John Cena def. Triple H
Who would have ever imagined that the main events for WrestleMania 22 and Night of Champions 2008 would kick off a super show like this? I did think it was wise to open the evening with Cena and HHH, though, because they're still two of the most notable ames in the entire company and it set a nice tone for the remainder for the evening. The match started out slow, as expected, but it turned into a fun special attraction with a big fight feel in the second half with the crowd hot for everything they did. Neither of these men necessarily needed the victory, but considering this was basically a televised house show, I can't say I was shocked Cena took home the win.
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Cedric Alexander def. Kalisto
These two had never clashed one-on-one prior to this point, so despite not having that previously established chemistry together, this was a very well-wrestled match. It's a shame the crowd was as quiet for the contest as they were (aside from some of the high spots), but most people in the audience likely have no idea who either of these guys are. That said, I personally thought it was a blast and Alexander retaining his title was the right choice.
"Woken" Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt def. Sheamus and Cesaro to Win the Raw Tag Team Championship
As a match, this was fairly formulaic, but it was cool to see the crowd so receptive to Hardy and Wyatt. They have a great thing going and I hope WWE runs with them as a tandem for as long as possible. I think the outcome of this outing being so predictable probably hurt it because there was no way a team from SmackDown Live was winning the Raw tag titles, but I am looking forward to seeing Hardy and Wyatt at the helm of Raw's tag team division for the foreseeable future.
United States Champion Jeff Hardy def. Jinder Mahal
I liked their match on Raw last week, so I was disappointed this wasn't nearly good. I figured it wouldn't be anything too special on such a stacked card, but this was an embarrassing effort from both men with that Whisper in the Wind spot being especially atrocious. Mahal took a delayed bump despite Hardy not making contact with him whatsoever. If nothing else, Hardy held onto the gold, and that's all that matters.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bludgeon Brothers def. The Usos
I found the Triple Threat tag team match at WrestleMania 34 with The Bludgeon Brothers, The Usos and The New Day to be largely underwhelming, so I was hoping for a much better bout here. Unfortunately, this was more of the same. I understood what they were going for with Harper and Rowan continuing to dominate and being put over strong, but it actually made The Usos look weak as well. Please let this program be done with for The Usos' sake.
Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins def. Finn Balor, The Miz and Samoa Joe in a Fatal 4-Way Ladder Match
Joe was a random addition to this Ladder match because he hasn't feuded with any of these men since at least last year, but he had a solid showing and I was happy he was a part of it. The same can be said for the other three men as well because they all worked well together and produced a nice Ladder matchup. It didn't have anything on the one from NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, mind you, but I enjoyed it for what it was.
Four WWE prospects from Saudi Arabia ejected Shawn and Ariya Daivari from the ring
WWE has been holding tryouts in Saudi Arabia all week, so this was their way of giving the finalists some exposure and some hometown love in addition to bringing down the crowd following the Ladder match. As I've noted countless times in the past, Ariya does nothing for me, but his brother Shawn showing up with him was a nice touch. Other than that, this segment can be skipped over.
WWE Champion AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura Ended in a Double Count-out
This feud has been much more compelling since Nakamura's heel turn at WrestleMania, yet I didn't think the time was right for them to go all out and deliver the instant classic we know they're capable of. Sure enough, this was merely a placeholder in the program due to the flat finish with both men getting counted out, but the matchup was going smoothly prior to that point. I still feel they can top themselves in their rematch at Backlash.
The Undertaker def. Rusev in a Casket Match
I had zero expectations for this outing considering it was a Casket match with zero buildup, but as a basic showcase for Undertaker, it served its purpose. More importantly, the crowd ate it up. I laughed when I saw people refer to this as a burial of Rusev because, well, can he really be buried any further than he already has? He got to wrestle Undertaker. Enough said. As for Undertaker, I fear this is the only type of match he can compete in at this stage of his career. No, not Casket matches, but rather matches where he hits his signature spots and that's all. I wish he would have retired while he was at the top of his in-ring game, but oh well.
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar def. Roman Reigns in a Steel Cage Match
The steel cage worked to their benefit because it prevented them from working a plodding match and wasting time like at WrestleMania. This was a significant upgrade over that. It wasn't outright amazing, because there was only so much they could do in nine minutes, but let's be honest: Lesnar matches lasting longer than ten minutes would apparently be asking too much of him. Anyway, Reigns spearing Reigns through the cage wall was a sweet visual, but unfortunately, it means the Universal title remains with Lesnar. Reigns has now lost twice to Lesnar. I'd ask why he deserves another shot at the strap, but we all know WWE will give him one, anyway.
Braun Strowman Won the 50-Man Greatest Royal Rumble Match to Become Greatest Royal Rumble Champion
Despite WWE billing this as the "Greatest Royal Rumble," it was far from one of the best Rumbles I've seen. However, it wasn't designed to be. They took a house show approach to this, and in that respect, it was a success. It went way too long, but that's what happens when you have 50 men in one match. Most of this consisted of jobber city, though the NXT call-ups were pleasant surprises, Rey Mysterio got to do his thing (when will he officially be offered a contract?!), and the final stretch was well done. Daniel Bryan's big Rumble win should be saved for next January when it would truly mean something, while Big Cass eliminating him was the perfect way to further their feud. Strowman should finally get some direction following this historic victory, but seeing is believing, I suppose.
When grading this event, you have to remember that this wasn't originally supposed to air on the WWE Network. Thus, anyone claiming that Greatest Royal Rumble was a "letdown" after the huge hype it received has be to kidding themselves, because it was essentially a house show that was taped for the Network, similar to Beast in the East or Roadblock 2016. I wouldn't re-watch the entire show as five hours is just too damn long, but Styles vs. Nakamura, Cena vs. HHH, the Cruiserweight title match, and the Ladder match are worth going out of your way to see, as well as Titus O'Neil's legendary botch during the Rumble. That will likely be remembered more than anything else from this event.
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