WWE ran a huge event out of Saudi Arabia on Friday, April 27, 2018. It was called The Greatest Royal Rumble and it was supposed to be a massive show for the company, second only to an event like WrestleMania. The problem was, the event wasn't actually all that "great." The program was long (running almost six hours), put on during the middle of a Friday afternoon (when many fans couldn't watch it live), there were no major memorable moments to speak of (except ones that were unintentional) and few title changes. The show was actually more like a glorified house show than a true pay-per-view experience and WWE could have done so much better.
Outside of poor booking decisions and a lack of memorable moments, along the way, the company ruffled a few feathers too. They aired a controversial angle with a competing country of Saudi Arabia, let an ad for female competitors in WWE slip when they'd agreed not to promote women and, in the end, they could have risked their very lucrative 10-year deal with the Saudi Arabian group that paid millions to bring WWE in. Fortunately, WWE was invited back and will be there in November of 2018 with an opportunity to correct some of these blunders.
Below is a list of 15 mistakes WWE made while putting on The Greatest Royal Rumble event. If not for these mistakes, WWE could have actually had a great show. Instead, The Greatest Royal Rumble may go down as one of the worst pay-per-views WWE puts on all year.
15 Lesnar Retained Title In Controversial Way
Prior to the Rumble itself, the main event was Brock Lesnar versus Roman Reigns. It was a match fans had seen before but it was in a steel cage. All the elements were set for Reigns to finally take the title off Lesnar's waist and considering The Big Dog was due, that's probably how it should have gone. WWE didn't go that way and instead swerve the audience with another Lesnar victory. Not only that, but the match ended in controversial fashion.
Reigns speared Lesnar through the cage and ended up on top of the Beast Incarnate, rolling to the ground and touching the mat before Lesnar did.
The referee ruled that because Lesnar's back hit the cage and the cage hit the floor, Lesnar was the winner. That's not how a cage is supposed to be ruled. The competitor's feet have to touch and Lesnar's never did. As such, it was unclear if this was an intended plotline by WWE or a massive screw up. Lesnar was declared the winner and didn't actually win. Now, fans will have to be subject to Reigns wanting another crack at the champion or ignoring the mess up which would make no sense. Fans just want this saga to be over already.
14 NXT No-Names
When the WWE opted not to bring back big-draw former talent to enter the Royal Rumble it wasn't a great option but it gave some opportunity to NXT stars. Fans would have loved seeing some of the most popular names in the underground brand and feeder system for WWE that the WWE Universe has grown to love. Yet, for some reason, WWE chose to give those prime spots to NXT stars few had ever heard of. The WWE chose names like Hiroki Sumi (not actually NXT), Tucker Knight, Babatunde, Dan Mantha and Roderick Strong, with only Strong a name most casual fans might recognize. These were prime spots for NXT stars who could have shined on a bigger stage and were much closer to being called up by WWE.
This was a huge waste on so many fronts. Every time a new NXT guy was entered into the Royal Rumble and fans hadn't the foggiest idea of who they were, it meant one less name fans could look forward to and one more name everyone knew had no chance of winning. It was almost as if WWE wanted other people, couldn't get them, and said, 'oh well, throw this guy in and maybe the fans won't notice.'
13 Daniel Bryan Didn't Win
The odds-on favourite to win the Royal Rumble match was Daniel Bryan. When he entered at No. 1, fans immediately knew he was either going to last longer than anyone ever had and win it all or there was no way he could outlast 49 other men. He came close, breaking the record for the longest run in Royal Rumble history but ended up being eliminated by Big Cass. It's not that Braun Strowman was a bad choice (he made logical sense) but the fans were behind Bryan and Strowman didn't need to win to stay popular. The return of Bryan is huge news for WWE and giving him the win here would have proven he's back, he's at his height in terms of health and he's going to be better than he was three years ago before he left due to injury.
It would have been a record no one would ever likely have broken and Bryan deserved to hold it.
To have a Rumble entrant go from No. 1 to No. 50 would have been amazing and a moment that would have stood the test of time. Bryan still looked great over the length of the event but a win would have capped things off nicely.
12 Double Count-Out
Another match that people were really looking forward to seeing was the AJ Styles versus Shinsuke Nakamura match. Their first encounter at WrestleMania 34 was ok but it wasn't the barn-burner of a dream match fans were hoping for. The most interesting part of that match was the fact WWE decided to turn Nakamura heel and for fans that was good enough. This match was supposed to be how WWE made up for it and offer the match fans were hoping to see.
Instead, WWE offered no clear winner and chose to have the bout end in a double count-out, once again opting for a controversial finish with more to come at a later date. It's not that the WWE Universe doesn't want to see these guys go at it again but so far, in two matches, the company hasn't offered the best of what Style and Nakamura can bring. If the company is going to keep fans interested in this feud, they need to let the two have their 30-35 minutes to put on the dream match everyone is hoping and waiting for. WWE is making this feud more complicated than it needs to be. Put the two guys in a ring, let them shine and watch the fans go crazy for it.
11 New Championship Belt
What was the point in offering another championship belt for the Royal Rumble match itself? It's not a belt that can be defended on a weekly or even a monthly basis. The WWE may never even have the match again so the title is nothing more than a prize for the winner and the WWE had already introduced a trophy. It would have made more sense for the company to offer prize money and a trophy or just the trophy but what is going to happen with the belt now?
Is Braun Strowman going to carry it around week after week and never defend it?
How can he if it's not in a Rumble match itself? Is he just going to take it home and never talk about it again? Maybe the WWE plans to refer to Strowman as the "Monster Among Men and 50-man Royal Rumble Winner" from now on. That has a very long and unnecessary ring to it. The company made The Greatest Royal Rumble so irrelevant when it came to the other title matches that it simply it almost insulted the fanbase by adding a title that means nothing a crowning a WWE Superstar with a belt he doesn't need to be relevant.
10 No Drew McIntyre
There were two glaring omissions from the Greatest Royal Rumble event. One was Szmi Zayn whose absence was understandable considering his heritage and their ties with Saudi Arabia. The other was Drew McIntyre who missed the event for no good reason other than he couldn't get his work visa sorted out in time. According to PWInsider.com, McIntyre was having a work visa problem and WWE couldn't get it sorted in time to include him on the show. That's almost inexcusable considering how much time the company had to organize things for him and ensure one of the hottest new additions to the Raw brand was part of a big-time pay-per-view. He ended up having to watch from home when he should have been there.
McIntyre joined the main roster on April 16th and he's one of the stars the company is pushing heavily. A good showing at the Rumble would have been good for his character but WWE never got that chance to further him along. Instead, Dolph Ziggler had to go it alone despite the two now working as a team. Maybe this was unavoidable but WWE does work visas all the time for it's Superstars. This seems odd that they couldn't get this one figured out.
9 Ran A Women's Ad During Program
There was one thing that WWE and Saudi Arabia had agreed upon, even though it wasn't exactly what WWE wanted. That was that no women would be featured on the program thanks to Saudi Arabia's customs and a ruling by the Saudi Arabian General Sports Authority. Yet, somehow, an ad for the female competitors slipped through on the broadcast and the feed was cut for many viewers during that portion of the show. That ad was also broadcast on big screens throughout the arena which didn't make people happy.
WWE will be working with Saudi Arabia again and the hope is that women will eventually be permitted to compete at these events.
But for now, that's not the case and WWE needs to work within the relationship guidelines they agreed to adhere to. Politically, people will have differing opinions, some suggesting the custom is out-dated and wrong but WWE agreed to it so showing the ad was a huge mistake. It ended up being a major talking point and could have potentially risked WWE's relationship with Saudi Arabia which is a very financially rewarding one. WWE has already been heavily criticized for taking part in the event so doing so and ruffling the feathers of the Saudi Arabia Sports Authority was not a good idea.
8 No Big-Name Surprise Entrants
Usually, a Royal Rumble is fun to watch because WWE brings in surprise entrants that fans aren't expecting. The Greatest Royal Rumble should have been full of surprises considering there were 50 entrants and only 23 of the spots were advertised prior to the show. Still, WWE didn't offer any major shocking moments and decided that Hornswoggle returning after a two-year absence was good enough. That's a terrible way to treat the fans.
WWE could have invited Batista, MVP, Muhammad Hassan (who recently returned to wrestling) or a number of other former stars that would have made a much bigger impact but they chose not to. There's no good reason for it and WWE veered so far off the path of the traditional Rumble style that it almost made the match difficult to watch. By the time entrant No, 20 came to the ring, fans pretty much knew there were going to be no real shocking entrants. WWE blew a golden opportunity to make this match memorable but chose instead to use talent within the system people hadn't really heard of. If WWE holds another Royal Rumble in the future, they need to either not advertise any of the returning stars early or actually bring someone back fans would be surprised to see.
7 Jinder Mahal Sold A Terrible Miss
One of the biggest botches during a match on The Greatest Royal Rumble card was as challenger Jinder Mahal was taking on United States Champion Jeff Hardy. Hardy was attempting to do a reverse 360 off the top rope and land on Mahal in a move that would have been very cool to see. Only, Hardy missed by a foot or so. That wouldn't have been the issue as Superstars miss their moves all the time and Hardy could have sold the miss and acted hurt with Mahal going on offense. Instead, Mahal sold that he'd been hit by the move and it wasn't even close.
The miss was so evident on the program that WWE announcers actually had to try and figure out a way to explain how Mahal fell over. One announcer actually suggested that it could have been Mahal being disoriented and that the movement of the ring actually knocked his footing out from underneath him. Nice try but that's about as awful an explanation as anyone might ever make to try and cover up such a huge blunder. This would have been the biggest botch of the night if not for Titus O'Neil who saved Mahal and made everyone forget about the move a few hours later.
6 Titus O'Neil Fell
Like we said, if not for Titus O'Neil, Jinder Mahal would have had the personal screw up of the show. Instead, Titus ended up bailing on a move that will become an immediate meme or .gif around the Internet for years to come. Titus was running to the ring after his number was announced for the Royal Rumble match. As he was sprinting toward the match, he tripped and went sliding face-first under the ring apron, disappearing from camera view. It was one of the more hilarious goof-ups in the history of WWE and perhaps second only to the Shockmaster's debut in WCW many years earlier.
Titus immediately became the most memorable part of the program for all the wrong reasons and was probably teased relentlessly by his fellow wrestlers backstage.
The announcers were laughing hysterically trying to get it together and the production crew, including Vince McMahon, who thought it was so funny, they showed the footage over and over from multiple angles. This was a moment that will haunt Titus and perhaps be the most memorable thing he ever does in his WWE career. He's already tried to turn it into a positive to see if he can't make a profit off his screw up.
5 Too Long
The one piece of negative feedback a show like WrestleMania gets is that it's far too long a program. Running close to six hours in length, it's a long time to ask fans to sit in the audience and digest all the action. That said, WrestleMania is full of wild moments, entertainment packages and other things besides wrestling that make it watchable for that long. So too, the matches have been built up over a period of many months and fans don't mind waiting that long to see the feuds come to their finality.
The Greatest Royal Rumble was not WrestleMania and therefore never should have been as long an event. Yet, WWE ran almost six hours with this show as well and at times, it got extremely boring. There were no major moments of entertainment, no performers, no musical acts and the matches were, in many cases, repeats of WrestleMania 34 which meant fans were watching WWE Superstars go at it for the second time. WWE would have been much better of making the show four hours and not getting so caught up in getting everyone on the card. When you consider there were no women's matches, this was a really long event.
4 Few Title Changes
There were tons of rumors going around prior to The Greatest Royal Rumble that this was going to be a show that was treated, in many ways, like a WrestleMania. WrestleMania's are full of huge moments and often many title changes that will go in the history books. That did not happen at this show. In fact, only one title changed hands and it was in a match where there was no actual champion going in.
The Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt match versus The Bar was for the Raw Tag Team Titles and neither team held the belts having been earlier vacated by Braun Strowman and a 10-year-old named Nicholas. As such, there had to be a new set of champions crowned and not because WWE wanted to. There were seven championship matches during the event and plenty of opportunities to create some memorable moments. Instead of doing so, WWE didn't even hint at any the belts changing hands and as such the event was quite mundane. WWE could have made this a show to remember by simply adding one or two surprise title changes. They opted not to and made it clear that the next time they host an event like this, fans will likely know that titles won't change and you can get the results later by reading the news boards.
3 Friday Afternoon
One of the first problems with the Greatest Royal Rumble event was when it was held. Understandably, the WWE had to work with the time zone difference which explained why the show started at 12 noon Eastern time. That said, why the event had to be held on a Friday is uncertain. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that Raw was taking place on Monday and WWE Superstars needed to be back in Canada to make the show in time but the Friday afternoon either meant fans needed to take the day off work or miss the event and watch it later on the Network when the program wasn't live.
If WWE could have held the event on the Saturday or Sunday (perhaps even offering Raw and SmackDown in regions closer to Saudi Arabia) there would have been more opportunity for fans to watch the event as it happened and not on a delay. No word has come forward on viewership for the pay-per-view and while it will be strong, logic suggests it won't be as good as it could have been thanks to school and employment commitments from fans. It might mean WWE avoids timing their show in November this way (they will be returning to Saudi Arabia then).
2 Rusev More Offense Than Cena
For months, fans have been clamouring for Rusev to get a fair look by WWE. He deserves it thanks to his popularity among the WWE Universe and but the company seems not be behind him all that much. At The Greatest Royal Rumble, he was placed in a match with The Undertaker that everyone knew he was going to lose. Even though he was removed and then re-added to the match before the show, the loss itself wasn't an issue for fans. After all, people expected The Undertaker to get the win. What was kind of shocking was that this was the moment WWE decided to make Rusev look good. He had a ton of offense and the match actually went for quite a few minutes.
It's especially odd considering not a few weeks earlier, The Undertaker returned to WWE in a match against John Cena and completely squashed Cena in seconds. Cena got in next to no offense in an attempt to make Undertaker look like the unstoppable phenom fans remember. So, why give Rusev so much offense only to have him lose? Wouldn't it have made more sense to have another quick squash match? Make Undertaker look strong, shorten the show and don't make Cena look worse than he already did.
1 Iran Segment
While it was the most-over segment of the night with the live crowd in attendance, it was a moment that caused some controversy with some in Saudi Arabia. WWE ran a segment on the show where they had their four prospects from Saudi Arabia come out to the ring and introduce themselves to the WWE Universe. That was all good. Then WWE had two guys from Iran come out and trash talk those four prospects. At this point, WWE was pushing the envelope a bit but hadn't crossed the line. When WWE had the Daivari brothers bring an Iranian flag and waive it around, it ruffled a few feathers among important Saudi Arabian decision-makers. WWE probably shouldn't have crossed that line.
In the end, Saudi Arabia beat Iran but for a first-ever event broadcast from Saudi Arabia, WWE should have probably played it safe and not promoted a country that has some not-so-great history with the people of Saudi Arabia. Sure, it can be argued that this is what WWE does with guys like Rusev and Bulgaria or other Superstars who push their country over that of the United States and it's a good way to get cheap heat, but in this case, it probably wasn't necessary to run the angle or have the flag.