- Presented LIVE on the WWE Network on April 27th, 2018 from the King Abdullah International Stadium from the beautiful city of Jeddah in the wonderful Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where women have little rights, homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death, and yet their dirty oil money was tempting enough for WWE to sign up and put on a WrestleMania caliber show where their roster of women aren't allowed to compete. Probably a good bet we aren't getting Finn's "Balor Club is for Everyone" LGBT entrance, either, unless WWE wants to risk a lynching. Don't worry, I won't harp too much on how deplorable it was for WWE to sell-out, because it's wrestling. Since when have standards and decency ever been a thing, especially in business?
- Byron Saxton, Jerry "The King" Lawler, and Booker T (and a mid-show appearance from Jim Ross) make up the expert panel on the Kickoff Show. Tons of line flubs and forgetfulness throughout. I don't usually rag on the Kickoff Show stuff, but this one was obviously below par and didn't do that good of a job of hyping the show, as if a bunch of people were forced to put over a product in a country they don't respect.
Miz fights off both Rollins and Balor at the top of the ladder. Back breaker and neck breaker to Balor and a short DDT to Rollins. Miz uses the ladder to knock Rollins off the apron and onto the table. Balor knocks Miz onto the ladder and comes off the top with a Coup de Grace. Joe returns, only to eat a Pele Kick. He rips Balor off the ladder and hooks the Coquina Clutch, but Balor rolls through and hits another double stomp. Joe revives again, planting Balor with the uranage. Joe with his first climb attempt but Balor pushes him over. Rollins jumps in from out of nowhere and snatches victory from Balor's hands to retain at 14:35. That was out of nowhere, but a pleasant change from the usual Ladder Match finishes. Best match of the night, so far. Not much when it comes to creative spots, but a lot of good use of the ladder and everyone looking crisp. ****
- We get an in-ring segment celebrating some of the trainees at the latest Performance Center tryouts in Saudi Arabia. Ariya and SHAWN DAIVARI interrupt for some cultural uncomfortableness. They get worked over by the potential recruits in a segment that's a waste of my time.
Styles with elbows to escape a chin-lock. He flips out of an Exploder and connects with a sit-out face-plant. Styles with clotheslines, snap mare, and sliding forearm. Diving forearm in the corner followed by the Ushigoroshi for a near fall. Nakamura makes it to the ropes to block a Styles Clash attempt. Whip to the ropes is countered with a knee and Shinsuke with a spinning heel kick. Shinsuke slides in with knees to the side of the head, then plants Styles with a sit-out gourd buster. Nakamura sets up in the corner for the Kinshasa, but Styles counters with a roll-up for two. Styles with the Calf-Crusher, but Nakamura gets to the ropes. Styles goes for the leg again and gets caught with an enzuigiri. Nakamura meets a double boot in the corner but is aware enough to catch Styles trying to springboard in. He rests Styles across the top turnbuckle and hits the running knee lift for two. Nakamura positions Styles across the top rope and hits him with a roundhouse kick. Styles slides between the legs to avoid a Super-Plex and sweeps Nakamura off, dropping him face-first across the turnbuckle pad.
They trade forearms in the center of the ring. They each go through a big flurry of strikes until Nakamura goes for the cross arm-breaker. Styles counters, stacking Nakamura up for two. Styles with the Pele Kick. He sets up on the apron for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Nakamura ducks and hits him low blow behind the referee's back. Cover and Styles grabs the ropes at two. Kinshasa is countered with a diving forearm, knocking Nakamura out of the ring. Styles follows, tackling him over the Saudi announcer's table. Styles tosses him into the barricade as the referee counts both men out at 14:27. Styles keeps punishing Nakamura, clotheslining him over the barricade, into the time-keepers section. Nakamura bails out of the ring, so Styles hits him on the floor with a slingshot forearm. Better match than WrestleMania but with a worse finish to keep things alive for Backlash. ***1/2
#11 is Dash Wilder. This Rumble is starting to resemble 1995 when it comes to geek-to-star ratio. Wilder lays out Nese with a stomach buster. #12 is Hornswoggle. Aere you f#%&ing kidding me? Please tell me he's not eliminating someone. He pulls Wilder out at 14:38. WOW. He hits Kofi with Shin Music and hits a Little White Noise. Hornswoggle goes to the top and Dolph knocks him silly with a Super-Kick. Nese pulls him to his feet and hits him with a knee for the elimination at 15:46. THANK YOU. #13 is Primo. For such a hot location, there's no heat. Primo blows a spot in the ropes. Could be worse, I guess. Bryan with a Tornado DDT on Kofi. #14 is Xavier Woods. As if he'll work with Kofi to eliminate anyone. Kofi ends up on Woods back on the apron for our big tease. Kofi's starting to run out of ideas. Woods climbs the ropes, with Kofi still on his back. Kofi uses Woods as a platform to take out Primo, Dolph, and Bryan. Nese joins their celebration and this guy has upgraded to Super Geek. Woods and Kofi hoist him up and toss him at 19:20. #15 is Bo Dallas. Graves compares Bo looking for a career resurgence, like Tim Tebow joining the Mets. #16 is Kurt Angle. Finally, a star... from the early 2000's. He hits all the geeks with release German suplexes. Dallas is tossed at 21:24, and Primo at 21:27, both by Angle. Dolph charges and takes a belly-to-belly over the top at 21:44. #17 is Scott Dawson. The Revival have become so insignificant, I wrote his name as "Dawkins." SAD. #18 is Goldust. He plants Woods with a snap power-slam. Bryan with a flying knee on Kofi. Goldust tries tossing Bryan, but he hangs onto the ropes. #19 is Konnor. Is Konnor going to win the Royal Rumble? The answer is no. Woods and Kofi work over Konnor as this crowd continues to nap or pray or whatever the f*ck they do in their spare time. #20 is Elias. Michael Cole marking out for him is up there with Matt Striker at the 2010 (or was it 2011) Rumble. For the record, that's not a good thing, that's a bad thing. Is it sad ELIAS counts as a star appearance in this geek-fest? He dumps Konnor, Woods, and Kofi in one swoop at 27:28.
#21 is Luke Gallows, one half of the Good Brothers, Club, and Magic Killers. Angle throws Bryan on his head, but Bryan no-sells, clips the leg, and lays into Angle with Yes-Kicks. Angle blocks the roundhouse and goes for the Ankle-Lock. Bryan escapes, so Angle takes him down with the Angle Slam. The straps come down and Elias tosses Angle at 29:08. #22 is Rhyno. He gets thicker every time I see him. #23 is Drew Gulak. Hmm... I thought he wasn't allowed in, for whatever reason. He stomps Bryan down in the corner. #24 is Tucker Knight. Of the NXT guys to use...? Bryan and Gulak try having a wrestling match in this sea of nothingness. Gulak hops on his back for a sleeper but Knight tosses him at 32:41. #25 is Bobby Roode. I like how the action is a complete afterthought for his entrance. Shows how meaningless the action is. Roode hits Elias with a Block Buster. Goldust gets dropkicked off the apron at 33:58. Roode tosses Dawson in an awkward slingshot spot at 34:25. #26 is Fandango. Even the commentary team has given up taking this thing seriously. #27 is Chad Gable (with American Alpha music). He plants Knight with an electric chair drop. #28 is Rey Mysterio. Graves laughs at Cole and Saxton for not looking at the promotional material when they act surprised. He takes Gallows out with a head scissors at 37:27. 6-1-9 to Roode is interrupted by Fandango. He throws Rey into Gable and Rey plants him with a Tornado DDT. #29 is Mojo Rawley. Nobody cares. He knocks Fandango out at 38:31. Lots of hugging taking place. #30 is Tyler Breeze. He goes after Mojo and gets tossed to the apron. Instead of getting knocked out, he jumps into Fandango's arms. Back to the apron and Mojo casually pushes him off at 40:09. Cute spot.
#31 is Big E. This match is never going to end. He offers Tucker a handful of pancakes and spanks his booty in an abdominal stretch. Big E with the Big Ending, and Tuckey is gone at 42:10. #32 is Karl Anderson. He plants Roode with a spine-buster. Big E runs him over and tosses him to apron, but he hangs on for dear life. #33 is Apollo Crews. I see he has his last name, again. He hits Gable with a roundhouse kick and standing moonsault before tossing him at 44:15. Bryan fights out of an elimination attempt from Apollo. #34 is Roderick Strong. He comes out to Undisputed Era's theme music. He chops everyone and hits Elias with a dropkick. Back breakers to Elias, Anderson, and Mysterio. End of Heartache to Big E. Rhyno gets thrown over and knocked out with a jumping knee at 46:07. Strong and Bryan have a chop-off. #35 is Randy Orton. RKO to Apollo coming off the top rope. Anderson gets tossed at 47:14. Mojo is gone at 47:20. Crews is thrown out at 47:25. #36 is Heath Slater. Bryan's chest is disgustingly red. Slater runs wild but can't get Elias out. #37 is Babatunde. He's a giant from NXT who's so green he's not allowed on TV or to work longer than 3-minutes at shows in front of 300 people. He runs the ropes and hits Roode with a shoulder tackle. #38 is Baron Corbin. He pulls Elias out of the ring and throws him into the steps. Rey hits the ropes and takes the best Deep Six of all-time. He counters Strong's jumping knee with a clothesline, then tosses Roode at 51:16. Strong is gone at 51:22. Corbin goes after Babatunde for an anti-star classic. #39 is Titus O'Neil and HE F*CKING EATS IT RUNNING TO THE RING, FALLING AND SLIDING UNDER THE RING. Seriously, that might be the greatest moment in Royal Rumble Match history. WE GET INSTANT REPLAY for the historic moment. Screw the rest of the match, the best moment already took place. #40 is Dan Matha. Another odd choice from NXT, especially since he debuted only as a punching bag for Samoa Joe. Here's another replay of Titus' entrance. Screw Rey going 62 minutes or Shawn going coast-to-coast, THIS IS THE GREATEST MOMENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE SPORT.
#41 is Braun Strowman. Time to clear the ring. He throws Babatunde with ease at 55:14. There goes Matha at 55:21. He fights out of Big E's grip and throws him out at 55:34. Heath Slater is the next victim at 55:47. Yet Titus is still in the match. The rest of the field (sans Bryan, playing dead) gang up on Strowman. #42 is Tye Dillinger. Seriously, he couldn't come out at #10?! Strowman does the monster roar spot and tosses Titus at 56:44 ("go back under the ring, Titus!"). Dillinger goes flying at 56:54. Orton with a dropkick to Strowman, Mysterio hits the 6-1-9, and Orton caps it with an RKO. Mysterio with a seated senton on Orton. Corbin tosses Rey to the apron and knocks him out at 57:37. Orton clotheslines Corbin out at 57:44. Elias sneaks in and tosses Orton at 57:48. #43 is Curt Hawkins. He runs like hell away from the ring, but Strowman catches up to him, drags him to the ring, and throws him out at 59:17. Elias avoids a charge, sending Strowman into the post. #44 is Bobby Lashley. He gets pyro! He runs over Elias with a clothesline and plants him with a slam. Lashley with a running shoulder to the midsection. Elias escapes a suplex and hits a high knee. Lashley catches him off the ropes with a back breaker and tosses Elias at 61:26. Bryan sneaks back in and hits Strowman and Lashley with corner dropkicks as he surpasses Rey's record for time in a Royal Rumble Match. #45 is The Great Khali. How many immobile giants are allowed in this crap? Hassan-Chop to all three men in the ring. Strowman and Lashley team up to toss him at 63:49. Wow, what an appearance. Lashley and Strowman go down with a double clothesline. #46 is Kevin Owens. He's getting the honors to toss Bryan, isn't he? He hits everyone with cannonballs. Owens hangs Bryan up across the top rope and hits a Pop-Up Powerbomb. #47 is Shane McMahon. Is there a cage he can fall off of? He throws some ugly punches at Owens and comes off the ropes with a diving elbow. Bryan (looking absolutely brutalized) and Shane have a face-to-face but decide to work on Owens. #48 is Shelton Benjamin. He has a track record of not lasting long. He takes Shane down and unloads with rights and lefts. Strowman shoves him off trying to a hit a step-up knee strike. Owens tries to rally the troops to get Strowman, but he's unbeatable. #49 is Big Cass. DANIEL BRYAN IS STILL IN THERE. Cass slips coming in (caught in the traffic of another monster roar spot). Shane hits the Coast-to-Coast on Strowman, knocking him through the ropes. Cass with a fall-away slam on Lashley.
#50 is Chris Jericho, finally rounding out the field. I swear, I wrote the line about Bryan being there at the end as it was happening live. Jericho and Owens have their slugfest as everyone else plays dead. Jericho with an elbow and the Lionsault. Springboard dropkick to Cass. Code Breaker to Shelton, and a clothesline eliminates him at 72:36. Jericho avoids the Pop-Up Powerbomb and turns Owens over with the Walls of Jericho. Big Cass breaks it with a boot to the side of the head. Lashley blows his delayed suplex, hitting Cass with an accidental brain buster. Bryan with a tear-drop suplex on Owens. Shane goes to the top, but Braun throws him off through the announcer's table, eliminating him at 74:25. Now we know why he made the trip. Strowman catches Lashley and tosses him at 75:13. Jericho's code breaker is blocked and he's out at 75:22. Kevin Owens is thrown out at 75:29. Bryan tries, but Strowman shrugs off his strikes. Cass with the big boot to Bryan, and he tosses him out at 76:08. Wow. Bryan didn't break the record for time in a Rumble, he obliterated it. NO ONE is breaking that Rumble time. Ever. Cass with clotheslines. Strowman blocks a boot and straddles Cass on the top rope before tackling him out for the victory at 77:21 (and his 13th elimination, breaking Roman's record from 2014). The highlights of the match featured Titus O'Neil eating sh*t on the way to the ring. There were some good spots, most of them involving Daniel Bryan or Kevin Owens, but this was a geek match for the sake of putting on a spectacular. The crowd was quiet for almost the entire thing, and the action was mostly uninspired. One of the worst Rumble matches of all-time. **1/2
Final Thoughts: This was pushed hardcore on television as such a big deal, and it turned out to be a bloated, over-hyped house show, where none of the titles (except the vacant Raw Tag Titles) changed hands, there were bad finishes in key matches, and the timing of everything suggested this was anything but a major Pay-Per-View or a once-in-a-lifetime event. The Rumble Match, while fun at moments, was a chore to sit through, to the point I ENJOYED THE COMMENTARY BURYING EVERYTHING. Watch the Rumble Match for the train-wreck factor, the rest of the show is just a show. Buy a ticket to the next live event in town. You'll get the same quality work both in the ring and from the bookers.