By Rob Siebert
So uh…yeah. This is happening.
I think we all initially thought this Greatest Royal Rumble show Saudia Arabia was essentially going to be like the show in India last December. Newsworthy, but nothing too wild. Just some nice international PR for WWE.
Low and behold, we’ve got the biggest Royal Rumble Match ever, matches to decide the placement of secondary titles, an AJ Styles/Shinsuke Nakamura rematch, and what could very well be Brock Lesnar’s last WWE outing for a very long time. Consider my expectations defied.
So let’s dive in, here. There’s no shortage of meat to this thing.
WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. The Usos
Harper and Rowan just reached the top of the mountain at Wrestlemania. It seems unlikely that they’d lose the belts so soon after winning them. So I’m going with the Bludgeon Brothers here.
Kind of interesting the way Naomi got factored into the angle with these four on Smackdown. Makes me wonder if the Bludgeon Brothers might get an honorary Bludgeon Sister at some point.
PREDICTION: The Bludgeon Brothers
MATCH FOR VACANT WWE RAW TAG TEAM TITLES:
The Bar vs. Deleter of Worlds
“Deleter of Worlds.” That’s going to take some time to get used to.
Word surfaced this week that WWE is regrets moving Sheamus and Cesaro to Smackdown, and having them win the belts here could serve as an excuse to get them back on Raw. I don’t know that I buy that. I think that’s something somebody leaked to cast some doubt over what seems like an obvious finish: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt getting the belts. But I think you go with that finish regardless of where Sheamus and Cesaro are. Bray has needed to be freshened up for quite awhile now. This Woken stuff hasn’t necessarily revitalized him. But it’s a nice change of pace. So why not further the story? If Bray is indeed going to turn on Matt later, throwing the belts in adds another dimension to things.
PREDICTION: Deleter of Worlds
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Jinder Mahal
They supposedly changed the ending to Wrestlemania to accommodate this big Saudi Arabia show. Based on the card in front of us, I’m thinking they changed the US and Intercontinental Title pictures for the same reason.
Jeff Hardy doesn’t need the United States Title. But I’m thinking they gave it to him on the way to Smackdown to raise the stakes for this match. Now you’ve got both Raw and Smackdown guys wrestling for secondary championships on this show, so there’s reasonable doubt over who’s walking out with gold.
Based on how Jinder has been booked since moving to Raw, I’m thinking he gets the belt back. Then they can have he and Kurt Angle do the heel champion vs. babyface general manager story. It seems like Vince is still pretty high on Jinder. So I don’t imagine he’ll fall from prominence any time soon.
PREDICTION: Jinder Mahal
LADDER MATCH FOR WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE:
Seth Rollins (c) vs. The Miz vs. Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe
So if the US Title is going back to Raw, then the Intercontinental Title has to go to Smackdown. That means either Miz or Samoa Joe have to come out on top here.
And if those are your choices, then you may as well have it be Miz. I had originally wanted him to go to Smackdown to get away from the IC Title. But given the situation they’re in, and the fact that he’s so closely associated with it anyway, it makes sense to give it back to him. It gives him something to gloat about.
PREDICTION: The Miz
Triple H vs. John Cena
While this is a cool attraction for the fans in Saudi Arabia, it doesn’t really matter who wins this one. It could easily go either way. I’ll call it for Cena, as it’s likely we’ll see him in the ring again before Triple H.
PREDICTION: John Cena
The Undertaker vs. Rusev
There was a decent amount of hoopla over Rusev getting pulled from this match, only to be put back in later. While he’ll end up losing regardless, I can understand it. We don’t know how many matches the Undertaker has left in him. So getting this spot means something.
Undertaker didn’t have to do much against John Cena at Wrestlemania, and I can’t imagine they’d ask him to do much more here. I’m hoping he goes a little longer this time, though. I’d be happy with five minutes.
PREDICTION: The Undertaker
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
In hindsight, we should be grateful they didn’t go with Styles and Nakamura in the main event of Wrestlemania. I won’t discount the performance they put in, but the crowd just wasn’t invested. And given the length of the show, and everything they’d already seen at that point, it’s tough to blame them. On the upside, Nakamura’s heel turn was a pleasant surprise. He’s looking good as a villain so far.
I don’t see them putting the title on him yet, though. Too early in his heel run. My big hope here is that they improve on their Wrestlemania performance.
PREDICTION: AJ Styles
STEEL CAGE MATCH FOR WWE UNIVERSAL HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE:
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns
The general belief is the change to the Lesnar/Reigns Wrestlemania match was made that day. They swerved us then. They could very well swerve us again here. I don’t see it, though. I think Roman walks out of this one with the belt. The fans in Saudi Arabia are indeed more likely to give him a positive reaction when he wins. Plus, it’s a cage match. Lesnar doesn’t necessarily have to be pinned to lose the title. Thus, if they end up using Brock again in the near future, that can be a gripe.
A decent number of fans are anxious to see the belt come off Brock Lesnar because of his limited schedule. I’m not one of them. I think they’ve got a great thing with him. While I don’t doubt he’ll be back someday, I’ll be sad if this is his last match for awhile.
PREDICTION: Roman Reigns
50-MAN ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH:
I’m curious to see how this match turns out. They had 40 guys in the 2011 Royal Rumble Match, and that didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Now we’ve got even more, and there’s really nothing on the line. Just a trophy and some bragging rights.
Still, you’ve got to believe the person who wins this match will get something. A title match at Backlash, perhaps?
They made sure to stack the deck for this sucker. Rey Mysterio Jr is back again, as is Chris Jericho. Kurt Angle is also putting the boots back on. If I’m not mistaken, this will be the Big Show’s first in-ring outing since the cage match with Braun Strowman. Shane McMahon got pulled into this too. Plus, I’m sure they’ve got a few surprises up for us. Kofi Kingston will inevitably have to come up with yet another Rumble Match spot.
I see a babyface taking this one home and ending the show on a positive note. So who has the most to gain from winning this thing? I almost feel like they should just give it to Daniel Bryan to make up for Rumbles past. It’s not like he’s gotten less popular in the years since. But I’m guessing he gets tossed out by Big Cass. If Mysterio is indeed coming back, a win for him would make sense. But would his ownership stake in this new Aro Lucha promotion dissuade them from doing that?
To me, the name that makes the most sense is Braun Strowman. The guy is about as hot as anybody they have right now, and this would only help him in that respect. I can picture him coming in late and just tossing bodies over the top rope, and eliminating a big heel to finally win it. Or maybe have him dump Big Show. That ending has been done to death, but it would get a reaction.
Either way, somebody in Saudi Arabia is gonna to get those hands…
PREDICTION: Braun Strowman
Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.