The Greatest Royal Fumble – A Recap and Reaction

This gigantic network special came to us from the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Let me just get right to it.  You know how there was criticism online that this was just going to be a giant house show/Saudi Arabian Prince party?  It was.  While I enjoyed watching most of it, nothing really mattered.  The best moment is right here:

TITUS WORLD SLIIIIIIDE!  It seriously might be the only great thing from a night filled with some nasty-looking botches and the potential the end of Roman’s push.  Seriously, Titus was trending on twitter higher than Daniel Bryan, who set a Royal Rumble record, and the show itself.

Let’s just get right to results:

  • John Cena defeated Triple H after three AAs.  This was actually a brilliant move starting with this.  It got the crowd hot and on their feet for 10 minutes of chain wrestling.  It was actually refreshing to see a slow build match like this.  Probably the real highlight was Cena having a couple dozen boys and girls lined up for his entrance wearing all his gear.  When done right, wrestling can bring us together, even in most conservative of countries.
  • WWE Cruiserweight Champion Cedric Alexander retained against Kalisto in what was arguably the best match of the night.  The crowd died done significantly, as they weren’t aware super aware of these two, but the Kalisto’s “lucha things” drew them back in.  Kalisto hit a beautiful Springboard Spanish Fly that actually made the spot look like a logical offensive maneuver.  It wouldn’t be enough, as Cedric would reverse the Salida del Sol to a Lumbar Check.
  • Woken Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt defeat The Bar to win the vacant Raw Tag Team Championship.  This was a fine match, nothing special.  Bray and Matt continue to work together as a team.  I actually think Bray hides Matt’s flaws in a way that Jeff doesn’t.  It’s kind of odd to me.  The Bar were stellar, as usual.  The Raw Tag Team Championship going to a team that’s actually on Raw makes sense.
  • Jeff Hardy retains against Jinder Mahal.  This match was terrible.  It did give us one terrible botch that was pretty harmless, all said and done.  Or maybe it was an homage?  The Great Khali is his mentor, after all.

  • We went back to the pre show panel during what ended up being a 20 minute prayer break.
  • The Bludgeon Brothers retained against the Usos.  It was longer than the Wrestlemania match at least.  For the record, I like the Bludgeon Brothers, but you’re not going to win anyone over with matches like these.
  • In what is probably tied for the best match of the night, Seth Rollins retained the Intercontinental Championship against The Miz, Finn Bálor, and Samoa Joe.  Joe looked like a monster.  Miz looked cowardly.  Finn almost pulled off the win but apparently Seth is Spiderman and just springboarded to the top of the ladder in a great and precise leap.
  • Greg Hamilton announced 4 WWE prospects.  They brought the Daivari brothers, of Persian heritage, to get that foreign heel heat.  This is pretty standard WWE fare here.  Just know that Mansoour is going to be a star.  You can tell by the short promo that he cut that he’s going to kill it as either a babyface of a smug heel.  Someone even called him “Rollins of Arabia” on reddit.
  • For the next botch of the night, WWE aired the BackLash promo featuring Carmella, Sasha Banks, and the rest of the women’s division.  The crowd was actually excited but it led to the Saudi Sports Commission issuing a statement that it would never happen again.
  • Nakamura Vs. AJ Styles ended in a Double Countout.  Shin got in another low blow when the ref’s back was turned. AJ lost it and didn’t care about the countout.  He wants revenge.
  • The Undertaker seals Rusev and Aiden English in a casket to secure victory.  Undertaker did work a longer match here and the crowd was super pumped for it.  It’s too bad he couldn’t have died all the red out of his hair or manage not to tombstone Aiden English on his head.  This was the worst botch of the night.

Never fear though!

  • Brock Lesnar retained against Roman Reigns after Roman speared Brock through the cage wall onto the floor.  Despite them mentioning numerous times that the winner of the match was determined by who’s feet hit first, Brock still won.  It’s kind of bullshit.
  • And the Greatest Royal Rumble.  This match was the equivalent of having to write a 50 page term paper but you only really have 20 pages.  What do you do?  You triple space all the lines.  You technically have 50 pages but no real substance.  There were a lot of mid-to-low card guys and not enough main eventers.  They should have had Triple H, Cena, and a few others pull double-duty that night.  What could have been an exciting Rumble turned into something that was just passable.  They did pop for Hornswoggle and Randy Orton though.  At least we got this:


What does it all mean?  It feels like this is the end of Roman’s push.  If he can’t win in front of a more receptive crowd, where can he win?  I think the plans need to change, Strowman has inexplicably become the company’s top babyface.  Give him the strap.  He could conceivably take down Brock.  Sure, he couldn’t do it at No Mercy, but he has momentum now and can learn from these past mistakes.

Will it ever be the right time for Roman?  I think if the Shield reunion didn’t fall apart, we’d have a different story right now.  I think you have to put Roman on the backburner again.  With the right feuds, he’s great but feuding with Brock Lesnar does him no favors.

Brock is doing the WWE no favors either.  I find it hard to believe he’s really bringing in that many eyeballs to the product.  He’s not the mainstream star that people think he is.

I think Taker should actually retire and stick to it.  That tombstone was too sloppy.  He needs to stop before he becomes a parody of himself.  No one except Shawn Michaels is going to deny a million dollar payday though.

And politics…sure, Saudi Arabia is moving in the right direction, but they have a long, long, long way to go.  They announced another show in Riyadh in November (possibly the Greatest Survivor Series or the Greatest Money in the Bank?).  How many shows before the women and some of the male superstars are allowed or feel welcome to attend.  It’s a little icky, really.  On the other hand, someone has to be the first.  Dave Meltzer believes that any wrestling company that was offered that sort of payday would have done it.  He’s probably right.

Let’s just hope women being allowed to drive finally and the other social changes rapidly accelerate and we see women and others feel welcomed and accepted before the end of that 12 year deal.