The Greatest Royal Rumble show was much like the match itself — it started slow and, though
predictable, ended strong.
The WWE Network special Friday in in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, felt part house show, part Wrestle Mania.
There was plenty of pageantry — even lots of pyro but a lack of substance outside of a few matches.
The jumbo-sized card did not include the WWE’s women, even on the kickoff panel, because of the
country’s laws. The company reportedly made more than $100 million for the event and is said to
be paying its women performers in a big way even though they did not appear on the show, which
featured the first 50-man Royal Rumble match.
While none of the seven titles defended changed hands, the WWE didn’t leave Saudi Arabia without controversy.
Roman Reigns should be the Universal champion whether you like it or not and no matter
what the referee’s decision was in his steel cage match against Brock Lesnar.
Reigns, in a physical bout that was better than their subpar clash at WrestleMania, speared Lesnar
through the cage onto the floor near the ramp for the finish. By rule, you can win the match by being the first
person to leave the cage and have both feet hit the floor.
Though Lesnar’s back was first to hit, his feet didn’t hit before Reigns’. Lesnar’s legs were elevated
on the destroyed portion of the cage as Reigns rolled off and touched the floor.
The commentary team tried to explain during the replays why the referee ruled Lesnar would retain his title,
until they realized they couldn’t. At that point, whether you believe it was planned or not, they relented
that Reigns could have some controversy on his hands. WWE needs to eventually build off this. It
might be the best route to finally putting the strap on Reigns.
The moment along with Titus O’Neil purposely tripping his way under the ring while
entering the rumble match — was one of the highlights of a strong latter portion of the show.
The rumble itself moved quickly even with 50 guys. Daniel Bryan – eliminated second to last
by new rival Big Cass — entered first and lasted a record one hour, 16 minutes and five seconds.
Cass was eliminated by the victorious Braun Strowman, one of the clear favorites coming in.
He was awarded a large trophy and a green belt after a record 13 eliminations.
The match was a mid-card paradise for the most part with enough legends and top guys to make it work.
Returning Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho both were given their moment. Even Hornswoggle made an appearance.
Shane McMahon pulled off his coast-tocoast and was eliminated when Strowman threw him from the top rope on the announcer’s table. Kofi surviving elimi nation while on Xavier Woods’ back was among the usual Rumble spots that made the match enjoyable, despite plenty of unknown NXT call-ups.
While there was a clear winner to the Rumble match, the feud between WWE champion AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura is still searching for one after a double count out.
This match was on a similar level to their WrestleMania one and further raised the heat around their feud by showing us a side of Styles we hadn’t seen before.
After taking another low blow and breaking the pin by grabbing the ropes, something snapped inside Styles.
He unleashed a physical fury on Nakamura. Styles dove into him and went crashing into the announcer
table, pounded him in the barricade, used a chair and hit one last Phenomenal Forearm.
This feud should have your attention in a big way now.