There’s not much new to say about WWE’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. This is the third event of a ten year contract between the company and the Kingdom’s Sports Authority, and the best thing we can say about it is that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman hasn’t ordered the dismemberment of any journalists in the months leading up to it (that we know of).
Vince McMahon and his various stakeholders are getting big checks for the show, and they’re passing some of that along to stars of yesteryear like Undertaker & Goldberg that the Saudis want to see. Women, Syrians and people with occult-looking tattoos aren’t welcome, but WWE is trying to get approval for at least one of those groups to perform in the country at some point before the contract is up.
Welcome to Super ShowDown!
One thing which is different his time is that The ‘E is marketing the Friday afternoon pay-per-view (PPV) as “WrestleMania equivalent”... whatever that means. So for $#!+s and giggles, we figured we’d run down the card to see whether each of the 10 - 12 matches fits that description.
Undertaker vs. Goldberg
So, an immediate problem with this exercise - and how WWE loses no sleep over claims like this one - is whether or not we’re looking at WrestleMania as “the show where long programs are resolved” or as “the place where capital-M moments happen”.
By the latter measure, there’s no doubt putting two of the biggest stars the business has ever seen in their first and likely only singles match qualifies. By the former? The story is a week old and involves them saying their own and each other’s catchphrases at one another.
But, it’s WWE making the “as good or better than WrestleMania” boast, and the Showcase of the Immortals is as much about spectacle as story for WWE these days. We’ll call this one equal to a WrestleMania match.
Triple H vs. Randy Orton
Hard to argue this one, as these two legends already met on the Grandest Stage of Them All back in 2009 (and as part of a Triple Threat with Jon Cena the year before). It’s also been a No Mercy match, and a Royal Rumble one. And a Judgement Day and an Unforgiven match. Let’s not forget The Bash.
Built on short notice just like Taker and Bill G, your interest in their rivalry at this point largely depends on your tolerance for referencing “the business” in promos, and how impressed you are when grown men brag about the size/ownership of their testicles.
Still, seems like something you’d see in a stadium in April, so it’s equal to a WrestleMania match.
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Baron Corbin for the Universal championship*
The former Sheriff of Raw capitalized on one of the many big spots he gets on Monday nights to become the #1 contender, and it’ll happen here. Rollins is literally beaten up after Mr. Money in the Beast (or whatever) pummeled him with the briefcase this past Monday, but I still wouldn’t give Corbin much of a chance here. Sorry, but anything with Baron and Universal title in it is less than a WrestleMania match.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston (c) for the WWE title*
Hey look! A story!
Personally, I’ve disliked Ziggler for so long I can’t tell when I’m being worked into hating him vs. when I just normally hate him. But his perpetually aggrieved schtick makes perfect sense as the foil for Kofi. Mix the heat of “man who quits when things aren’t going his way vs. guy who perseveres and made the most of his opportunity when it finally came” with their long history, and this is greater than a WrestleMania match - an average one, anyway.
* Brock Lesnar has promised to cash-in his Money in the Bank briefcase
The threat of punishment for a cash-in tease followed by a bait-and-switch the past couple weeks might be the final nail in a dying concept’s coffin. But especially with a couple of stakes-free special attractions at the top of the card, this is the most suspenseful angle we’ll have this afternoon. Plus, ‘Mania’s the one show we know Brock will show up for, so this has to be at least equal to a WrestleMania match.
Finn Bálor (c) vs. Andrade for the Intercontinental championship
First and foremost, this should rock. These are two of the best wrestlers in the world, and Andrade especially feels like he’s on the cusp of finally breaking out on the main roster.
Unfortunately, it’s been given the boilerplate WWE program to build to it. Each man got a win over the other, the heel issued the challenge, the babyface champion accepted. And for some reason will summon his inner “Demon” for the fight. With a more interesting, heated feud, this could be an all-timer. As it is, can’t go with more than equal to a WrestleMania match.
Roman Reigns vs. Shane McMahon
Time was, ‘Mania was one of the only times Shane O’Mac did throw fake looking punches and drop elbows on announce tables and go coast to coast. Now he does it all the time. This feels like our third or fourth remix of “Big Dog vs. Authority”, and we already know Reigns will face McMahon’s henchman Drew McIntyre in a few weeks after he deals with the boss-man. Seems kind of backwards, and one of a few reasons we’re going with less than a WrestleMania match here.
Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Lashley
A remnant of when Strowman was cast in his own “vs. Authority” program, this was announced way before they remembered they had that story fragment from last year to fall back on - just look at how generic WWE.com’s official preview for this (and most of today’s matches) is. We did get an arm wrestling contest out of it, so we’ve got that going for us.
Could be a heck of a hoss fight, but with how horrible both of these guys have been booked lately, gotta call this less than a WrestleMania match.
Lars Sullivan vs. The Lucha House Party
Sigh... it’s already happened on free TV a few times, and we’ve seen the “Monster” back down from the trio of cruiserweight luchadors and wax philosophically about the nature of man (or something). At least it’s been so boring they made us forget about the edgelord crap Lars wrote on a message board before he signed with WWE that WWE decided to fine him for anyway, and how weird it is WWE has him working his first main roster angle with a Mexican-American who tweeted about shooting on him over it.
Oh yeah. Less than a WrestleMania match.
50 Man Battle Royal
This isn’t even officially listed on WWE’s website, and in addition to official entrants Elias and Mojo Rawley, we’re getting reports it’ll be populated with “creative has nothing for you” types like Matt Hardy, Jinder Mahal, No Way Jose, The Singh Brothers, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Even The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal usually gets a celebrity or two. We don’t even know if the winner gets a belt or trophy like Braun got for winning Greatest Royal Rumble. Less than a WrestleMania match.
The Revival vs. The Usos
A rivalry we were all really looking forward to after the Superstar Shake-up should still produce a great match. But back shaving videos and playing back-up to Shane O’Mac and Big Uce have taken some of the luster off a collision between two of the best tag teams on the planet. It’s your Kickoff match, and it’s equal to a WrestleMania (Kickoff) match.
So that’s Super ShowDown.
WrestleMania-ish enough for you?