Live Coverage: WWE Greatest Royal Rumble
Opening Match: John Cena vs. Triple H
Two of the greatest superstars in WWE history open up the Greatest Royal Rumble event.
The crowd cheers both on their entrances, and noticeably, Cena isn’t serenaded with the familiar “John Cena Sucks!” chant during his theme song.
Kind of a rote match between the two legends. Triple H does a mock Five Knuckle Shuffle for a near-fall. Cena works himself back into control, then does his own Five Knuckle Shuffle, another near-fall. Funny, I don’t remember the Five Knuckle Shuffle giving us anything close to a near-fall in years.
Triple-H kicks out of an AA; Cena kicks out of a Pedigree. Seen that before?
Cena with an STFU (can we still call it that?). Triple-H counters into a crossface. Cena powers out, hits two AAs, gets the 1-2-3.
Winner: John Cena in 15:45
Analysis: They did what they had to do, even if it felt like a house show match.
Cruiserweight Title Match: Kalisto vs. Cedric Alexander
Cedric Alexander defends against former Cruiserweight champ Kalisto.
Back-and-forth action early. Nice near-fall for Kalisto on a tornado DDT. Alexander gets a near-fall on a Michinoku Driver.
Seated Springboard Spanish Fly from Kalisto gets a near-near-fall. Kalisto moves for a Salido Del Sol, but Alexander counters into a Lumbar Check for the fall.
Winner: Cedric Alexander in 10:15
Analysis: Good in-ring action. Crowd not really into it, unfortunately.
Raw Tag Team Title Match: Cesaro and Sheamus vs. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt
There are even Fireflies in Jeddah, as Michael Cole notes. And actually, yeah, and more of them; it seems that 95 percent of the crowd is holding up their mobiles with their flashlights.
Sheamus and Cesaro, of course, are now Smackdown Superstars, so you can see where this one is going.
Standard tag match. The heels work Hardy, who gets the hot tag to Wyatt. All four tangle. Sheamus sets up for the Brogue Kick. Wyatt counters into the Sister Abigail, then tags to Hardy. Elevated Twist of Fate, Hardy and Wyatt win the belts.
Winners: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt in 8:50
Analysis: Just meh. We knew where this one was headed, and we got what we expected.
U.S. Title Match: Jeff Hardy vs. Jinder Mahal
Jeff Hardy, now of Smackdown, defends against former champ Jinder Mahal, now of Raw.
Hardy counters a Gut Buster for a near-fall. Hardy apparently misses a Whisper in the Wind, but it looks like he was supposed to hit it, because Mahal, awkwardly, sells another near-fall.
Hardy escapes the Khallas, hits a Swanton Bomb, gets the 1-2-3 to retain.
Winner: Jeff Hardy in 6:10
Analysis: Both can do more, a lot more.
Sort of a halftime show. Featuring Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Booker T and Byron Saxton. Backstage interviews with Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan among the highlights.
Smackdown Tag Team Title Match: The Usos vs. The Bludgeon Brothers
The Bludgeon Brothers defend against former champs The Usos.
Match was basically a squash. Bludgeons get the quick 1-2-3.
Winners: Bludgeon Brothers in 5:05
Analysis: Pacing felt like a Tuesday Smackdown match.
Intercontinental Title Match: Seth Rollins vs. The Miz vs. Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe (Ladder Match)
Holy crap, yeah. A great cast of characters in a gimmick match that should be a show-stealer.
Skull-Crushing Finale from Miz to Joe on a ladder. Miz and Rollins fight on the ladder to grab for the belt. Then Balor joins the fray. Miz dominating heading into the final phases.
Balor delivers a Coup de Grace to Miz, who was laid out on a ladder. Balor, about to win the title at the top of the ladder, is beaten to the punch by Rollins, who leapt onto an upper rung on the ladder from the top rope, to retain.
Winner: Seth Rollins in 15:05
Analysis: Plenty of high spots, near-finishes, highlight-reel action, with a memorable finish.
In-Ring Segment: Four top performers at WWE Saudi Arabia tryouts
Highlight package precedes the introduction of four top performers from WWE tryouts held in Saudi Arabia this week. Interrupted by Sean Daivari and his brother, Ariya, who come to the ring waving Iranian flags.
Uh, oh. International incident?
Nice setup to put the Saudi kids over.
WWE Title Match: A.J. Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Rematch from WrestleMania 34. Nakamura now as a heel. The heel turn adds a lot to this matchup. The ‘Mania match, face vs. face, fell flat.
After early trading, Nakamura has Styles in position for a Kinshasa, but Styles, as he did at ‘Mania, reverses into a Calf Crusher.
Nakamura is now selling the leg as he regains the advantage.
More trading, as the crowd audibly gets into the action. Nakamura works to get Styles into an arm-bar, but Styles escapes.
Styles sets up for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Nakamura steps out of the way, and with the referee’s back turned, Nakamura hits Styles with a low blow. Near-fall: Styles gets a hand on the rope.
Nakamura in position for another Kinshasa, but Styles counters with a dropkick.
Action goes outside the ring. Ref counts to 10, calls for the bell. Double-countout.
Winner: Double-countout, allows Styles to retain, in 14:25
Analysis: House-show finish mars an otherwise solid match.
Casket Match: The Undertaker vs. Rusev
Not expecting much from ‘Taker after he was limited to a bump-free squash match with John Cena at WrestleMania 34.
Local crowd not so much into Aiden English and Rusev Day. Clearly more interested in Undertaker.
Rusev doing a great job selling his sheer fear of being in a Casket Match with Undertaker.
Old School Time as ‘Taker walks the ropes with Rusev in an arm bar before delivering a smash. Then a classic leg drop on Rusev on the ring apron.
‘Taker rolls Rusev into the casket, but Aiden English blocks the effort, and Rusev escapes.
Machka Kick from Rusev to regain the advantage. Undertaker regains the edge after the two trade blows in the middle of the ring.
Now Rusev has the advantage after hitting ‘Taker with a spinning heel kick. He gets Undertaker into The Accolade. ‘Taker sells being out, but sits up, goes for a chokeslam, Rusev escapes, then ‘Taker completes a chokeslam after an exchange.
Undertaker throws Rusev into the casket. English interferes, is chokeslammed for his efforts, then is victim to a Tombstone Piledriver.
English is rolled into the casket with Rusev. Undertaker closes the lid to get the win.
Winner: Undertaker in 15:34
Analysis: Much better performance from ‘Taker than what we had seen at WrestleMania. Good back and forth. For a brief second, you might have had the feeling that Rusev would get the win. A brief second is more than I had expected.
Universal Title Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (Steel Cage)
Does Roman Reigns finally get over on Brock Lesnar?
Couple of key stats: Roman Reigns has never beaten Brock Lesnar. Brock Lesnar has never lost a steel-cage match.
A trio of German suplexes from Lesnar to get us started.
Four Germans, and now an F-5.
Reigns escapes a second F-5, hits Lesnar with three Superman punches. Reigns attempts to escape over the top of the cage for the win and the title. Lesnar catches up, keeps Reigns in, and now it’s Lesnar climbing the cage.
Reigns power-bombs Lesnar from the top rope. Lesnar is woozy. Reigns bounces Lesnar off the cage once, twice, three times. Then Reigns hits Lesnar with a spear.
A second spear. A third spear. Near-fall.
Reigns asks for the door to be opened. Paul Heyman slams the door on Reigns’ head. Lesnar with a power slam. Near-fall.
Heyman throws a chair into the ring. Lesnar swings, misses, Reigns a fourth spear, another near-fall.
Reigns has the chair, peppers Lesnar with chair shots to the body. Another Superman punch.
Reigns spears Lesnar through the cage. Lesnar hit the floor first, so he retains.
Winner: Brock Lesnar in 9:15
Analysis: Not normally a fan of what feels like a Dusty Finish. But here, it works. Reigns is still frustrated in not being able to beat Lesnar.
The Greatest Royal Rumble Match
Fifty guys. Be prepared for the surprise entrants.
First two entrants: Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler.
Entrant #3: Sin Cara. Eliminated by Ziggler.
Entrant #4: Curtis Axel.
Entrant #5 Mark Henry eliminates Curtis Axel. Entrant #6: Mike Kanellis.
Kanellis eliminated in a Royal Rumble-record one second.
Entrant #7: Hiroki Sumi. Sumi eliminated by Henry, who is eliminated by Ziggler.
Entrant #8: Viktor from The Ascension. Eliminated by Daniel Bryan. Entrant #9: Kofi Kingston.
Entrant #10: Tony Nese. Entrant #11: Dash Wilder.
Entrant #12: Hornswoggle. Who eliminates Dash Wilder. And then does a Swoggle Drop on Kofi Kingston. And then is eliminated by Tony Nese.
Entrant #13: Primo. Entrant #14: Xavier Woods.
New Day eliminates Tony Nese.
Entrant #15: Bo Dallas. Entrant #16: Kurt Angle.
Angle serenaded by “You suck!” chants during his entrance. Then eliminates Bo Dallas, Primo and Dolph Ziggler.
Entrant #17: Scott Dawson. Entrant #18: Goldust. In his 13th Royal Rumble. Second-most all-time.
Entrant #19: Konnor from The Ascension. Entrant #20: Elias. On the Elias World Tour.
Elias eliminates Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Konnor.
Entrant #21: Luke Gallows. Elias eliminates Kurt Angle. Entrant #22: Rhyno.
Entrant #23: Drew Gulak. Entrant #24: Tucker Knight (of Heavy Machinery). Who eliminates Gulak.
Entrant #25: Bobby Roode. Who eliminates Goldust. And Scott Dawson.
Entrant #26: Fandango. Entrant #27: Chad Gable. Entrant #28: Rey Mysterio.
Mysterio eliminates Luke Gallows.
Entrant #29: Mojo Rawley. Who eliminates Fandango.
Entrant #30: Tyler Breeze. Eliminated by Mojo Rawley.
Entrant #31: Big E. Who eliminates Tucker Knight. In a flurry of pancakes.
Entrant #32: Karl Anderson. Entrant #33: Apollo Crews. Who eliminates Chad Gables.
Entrant #34: Roderick Strong. Who delivers a plethora of backbreakers. Rhyno eliminated.
Entrant #35: Randy Orton. Who RKOs Apollo Crews out of nowhere, then eliminates Crews, Rawley.
Entrant #36: Heath Slater. Entrant #37: Babatunde. Entrant #38: Baron Corbin.
Bobby Roode eliminated. Roderick Strong eliminated. Entrant #39: Titus O’Neil.
Entrant #40: Dan Matha. Entrant #41: Braun Strowman. Who eliminates Babatunde and Dan Stratha. And Big E. And Heath Slater.
Entrant #42: Tye Dillinger. Strowman eliminates Titus O’Neil. And Dillinger. Mysterio eliminated by Corbin, who eliminates Orton, Elias eliminates Corbin.
Entrant #43: Curt Hawkins. Eliminated by Strowman.
Entrant #44: Bobby Lashley. Who eliminates Elias.
Entrant #45: Great Khali. Eliminated by Strowman and Lashley.
Entrant #46: Kevin Owens. Entrant #47: Shane McMahon.
Entrant #48: Shelton Benjamin. Entrant #49: Big Cass.
Entrant #50: Chris Jericho.
Jericho eliminates Shelton Benjamin. Bobby Lashley botches a vertical suplex on Big Cass, who appears legit hurt.
Braun Strowman throws Shane McMahon from the top rope through a ringside table.
Strowman eliminates Lashley, Owens. Big Cass returns to eliminate Daniel Bryan. Down to Cass and Strowman.
Braun Strowman eliminates Big Cass, to win the Greatest Royal Rumble.