As somebody that regularly writes about WWE for multiple websites, people expect me to care about their major events. I typically do. WrestleMania is always easy to get up for, even if the card looks lackluster. SummerSlam is typically built well and takes place at a great time for big events: the end of summer. Survivor Series has cool elimination matches. Heck, Money in the Bank has fun ladder matches, even if the briefcase concept is beyond played out.
Another event I’m always excited about is the Royal Rumble. Growing up, it was the event I looked most forward to. Even more than WrestleMania. There was something about the Royal Rumble Match that appealed to me. Thirty men entering the ring individually in approximately two-minute intervals for a shot at the WWE Champion at WrestleMania was incredibly fun. Even if the winner was pretty darn predictable most years, I felt like it gave everybody a chance to become Champion. Even guys like Virgil & Repo Man had a shot at it in my eyes.
It’s the one “Big 4” WWE event I’ve attended. In 2012 I made the trip to St. Louis with some of my offtheteam.com friends to see the Royal Rumble event. It didn’t go down in history as one of the great Rumbles, but I had a tremendous time. I haven’t been to a WrestleMania and that doesn’t really bother me. Getting to a Rumble more than makes up for it.
With all that being established, you would think that I’m pretty interested in Friday afternoon’s Greatest Royal Rumble event, being aired live from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on WWE Network. It’s certainly a stacked show. Every male championship will be on the line. John Cena & Triple H will face off. The Undertaker will battle Rusev in a casket match that’s had the strangest build of any match in recent memory. The cherry on top? A 50-man Royal Rumble match! I have no idea how they’ll fill that many slots without taking volunteers from the crowd.
It’s certainly an interesting show on paper, and feels like something I should be excited about. Yet, I don’t feel excitement. Something just doesn’t feel right. This isn’t a Top 5 column, but let’s run down the reasons I’m not feeling the Greatest Royal Rumble hype.
That name…Greatest Royal Rumble.
I mean, “Greatest Royal Rumble” is just an awful name all around. It sounds like you’re trying way too hard to get people to pay attention. It puts down all the Royal Rumbles that took place before it, including the one back in January. Speaking of which…
We just had a Royal Rumble.
Why are we stepping all over the annual Royal Rumble event by holding another one a mere three months after? This reminds me of when Major League Baseball would hold two All-Star Games in a season. OK, I wasn’t alive when they did that, so I can’t really say it reminds me of it. But you get what I’m saying. You got one Royal Rumble a year. Why water it down? And as the year they had forty people enter it proved, more doesn’t always equal better.
Noon on a Friday
Maybe this aspect doesn’t matter as much in 2018 because we can watch the damn show anytime we want. But there’s still something about the live aspect of a show, with the live reactions on social media & everybody discussing what’s going on. Most of us will be working when this happens. And let’s be honest, it’s a Friday, so most of us aren’t going to interrupt our Friday night plans for it. WWE should have figured this out when they put SmackDown on Friday nights & nobody watched.
OK. Here we go.
I realize that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has paid Vince McMahon & World Wrestling Entertainment a tremendous amount of money. WWE, therefore, should feel obligated to put on a hell of a show for the money they’re being given. As somebody that has various jobs based on customers paying me their hard-earned money, I totally understand.
As somebody that isn’t getting paid by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I don’t have to hold my nose & glorify their regime. Their deplorable human rights record is well-known. We all know that the United States & other nations turn a blind eye because of the oil reserves. They’re customers just like WWE is. They control the oil, so they can do whatever they want. It’s not an ideal situation, but we haven’t figured out a way around it yet.
The most obvious influence the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has had on this show? The complete lack of female Superstars. Which in this climate where WWE has been all about women making history for the past few years is pretty glaring.
The pro-Saudi crowd will point out that women were granted the right to vote in 2015. You know, only 96 years after the United States started letting them vote. That’s not too bad, right? They let them drive last year, which might be even crazier than letting them vote.
To be fair to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, things seem to be heading in a different direction. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been making waves recently. He especially seems interested in opening Saudi Arabia up to the entertainment industry. Along with this random WWE show, Saudi Arabia recently allowed a movie to be shown. A MOVIE!
Listen, we’ve seen people try to enact reform in the Middle East. Yitzhak Rabin. Anwar Sadat. The Arab Spring uprisings. It never ends well. Somebody gets assassinated & things end up more repressive than before. I’m going to need to see a lot of things happen before I buy into the idea of WWE having a Rocky IV moment in Saudi Arabia, where if you can change & I can change, then everybody can change. Once WWE does a few of these events & they go off without a hitch, and progress is made to the point where they actually let the womenfolk on these shows, I’ll start buying into the hype.
I might not be from Missouri, but you still have to show me.