Saudi Arabia held its first live, televised WWE event, the Greatest Royal Rumble. The main event for the evening was a 50-Man Royal Rumble match, the largest in the history of WWE. Additionally, the show featured some big name talent from Undertaker to John Cena to Triple H for the people of Saudi. WWE put a lot into this show, but ultimately–for WWE fans–it was one of the biggest letdowns in years.
Understandably, this was the first time the people of Saudi Arabia got to see these WWE superstars live, so of course, the sports entertainment company trotted out many of its biggest names. However, what WWE failed to realize in this scenario is that overpacking a show with big names, and a lack of storyline, makes these matches dull.
Take for example Triple H and John Cena, which opened up the entire event. Their battle was slow-paced, strategic, and not a great way to start a show. Tests of strength between two powerhouse wrestlers are fine, but shows need to kick off with excitement and have something at stake. And it didn’t work here because there were no stakes. If John Cena won, nothing happens. If Triple H won, nothing happens. The only thing the crowd could get invested in was the individual mythos of these characters, as there was no story driving the fight.
Additionally, there was Undertaker vs. Rusev in a Casket Match. Honestly, no one should have expected much from this match, and the only story building up to the event was Rusev being removed from the match then later added back on. While the almost 10-minute match lasted longer than Taker’s appearance at Wrestlemania 34, it left many fans, like myself, wondering what the point of it was. Rusev won’t continue to feud with Taker, and the match in no way made the Bulgarian Brute look tough. The match itself was fine and enjoyable, but again, what were the stakes?
Greatest Royal Rumble was a poorly put-together highlight reel of what the sports entertainment company is, mixed with a bit of WWE nostalgia. Five of the matches on the 10-match card came in at under 10 minutes, and two of those matches were five and six minutes long. What makes that crazier is that those were both title matches. These were both matches with a lot of potential that were cut too early.
And that’s a huge bummer for fans as the full-time talent involved in the majority of these matches deserves better. Even the matches with stories behind them were extremely problematic, like Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar, which had a bizarre finish where Reigns should have won, but Lesnar came out victorious for some reason that was never clear. However, if you like finishing moves that don’t finish the match, Lesnar vs. Reigns is for you.
One of the true highlights of the evening came from the cruiserweight match between Cedric Alexander and Kalisto. While their match barely broke the 10-minute mark, these two men made sure that every moment of it was exciting and kept the audience on the edge of their seats. As most cruiserweight matches go, it was filled with acrobatic moments and high-risk maneuvers. The story behind the two facing each other was thinner than many fans would have liked, but overall, it was one of the standouts for the event.
Additionally, there was the four-way ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship, which featured some of the top talent in the company: Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, The Miz, and Finn Balor. It was fun and fast-paced and had a finish that came out of nowhere, in a good way. Also, while the finish to Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles was disappointing, the rest of the match was one of the best of the evening, and Nakamura plays a heel incredibly well. Both of these matches are a must-watch.
— Austin Creed (@XavierWoodsPhD) April 27, 2018
Then, there was the 50-Man Royal Rumble match, which felt exceptionally fast-paced despite being one hour and 17 minutes long. It ended with Braun Strowman as the last man standing. For his prize, he was awarded a gigantic trophy and a championship belt, two things WWE, as well as fans, will forget about two months from now. Like most Royal Rumble matches, it was fun, and there were plenty of memorable spots. But that’s not saying much when the rest of the show was mediocre and forgettable.
The real standout part of the event was Daniel Bryan in the Rumble match. It told the audience a story. It was a man who entered the match and was determined to win, against all odds, even though he was the first wrestler to enter the ring for the 50-Man event. There were numerous moments where we saw him triumph and just as many where we saw him falter. All-in-all, the odds were stacked against him, and he ended up being eliminated. And while he didn’t win the match, he spent one hour and 15 minutes inside the ring, which is a new record for most time spent in a Rumble match. Why couldn’t the rest of the event have done more things like this?
The first Greatest Royal Rumble did not live up to the enormous amount of hype WWE put behind the event. The fireworks, big names, gigantic stadium, and numerous title matches can’t cover up the fact that WWE put way too much on its plate and delivered a highly polished house show at best. Sure, there were a few moments that were great, but that was only a tiny light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.
If you’re looking to see the best the show had to offer, watch these matches and skip everything else:
- Cedric Alexander vs. Kalisto
- The Miz vs. Seth Rollins (c) vs. Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe
- AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
- 50-Man Royal Rumble