WWE Greatest Royal Rumble

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WWE Greatest Royal Rumble
WWE Greatest Royal Rumble Official Poster.jpg
Promotional poster featuring various WWE wrestlers
PromotionWWE
Brand(s)Raw
SmackDown
DateApril 27, 2018
CityJeddah, Saudi Arabia
VenueKing Abdullah International Stadium
Attendance60,000[1]
Theme
song
(s)
"When Legends Rise" by Godsmack[2]
Sponsor(s)Saudi General Sports Authority
WWE Network event chronology
← Previous
WrestleMania 34
Next →
Backlash (2018)

WWE Greatest Royal Rumble[3] was a professional wrestling pay-per-view event[4] and WWE Network event[5][6] promoted by WWE for their Raw and SmackDown brands. The event was held on April 27, 2018 at the King Abdullah Sports City's King Abdullah International Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.[3][7] The event was scheduled for 7:00 p.m. local time. It aired live in the United States at noon EDT, with a pre-show starting at 11 a.m. EDT.[8] At the event, all men's main roster championships were defended, in addition to a 50-man Royal Rumble match.[9]

The card comprised ten matches. In the main event, Braun Strowman won the Greatest Royal Rumble match. On the undercard, Brock Lesnar retained the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns in a steel cage match, and the WWE Championship match between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura resulted in a double countout, The Undertaker defeated Rusev in a casket match, and John Cena defeated Triple H in the opening match.

Production[edit]

Background[edit]

Since 1988, the Royal Rumble has been an annual event held by WWE and is typically shown on pay-per-view.[10] The event is highlighted by the Royal Rumble match, a battle royal whose participants enter at timed intervals.[11] The Greatest Royal Rumble included the largest version of the match to date, having a total of 50 participants.

On March 5, 2018, WWE and the Saudi General Sports Authority advertised the Greatest Royal Rumble, a live event to be held on April 27, 2018, at King Abdullah International Stadium, part of the King Abdullah Sports City, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.[12][13] The event is a part of a 10-year strategic multi-platform partnership between WWE and the Saudi General Sports Authority in support of Saudi Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia's social and economic reform program.[3][14]

On March 19, 2018, WWE scheduled seven championship matches for the event: the WWE Championship, Universal Championship, United States Championship, Intercontinental Championship, SmackDown Tag Team Championship, Raw Tag Team Championship and Cruiserweight Championship were to be defended at the event.

As revealed on March 22, 2018, the event was streamed live on the WWE Network.[6] It also aired on traditional pay-per-view in the United States[15] and internationally.[4] The event was also the first WWE pay-per-view with Arabic commentary.[16]

In the weeks leading up to the event, the WWE held tryouts in Saudi Arabia. From these tryouts, eight were selected to receive training by WWE, which would include an opportunity to earn a spot at the Greatest Royal Rumble event itself.[17]

Storylines[edit]

The card comprised ten matches that resulted from scripted storylines, where wrestlers portrayed villains, heroes, or less distinguishable characters in scripted events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches, with results predetermined by WWE's writers on the Raw and SmackDown brands.[18][19] Storylines were produced on WWE's weekly television shows, Monday Night Raw, SmackDown Live,[20] and the cruiserweight-exclusive 205 Live.[21]

On April 9, Brock Lesnar, who had renewed his WWE contract, was scheduled to defend the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns in a steel cage match as a rematch from WrestleMania 34.[22][23] On the Raw following WrestleMania, Reigns expressed frustration about not being told about his future matches and opponents, singling out the steel cage match with Lesnar. Reigns alleged that there was a conspiracy against him. Samoa Joe, who had been out with an injury since January, came out and warned Reigns that Lesnar would beat him again.[24]

On March 26, WWE scheduled a ladder match between then-champion The Miz, Seth Rollins, Finn Bálor, and Samoa Joe for the Intercontinental Championship.[25] At WrestleMania 34, The Miz lost the Intercontinental Championship to Rollins, thus making Rollins the defending champion.[26] Both Miz and Joe were traded to SmackDown while Rollins and Bálor remained on Raw.[27][28]

On March 26, Cesaro and Sheamus were scheduled to defend the Raw Tag Team Championship against The Hardy Boyz (Jeff and Matt Hardy).[25] At WrestleMania 34, however, Cesaro and Sheamus lost the titles to Braun Strowman and 10-year-old Nicholas.[26] The following night on Raw, Strowman and Nicholas relinquished the titles due to Nicholas being a fourth grader. Cesaro and Sheamus demanded their titles back, but Raw General Manager Kurt Angle instead scheduled them to face the winner of the four-team Tag Team Eliminator tournament for the vacant titles at the Greatest Royal Rumble.[24] "Woken" Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt won the tournament by defeating Titus Worldwide (Apollo Crews and Titus O'Neil) and The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson).[27] Cesaro and Sheamus were then traded to SmackDown during the Superstar Shake-up.[28]

At WrestleMania 34, The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan) defeated The Usos (Jey and Jimmy Uso) and The New Day's Big E and Kofi Kingston in a triple threat tag team match to win the SmackDown Tag Team Championship.[26] On the following SmackDown, The Usos defeated The New Day to earn a title match at Greatest Royal Rumble.[29]

A match between John Cena and Triple H was scheduled on March 26.[25]

The Undertaker was originally scheduled to face Rusev in a casket match, the first match of its kind in three years.[30] Due to reasons not entirely clear, Rusev was temporarily replaced by Chris Jericho[31] — this was explained with Rusev's wife Lana complaining about her husband competing in a casket match[32] — but eventually reinserted back into the match. Jericho was restored to his original participation in the Greatest Royal Rumble match.[33]

At WrestleMania 34, Jinder Mahal defeated Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, and Rusev in a fatal-four-way match to win the United States Championship.[26] Mahal was then traded to Raw and lost the championship to Jeff Hardy and Mahal invoked his rematch clause for the Greatest Royal Rumble.[27] Hardy was then traded to SmackDown the following night.[28]

At WrestleMania 34, AJ Styles successfully defended the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura. After the match, Nakamura showed his respect to Styles but then attacked him with a low blow and a Kinshasa, turning heel.[26] On April 17, after repeated attacks on Styles by Nakamura, a rematch between the two was scheduled for the Greatest Royal Rumble.[28]

On the WrestleMania 34 pre-show, Cedric Alexander defeated Mustafa Ali in the WWE Cruiserweight Championship tournament final to win the vacant title.[34] Two nights later on 205 Live, Buddy Murphy attacked the new champion during his celebration.[35] Murphy was then scheduled to face Alexander for the title at the Greatest Royal Rumble, but he failed his mandatory weigh-in when he weighed 207 pounds, 2 pounds over the 205 pound weight limit. He was then removed from the match and banned from competing on 205 Live until he met the weight requirement.[36] The following week, Kalisto earned a Cruiserweight Championship match at the Greatest Royal Rumble by winning a gauntlet match.[37]

Event[edit]

Preliminary matches[edit]

Other on-screen personnel
Role: Name:
English commentators Michael Cole
Corey Graves
Byron Saxton
Spanish commentators Carlos Cabrera
Marcelo Rodríguez
Arabic commentators Faisal Almughaisib
Sultan Alharbi
Jude Aldajani
Ring announcer Greg Hamilton
Referees Danilo Anfibio
Jason Ayers
John Cone
Dan Engler
Darrick Moore
Chad Patton
Ryan Tran
Interviewer Mike Rome
Pre-show panel Byron Saxton
Jerry Lawler
Jim Ross
Booker T

The actual pay-per-view opened with John Cena facing Triple H. During the match, Cena performed an Attitude Adjustment on Triple H for a near-fall. Cena attempted another Attitude Adjustment but Triple H countered into a Pedigree for a near-fall. In the end, Cena performed a second Attitude Adjustment on Triple H, a catapult into the corner, and a third Attitude Adjustment to pick up the victory. Following the match, Cena thanked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their hospitality, and expressed excitement over the event.[38]

In the following match, Cedric Alexander defended the Cruiserweight Championship against Kalisto. The match ended when Alexander countered a Salida Del Sol attempt into a Lumbar Check to retain the title.[38]

Next, the vacant Raw Tag Team Championship was contested between the team of Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy and the former champions, Cesaro and Sheamus. In the end, Hardy distracted Sheamus, allowing Wyatt to perform a Sister Abigail on him. Hardy and Wyatt then performed a wheelbarrow Twist of Fate on Sheamus to win the titled.[38]

Jeff Hardy then defended the United States Championship against Jinder Mahal. Hardy performed a Swanton Bomb on Mahal to retain the title.[38]

After that, The Bludgeon Brothers defended the SmackDown Tag Team Championship against The Usos. Harper and Rowan retained the titles after performing The Reckoning on Jimmy Uso.[38]

Next, Seth Rollins defended the Intercontinental Championship against Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and The Miz in a Ladder match. Near the end of the match, Balor attempted to retrieve the title, only for Rollins to springboard onto the ladder and retrieve the title belt, thus retaining the championship.[38]

In a segment between matches, four prospects from the recent Saudi tryouts came out to the ring to introduce themselves. Cruiserweight Ariya Daivari and his brother Shawn Daivari, who had not appeared for WWE in many years, came out to interrupt them. The Saudi prospects attacked and cleared the Daivari brothers from the ring.[38]

Later, AJ Styles defended the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura. During the match, Nakamura resorted to various illegal tactics, such as a low blow, increasingly frustrating Styles. In the end, both Nakamura and Styles fought outside of the ring, only for the match to end in a double countout. After the match, Styles performed a Phenomenal Forearm to the floor on Nakamura.[38]

After that, The Undertaker fought Rusev (who was accompanied by Aiden English) in a Casket match. At the end of the match, Undertaker performed a chokeslam on Rusev and rolled him into the casket. Before he could close the lid, English attacked the Undertaker, who retaliated with another chokeslam and a Tombstone Piledriver before putting English into the casket alongside Rusev and closing it for the victory.[38]

In the penultimate match, Brock Lesnar (accompanied by Paul Heyman) defended the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns in a steel cage match. Reigns performed three spears on Lesnar for a near-fall. As Reigns tried to escape through the door, Heyman pushed the door into Reigns, allowing Lesnar to execute an F5 on Reigns for a near-fall. In the end, Reigns performed a Spear through the cage wall on Lesnar. Despite Reigns touching the floor first, the referee awarded the win to Lesnar, thereby retaining the Universal Championship.[38]

Main event[edit]

Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler began the 50-man Royal Rumble match as the first two entrants. Bryan survived until the final three, beating Rey Mysterio for the longest time spent in a single Royal Rumble match of all time at an hour and sixteen minutes. In the end, Big Cass eliminated Bryan and attempted a big boot on Braun Strowman, who countered and eliminated Cass to win the match. Strowman also achieved the most eliminations of a single Royal Rumble match at 13, beating out a record previously held by Roman Reigns with 12.[39] Post-match, Strowman received a trophy and a green championship belt.[38]

Controversy[edit]

WWE had been criticized for holding the event without female wrestlers, who were unable to perform at the event due to the limited rights women have in Saudi Arabia.[40][41] Triple H, WWE's Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative, responded to the criticism: "I understand that people are questioning it, but you have to understand that every culture is different and just because you don’t agree with a certain aspect of it, it doesn’t mean it’s not a relevant culture...You can’t dictate to a country or a religion about how they handle things but, having said that, WWE is at the forefront of a women’s evolution in the world and what you can’t do is effect change anywhere by staying away from it....While women are not competing in the event, we have had discussions about that and hope that, in the next few years they will be".[40] Women were in attendance for the event, though only if accompanied by a male guardian.[40] This was a major change from previous events, which were only open to men. Associated Press noted that this is due to "a series of social changes" by the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.[42] During the event, WWE aired a promotional video, which included WWE female wrestlers. The Saudi General Sports Authority issued an apology for "indecent material" that aired at the event.[43]

In addition to the women, wrestler Sami Zayn did not participate in the event as Zayn is of Syrian descent, and Saudi Arabia has strained relations with Syria. On the Raw after the event, a storyline excuse was given in where Sami was suffering from vertigo given to him by Bobby Lashley and therefore couldn’t compete.[44]

Another subject of criticism was the situation of LGBT rights in Saudi Arabia, as in Saudi Arabia homosexual intercourse is illegal and can be punished by death.[45]

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a militant group offshoot of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, issued a warning to bin Salman and criticized the WWE event stating that "Disbelieving wrestlers exposed their privates and on most of them was the sign of the cross, in front of a mixed gathering of young Muslim men and women. The corruptors did not stop at that, for every night musical concerts are being announced, as well as movies and circus shows."[46][47]

Results[edit]

No. Results Stipulations Times[38]
1 John Cena defeated Triple H Singles match[48] 15:45
2 Cedric Alexander (c) defeated Kalisto Singles match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship[49] 10:15
3 Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy defeated Cesaro and Sheamus Tag team match for the vacant WWE Raw Tag Team Championship[50] 8:50
4 Jeff Hardy (c) defeated Jinder Mahal (with Sunil Singh) Singles match for the WWE United States Championship[51] 6:10
5 The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan) (c) defeated The Usos (Jey and Jimmy Uso) Tag team match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship[52] 5:05
6 Seth Rollins (c) defeated Finn Bálor, Samoa Joe, and The Miz Ladder match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship[53] 15:05
7 AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura ended in a double countout Singles match for the WWE Championship[54] 14:25
8 The Undertaker defeated Rusev (with Aiden English) Casket match[55] 9:40
9 Brock Lesnar (c) (with Paul Heyman) defeated Roman Reigns by escaping the cage Steel Cage match for the WWE Universal Championship[56] 9:15
10 Braun Strowman won by last eliminating Big Cass 50-man Greatest Royal Rumble match for the WWE Greatest Royal Rumble Championship[57] 1:17:20
  • (c) – refers to the champion(s) heading into the match

Tag Team Eliminator bracket[edit]

  First Round
Raw (4/9)
    Finals
Raw (4/16)
    Championship Match
Greatest Royal Rumble (4/27)
                           
  The Revival
(Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson)
Pin[24]  
  Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows 3:35         Cesaro and Sheamus 8:50
          The Revival 5:25       Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy Pin[38]
          Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy Pin[27]  
  Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy Pin[24]    
  Titus Worldwide
(Apollo Crews and Titus O'Neil)
5:07  

Greatest Royal Rumble match entrances and eliminations[edit]

     – Raw
     – SmackDown
     – NXT
     – Free agent
     – Winner
Draw Entrant Brand Order Eliminated by Time[58] Elimination(s)
1 Daniel Bryan SmackDown 48 Big Cass 1:16:05 3
2 Dolph Ziggler Raw 12 Kurt Angle 21:44 2
3 Sin Cara SmackDown 1 Dolph Ziggler 01:18 0
4 Curtis Axel Raw 2 Mark Henry 02:00 0
5 Mark Henry Free agent 5 Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler 03:27 3
6 Mike Kanellis Raw 3 Mark Henry 00:03 0
7 Hiroki Sumi Free agent 4 Mark Henry 00:46 0
8 Viktor Raw 6 Daniel Bryan 00:51 0
9 Kofi Kingston SmackDown 14 Elias 16:34 1
10 Tony Nese Raw 9 Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods 07:13 1
11 Dash Wilder Raw 7 Daniel Bryan and Hornswoggle 01:26 0
12 Hornswoggle Free agent 8 Tony Nese 01:00 1
13 Primo Colón SmackDown 11 Kurt Angle 05:10 0
14 Xavier Woods SmackDown 15 Elias 09:56 1
15 Bo Dallas Raw 10 Kurt Angle 01:34 0
16 Kurt Angle Raw 16 Elias 07:59 3
17 Scott Dawson Raw 19 Bobby Roode 11:44 0
18 Goldust Raw 18 Bobby Roode 10:04 0
19 Konnor Raw 13 Elias 02:25 0
20 Elias Raw 41 Bobby Lashley 34:04 5
21 Luke Gallows SmackDown 20 Rey Mysterio 09:16 0
22 Rhyno Raw 25 Roderick Strong 16:22 0
23 Drew Gulak Raw 17 Tucker Knight 01:47 0
24 Tucker Knight NXT 23 Big E 10:08 1
25 Bobby Roode Raw 29 Baron Corbin 17:44 2
26 Fandango Raw 21 Mojo Rawley 03:42 0
27 Chad Gable Raw 24 Apollo Crews 08:17 0
28 Rey Mysterio Free agent 37 Baron Corbin 20:25 1
29 Mojo Rawley Raw 27 Randy Orton 08:52 2
30 Tyler Breeze Raw 22 Mojo Rawley 00:16 0
31 Big E SmackDown 33 Braun Strowman 13:59 1
32 Karl Anderson SmackDown 26 Randy Orton 04:25 0
33 Apollo Crews Raw 28 Randy Orton 03:26 1
34 Roderick Strong NXT 30 Baron Corbin 06:00 1
35 Randy Orton SmackDown 39 Elias 10:58 4
36 Heath Slater Raw 34 Braun Strowman 07:38 0
37 Babatunde NXT 31 Braun Strowman 05:53 0
38 Baron Corbin Raw 38 Randy Orton 07:08 3
39 Titus O'Neil Raw 35 Braun Strowman 04:42 0
40 Dan Matha NXT 32 Braun Strowman 02:01 0
41 Braun Strowman Raw Winner 22:14 13
42 Tye Dillinger SmackDown 36 Braun Strowman 00:29 0
43 Curt Hawkins Raw 40 Braun Strowman 00:20 0
44 Bobby Lashley Raw 45 Braun Strowman 14:38 2
45 The Great Khali Free agent 42 Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley 00:31 0
46 Kevin Owens Raw 47 Braun Strowman 10:43 0
47 Shane McMahon SmackDown 44 Braun Strowman 08:07 0
48 Shelton Benjamin SmackDown 43 Chris Jericho 04:23 0
49 Big Cass SmackDown 49 Braun Strowman 07:23 1
50 Chris Jericho SmackDown 46 Braun Strowman 03:18 1

Championship belt[edit]

At the conclusion of the Greatest Royal Rumble, Braun Strowman was awarded a trophy and a championship title. The role of this Greatest Royal Rumble Championship, however remains unclear. According to The Sportster, "the likelihood is that nothing that took place in the main event will have any effect on anything once WWE arrives back in the United States and resume normal service."[59] Thus far, the belt has not reappeared on WWE programs.

The base design is similar to the current design of the WWE Championship, with some differences.[60] Instead of a large cut out of the WWE logo, the center plate is modeled with an Arabic pattern with the WWE logo in the center. Like the WWE Championship belt and other belts introduced in 2016 and 2017, the Greatest Royal Rumble Championship belt contains two side plates, both separated by gold divider bars, with removable round sections that can be replaced with the current champion's logo; the default plates show the official logo of Saudi General Sports Authority, which is identical to the national emblem of Saudi Arabia. The plates are on a green leather strap resembling the color of the national flag of Saudi Arabia.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  60. ^ "Superstars".

External links[edit]