WWE Greatest Royal Rumble Review
Updated: May 29, 2019
WWE held their first ever event in Saudi Arabia with the Greatest Royal Rumble. Did the event live up to expectations?
Emanating live from the King Abdullah Sports City's King Abdullah International Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, WWE's Greatest Royal Rumble event was the first of its kind. With a WrestleMania-like stadium of fans watching (and millions watching round the world on the WWE Network), the company brought back legends, made marquee matches and utilized the entirety of their male roster.
But did the major event live up to expectations? Here is our review of #WWE's Greatest Royal Rumble.
(Note: The grading criteria is based on match quality, storytelling and our overall enjoyment of each bout).
Triple H vs. John Cena
Result: John Cena defeated Triple H (15:45)
Review: The opening match saw WWE icons Triple H and John Cena square off in an incredibly crowd-pleasing match. It was well-paced and very enjoyable, and the crowd was 100% into it. In fact, it almost had a house show vibe to it, like it was intentionally designed to be crowd-pleasing without giving us the unbelievably epic WrestleMania-like spectacle that we once saw between these two. And because some of their previous encounters were so strong, parts of the match felt rather flat.
However, both men gave it their all, and despite John Cena's notorious whispering during the match, it was a fun bout between two legendary superstars that did exactly what it set out to do — open the event on a high.
Cedric Alexander vs. Kalisto (Cruiserweight Championship)
Result: Cedric Alexander defeated Kalisto to retain the Cruiserweight Championship (10:15)
Review: This was another really well-executed match. There was plenty of fun action the whole way throughout, including a standout sequence in which Kalisto unleashed a hurricanrana followed by a whirlwind DDT on Alexander for a near-fall. While the Champion ultimately retained, both men did a great job following up the strong opener. The match's only downfall was the fact that the crowd just didn't seem into it. Perhaps they were resting after their participation in the first match, or maybe they just weren't as well-acquainted with these superstars but the match just didn't feel as epic without the crowd's interaction.
Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy vs. Sheamus and Cesaro (WWE RAW Tag Team Championships)
Result: Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy defeated Sheamus and Cesaro to win the RAW Tag Team Championships (8:50)
Review: The third match of the evening saw the unorthodox team of "Woken" Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt take on Sheamus and Cesaro for the vacant RAW Tag Team Championships. The match itself was a pretty solid tag team match, and exactly what we needed it to be. It had some great action in there, as well as Hardy/Wyatt's trademark creepy moments too. Moreover, with Cesaro and Sheamus off to SmackDown Live, and Wyatt and Hardy's interesting storyline, it's clear that the right team won the Tag Titles.
Jeff Hardy vs. Jinder Mahal (WWE United States Championship)
Result: Jeff Hardy defeated Jinder Mahal to retain the United States Championship (6:10)
Review: This match ended up being a surprising dud. Literally nothing about it actually worked: the pacing was way off, and even though it was a really short match, it felt like a long one to sit through. For whatever reason, Hardy and Mahal just didn't click with each other. And the crowd wasn't feeling it either. There was even one moment where Hardy's Whisper in the Wind didn't connect, but Mahal reacted anyway.
The only successful thing about this segment was the fact that Hardy retained. Other than that, this was really disappointing.
The Bludgeon Brothers vs. The Usos (SmackDown Tag Team Championships)
Result: The Bludgeon Brothers defeated the Usos to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Championships (5:05)
Review: Like the RAW Tag Team match, this was everything it needed to be, but with a little more heart. The story revolved around the Usos' status as underdogs and their desire to achieve the impossible and defeat the Bludgeons. While it wasn't cutting edge wrestling, the added drama did make the match seem a little less formulaic, despite its shortness. And it succeeded in highlighting the dominance of the Bludgeon Brothers.
Seth Rollins vs. Finn Bálor vs. The Miz vs. Samoa Joe (Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship)
Result: Seth Rollins retained the Intercontinental Championship (14:33)
Review: As expected, the Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship turned out to be one of the show's strongest offerings. Much like they did at WrestleMania, Rollins, Bálor and The Miz all provided us with awe-inspiring moments, while Joe was a strong addition to the match. With Rollins's suicide dives, Bálor's over the top rope extravaganza and even a Coup de Grâce on the Ladder, this match once again shone the spotlight on the sheer talent of these superstars. It was also surprisingly vicious as well, with both Rollins and Bálor showing some bloody wounds of war.
But it all came to a head when Rollins flew onto the ladder and scaled it, ripping the belt away milliseconds before Bálor could grasp it — which was an excellent way of allowing Rollins to retain while protecting the other talent from the loss.
AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Championship)
Result: The match ended in a double countout and thus, AJ Styles retained the WWE Championship (14:25)
Review: AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura were never going to put on a terrible match — they're two of the greatest wrestlers in the world today. However, when they clashed at WrestleMania earlier this year, our expectations were so high that the result was a little disappointing. But thankfully, the rematch was much better.
Nakamura's heel turn really reinvigorated this rivalry, and the benefited from it. While they both wrestled as beautifully as before, this outing had much more story behind it. And we could feel Styles's desire to conquer his cocky friend-turned-enemy.
Unfortunately, the match was hindered by the double countout finish. With so much venom and passion in this rivalry, a countout feels more like a cop-out. But as it was orchestrated to set up a rematch between the two at Backlash, it's possible to overlook it. Maybe we'll finally get that five-star classic we've been hoping for.
The Undertaker vs. Rusev (Casket Match)
Result: The Undertaker defeated Rusev (9:40)
Review: In a rare treat, we got to see The Undertaker wrestle a second match in the same month. And this one was much longer than his first. His first Casket Match in almost a decade, we got to see the Deadman unleash all of his greatest hits on Rusev. From Old School to the apron Leg Drop, he proved that he hadn't lost a step.
The match was a decent length and included plenty of entertaining spots. Being the big attraction match, it exceeded expectations and was actually a really solid bout. And although The Undertaker won, he ended up making Rusev look great as well. The crowd were loving The Phenom and voiced that love throughout the entire bout.
Matches like this put less pressure on The Undertaker to deliver the five-star classics he once did. Just because those days are behind him doesn't mean that he can't hold his own in the ring anymore — because this proved that he can. He looked great throughout and kept up with Rusev the whole time. It was more of a methodical pace, similar to the matches he had in the early '90s. And if WWE give him more of these, he could very well stick around for a few more years.
Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (WWE Universal Championship)
Result: Brock Lesnar defeated Roman Reigns to retain the Universal Championship (9:15)
Review: After WrestleMania, I think it's safe to say that nobody wanted to see a Brock Lesnar/Roman Reigns rematch. But for some reason, that's exactly what WWE decided to give us. But this time, it would take place inside a Steel Cage.
In fairness, the match was a million times better than their WrestleMania encounter. Granted, our expectations were very low, but it definitely flowed much better than the last one. Although it didn't take long for the match to turn into yet another finisher-fest (these men have some other moves, you know?!), the steel cage allowed for some typical Steel Cage match fun which helped to break up the endless onslaught of finishers.
The controversial ending (which saw Roman Spear Brock through the cage, and thus, Brock won) should have been expected. I mean, how on earth could we expect Roman to lose two consecutive encounters with Brock cleanly? But nonetheless, it was quite a sight to behold.
Not one of the evening's stronger matches, but a major improvement over the WrestleMania flop. Now, we just have to wait for the inevitable rematch to end all rematches (that we still don't want to see).
The 50-Man Greatest Royal Rumble Match
Result: Braun Strowman won the match after eliminating Big Cass (1:17:20)
Review: WWE's largest ever Royal Rumble match was undoubtedly a history-making match. The match lasted over and hour and utilized the majority of WWE's male roster. And ultimately, it had a worthy winner in Braun Strowman.
However, the match itself wasn't exactly a showstopper. Much like we've seen in previous Royal Rumble matches, too much of the WWE's top talent were already in other matches. As a result of this, there were very little stars left for the Rumble match. And it's hard enough to recruit 30 men outside of your top talent for a normal Rumble, but this time, they had to recruit 50 men.
While it was great that WWE gave the mid-card and NXT up-and-comers a chance in the spotlight, but the match still needed more headliners in it to give it that special feel. Outside of Braun Strowman, Daniel Bryan, Kurt Angle, Kevin Owens, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio, there wasn't much star power. And thus, parts of the match started to drag.
Furthermore, Jericho's appearance was ultimately wasted, and it feels like the company are intent to continually screw Daniel Bryan out of a Royal Rumble victory (although, it's great that he has broken the record for the longest-lasting Rumble contestant in history).
But despite all that, there were plenty of fun moments and Strowman was a worthy winner.
The Last Word Standing:
WWE's historic Greatest Royal Rumble event undoubtedly had a lot to live up to. Although it was far from perfect, it did exactly what it set out to do and entertain the fans. And seeing the in-ring returns of Triple H and The Undertaker, as well as spectacles like the Casket and Steel Cage matches made this seem like a second WrestleMania. And that's definitely not a bad thing.
Overall Event Grade: C+
Did you enjoy WWE's Greatest Royal Rumble? Let us know in the comments below!