WWE’s first stadium in the show started with some of the biggest names in wrestling history, as John Cena and Triple H kicked off Greatest Royal Rumble.
The lack of build was noted by many, but it didn’t seem to matter to the crowd when The Game walked to the ring in relatively simple motorcycle-loving cool dad attire. Cena was greeted by a ramp full of local children wearing his gear.
The festivities are underway as The of @TripleH makes his way to the ring in Jeddah! #WWEGRR pic.twitter.com/xbwDs9LP8p— WWE (@WWE) April 27, 2018
HE HAS ARRIVED!#WWEGRR @JohnCena pic.twitter.com/LipwDSrenb— WWE (@WWE) April 27, 2018
Michael Cole ran down the history between the two, who last faced each other one-on-one eight years ago. Each man won an early power struggle, which led to a test of strength that Hunter ended with a kick to the mid-section.
It was a slow-paced affair to start, perhaps intentionally honoring the style of matches popular during the late, great Bruno Sammartino’s heyday. The fans in Jeddah were excited to see both legends, but it seemed to be a pro-babyface audience early - something Trips played into early and often, mocking Cena’s trademark “You Can’t See Me” hand gesture.
That's why they call him the #CerebralAssassin...#WWEGRR @TripleH pic.twitter.com/WxGhLnTPjr— WWE (@WWE) April 27, 2018
For most of the match, the story was The Cerebral Assassin being one step ahead of Cena, shutting down every bit of momentum the 16 time World champ got. Neither man was moving at full speed, and some big spots didn’t quite come together, as when Cena went for a drop kick or leg drop off the top rope and Haitch stepped back, more or less leaving him to fall flatbacked onto the mat. Corey Graves sold it as a powerbomb counter, but... eh.
It did lead to an exciting stretch of nearfalls. U.S. fans may be jaded to finisher kickouts, but the wrestlers used the fresh eyes of Saudi fans to deliver some compelling 2.999 counts out of an AA and a Pedigree.
In the end, Cena needed two AAs, wrapped around a slingshot into the turnbuckles, to finish The Game. The victor offered some words to the fans - and referenced his recent break-up, thanking them for the chance to get his mind off his recent troubles, and how he wouldn’t let that lead to him missing the opportunity to be here - to start the show with King Abdullah Sports City Stadium full of happy fans.
Get complete Greatest Royal Rumble results and coverage of the entire card here.