WWE Greatest Royal Rumble Results: Reviewing Top Highlights and Low Points
WWE is no stranger to hyperbole and hyping everything to be the biggest and best thing ever just to get fans excited about what's coming next, but to go the extra mile to call a pay-per-view the Greatest Royal Rumble felt like it was a step over the line.
Following the announcement of that random extra event scheduled for Saudi Arabia, Friday's card started to fill and the lineup quickly began at least trying to live up to the name.
Every single championship would be defended, save for the Raw and SmackDown women's titles. John Cena would face Triple H for the first time in years. Brock Lesnar would be sticking around to fight Roman Reigns in a steel cage. The Undertaker would fight again—and in a casket match no less. A Fatal 4-Way ladder match was on the card, and for the first time ever, a Royal Rumble with 50 men would transpire.
That was quite the menu, yet all the potential in the world doesn't guarantee success, and even the best-looking events can still be duds.
Now that the Greatest Royal Rumble is in the books, it's time for us to pinpoint the major positives and disappointing negatives of the night.
Presented in order of appearance, here are the standout segments of the event, for better or worse.
Match Results Breakdown
Before getting into the specific segments that stood out among the rest, let's just quickly recap what transpired for those who need some perspective of how this event went down.
- A 60-minute pre-show previewed the card.
- John Cena defeated Triple H by pinfall.
- Cedric Alexander retained the Cruiserweight Championship against Kalisto by pinfall.
- Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt defeated The Bar by pinfall to win the vacated Raw Tag Team Championship.
- Jeff Hardy retained the United States Championship against Jinder Mahal by pinfall.
- An intermission shined a spotlight on Saudi Arabia in general and its attempts to use events like this to further advance its status in the eyes of the world.
- The Bludgeon Brothers retained the SmackDown Tag Team Championship against The Usos by pinfall.
- Seth Rollins retained the Intercontinental Championship over Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and The Miz in a ladder match.
- Four prospects from the recent tryouts in Saudi Arabia were profiled and had a chance to celebrate in the ring. A returning Shawn Daivari accompanied his brother, Ariya Daivari, to interrupt the proceedings, but both were sent off by the recruits.
- AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura fought to a draw as both were counted out in their WWE Championship match.
- The Undertaker defeated Rusev in their casket match.
- Brock Lesnar retained the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns in a steel cage match after Reigns speared him through the cage.
- Strowman won the 50-man Royal Rumble.
Now, let's take a look at some of the finer details.
Low Point: Kickoff Pre-Show
It's rare for a regular pay-per-view pre-show to be anything but a chore to sit through, as they are between one and two hours of primarily nothing but video packages recycling the same footage we've seen for weeks or months.
At the very least, there is usually at least one match that could be interesting, as a nice break from all the talking, but that wasn't the case here.
For 60 solid minutes, Byron Saxton, Jerry "The King" Lawler and Booker T sat down and discussed the matches on the card.
Normally, this can be written off as a good thing if you're the type of person who needs to be caught up on what's going on—even though the argument could be made that you're doing yourself a disservice by not just watching the shows that set this up for real—but with such a random card like this, it wasn't necessary.
If you were already sick and tired of hearing "When Legends Rise" by Godsmack, you were also in for a rough time, as it played almost constantly for this hour.
Basically, if you skipped this, you missed nothing and almost assuredly utilized your time for something better and more useful.
Highlight: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt Win the Raw Tag Team Championship
To be perfectly frank, this isn't a positive in the sense that it's amazing that Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy are the new champions, nor was the match all that impressive.
Instead, this is a highlight simply because of what didn't happen.
WWE has been booking matches in such an erratic fashion lately that it was legitimately possible the creative team could have gone with a win by The Bar instead just to have the intrigue of a SmackDown tag team holding the Raw Tag Team Championship.
Then, the titles could have changed hands once more next week at Backlash in order to get the belts back on Raw.
The fact that WWE didn't opt to go this route was a relief and, hopefully, a sign things will start going back to normal.
Low Point: Jeff Hardy vs. Jinder Mahal for the United States Championship
The only moment of this entire match that stood out was also, unfortunately, a terrible botch.
Jeff Hardy's attempt at a Whisper in the Wind was completely avoided by Jinder Mahal, either because he was supposed to dodge it or because Mahal entirely neglected to catch Hardy.
What followed was a confusing lag wherein during the delay, Mahal decided to just fall backward anyway, despite the lack of a connection.
Everything before that point and everything that followed was utterly forgettable, and it seemed like both men were just not up to a better performance.
Low Point: Intermission
Putting aside any discussion on politics, culture, religion or anything else controversial, a low point of this event on a functional side of things was the intermission.
The reason why is due to one factor: pacing.
If you watched the pre-show, you had to sit through an hour of talking and Godsmack already, so for the action to come to a halt for a video package promoting Saudi Arabia itself and then another preview of the matches to come was a mood killer.
Yes, you could have used this as a bathroom break or to get some food or anything like that, but a forced time frame where nothing is going on is just flat-out boring to watch.
Even the interview with Chris Jericho was uninspired and felt like a rehash of the things he used to do really well in the past, so what could have been the only saving grace was still a disappointment.
Low Point: SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match
At WrestleMania 34, The Bludgeon Brothers won a rather short and dominant match to take the SmackDown Tag Team Championship away from The Usos.
Following that underwhelming performance, this was a chance to show they could have as good a match together as what The Usos have had with The New Day, but that didn't come to pass.
Instead, this was virtually the same thing we've been seeing for months, where it was not much more than a squash.
Following the low energy of the previous segments, it didn't help to boost the atmosphere's electricity to see something so bland as Harper and Rowan tossing Jimmy and Jey Uso around for a few minutes with no heat.
Highlight: Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship
This match was a much-needed shot of adrenaline at a point in the card where things required a turn for the better.
Going into this event, this was one of the matches that had the most potential on paper, so it isn't too surprising that these four men were able to pull off something fun.
In particular, the end of the match was rather neat with Seth Rollins quickly getting the jump on Finn Balor, leaping onto the ladder from the ropes to snatch the title and retain it.
It's good to see that the Intercontinental Championship is in safe hands with Monday Night Rollins, who should be able to continue to defend the title with the same ferocity The Miz had beforehand.
Low Point: No-Contest in WWE Championship Match
Whenever a pay-per-view match has a draw or a lack of a finish in some fashion, it had better be for a good reason, as those are sometimes intolerable even on a regular episode of Raw or SmackDown.
In this case, it's hard to imagine that this was done for any reason other than stalling for Backlash next week.
WWE booked the Greatest Royal Rumble fresh off the heels of WrestleMania and the Superstar Shake-up, knowing Backlash was coming on May 6. The result was a cramped schedule that would create a situation like this.
That still isn't an excuse to set up a rematch from WrestleMania just to line up a third match between the two, which, if Shinsuke Nakamura is victorious in winning the title, will probably result in a fourth at Money in the Bank in June.
Perhaps it would have been better for AJ Styles to take on and beat a different opponent here, allowing Nakamura to interfere afterward in order to get another title shot, rather than just having a non-finish.
50-Man Royal Rumble Breakdown
Clocking in at over an hour with 50 Superstars in the mix, the Royal Rumble match simply has too much content to narrow it down to just a simple thumbs up or thumbs down, so here is a breakdown of the highs and lows of this long segment.
- It was good to see Mark Henry and see him eliminate Hiroki Sumi, instead of being the one to take the loss in that scenario.
- Kofi Kingston's saves are always fun to see in every Royal Rumble.
- While Rey Mysterio's participation wasn't as impactful as his previous Royal Rumble entrance earlier this year, he was still a welcome addition.
- Any time people from 205 Live and NXT are given a bit of the spotlight, it's a good thing for those brands. Tony Nese, Drew Gulak, Tucker Knight, Roderick Strong, Babatunde and Dan Matha seem like an odd group to pick, but that's not problematic.
- Braun Strowman throwing Shane McMahon through the table for an elimination was a cool spot.
- Daniel Bryan breaking Rey Mysterio's longest single Royal Rumble time stretch was impressive.
- Braun Strowman's victory was a necessity, and having him break the record for most eliminations was an extra feather in his cap.
- Did we really need a Hornswoggle return?
- The crowd didn't seem to really care about anybody but the absolute biggest names.
- There's always an argument to be made that certain people should have lasted longer than they did, depending on who your favorites are.
- Here and there, some botches took place, like Bobby Lashley dropping Elias and Big Cass awkwardly.
This was a glorified house show in many regards, but at least the titular main event lived up to the hype.
What do you think are the highlights and low points of this event? How would you rank the elements not mentioned on this specific list?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.