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WWE Greatest Royal Rumble preview (April 27, 2018): The Grandest All-Male House Show PPV of Them All

It’s a pay-per-view (PPV)! It’s a house show! It’s got the stars of Raw, SmackDown, 205 Live, probably a few NXT-ers, definitely a couple of Hall of Famers! It’s Greatest Royal Rumble from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia!

The Headliner(s)

We’ve taken some flak here at Cagside Seats for harping on the Greatest Royal Rumble match not having a storyline reward for the winner, a la each January’s Royal Rumble match - and probably rightfully so. It’s not that we’re not excited about a staggered entry, over-the-top-rope elimination battle royal. We love the concept so much, we’ve run down our favorite moments in Rumble history on a couple of occassions, and my main man Geno Mrosko even created an Award to hand out for each one!

So we’re just nervous that while, yes, not mandating a major title shot for the victor likely expands the list of possible winners, it also increases the likelihood victory means very little (see: Mojo Rawley’s “career-changing” Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal win at WrestleMania 33).

There’s also some concern about how a 50 man Rumble will flow. The largest version of the match in history - where Alberto Del Rio stood tall in 2011 after 39 other men had been thrown out - isn’t exactly remembered as a classic. And not just because it was ADR headed to ‘Mania. WWE’s writers and agents have the 30 wrestler Rumble format down pretty well. How will they handle adding 20 more to that, in a match they only found out was happening just before this year’s Show of Shows, and possibly before the Superstar Shakeup line-ups were finalized to tell them what feuds they were building?

We’ll find out this afternoon (April 27). Maybe the Greatest Royal Rumble will deliver a lots of fun moments that advance angles and change a couple of guys’ careers based on their win or standout performances. Maybe it’ll be a two hour slog with exhausted men sweating away in the sun for an event which lives on as a trivia answer more than something viewers revisit on WWE Network.

Here’s a list of the 24 wrestlers announced for the match. Now let’s talk about The Big Dog and The Beast Incarnate.

One version of the story behind this Universal championship rematch has it that Vince McMahon made a late decision during ‘Mania week to have Brock Lesnar retain the title. He negotiated to add some possibly very expensive dates to the champ’s deal in order to complete the coronation of Roman Reigns in front of an audience that would be more receptive to his latest yard-claiming win. Brock will then eventually drift away to UFC and even more sporadic WWE appearances while Raw officially becomes The Roman Empire.

But most of that (minus the Lesnar contract stuff) is what we thought heading into WrestleMania 34. And that lead to Reigns kicking out of a lot of F5s, but not all them.

Does having their third singles encounter go down in a steel cage change the algebra? The possibility of an escape win means either man could be protected, or both could come out looking weaker, and give Paul Heyman a chance to deliver a promo explaining why we need another rematch.

More likely, though, the top of the Monday night card is different after this. Either because Roman undergoes a character change and/or a move to the mid-card, or because Brock exits the title scene completely for the Octagon and one-off, showcase matches at “Big 4” PPVs for WWE.

Only one man knows for sure, and that man ain’t me.

The title scene

That’s not the only WrestleMania rematch on the card for today’s noon Eastern bell time in King Abdullah Sport City Stadium. And the battle for the blue brand’s top belt has already given us a character change, and it’s that change which makes Shinsuke Nakamura’s latest attempt to take the WWE Title from AJ Styles so compelling. Who knew a bunch of low blows and some trolling could make a “Dream Match” even better?

In addition to the usual stakes that come from a title fight, the bouts for both the secondary men’s belts include added Raw/SmackDown drama. Current Intercontinental Champ Seth Rollins is on Team Red, as is one of the men he’ll face in today’s ladder match with the strap hung above the ring, Finn Bálor. The other two - The Miz attempting to claim this prize a record-tying ninth time, and Samoa Joe looking for his first WWE main roster gold - would take it to Tuesday night should they win.

And the United States Title is in the same boat, as new Raw Superstar Jinder Mahal tries to win the red, white and blue belt back from new SmackDown Superstar Jeff Hardy. Yeah, that’s pretty much the story there.

One championship is guaranteed to change hands, and that’s because neither “abeyance” or “vacant” made the trip to The Arabian Penisula. The Raw tag belts will be decided in a match between The Deleters of Worlds, Bray Wyatt and Woken Matt Hardy, who won an eliminator series to get this opportunity, and The Bar, who were placed in this match by General Manager Kurt Angle because no one could possibly expect them to beat a middle school student at WrestleMania. Adding drama, Cesaro and Sheamus were traded to SmackDown in the Shakeup, and want to use the championship as their excuse to move back to Mondays.

Things are bit more personal in the battle for the SmackDown tag team championship - which will definitely stay on the blue brand regardless of who wins between The Usos and Bludgeon Brothers. Harper and Rowan won the belts by brutalizing The New Day and Jimmy & Jey... and that hasn’t stopped since they claimed the straps in New Orleans. In Jeddah, the twins will be without the one person whose proven she can stop the Bludgeoners reign of terror - Naomi. How do they have plan to survive, let alone win, without The Glowstress?

There is a Preshow, but it’s not scheduled to have matches, so we think DRAKE MAVERICK’s boys are off Kickoff duty (but we’ll believe it when the hit the ring after noon). Either way, current Cruiserweight champ Cedric Alexander and former titleholder Kalisto will likely impress when they get a few minutes to fly around the ring for the Saudi fans.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- After some drama which may or may not have involved people being mad one wrestler refered to another wrestler as “old”, Undertaker’s unretirement tour continues by burying Rusev softly in a casket match. Even more than usual, it’s what happens after this match that’s really interesting. Is this finally the marquee moment which propels internet fave RuRu to a more prominent role on SmackDown? Is the Dead Man really back as part-timer for more than just annual ‘Mania appearances? We probably won’t get answers to either of those questions today, but we can discuss them during the six hours we’re watching WWE Network.

- Team cSs probably should have saved some of the grief we’ve sent the Rumble match’s way for Triple H vs. John Cena. Could a run-in between two of the biggest stars in history feel any less important? The hope seems to be this will continue Cena’s struggles which led into his taking a one-sided loss to Taker at the Superdome earlier this month. We know it won’t advance Hunter’s storyline with Ronda Rousey and his wife.

It’s the Greatest Royal Rumble!

What will you be looking for from the show this afternoon?

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