We’re just off the heels of one of the biggest WrestleMania’s of all time, a night filled with all the spectacle, excitement and energy a wrestling fan anticipates out of the biggest night in the annual wrestling calendar. 2018 however, is different. This coming Friday we will be treated to a show that might as well be considered a second WrestleMania; The Greatest Royal Rumble.
What a crazy time it is to be a fan of professional wrestling.
On April 27th the WWE hosts its first-ever live PPV-style show from the Middle East, a moment that I as someone of Arab descent never thought I would personally witness, at least not this soon. An event of this size extends far past symbolizing the growth of wrestling but positioning this form of sports-entertainment at the forefront of a massive shift in the social structure of a troubled society.
Anyone who keeps up-to-date with the news is probably well aware of Saudi Arabia’s controversial past as a nation. Issues such as the mistreatment of women, homosexuals & immigrants, the suppression of free speech & free thinking and the stagnation of their countries development which falls in line with their unwillingness to broaden the nations spectrum are just some of the issues that have taken a toll on both the nation’s government and its people. As of late however, we’ve seen a slight change.
Recently the country announced their ‘Saudi 2030’ plan, a program placed to reduce the countries reliance on oil and diversify its economy beyond traditional means. One of the first announcements made in March of this year, was a 10-year plan the Saudi General Sports Authority had made with the WWE to provide entertainment for the next decade. To someone like myself, who grew up in the Middle East and jumped at any & all chances at professional wrestling coming into our region, this is something larger than anyone expected.
While the Arab world has been treated to the likes of house shows & live events, being a part of an event streaming to a worldwide audience is a completely different animal. Not only do fans in the United States, Canada & United Kingdom get a taste of a culture that has been previously limited in exposure, the Middle Eastern culture also gets a taste of the largest scale of wrestling that until this event has been largely exclusive to the Western world.
Professional wrestling is one of the oldest forms of sports & entertainment in the world, and many including myself who have been in arenas with fans as diverse as the ones coming out of wrestling communities, know what a bridge it can be between people from all walks of life. Which is what makes this Friday’s Greatest Royal Rumble even more important, the WWE will display just how effective this form of entertainment is in brining people together.
This event is a chance to showcase just how passionate the Middle Eastern fanbase is towards professional wrestling, while also opening up the eyes of domestic audiences to show them that the Middle East has the potential to be far more developed than what is portrayed through most mainstream media outlets. It’s also the chance for one lucky Saudi talent to expose his potential talent to the millions that will be watching during that moment, through the WWE’s try-outs in Saudi Arabia over the last week. Personally, rushing a debut such as that could be catastrophic, but it’s the sentiment that matters in their idea.
Since we are here to talk about wrestling first and foremost, it’s worth noting that we are looking at arguably one of the most stacked cards in the history of the business. Names like The Undertaker, Triple H, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, Big Show, Kane, Mark Henry & finally The Great Khali among countless other current talents are all expected to participate in this star-studded card. The line-up is also crammed to the brink with a 50-Man Royal Rumble, a ladder match, a steel cage match & every championship being put on the line on-top of what was mentioned previously. It certainly isn’t everyday we get a card of this size, nor is it everyday we have so many big professional wrestling names under one roof.
The Greatest Royal Rumble isn’t just one of the biggest shows of the year, it’s one of the biggest spectacles WWE will produce for quite some time, or at least until Wrestlemania 35. It doesn’t just bare significance to the importance of professional wrestling outside the United States but is significant in displaying just how wrestling is being used in the pursuit to expand cultural boundaries. I know this article may seem more along the lines of a political piece as opposed to a wrestling piece, but for someone who’s grown up in the Middle East, I couldn’t be more thrilled to see an event of this importance be held in a region that many around the world had almost given up hope on.
Friday, April 27th, 2018 is more than just a WWE Network Special, it is a chance for a side of the world to experience something they almost never thought they would be able to. To anyone watching or considering watching The Greatest Royal Rumble this Friday I recommend you put yourself in the shoes of those individuals in the near 70,000 seat stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This is more than just a wrestling show, in a way it is a small symbol of hope, and I hope everyone appreciates this show for what it represents as well as for the work the numerous talents on the card are going to put in to steal the show once again.