SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Yes, I’m watching WWE Greatest Royal Rumble, a bit at a time, on a bit of delay. What’s wrong with me? We’ll find out.
It’s an outdoor wrestling show in the middle of the desert. What could possibly go wrong?
We are in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This is the first of ten big shows WWE will be performing in the Kingdom over ten years. It serves as a distraction for the ongoing Saudi effort to overthrow the Iranian government…Oops, sorry. I’d say more, but what happens on Conservative Twitter stays on Conservative Twitter.
I’m sure WWE hears your comments about doing a male only show in Saudi Arabia, and they’ll make up for it by doing a fifty woman Royal Rumble somewhere that doesn’t allow men. That island Wonder Woman grew up on, that’s a real place, right?
Cole, Graves & Saxton are your announcers. Whoever chose Graves as the guy to explain Saudi cultural progress is probably rethinking some life choices.
John Cena vs. Triple H is your opener. It’s nice for these two guys to drop their seniority and agree to take opening match payouts for this…hahahaha. Yeah, we’re too early into the show for that. Graves immediately checks in to tell us what an honor it is for Cena and Hunter to be in the first match of the Saudi era.
Michael Cole has Triple H’s new nickname. Hunter is The Creator. Really. This, on top of last night’s Capitals’ loss. Shoot me now.
The Saudi fans sure are excited about getting to see WWE in person. The Greatest Royal Rumble is expected to be a bigger draw than next month’s “Maroon 5 On Ice” show.
Cena and Hunter begin the feeling out process while I roll through my list of Things I Can’t Write Unless I Want To Spend Ten Years Rooming With Salman Rushdie. (Yes, I know Rushdie lives in New York now, but I don’t want to live there.)
Triple H showboats while young Muslim families head to the concession stands.
“As long as Triple H is in control, expect a slower, methodical pace.” There’s your pull quote for Corey’s commentary track in WWE 2K19.
Also coming soon to Jeddah? “Ishtar: The Musical”.
By the way, congrats to John Cena and Triple H on getting to the ring while the crowd is still hot. Cena tosses The Game over the top rope and Hunter tweaks his knee. Cena goes off the top rope into what we’ll call a spinebuster by Hunter. No, it’s not the finish.
This is the first time Cena and Hunter have fought in a singles match in eight years. Hunter kicks out of the Attitude Adjustment. Cena kicks out of the Pedigree. The announcers are calling this as if Bruno Sammartino returned from the dead to fight Thanos.
Attitude Adjustment. Slingshot. Attitude Adjustment. Cena and Hunter are two of about a dozen wrestlers who can do that slingshot spot without it looking like crap. Cena wins. The losing streak is over.
No, John, you don’t have to say anything…Oh, well.
Take a drink anytime you hear someone on this show talk about what an honor and privilege it is to be in Jeddah. The last one conscious should call for an ambulance.
After the ads, it’s time for Cedric Alexander to defend the Cruiserweight Title against Kalisto. The cruiserweights are off the preshow and high on life.
I don’t ask for much, but pleeeease let Brock and Roman go on last again. Five hours in 80 degree weather in front of mostly casual fans with kids. Yeah, that’s a recipe for a Lesnar-Reigns rematch.
Cole points out that the last Cruiserweight Title defense in Asia was Funaki in February 2005. You’re going to make me look that up, aren’t you? Fine. Cole’s wrong. It’s Paul London winning a three-way in July 2005 in Saitama.
The match? Yeah, it’s a good one. In the desert, you get a dry heat, and it sneaks up on people, so we’ll keep an eye out for that.
Cedric wins with the Lumbar Check. Good stuff.
Time for the Raw Tag Title Match. The Broken Bros take on The Bar. Yes, the Saudis know enough to wave their cellphones during the Woken entrance.
When WWE Network releases its documentary of this show (and it will), they need to leave in the part where Shane McMahon explains The Bar’s Boondock Saints entrance to the House of Saud.
Cole clarifies that if Sheamus & Cesaro win, they come back to Raw. Now I may have to root for The Bar. This is confusing. On the other hand, I like Matt and Bray together. It’s better than Matt feuding with Bray.
Hardy and Wyatt win. The crowd looks…amused.
Next up is the United States Title match. The announcers go to a lot of trouble to distinguish between Raw and Smackdown wrestlers. That’s nice, but if Mr. McMahon doesn’t care about the continuity of the brand extension, I don’t see why I should.
Jeff Hardy vs. Jinder Mahal, with Jeff Hardy selling a bad knee. The last time the United States Title changed hands outside the United States, it was worse than this match.
Did You Know? Jeff Hardy is a former WWE Heavyweight Champion, just like Jinder Mahal.
Hardy goes for Whisper In The Wind, and either Jinder was out of place, or Hardy jumped at the wrong time. Graves and Sexton try to explain what happened, and somehow make things worse. Jeff wins with the Swanton, putting a merciful end to this mini-feud.
Do you think these fans know how much longer this show runs?
Byron Saxton is hosting the All-Star Panel, which segues into an ad for Saudi Arabia, the shining star of the Persian Gulf. They’re letting women drive over there, you know.
Byron: Everyone in Saudi Arabia has been so gracious to us.
JR: I need booze.
Oh, we’re in the evening prayer intermission. Now I get it.
Mike Rome makes The List Of Jericho. So does Ed Koskey. The audience doesn’t get it.
Daniel Bryan gets the next interview. Jericho went long, so Bryan went short. Yes!
Time for the popcorn match. The Bludgeon Brothers defend the Smackdown Tag Titles against The Usos. And Naomi is barred from the building (along with her entire gender).
Unlike their previous meetings, the Usos are getting offense…And then the offense stops. Double team powerbomb means the Smackdown Tag Team Titles remain on Raw, with the Bludgeon Brothers. (At least until Monday.)
I can’t wait until the start of co-branded pay-per-views next month! Hey, wait a minute…
You know what this show needs? A ladder match. Seth Rollins defends the WWE Intercontinental Title against Finn Balor, Samoa Joe & The Miz. It’s a big deal, because there’s a video package.
Miz gets actual fireworks for his entrance. Damn.
Cole says Seth wants to be known as “Monday Night Rollins”. Yeah, I figured that out when Rollins had the T-shirts made.
Seth Rollins reportedly said Jeddah is “big and hot and beautiful”. (Jeddah sounds a lot like Reina Gonzalez.)
We’re up to the part where everyone takes a turn getting knocked off the ladder. Miz tries for an alliance with Samoa Joe. Has Miz ever watched WWE television? That doesn’t happen.
Miz gets his back when he hits Joe with his finisher onto the ladder. Now it’s time for folks to take turns fighting at the top of the ladder. I think the Saudi fans are trying to chant “This is awesome”. Bless their hearts.
Finn hits Coup De Grace on Miz on the ladder. Ouch. Balor turns a ladder over on Joe, then starts climbing. Rollins jumps from the top rope onto the ladder and grabs the belt before Finn gets to it. Hell of a finish.
“That’s why they call him Monday Night Rollins!” yells Cole. The fact that it’s Friday afternoon doesn’t register with these guys.
Earlier this week, we had WWE tryouts in Jeddah. Apparently Dan Matha is a trainer now. The company found four prospects. And Mike Rome gets to interview them. Oh, boy. I think these guys are going to form a new faction. The Platitudes.
No, here come Shawn and Ariya Daiviari, waving the Iranian flag. They get in the faces of the trainees and start shoving. Sure enough, the four Saudis clean house on the two Iranians. Hooray.
Conrad Thompson & Bruce Prichard haven’t been fired yet. Hooray. Cole and Graves admit they listen to wrestling podcasts.
Time for AJ Styles to defend the WWE Title against Shinsuke Nakamura. And why not? There’s only 165 minutes left in the show.
Did You Know? The lyrics to Nakamura’s entrance music are the Japanese translation of “Amish Paradise” by Al Yankovic.
Nakamura vs. Styles, and it’s a different vibe here with a heel Shinsuke. Styles eventually locks in the Calf Crusher, but Nakamura makes the ropes. The story of the match seems to be AJ as a half step ahead of Nakamura. Shinsuke gets Styles down and almost gets the armbar. AJ misses the Phenomenal Forearm and Nakamura doesn’t miss with the low blow.
They fight to the floor, and take out the Arabic announce table. That’s the finish, a double countout. Okay then. Styles keeps attacking Nakamura after the bell, hitting him with a chair and a plancha and leaving the challenger laying. Well, they can’t all be clean finishes. Time for the casket match.
There’s nothing like a big stipulation match with no backstory and no build. Unless you’re talking about a video package for a big stipulation match with no backstory and no build.
Undertaker vs. Rusev in The Greatest Casket Match. And now, here’s Aiden English with our Rusev Day National Anthem.
The Deadman gets an awful lot of pyro. You can thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for that.
The ‘Taker has to chase down the Bulgarian Bruiser, and we get a whole lot of punch-kick out of the deal. Rusev gets thrown over the top rope onto the casket, but the lid is closed. Undertaker opens it and tries again, but Aiden English stops him from closing the casket on Rusev.
Rusev rallies and beats down Undertaker, getting the right amount of boos and crowd heat. The zombie situp still works. Chokeslam. A chokeslam for English. Then a tombstone for English. Undertaker loads them both into the casket and shuts it for the win. That was a lot better than Undertaker’s WrestleMania match.
If you want amazing, check out WWE’s highlight package from the WrestleMania main event. Their version of the Lesnar-Reigns match barely resembles the version I saw. Speaking of which, time for Brock vs. Roman in a steel cage for the Universal Title.
The story of this match is that the crowd is actually paying attention. That, and beach balls aren’t allowed inside King Abdullah Stadium.
Brock hits four German suplexes and an F5. In the game of human chess, that’s Lesnar’s standard E4 opening. Reigns counters with three Superman punches and tried to escape the cage, but can’t. Then Roman hits three spears. I feel like I’ve seen this match before, on Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain for Playstation 2.
Reigns tries to leave the cage, but Paul Heyman slams the cage door on Roman’s head. F5 by Lesnar, and Heyman slides a chair into the ring. Roman hits a spear, then goes chairshot, chairshot, chairshot, chairshot. (Somehow I don’t think this match was laid out by Pat Patterson.) Superman punch by Reigns. Spear, and then…HAHAHAHAHA.
…Okay, I need a moment here, then a few paragraphs to explain this finish…
As you know, Bruno Sammartino passed away last week. There was a lot of talk about Sammartino’s career. One of his most famous losses was on February 18, 1978, when he fought Superstar Billy Graham inside a steel cage. Graham was the champion, and the match ended when Bruno kicked the Superstar through the cage door to the floor.
The finish was Reigns spearing Lesnar through the cage, with the official awarding the match to Lesnar because the Beast hit the floor first. But that didn’t happen. Both wrestlers landed on the cage fencing. Roman rolled off of Brock, which is the polite thing to do. But that meant Reigns’ feet touched the floor before any part of Brock Lesnar. The announcers (allegedly) weren’t briefed on the finish. This made for another lovely mess as the bout was awarded to the champion.
Maybe the intent is to make fans feel sorry for Roman Reigns. I know I do. I feel sorry for Reigns because of how WWE books him.
By the way, WWE announced a few more matches for Backlash, including Styles-Nakamura III.
It’s time for the Greatest Royal Rumble, a match guaranteed to go 72 minutes. I feel a migraine coming.
Daniel Bryan is Number 1. Dolph Ziggler is Number 2. One of these men will be eliminated early, and it won’t be Dolph Ziggler.
Dolph survives until Sin Cara comes in at Number 3. Ziggler gets to toss Sin Cara out.
Curtis Axel has his music back! And he’s Number 4. Axel gets an offense. The Saudis figured out how to count backwards from 10, so that’s something.
Mark Henry is Number 5, and he has a lot of supporters. He lowers Axel over the top rope like a forklift lowering a pallet. Goodbye, Curtis.
Mike Kanellis is Number 6. That’s exciting. He lasts about 1.6 seconds before Henry eliminates him.
Hiroki Sumi is Number 7. For all I know, this guy is Random Sumo Wrestler #12. He squares off with Mark Henry. They don’t quite pull off the Rock-Hogan standoff.
Henry eliminates Sumi. Bryan and Dolph eliminate Henry.
Rick Viktor of Ascension is Number 8. Bryan works the arm, and uses that to leverage Viktor over the top rope and out.
Kofi Kingston is Number 9. He tries to take out D-Bry, can’t.
Tony Nese is Number 10. He pairs off with Kofi while Bryan and Dolph grab a corner.
Dash Wilder is Number 11. Hornswoggle is Number 12. He helps Bryan and Nese eliminate Wilder, and then he goes Swoggling. Graves describes Swoggle as weighing 420 pounds. Tony Nese eliminates Horny.
Primo Colon has new music, and he’s Number 13. I was officially wrong about Ziggler. He hangs on to the bottom rope.
Xavier Woods and his trombone are Number 14 and 14A. Primo backdrops Kofi over the top rope onto Woods, who is on the apron. Nice. Woods carries Kofi back to the top turnbuckle and over. Nese tries to dance with New Day and gets eliminated.
Bo Dallas is Number 15. A kid holds up a sign that says “Jeddah Is Too Sweet”. Security makes him put it down.
Kurt Angle is Number 16. It’s German suplex time. Kurt eliminates Bo, then Primo and then…Dolph Ziggler.
Scott Dawson comes in at Number 17. Goldust is Number 18. Goldust gets Bryan over the top rope, but Bryan lands on the apron.
Konor of Ascension is Number 19. Woods tries to take down Kurt Angle. Nope.
Elias Samson is Number 20. Michael Cole is ecstatic. The Saudis actually yell “Walk With Elias”. Damn. Elias breaks off his song to eliminate Konor & Xavier & Kofi.
Good Brother Luke Gallows in Number 21. Angle and Bryan square off in the center ring and everyone else grabs a corner. Angle pulls his straps down, and Elias grabs Angle from behind and eliminates Kurt.
Rhyno is Number 22. Drew Gulak is Number 23. Drew heads straight for Daniel Bryan. Bryan grabs the Yes lock. Tucker Knight from NXT is Number 24, and he eliminates Gulak.
Bobby Roode’s Entrance is Number 25. He hits Goldust with a dropkick and eliminates Dustin. Then Roode eliminates Scott Dawson.
Fandango is Number 26. Cole figured this out ahead of Graves because of the music, and the fact that the big screen read FANDANGO. That’s why Cole’s the lead announcer, kids.
Chad Gable is Number 27. Roode and Bryan are paired off. Gable gets Tucker Knight up for a slam.
Rey Mysterio is Number 28. Booyaka, booyaka! Cole remembers Rey is a former Rumble winner. The former champ eliminates Gallows.
Mojo Rawley is Number 29, and he immediately bull rushes Fandango over the top rope. Daniel Bryan is about to hit the 42 minute mark. And Number 30 is…
Tyler Breeze, who passes Fandango on his way in. And meets up with Fandango again, after Mojo Rawley eliminates him. We’re down to our last…
No, we’re not. We still have another half-hour to go. Big E. Langston is Number 31. And he brought pancakes for Tucker Knight. Pancakes and powerslams and out goes Knight.
Number 32 is Karl Anderson (Not Pictured: Hot Asian Wife). Big E almost eliminates Karl. Number 33 is Apollo Crews. Crews tosses Chad Gable over the top rope and halfway to Mecca.
Roderick Strong is Number 34. Yay! Backbreakers for everyone, and Strong gets to eliminate Rhyno.
Randall K. Orton is Number 35. They know who he is. Crews flies from the top rope right into a BOTCHED RKO out of nowhere!
Orton eliminates Karl Anderson, and Mojo Rawley, then gets around to eliminating Crews. Heath Slater is Number 36. The One Man Band almost gets Elias. Randy has Rey in the Tree Of Woe.
Babatunde Aiyegbusi (the Polish Powerhouse from NXT) is Number 37. McMahon is going to bill this guy as a 7 footer.
Roderick Strong has met up with Daniel Bryan, and Daniel’s chest looks like a side of beef.
Number 38 is Baron Corbin. He pulls Elias under the bottom rope and works him over. Rey Rey gets Deep Sixed. Roode gets chokeslammed over the top rope. Then the Lone Wolf eliminates Strong. Doggone it.
Number 39 is…(wait for it)…Titus O’Neil. Titus tripped at the end of the ramp and ends up under the ring. Graves can’t stop laughing. Not even when Dan Matha comes in at Number 40.
We get another replay of the Greatest Royal Rumble Botch Ever.
Braun Strowman is Number 41. ROWR! He ate a lot of hummus this week. Really. Braun enters the ring.
Dan Matha? He Matha splat on the ringside mats after Strowman tossed him.
Big E? Big E-limination.
Heath Slater? Well, YOU know.
The others gang up on Braun. Tye Dillinger is Number 42. You’re a little late, buddy.
It doesn’t work. Braun dumps Titus and Tye, but Rey and Randy hit him with a 619/RKO combo.
Things move quickly from there. Corbin dumbs Rey, Orton dumps Corbin, Elias eliminates Orton from behind. Hey, where’s Daniel Bryan?
Curt Hawkins is Number 43. Good luck! Hawkins gets to the ring, turns around, and runs back. Strowman catches him from behind and returns him, then piefaces Curt over the top rope. Yikes.
We’re down to Bryan, Elias and Strowman. And the next seven guys.
Number 44 is that friendly Bobby Lashley fellow. Strowman is down and Bryan is down, but Lashley gets to eliminate Elias. Braun is back up.
Strowman and Lashley! Lashley and Strowman! And Bryan is back up. Bryan’s hanging in until…
Number 45 is The Great Khali. No rush, fellow. Take your time. Everyone sells the Khali chops, but Strowman & Lashley eliminate him. Are we done yet?
Number 46 is Kevin Owens. Where the hell is Sami Zayn? Is he still to come? Bryan hits the 65 minute mark as Shane McMahon arrives at Number 47.
Shane dances to the ring, sort of. He hits the flying elbow, and his crappy punches, and his floatover DDT. Then he joins Daniel Bryan for some yes kicks.
Number 48 is Shelton Benjamin. Owens tries to rally everyone against Braun. It’s not working.
Big Cass is Number 49. He goes right after Daniel Bryan. Shane goes for a coast to coast dropkick and almost connects with Braun. Who is Number 50?
It’s Chris Jericho. No Kane, no Big Show, no Sami Zayn. Kevin Owens is lying in wait. Everyone else clears out. Jericho takes a moment to eliminate Shelton. Walls of Jericho on Owens. Cass makes the save.
Daniel Bryan is up and running at the 73 minute mark. He sets up Shane to hit the Mac Terminator. Shane goes up, and Braun Strowman picks Shane up and launches him through the announce table. Apparently this is awesome.
Meanwhile, Braun eliminates Lashley, and Jericho, and Owens. But Daniel Bryan is behind Strowman, pushing…
Big Cass eliminates Daniel Bryan at the 76 minute mark. Then he goes for Strowman, who crotches the big man on the top rope. Ouch.
Braun Strowman wins the Greatest Royal Rumble. Corey Graves’ response? “It was exhausting.”
Vince McMahon and somebody from the Royal Family present Braun with a giant trophy and his own Greatest Royal Rumble Championship Belt. It is over.
Only 75 hours until Raw!
CLICK HERE TO READ ANOTHER GRR REPORT: KELLER’S WWE GREATEST ROYAL RUMBLE REPORT 4/27: Lesnar vs. Reigns, Styles vs. Nakamura, Undertaker vs. Rusev, Cena vs. Triple H