and NEW WWE Raw Tag Team Champions: Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
By the books tag, with the crowd getting into Hardy and Wyatt during it. Nothing to write home about.
WWE United States Championship: Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Sunil Singh)
Mahal punches Hardy down, but Hardy with dropkicks and a baseball slide dropkick. Hardy runs the barricade for a flying clothesline. Singh gets involved outside and Mahal drops Hardy because of it. Knee drops for Mahal and he drops Hardy with an Irish whip into the corner. Neckbreaker and knee drop nearfall for Mahal. Mahal with a takedown by the hair and a chinlock. Hardy with a Twist of Fate to put both down. They exchange and Hardy with a dropkick and wishbone leg drop. Twist of Fate blocked, but Hardy with a mule kick out of the corner. Whisper in the Wind misses, but was supposed to land and Mahal sells it for a Hardy nearfall. Hardy with a pendulum dropkick in the corner and Hardy knocks Singh off the apron. Mahal goes for the finish, but Hardy with a victory roll. Mahal grabs a handful of the pants of Hardy for a nearfall. Hardy with a Twist of Fate and Swanton Bomb.
Winner by pinfall and STILL WWE United States Champion: Jeff Hardy
Rating: 1.25 out of 5 stars
Some really clumsy moments with the Whisper in the Wind botch and Hardy countering Mahal’s finisher, but not that much different from your standard TV match fare. Surprising given how Mahal and Hardy performed well on Raw a few weeks ago.
Video package on WWE in Saudi Arabia, praising the culture and the prince, in case you wondering whether this is propaganda or not.
Chris Jericho interviewed backstage before the Greatest Royal Rumble and he calls interviewer Mike Rome “Tom” the entire time and puts him on The List of Jericho for correcting him. Daniel Bryan interviewed as well as we go to intermission.
WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships: The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. The Usos
Jey Uso starts with Erick Rowan and Rowan drops him to land a knee drop. Luke Harper in and they work Jey down. Rowan with pumphandle backbreaker and splash for a nearfall. Rowan misses a tackle in the corner and Harper misses a big boot to allow Jimmy Uso to make the hot tag. Dives outside and an enzuigiri drops Harper in the corner. Harper comes back with a corner splash, but The Usos double-team with dropkicks in the corner. Double superkick on Harper and Rowan sent out with double superkicks. Jey with a splash off the top for a nearfall after Harper kicks out. Double splash blocked as Rowan pulls Jey down for a spinning heel kick. Harper sends Jimmy out and Rowan with a shoulder tackle out of the floor. The Reckoning lands.
Winners by pinfall and STILL WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships: The Bludgeon Brothers
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Another by the numbers tag match, though a bit more fast-paced this time around.
Ladder Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe vs. The Miz
Rollins pairs off with Joe and Miz with Balor. Joe with a corner senton and enzuigiri on Balor. Rollins with a double blockbuster on Miz and Joe. Balor looks for 1916 on Rollins, but Rollins kicks him out of the ring. Rollins with suicide dives on Miz and Balor on opposite sides of the ring and he brings out a ladder. Miz and Rollins drive Joe into the ring apron with the ladder and Balor with a flip dive. Joe drops Balor with the ladder and brings it in. Rollins in and he gets dropped on the ladder by Joe with a toehold. Joe with chops on Balor and he controls in the ring. Balor comes back and climbs the ladder, but Miz pulls him down. Rollins sends Miz into the ladder and clotheslines him outside. Rollins makes the climb and Balor and him fight for the climb until they meet on opposite sides. Miz and Joe drop them off the ladder onto the top rope. Miz begs Joe off and tries to keep the alliance. Miz offers a handshake and Joe takes it, but pulls him into a headbutt. Joe slams Balor on the ladder tosses Rollins into it before using it as a battering ram on Miz. Balor dropkicks Joe into the ladder in the corner and it falls on Joe. Balor looks for Coup de Grace, but Rollins meets him up top. Miz knocked off the apron by Joe with the ladder and Joe gets under the two in the corner to be the powerbomb on the Tower of Doom. Joe brings a big ladder in and Miz lands the Skull-Crushing Finale on Joe against it.
Miz alone in the ring with the ladder. Rollins makes the climb with him, but gets knocked off. Balor and Miz fight and Miz with a neckbreaker and backbreaker. Rollins makes the climb, but Miz knocks him off for a DDT and sets the ladder back up. Miz knocks people around with the ladder, but Balor with a head kick from the apron and Miz out on the ladder. Coup de Grace lands and Balor makes the climb. Joe pulls him down and they exchange forearms. Overhead kick from Balor lands and he climbs. Joe pulls him down into the Coquina Clutch, but Balor rolls through for the double stomp. Balor pulled down off the climb for a corner uranage and Joe makes the climb. Balor tips the ladder and drops Joe on the top rope. Balor makes the climb, but Rollins springboards onto the ladder and beats Balor on the climb.
Winner and STILL WWE Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Good character ladder match with a lot of brawling and high spots that made sense without being too excessive.
The WWE Saudi Arabia tryout trainees are interviewed in the ring and Ariya and Shawn Daivari come out. They say that real athletes come from the strongest nation of Iran and they get beaten down by the tryout performers.
WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Nakamura with the arm wrench to start and Styles counters to one of his own, which forces Nakamura to move outside to reset. Styles with the side headlock back inside and Nakamura toys with him off the break. Nakamura pushes him against the ropes and continues to play mind games, landing a knee to the midsection. Styles comes back with a dropkick and works Nakamura in the corners. Nakamura presses Styles against the ropes and lands a thrust kick to the back of the knee. Nakamura with a knee lift to the head as Styles is on the apron and a knee drop to the back of the head lands for a nearfall. Nakamura works Styles down, but Styles comes back with a wheelbarrow facebuster. Styles works the comeback with clotheslines and a sliding forearm. Corner clothesline by Styles and a neckbreaker across the knee for a nearfall. Nakamura stops the comebacks with knees to the head and a front suplex. Nakamura looks for Kinshasa, but Styles rolls him up for a nearfall and gets a Calf Crusher in. Nakamura counters out and Styles looks for a springboard, but Nakamura picks him up and sits him on the top rope to land a knee lift to the midsection for a nearfall. Styles sat up top and hit with a head kick. Nakamura dropped on the top turnbuckle as Styles slips out from under Nakamura. Forearms exchanged and head kicks from Nakamura miss, but he pulls Styles down into an armbar. Styles stacks him for a pinning combination for a nearfall and lands a Pele kick to put Nakamura down. Styles looks for a Phenomenal Forearm and Nakamura moves out of the way, with Styles stopping short of the referee. The referee turtles up and Nakamura lands a low blow. Nearfall as Styles is close to the ropes and gets his hand on the bottom rope.
Kinshasa blocked as Styles lands a dropkick counter. Styles tackles Nakamura over the announce table and sends him into the ring post and barricade as the referee runs out on his count.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
This was on the way to being a complete make-up for their stinker at WrestleMania, but they went with the countout finish. Either way, still a really solid outing to continue the feud and giving Nakamura more polish as a heel.
Styles continues the beating post-match, landing a slingshot Phenomenal Forearm to the outside.
Aiden English introduces Rusev.
Casket Match: Rusev (w/Aiden English) vs. The Undertaker
Taker asks for them to open the casket and Rusev moves out of the ring in fear. Rusev rolls back out and Taker follows him. Taker with punches and Rusev stomps Taker down as he tries to get back in. Rusev with kicks and punches in the corner, but Taker returns the favor. Old School lands and Taker sends Rusev out on top of the casket. Rusev freaks out and rolls off. Rusev drags Taker out, but Rusev gets sent into the barricade in the timekeeper’s area and worked outside. Guillotine leg drop on the apron and Taker rolls Rusev into the casket. Aiden English gets in front of the lid and Taker walks him up the ramp, allowing Rusev to roll back inside. Rusev with a superkick in the ring. Strikes exchanged and Taker drops Rusev. Rusev comes back with a spinning heel kick. Rusev works Taker down and applies the Accolade. Rusev thinks he is out and calls for the casket lid, but Taker sits up. Taker gets him up for a Chokeslam, but they exchange strikes. Taker ducks a Rusev clothesline for a Chokeslam and throws Rusev in. English runs in and takes a Chokeslam and Tombstone Piledriver from Taker. Taker throws him in with Rusev.
Winner: The Undertaker
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars
As far as Undertaker matches can go these days, that wasn’t all that bad with Rusev carrying the load most of the way and English getting involved. A pleasant surprise, though not anything you should be in a rush to see.
Steel Cage Match for the WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns
Lesnar starts the matches with four German suplexes and an F5. Reigns up for another F5, but he gets three Superman Punches. A fourth gets caught by Lesnar for an F5 attempt, but Reigns grabs the cage and makes the climb. Lesnar pulls him in on the top rope and lands an elbow. Lesnar looks for the cage escape in the corner, but Reigns pulls him down for a running powerbomb. Reigns sends Lesnar into the cage three times before landing a Spear. Reigns looks for another and gets it. A third lands, but only gets a nearfall. Reigns looks to escape by the door and Heyman slams it in his face. F5 connects and gets a nearfall on Reigns. Heyman opens the door and sends in a chair as Lesnar takes the gloves off. Reigns lands a fourth Spear and Lesnar kicks out. Reigns works the body of Lesnar over with the chair. Superman Punch called for and Reigns gets it. Reigns calls for a Spear and he lands it through the cage, sending Lesnar to the floor first.
Winner by escape and STILL WWE Universal Champion: Brock Lesnar
Rating: 2.25 out of 5 stars
You know what to expect from these two and this was alright as it goes with the added touch of the cage break. Unfortunately, it serves as no end to this feud and we will continue to see these matches with the finishers set to unlimited to the end of time, like a somehow even less interesting Orton vs. Cena at this stage.
Greatest Royal Rumble
Daniel Bryan starts #1 and Dolph Ziggler at #2. Sin Cara at #3 and he lands a springboard moonsault on both and a swanton bomb on Bryan. Ziggler eliminates Sin Cara with a superkick and clothesline. Curtis Axel at #4 and Axel beats down Ziggler. Mark Henry at #5. Henry eliminates Axel with a headbutt off the apron. Mike Kanellis at #6. Henry eliminates Kanellis with a clothesline as soon as he enters. Hiroki Sumi at #7. Sumi gets in sumo stance on Henry and they fight for position, but Henry sends him over the top. Ziggler and Bryan eliminate Henry. Viktor at #8. Ziggler and Bryan eliminate Viktor. Kofi Kingston at #9. Kingston with leg drops on Bryan and Ziggler. “The Premier Athlete” Tony Nese at #10. Dash Wilder at #11. Hornswoggle at #12. Swoggle with a Samoan drop on Kingston and he goes up top, but gets superkicked by Ziggler. Nese eliminates Hornswoggle. Primo Colon at #13. Xavier Woods at #14. Kingston dives off the back of Woods off the top and Nese celebrates with them. New Day throws Nese over the top to eliminate him. Bo Dallas at #15. Kurt Angle at #16. Primo and Bo Dallas eliminated by Angle. Ziggler eliminated by Angle. Scott Dawson at #17. Goldust at #18. Konnor at #19. Elias at #20. Elias eliminates New Day and Konnor. Luke Gallows at #21. Elias eliminates Angle. Rhyno at #22. Drew Gulak at #23. Tucker Knight at #24. Gulak eliminated by Knight. Bobby Roode at #25. Fandango at #26. Chad Gable at #27. Rey Mysterio at #28. Mojo Rawley at #29. Tyler Breeze at #30. Big E at #31. Karl Anderson at #32. Apollo Crews at #33. Roderick Strong at #34. Randy Orton at #35. Heath Slater at #36. Babatunde at #37. Baron Corbin at #38. Titus O’Neil at #39 and he trips as he enters and it is shown on replay at least six or seven times. Dan Matha at #40. Braun Strowman at #41. Tye Dillinger at #42. Curt Hawkins at #43. Bobby Lashley at #44. The Great Khali at #45. Kevin Owens at #46. Shane McMahon at #47. Shelton Benjamin at #48. Big Cass at #49. Chris Jericho at #50.
Lashley, Benjamin, McMahon, Bryan, Owens, Jericho, Cass, and Strowman left. Jericho goes after Owens. Benjamin eliminated by Jericho after a Codebreaker. Owens in the Walls of Jericho. Cass breaks it with a big boot. Bryan up like a house of fire and Owens put down in the corner. McMahon goes for a Coast to Coast, but Strowman eliminates McMahon by chokeslamming him through the announce table. Lashley caught on a crossbody and eliminated by Strowman. Strowman eliminates Jericho and Owens. Bryan with forearms on Strowman, but he almost eliminates him. Cass with a big boot on Bryan and he eliminates Bryan. Strowman and Big Cass in the final two. Cass with two clotheslines, but a big boot caught and Strowman crotches him up top. Strowman knocks him over the top rope.
Winner: Braun Strowman
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Overlong, botchy, but not without a few cool moments. It was pure spectacle and that only has novelty for so long.
Post-match, Strowman presented with a trophy and belt by Vince McMahon and a Saudi Arabian official.
While there were a few good moments on this show, it was really just spectacle and some pretty egregious propaganda for the Saudi Arabian government who paid for the event, which really threw off the tone of the show at times and felt inappropriate. If you can put that aside, it wasn’t too bad overall with some fun moments and a unique crowd that got hot for some things you wouldn’t expect your standard WWE crowd to.
Nolan Howell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions or comments.