It’s another controversial Network Special, as WWE heads to Saudi Arabia for the third time. The show is headlined by a couple of major title matches, but those are superceded by 1990s icons Goldberg and The Undertaker going at it for the first time.
Also, Shane McMahon, who won his “Best in the World” title at the LAST Saudi Arabia show, takes on the Big Dog, Roman Reigns.
I’m already regretting my decision to review this over the season finale of THE FLASH.
Universal Championship Match: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Baron Corbin – The only way to make a championship match with Baron Corbin interesting is to add a tease of Brock Lesnar cashing in his MONEY IN THE BANK briefcase during the match. Champion Rollins has his ribs taped from a Lesnar beating on Monday night as a way to make people believe Corbin actually has a chance here. Despite the damaged ribs, Rollins still manages to fly around the ring in his offense. Corbin, unable to get a three count on Rollins, starts yelling at the ref and, in an old school NWA spot, the ref yells back at the Applebee’s bartender, allowing Rollins to roll Corbin up for the win.
Frustrated, Corbin hits Rollins with an End of Days and leaves the ring as Brock Lesnar’s music hits to no reaction.
But Lesnar’s advocate Paul Heyman tripped going into the ring and Rollins used that as a chance to hit Lesnar in the groin (like he did at WRESTLEMANIA) and then beat him with a chair Lesnar brought to the ring. “How’s that feel, you big ugly son of a bitch!” Rollins punctuates beating the beast with a stomp on top of the Money in the Bank briefcase.
At least Lesnar’s not champion again… yet. He does still have the briefcase. The Jeddah crowd chants “Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Goodbye” to Lesnar as he walks to the back, looking a little dumbfounded.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Finn Bálor (c) vs. Andrade – The champ is decked out as The Demon, allowing Michael Cole to go into the spiel about WHY Bálor becomes the Demon, which leaves me still wondering why he didn’t do it when he battled Lesnar for the Universal Title at the ROYAL RUMBLE. Andrade gets some offense in, but he can’t overcome the Demon, who counters a superplex into a top rope DDT. The champ then hits the Coup de Grace to retain.
Shane McMahon vs. Roman Reigns – McMahon has Drew McIntyre backing him up, and I still don’t know why this guy isn’t in a world title picture instead of being a lackey. The announce crew talk up the in-ring beatings Shane has received from legitimate WWE superstars as a reason to not take him lightly. I’m pretty sure the only reason Reigns should be wary of McMahon is the giant at ringside. To make it more ridiculous, Shane took control of much of the match, winning after McIntyre hit Reigns with a Claymore kick while the referee was distracted. That’s another big Saudi Arabian win for Shane O’Mac. I’m not sure if this show has gone off the rails yet, but it’s gotta be close.
Handicap Match: Lince Dorado, Kalisto and Gran Metalik vs. Lars Sullivan – Oh good, a squash match that was set up at the Money in the Bank show. Sullivan was supposed to have a WrestleMania program against John Cena, but he had a nervous breakdown that derailed it. He was probably worried about how losing to Cena at the start of his WWE run would have ruined his career. I can’t really blame him. Sullivan steamrolls the Lucha House Party, but the trio ends up triple teaming him to give Sullivan the win via DQ. An odd way to debut your new monster, but at least Sullivan destroys them some more after the match. This would have been better on Raw where I didn’t have to see it.
Randy Orton vs. Triple H – Damn it, I forgot about this match. The Legends Circuit is well represented tonight. The COO and RKO play their greatest hits as the announce team plays up how hot it is in the arena and how it’s making them both sluggish. Probably has nothing to do with the fact they’ve been wrestling each other since 2004 and they were both on autopilot. In the end, Trips does a slow jog into an RKO. It wasn’t out of nowhere this time. Both guys telegraphed it pretty well. Orton gets a win over Triple H. It may have been a little slow and plodding, but it was still better than their WrestleMania 25 match…
Bobby Lashley vs. Braun Strowman – The audience is so quiet for this show, reacting to things very sparsely, and it’s taking me out of the show a bit. I actually enjoy this two big dudes going at it, but the quiet in the arena really hurts. There’s a lot of running around the outside of the ring and slamming into each other, an impressive feat for a couple of big guys. Strowman wins with a running powerslam. The crowd goes mild.
WWE Championship Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler – This is the match I’ve been looking forward to the most this show. I can’t believe Kofi is still the WWE Champion. But they’ve managed to make him a little more believable as champ than Ziggler ever was back in the day. Having Xavier Woods at ringside helps, too, as Woods pays back a superkick from Ziggler with a kick behind the referee’s back to set up Kofi retaining the title. I wish it could have been a little longer. Trips and Orton didn’t need 25 minutes, they could have given a few more minutes to their premiere title.
Post-match, Ziggler points out how Woods cheated and demands another match… IN A STEEL CAGE! I hope it’s better than the Miz-Shane steel cage match last month. It almost has to be, right?
50-Man Battle Royal – 40-plus guys walk together to the ring before Miz, Samoa Joe and Elias get their own entrances. And of course Elias has to play his guitar. We should feel lucky WWE didn’t decide to put this in 3 rings and have different announce teams. I don’t even know how some of these guys were moving at the start of the match; Gorilla Monsoon would have called it a “sea of humanity” at least three times. Titus O’Neil plays off his Greatest Royal Rumble fumble and comes out from under the ring after guys had been going at it for a few minutes and eliminates the Viking Raiders. He probably should have waited til there were only a handful of guys left, he maybe wouldn’t have been eliminated by Shelton Benjamin.
Shelton Benjamin is still around!
It comes down to a final six as Ali, Ricochet and Mansoor (who?) going toe to toe with Cesaro, Samoa Joe and Elias. While I would have liked to see Joe or Cesaro win, it comes down to Elias and Mansoor, and thankfully Mansoor manages to stun Elias and flip him out of the ring for the win and the crowd actually comes alive for the hometown hero.
I feel like I should turn the show off now, let the feel-good moment end the show. Sigh. I’ve come this far. I may as well finish it off.
Goldberg vs. The Undertaker – I don’t understand what WWE thinks Goldberg brings to the table. The guy seems to hate wrestling. His recent run with the Universal Championship was highly underwhelming. And I think the guy cut his own forehead coming to the ring. Cole tried to play it off later in the match as Goldberg getting busted open by hitting the ring post, but he already had a cut coming out of the locker room. He was definitely sucking wind walking to the ring after he kicked the air during his entrance. And he looked so awkward walking around the ring staring at the fans and raising his arm. He was definitely lost with extra time to himself in the ring. That alone should tell us everything we needed to know about what was to come.
Thankfully, Goldberg had a chance to catch his breath waiting for Undertaker to get to the ring.
I think Goldberg probably did knock himself a little loopy with that shot to the ring post, because he seriously botched a jackhammer attempt, dropping Taker right on the back of his neck, followed by falling over when doing a Tombstone reversal spot. Undertaker ended it with a chokeslam right after.
This match will easily win Worst Main Event of the Year. If it doesn’t something will have had to go seriously wrong somewhere down the line. This match was so bad that it’s something everyone should see, a cautionary tale about putting two men well past their primes in the ring. Or maybe just proof that Goldberg should never wrestle again.
I understand WWE wants to make these international shows feel as big as a WrestleMania, but the card here did nothing to make it important. All we got was an oversized house show with a terrible main event. It was nowhere near as terrible as November’s Crown Jewel, but it was so insignificant, that the only thing anyone will remember is the terrible main event.
The show was also hurt by not being able to have some of its hottest angles – which belong to the women’s division – on the card. They lose a lot of heat without Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Bayley. The men just aren’t getting the same kind of reactions as the women.
WWE will try again in two weeks with Stomping Grounds, live from Tacoma, Washington. I assume that will be a much better show without the Legends Circuit bringing things down.