Review for WWE Greatest Royal Rumble
Back in April WWE took one of their keystone PPVs to Saudi Arabia by hosting what they called ‘The Greatest Royal Rumble’. Now, previously they had tried to increase the number of people in the Royal Rumble to 40 (this was in 2011 when Santina almost won?) and I’m not sure the point of the increase was beyond just increasing the amount of people in the ring who I would not recognise or had no chance of winning. However, the event was a massive success with over 60,000 people in attendance. With the time difference involved the event did not seem to be affected by this and hopefully this means that a major event like this can come to the UK too in the future.
With the event being held in Saudi Arabia and one of the first of its kind the entire PPV felt like a Propaganda piece to promote how progressive the country was becoming. ‘Becoming’ being the apt word, with many Promos showing how the country opened their first public cinema after a 35-year ban and finally lifting a ban to allow women to be able to drive and even able to attend an event like this (albeit escorted by men) (this is 2018 remember). However, as progressive as they are the country would still not allow the females of the WWE to appear, so much so that when a promo that featured the women was shown halfway through they had to apologise for this. Because of this, the absence of the women’s division or any women at all is very obvious and almost at odds with the Women’s Revolution that they have been promoting for the past few years.
It is odd that the event is being released in August with it being held in April and unsure why this is. Many assumed this because they were going to release it as a double pack with the upcoming Crown Jewel return to Saudi Arabia (if it actually takes place) or that a new documentary was being made about it. Neither is the case. Because of this, it is almost like I have to look back nearly seven months to what feuds and storylines these superstars were in for these matches. Of the ten matches, most are pretty good to watch and there was definitely a Wrestlemania feel to the event. It is just a shame that when the matches are bad, they are really bad.
John Cena against Triple H was fine in general, though didn’t really mean anything. At times this felt like just watching a dark match or a house show match. Cedric Alexander against Kalisto was fantastic and I only wish it was given a bit more time to mean more. Both put on a great display and certainly two reasons why the 205 Live show and Cruiserweight division in general is so exciting.
Sadly, the next three matches were pretty bad with Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy against The Bar for the Raw Tag Team Championship simply not given enough time to mean anything. This is a shame as I love both teams and generally The Bar can be guaranteed to put on a ‘Match of the Night’ contender. Jeff hardy against Jinder Mahal for the US title was pathetic, too short and really did nothing for either of them. I was happy with the outcome, but the match itself was just pointless. After this the Smackdown Tag Team Championship match between The Bludgeon Brothers and The Usos was a little better, though not by much. Again, I have seen the Usos go on to be highlights of most events, but this match, which lasted a little over five minutes felt like someone just wanted them to get in and get it over and done with.
Thankfully, the Four-Way Ladder match for the Intercontinental match between Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe, The Miz and Finn Balor was fantastic and easily match of the night. All four looked at times like they could win and each person had enough offence and moments to make them mean something. This was followed by a good match between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE Championship which was just spoilt by the ending, but was still a great match from both and much better than the rather lacklustre Wrestlemania match they just had.
Once again the event grinds to a halt with an awful Casket match between the redhot popular Rusev and a rare appearance from The Undertaker. This match for me just didn’t work. Who was I supposed to be routing for? Why were they fighting? The whole match made no sense and neither did the stipulation. A Casket match is usually how you end a feud, not how you start a feud which wouldn’t be ongoing anyway as you knew that The Undertaker was not going to be coming back and so almost like the Wrestlemania streak (even when Rusev would benefit so much from the rub) you knew that The Undertaker was winning and thus the match meant nothing.
The Steel Cage match between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship really should have been better. I will not say it was the worst match, like most people (even Dave Meltzer only gave this 1 star!?) but I will say that this match was thoroughly disappointing and could have been great. I have a few issues:
1.) Nine Minutes and Fourteen Seconds? Yes. I know, with the Rumble being on last this wasn’t technically the main event, but still to give your main title match less than ten minutes makes the match feel utterly redundant.
2.) If there was ever a point when WWE could have skyrocketed Roman Reigns it was a defeat of Brock Lesnar. It had gotten to the point where fans were so sick of having a champ who would wrestle once a month (if we were lucky). We all hated Roman Reigns… but if there was any way that we would cheer him, it would be by him beating Lesnar.
3.) The fact that WWE tried to brush off the fact that technically Lesnar lost because Reigns’ feet touched the floor first was a total copout.
The match itself was fine, but these things just meant it left a bitter taste in the mouth.
Finally, we have the Royal Rumble. Now, those who know me know that I love this match and so having two in one year should be like Christmas coming early, but if I’m being brutally honest it wasn’t. My main issue with the match was that unlike the real Royal Rumble there was no real incentive to win apart from a Trophy and Belt that meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. Personally, all the stats they kept talking about such as Daniel Bryan lasting the longest and Braun Strowman eliminating the most I simply ignore as this was not a usual Royal Rumble and so I don’t know why they kept talking about them.
However, there were multiple highlights from the match. Titus O’Neil sliding under the ring trying to enter will probably be what the match will be remembered for. Rightly so, as it was hilarious. The performance by Braun Strowman was fantastic as was Daniel Bryan and the surprise return of Chris Jericho. A lot of the entrances were simply far too obscure to have known and rather than 30 solid people who we wanted to see there were far too many where you had to know the entire roster of NXT to know who they were. Overall it was a fun event, just would have been a bit more exciting if winning actually meant something. I’m not going to spoil the ending, but if you don’t remember who won don’t look at the back of the box as that will spoil it for you?!?
As I said, I expected the delay for release this was due to a documentary or something special. Instead all that is given are two matches. That's it. Both are fine in general with the 10-Man Tag Team Matchputting Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, Finn Bálor, Bobby Lashley, against Bobby Roode vs. The Miz, Curtis Axel, Bo Dallas, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn and the 6-Man Tag Team Match between AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, & Karl Anderson against Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev, & Aiden English are both good matches. Both are actually better than most of the matches on the PPV. However, this is still not enough to warrant the wait for the release.
So was this The Greatest Royal Rumble? Not really. Everyone knows the Greatest Royal Rumble is either 1992 or 1998, but this event wasn’t really all that great. Sure there were moments of greatness throughout the event and certainly the Ladder match and the Cruiserweight match certainly deserve another watch, but the event as a whole wasn’t the greatest thing of all time. But I suppose ‘The Average, but Good in Parts Royal Rumble’ wouldn’t have the same ring to it?