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As I said last week, the Greatest Royal Rumble was a very odd event for WWE. I already discussed a lot of social issues surrounding the event (no Sami Zayn?) and the ban on women appearing on the show. Since I wrote all about that last week; I won’t address it again here. Instead let’s talk about the actual show, which was bizarre in its own way. On one hand it looked like a loaded big show with a bunch of big-name matches; but the lack of build to most of those matches made it seem like a glorified house show. After watching the event, it ended up being more of the latter. The show had big matches; but a lot of them had lame finishes that made the event feel more like a spot show on the road to something bigger, than a major event.
Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns: *
I really did not like this match. Lesnar winning the match in controversial fashion makes me think we are getting ANOTHER match between the two. This comes after it already felt like the feud had run its course on the episodes of RAW leading up to the Greatest Royal Rumble. I’m not sure people really want more of this feud.
The match itself straight up sucked. It was a repeat of their lackluster WrestleMania match; with the guys barely even going through the motions of a traditional match and just spamming signature moves. The term “spotfest” is overused, but this match really was a spotfest. Towards the end of the match when Cole was running off how many F5’s Lesnar hit or how many spears Reigns did, it just completely devalues each of their finishing moves.It also doesn’t take much effort to just do big moves and hope the crowd reacts. Throw in the botched finish that had everyone confused; and this was one of the worst world title matches we will see all year.
AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura: ***½
They were on their way to a pretty good match until the finish, which came off as lame. Both guys worked hard and Nakamura seems more motivated in the ring working as a straight heel and of course Styles is the consummate babyface. The double count-out finish was weak; and is a perfect example of how WWE wasn’t really treating the event as a serious major show. The finish was clearly designed to just kill some time until their match at Backlash, which presumably will be taken more seriously.
Greatest Royal Rumble: **¾
A very mixed-bag. 50 is way too big of a number for a rumble match; particularly without major stakes like a future title shot on the line. The fact that a lot of the really big names in WWE had already worked on the show didn’t help matters as WWE was forced to use A LOT of filler for this match. A crowd of hardcore American fans would have a difficult time recognizing some of the names in the field, let alone the more casual crowd in Jeddah. The last ten minutes or so were pretty good though; and the right guy in Braun Strowman won it. Strowman really looks like the guy who should beat Lesnar, especially since Reigns has come up short twice over the last month.
The Undertaker vs Rusev: **¼
This was better than I expected; although considering The Undertaker’s performance at WrestleMania that was a low bar to clear. The Undertaker did a lot more in this match and looked to be moving better than he did at WrestleMania; although Michael Cole claiming that he was in the best shape of his life was just a tad excessive. The match was still kept short; and it kind of sucks that the company isn’t behind a guy like Rusev who has so much charisma and the fans love him.
Triple H vs John Cena: **¾
The crowd really liked this as the opener, and with the exception of The Undertaker they were easily the biggest stars on the show. The match was very safe and basic and felt like a match that had no build before they got into the ring. Both Triple H and Cena have slowed down a lot in the ring and the match was very methodical. They did about ten minutes of basic stuff and then quickly went into a few finisher spots before Cena got the clean win. It wasn’t anything notable, but the crowd ate it up.
Finn Balor vs Samoa Joe vs Seth Rollins vs The Miz: ***¾
The best match on the show; this wasn’t the typical car-crash that most of the multi-man ladder matches are. Instead of ladders being everywhere, they only had one ladder and the guys didn’t do anything crazy dangerous, which was for the best. Everyone worked hard, with Samoa Joe emerging as the star of the match. Similar to a guy like Minoru Suzuki; Joe plays the role of cool baddass extremely well; and no matter what situation he finds himself in, his character is never going to be compromised. The only negative in this was that the finish was mis-timed, with Balor standing on the top of the ladder and having to wait for Rollins to get back on the apron, springboard up to the ladder, scurry to the top, and unlock the title. If Balor was on the ground or the bottom rung of the ladder, it wouldn’t have been as bad; but Balor was in arm’s reach of the title and he just stood there like an idiot while Rollins did all of that stuff.
Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy vs The Bar: **¼
A quick match that didn’t really give anyone time to do anything spectacular. With The Bar drafted to SmackDown it was unlikely they were going to become RAW Tag Team Champions; so I think the predictable nature of the match hurt its overall quality. WWE will be building the RAW tag team division around Wyatt and Hardy for the near future.
The Bludgeon Brothers vs The Usos: **¼
Almost a carbon copy of the RAW Tag Team Championship match; although this one felt shorter and had less heat, but the wrestling was better. The Bludgeon Brothers are getting the monster push on SmackDown and basically squashed The Usos here. The Bar on SmackDown could make a babyface turn and those two teams could have some really good matches.
Jinder Mahal vs Jeff Hardy: **
A fairly boring match, with the most notable moment being when Mahal was completely out of position to catch a Whisper in the Wind from Hardy, but sold the move anyway despite it not coming close to hitting him. Mahal is a limited wrestler and Hardy did the best he could to make the match exciting; but not much was going to happen in this one.
Cedric Alexander vs Kalisto: ***½
The Cruiserweight Championship match came on right after the Triple H vs Cena match, and while the crowd wasn’t nearly as interested in this match; Alexander and Kalisto did a lot more and had a really good match even without a big reaction from the crowd. Kalisto in particular looked awesome and did a bunch of cool and unique spots that nobody else on the roster was going to do. WWE has relegated the division to 205 Live, which sucks because these guys really bust their asses, but they had a good match in Jeddah.
Matt Riddle vs Keith Lee: **** – PWG Neon Knights
Flip Gordon vs Zack Sabre Jr.: **** – PWG Neon Knights