WWE’s most controversial show happened in Saudi Arabia.
There were debuts, surprises and an historic match in Saudi Arabia. Was it as bad as everyone thought it would be? Here is what happened, along with my thoughts.
20 Man Battle Royal for the opportunity to face United States Champion AJ Styles later in the night
Result: Humberto Carrillo last eliminated Eric Rowan to earn a US Title shot
This was a good Battle Royal. Rowan and Luke Harper were the clear stars of the match, eliminating nearly everyone in the match. It’s good to see that WWE hasn’t completely forgotten how good those two can be. Although they didn’t win, they were the stars, especially Harper, who got loud, positive chants throughout.
There were some good points too. R Truth regained the 24-7 Title from Sunil Singh after he’d been eliminated. Carrillo looked strong in victory. It was short, sweet and did what it should have done. Good job all round.
WWE Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (C) vs Cain Velasquez
Result: Lesnar submits Velasquez with a Kimura, retains title
This was utterly pointless. It lasted just under 2 minutes. Why have Cain face Brock in his first WWE match if he’s gonna lose so cleanly? I get that he’s injured and will now probably get knee surgery before getting a rematch, probably at Wrestlemania, but this left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.
The biggest star in this match was Rey Mysterio. He accompanied Cain to the ring and laid into Brock with chair shots after the match. It’s good to see that Brock vs Rey is the next feud for the WWE Title. Brock works well with smaller guys and Rey is still amazing in the ring, but why wasn’t this the match if you’re gonna treat Velasquez like this? Baffling booking by WWE.
Tag Team Turmoil Match to determine the best Tag Team in the World
Result: The O.C last eliminated The Viking Raiders to win
Grade: D +
Order of elimination: Roode and Ziggler defeated Lucha House Party, Roode and Ziggler defeated Hawkins and Ryder, Heavy Machinery defeated Roode and Ziggler, New Day defeated Heavy Machinery, New Day defeated The B-Team, New Day defeated The Revival, The O.C defeated New Day, The O.C defeated The Viking Raiders.
This was fine. As expected, The New Day were the stars of this, eliminating 3 teams and getting loud reactions throughout. They even eliminated Smackdown Tag Team Champions The Revival, setting up their Tag Title match on Smackdown the next night. The Revival assaulted Kingston and Big E afterward, allowing The O.C to easily pick up the elimination of The New Day. It came down to The O.C and The Viking Raiders. Surprisingly, The O.C picked up the win, handing The Viking Raiders their first Main Roster loss and allowing Gallows and Anderson to pick up the trophy and the title of Best Tag Team in the world. A good match with a surprising but pleasing result.
Mansoor vs Cesaro
Result: Mansoor pins Cesaro with a moonsault
This was a fantastic match. For me, this is proof that Cesaro is one of the best in the world. A relative newcomer, a baying crowd in support of the hometown hero, and he put in a truly amazing performance. He made Mansoor look like a million dollars in this, and both men came out of this match with their stock ten times higher than it was when they came in.
To his credit, Mansoor was great here. When facing someone like Cesaro, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. However, he rose to the occasion and put in a fantastic performance. I hope he’s used more on TV, because the guy is clearly talented, and with the WWE/Saudi partnership continuing for years to come, Mansoor could be a major star very soon.
Tyson Fury vs Braun Strowman
Result: Fury wins by Count-Out
Do you know what? This was stupidly entertaining. Serious wrestling is good, but sometimes you just got to have a laugh and not take it so seriously (Someone tell Jim Cornette that.) Fury is a born entertainer, and it showed here, as he put on a tremendous show here. Hopefully, he returns because WWE could do with his raw star power and ability.
Obviously, this wasn’t a 5-star classic. However, what it lacked in ability, it made up for in showmanship. Braun and Fury knew what they were doing, and they put in a fantastic shift here. Fury has clearly been watching some old clips because he copied a lot of people here. Roman Reigns, The Undertaker and the pageantry of a classic Ric Flair entrance. It was silly, it was stupid but above all else, it was entertaining. Props to Fury and Braun for putting on a great show here.
United States Championship: AJ Styles (C) vs Humberto Carrillo
Result: AJ pins Carrillo after a Phenomenal Forearm-Styles retains his title
Another good match. At times, it bordered on very good or even great. The problem with Humberto Carrillo is one that I’ve said many times. He has no personality. We have no reason to cheer for him. We know he’s a face, but that’s about it. There’s no edge, nothing to separate him for the hundreds of other babyfaces on the roster.
The match itself was fine. Styles is great in his role as the veteran facing younger, faster opponents. He’s at that point in his career where a win over him feels like a big deal, and that’s because it usually is. Humberto has a great moveset and is over with the younger audience, but I just find it hard to root for him at the moment. He eventually fell to a Phenomenal Forearm, and that might be the end of him in the US Title for a while. He’ll be a champion eventually, but it feels 12 to 18 months too soon for him.
Lacey Evans vs Natalya
Result: Natalya taps Lacey out with the Sharpshooter
This was never about the result. This was all about the fact that this was a HUGE step forward for women’s wrestling in Saudi Arabia. This was the first-ever women’s match in Saudi Arabia. Lacey Evans and Natalya got huge reactions from the crowd, who were very vocal and positive about. Bar a couple of awkward moments (Guys, it’s NEVER ok to throw rubbish at people ok?) This was a giant success for everyone involved. In all the controversy surrounding WWE and the Saudi deal, it’s fantastic to see some positive news come out of them. Kudos to WWE for constantly pushing for the idea.
Whilst on this match. Why isn’t Lacey a face yet? With her background as a former Marine and as a mother, she could be a mega-babyface. She’s doing great as a heel so far, but in my opinion, she’ll be an even better babyface one day.
Natalya won, but as said above, the result didn’t really matter. This was about another giant leap for the Women’s Evolution. Congratulations to Natalya and Lacey Evans for this historic moment, and here’s to many, many more.
Team Flair (Bobby Lashley, Shinsuke Nakamura, King Corbin, Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre) vs Team Hogan (Roman Reigns, Ali, Ricochet, Rusev and Shorty G.)
Result: Reigns spears Orton to win it for Team Hogan.
Yep, this was a match. It’s difficult to know what to say about this really. The crowd loved Reigns, Ali, Hogan, Orton, and Flair. Drew looked like a beast. Hogan’s team obviously won. Job done I suppose.
Action wise it was fine. Drew was the star for Team Flair. He looked like an absolute beast throughout, including a Claymore Kick that turned Ricochet inside out. Ricochet and Ali teamed up to take Orton out, which led to Roman spearing him to pick up the win for his team. It allowed Hogan to do his poses to delight the crowd and the kids loved seeing Roman win. So it did what it set out to do without causing too much drama or fuss. In a match that had Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair as captains, that’s a huge plus.
Falls Count Anywhere for the Universal Championship: Seth Rollins (C) vs ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt
Result: Bray pins Seth following a Sister Abigail-becomes the NEW Universal Champion
Right, let’s get the bad out of the way first. This was horribly overbooked, even for a Falls Count Anywhere match. Also, the finish was stupid. I know The Fiend is nearly indestructible, but can he survive basically being burned? And the red lighting needs to stop. It’s awful and it looks dreadful on camera, so god knows how the people in the arena felt. Another thing is that Smackdown now has both World Titles, so that looks stupid. Also, as much as I love the result, WWE HAD to do this. They booked themselves into a corner after that embarrassment at Hell in a Cell. If Bray lost here, Bray would have damaged forever, and all the good work done in the past few months would have been ruined.
So, why have I given it such a high rating? BECAUSE BRAY IS CHAMP AGAIN. He thoroughly deserves this. He’s been the best thing on WWE TV in years and has been a breath of fresh around WWE. Also, Seth had become boring and stale as Universal Champion. Bray was the right choice to do it too. Listen to the reaction when Bray locked in the match-winning Mandible Claw/Sister Abigail combination. The crowd went BALLISTIC. The tricky part now is keeping this momentum up so we are still invested in The Fiend come Wrestlemania season. If anyone can keep us interested though, its Bray Wyatt. It still feels as fresh as it did when it first debuted, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Only Bray knows what’s next, and I for one can’t wait to find out.
A decent show. It started off with that pointless Lesnar/ Velasquez bout, picked up a bit and then gave us that finish. Up until that point, it felt like WWE didn’t really try that hard, but they still managed to put on a half-decent show. At this point, that’s enough. For now.
Final Grade: C+
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @Bannister007. Thanks for reading!