WWE Greatest Royal Rumble airs live on WWE Network this Friday (yes, Friday) at noon EST (yes, noon), and there’s even an hour-long pre-show before it. WWE’s first major show from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, features a blockbuster card and, as advertised, the “greatest” Royal Rumble ever, bumping the number of participants up from 30 to 50. There are also seven championship matches, a casket match, and more. Here’s the complete Hashtag WWE GRR card as we know it.
WWE Greatest Royal Rumble Card:
1. WWE Universal Championship Steel Cage Match: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns
2. WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
3. 50-Man Greatest Royal Rumble Match
4. WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Seth Rollins (c) vs. The Miz vs. Finn Bálor vs. Samoa Joe
5. WWE United States Championship Match: Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Jinder Mahal
6. Raw Tag Team Championship Match: Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy vs. Sheamus and Cesaro
7. Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. The Usos
8. Triple H vs. John Cena
9. Casket Match: The Undertaker vs. Rusev
10. WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Cedric Alexander (c) vs. Kalisto
This is technically a pay-per-view — the third in less than a month, counting Backlash on May 6 — so we’ve put together a complete rundown of the card, featuring analysis and predictions for all ten matches. We’ll also be here on Friday with a live thread (for anyone not working, I guess) and results (for anyone that is).
Here’s what we think will happen. As a quick note, there’s not a lot of “story” to most of these matches, so please forgive our brevity if we don’t have three dense paragraphs about why the Undertaker’s definitely not spending more than five minutes on Rusev.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Cedric Alexander (c) vs. Kalisto
What Should Happen: Cedric should definitely retain here, and they shouldn’t be tempted to do an early show title change just because they don’t really care that much about it. Cedric vs. Kalisto could be great, though, even if I still think Mustafa Ali should’ve gotten the spot and the win here.
What Will Happen: That, I think. I just hope they don’t end up on the pre-show again.
Emily Pratt – Cedric retains.
Robby Kalland – Cedric Alexander.
Bill Hanstock – Well, we all sort of assumed this match would be against Mustafa Ali, so Kalisto’s a bit of a surprise, but it’s not like it’s an unwelcome change or anything. They’ll have a good match, and Alexander will get to look strong in retaining before Buddy Murphy skips a meal and ruins his entire life at Backlash.
Scott Heisel – Cedric retains, and we find out if Saudi Arabia cares about cruiserweights or not.
Elle Collins – I love both of these guys, and this will surely be a great match. I’m picking Cedric to win though. He just got that belt after it was vacant for so long, and he needs a decent run with it right now, for the good of both him and the belt itself.
Robby Cole – Welcome to the pre-show on the other side of the world. Cedric has a real program to build with Buddy Murphy, so this is just a formality. What’s that old saying – Cruiserweights have more 12-minute matches before 9 a.m. than most people do all day?
Casket Match: The Undertaker vs. Rusev
What Should Happen: Rusev should’ve just taken the weekend off and let Chris Jericho wrestle this instead.
What Will Happen: Poor Rusev. Poor, poor Rusev.
Emily Pratt – No contest after Chris Jericho runs in, setting up a Heel Jericho vs. Face Rusev feud? Just kidding, the Undertaker will probably win this in five minutes or less.
Robby Kalland – Bury me softly, brother. Taker wins.
Bill Hanstock – I’m stupidly excited about this match that is going to last less than three minutes. Rusev will be softly buried, brother, and while Undertaker might be motivated to have a better casket match against Chris Jericho, I’m very, very happy for Rusev that he gets to have a wild freak-attraction match against the goddang post-retirement-question-mark Undertaker in 2018. Good for him.
Scott Heisel – Bury him softly, brother.
Elle Collins – It would be great if the Undertaker put Rusev over here. Especially since the Undertaker is probably going away for at least a little while, it would make so much more sense for Rusev (who’s fully turning babyface whether WWE likes it or not) to come home as a triumphant hero while Taker leaves in a casket. So anyway, obviously I’m predicting the Undertaker to win here, because of course he will.
Robby Cole – Even though the Undertaker is known for losing casket matches, there is no way he is flying to the other side of the world to lose to Russev. Do they even celebrate Russev day in Saudi Arabia? Be ready to fake laugh at a lot of “Russev got buried” jokes on wrestling Twitter and wonder what better things we could have been doing on Friday morning.
Triple H vs. John Cena
What Should Happen: Ronda Rousey wrestles in Cena’s place, dressed like John Cena, doing all of John Cena’s moves, and WWE just pretends she’s a man. And then they make a WWE Studios film adaptation of the story starring Amanda Bynes.
What Will Happen: Triple H wins, unless that shit he said about why he beat Jinder Mahal in India was a lie and countries getting their first big WWE shows don’t need to see very important Triple H win.
Emily Pratt – Wait, what? I am just finding out about this now. What is going on here? Why is this happening? This match will either be very good or super annoying, and… Triple H wins, I guess?
Robby Kalland – Triple H. I like this because both look weak coming out of Mania so I fully expect them to Hulk it up to the highest levels and kick out of 5 finishers each to remind us all they are STRONG MEN. Triple H wins on his sixth Pedigree of the match, though, because Trips ain’t in the business of losing two matches in a row (and Cena can keep up his “woe is me” run that allows him to get a surprise win over someone at SummerSlam).
Bill Hanstock – This is going to go one of two ways: either this is going to be a six-minute highlight reel from two guys who only do this a couple times a year and are pretty over the idea of being pro wrestlers, or it’s going to be a 27-minute Triple H epic layaround special. I’m guessing the latter. I’m also guessing John Cena wins this one, because the kid could really stand to get his shine back after being trounced by grizzled old vet the Undertaker at WrestleMania.
Scott Heisel – What a random-ass match to happen in 2018. Cena wins, I guess? I’m setting the over/under of combined AAs and Pedigrees at six.
Elle Collins – Man, I don’t know! This match doesn’t matter at all, and both of these guys love to win. I think Cena should win, and probably will, but you never know when Hunter’s going to decide it’s his time.
Robby Cole – John Cena is going to be the most over person in the country, right? While neither of these part timers ever needs a win, I feel like John Cena the guy could use a win right now. Just be glad that Saudi Arabia has certain antiquated ideas about women performing, John. There’s nothing more awkward than running into your ex at work.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. The Usos
What Should Happen: This should go more than five minutes, which seems like a bad thing for me to be asking on a show that’s going to last six hours and feature a 2 1/2 hour Royal Rumble. Still, I’d like to see them get more than they got at Mania, which felt like less than nothing.
What Will Happen: The Bludgies have crushed the Usos every week, and only lost one (1) fight because Naomi showed up to cause a distraction. Since they’re having the title match on a show Naomi’s not even allowed to be at, the Bludgeon Brothers retain. Sadly.
Emily Pratt – It seems like they want to set up the Smackdown men’s tag team division with the Bludgeon Brothers as the team nobody can figure out how to defeat. I think they’ll retain here so the rest of that stacked division can get shots at the monster champs. But hopefully the Usos get more of a fighting chance here and don’t just get demolished again.
Robby Kalland – The Bludgeon Brothers are apparently indestructible so they’ll win here in another really dumb squash match. I hope I’m very wrong about this.
Bill Hanstock – Given the disappointing performance at WrestleMania, I’m guessing the Usos are really interested in trying to steal the show, and given the ability of Luke Harper, I think there’s a real chance they could deliver a classic here.
Scott Heisel – The Cranberry Crushers retain (and the Usos should have been traded to Raw after the dynamite year they’ve had).
Elle Collins – The Usos are great, but the Bludgeon Brothers are doing a thing right now, and they’re going to retain for the time being.
Robby Cole – Here’s the one title change I think we’re actually going to see. The other titles have brand switching implications that aren’t worth the trouble, but this is that one title change that will pop the crowd and not be of much consequence. Besides, isn’t “the Smackdown Tag Team Championship changed hands at a house show in Saudi Arabia” just the most logical sentence you’ve ever heard?
Raw Tag Team Championship Match: Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy vs. Sheamus and Cesaro
What Should Happen: The Revival should be in this. Also, see the next “what should happen” for Jeff Hardy vs. Jinder Mahal.
What Will Happen: It’s a brand new team of popular Raw guys against the former champs who’ve already moved to Smackdown and started a preemptive feud with the New Day. Twister Sister wins, and we get the novelty of seeing how a Middle Eastern crowd responds to the Wonderful!/Standing Ovation bit.
Emily Pratt – It would be super weird for Sheamus and Cesaro to win the Raw Tag Team Championship after being Superstar Shaken Up to Smackdown, unless they were immediately going to be Superstar Shaken back? So I assume Wyatt and Hardy win here and the match is super fun. Hopefully this helps them attract more cult members, because I think their pose needs like 3-4 more people.
Robby Kalland – Bray and Matt have to win here. They’re building them up and also Sheamus needs to finally get that time off they couldn’t give him because they had a damn child take the titles off of The Bar at Mania.
Bill Hanstock – Will the Raw tag team titles be won by the team that isn’t on Raw? No. No, they won’t be. Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy continue the next step in their weird evolution by winning tag team gold (or silver, or whatever), and hopefully we can advance to them having classics against the Revival or Breezango or Ziggler and McIntyre, or just getting trounced by the Authors of Pain. I’m okay with genuinely any of these scenarios, to be honest.
Scott Heisel – What are these two teams competing for, which pairing has the worst theme song mashup? House Hardy wins the straps.
Elle Collins – Bray and Matt have to win, right? Putting the belts back on the Bar here would be ridiculous. They still might do it, but I’m predicting that they won’t.
Robby Cole – Sheamus and Cesaro are on Smackdown, so it would be awkward if they brought the Raw Tag Team Championships with them. It’s unfortunate, because this was a match that could have been a toss up. I feel like Sheamus and Cesaro are the kind of wrestlers who can match up and bring out the best in Wyatt, so hopefully this match will go a long way in the continuing rehabbing of the Eater of Worlds.
WWE United States Championship Match: Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Jinder Mahal
What Should Happen: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt win the Raw Tag Team Championship, and this U.S. title match ends up getting turned into “The Greatest Deletion,” a mash-up of the Broken Universe stuff and the House of Horrors match where they like, fight in the desert and run into mythical creatures.
What Will Happen: If this were WrestleMania, I’d pick “the Singh Brothers distract Hardy, allowing Mahal to hit Khallas and win.” Since it’s not, and this is more or less a glorified, enormous house show, Hardy retains. Unless, you know, the Singh Brothers distract Hardy, allowing Mahal to hit Khallas and win. Always a safe bet.
Emily Pratt – I just said it would be great if Jinder won the US and took it back to Raw without realizing I fantasy booked myself back into Mahal vs. Orton at Backlash. So please, wrestling gods (er, goddess Palaestra, apparently?) let Jeff Hardy win this match.
Robby Kalland – If Seth wins, then Hardy wins. That’s how math works.
Bill Hanstock – Normally I would assume Mahal gets his title back at the GRR, but Hardy and the U.S. title are on Smackdown now, so … sorry? The only thing I could see them pulling is to have Miz or Samoa Joe win the Intercontinental title for Smackdown and … that’s probably exactly what will happen, isn’t it? Sorry, Jeff, but Mahal NEEDS that title. He needs it so he can lose it to Finn Bálor on Monday!
Scott Heisel – The hindrance of Jinderance continues with Jeff retaining.
Elle Collins – I’m going out on a limb here and predicting that Jinder wins. For a show this size in a new market, they probably want it to feel consequential, and they can always switch the US Title back to Smackdown (whether on Jeff or somebody else) at Backlash.
Robby Cole – My fear seeing the crazy GRR stage setup is that Jeff Hardy is going to try and jump off something really big. Jinder Mahal may have been the greatest WWE champion in Smackdown history (don’t @ me) but they went to great lengths to move the US title to Smackdown. They aren’t about to hotshot it back to Raw.
WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Seth Rollins (c) vs. The Miz vs. Finn Bálor vs. Samoa Joe
What Should Happen: Match of the night. Three of these guys almost stole the show at WrestleMania 34 and now they’re adding Samoa Joe and ladders. This will only be bad if something goes horribly, horribly wrong. I’d love to see The Miz win, because The Miz with the Intercontinental Championship is just the proper state of things. You could have him win, and have Mahal win back the United States Championship for a seamless belt swap between shows. Or have Miz win and use it as an excuse to go back to Raw without getting punched in the face by Daniel Bryan.
What Will Happen: Seth Rollins retains. This should be great, though. I’m fine with any of the four winning. Plus infinity points for the rest of our lives if Finn wears the rainbow jacket.
Emily Pratt – It would be odd to take the title off Monday Night Grand Slam Rollins this quickly, but also it would be kind of great if the Miz won the IC and brought it to Smackdown and then Jinder won the US and took it to Raw and we did in fact get that secondary title switcheroo. I still think Seth retains though, in what could easily be MOTN.
Robby Kalland – Seth Rollins wins. The US title and IC title matches are weird because if Seth or Finn win, Hardy has to win to keep the midcard title balance between Raw and Smackdown. If Miz or Joe win, Jinder has to take the US title back to Raw. They keep the strap on Seth Rollins here because he’s got so much heat right now as the best babyface on Raw (since Roman is garbage as a babyface) and they should keep the title on him and give him a proper feud with Finn before giving us Roman-Rollins like we need for the Universal Championship.
Bill Hanstock – I’m very, very excited for this match. I’m excited to see Samoa Joe wreck shop in a WWE ladder match, and I’m excited to see the Miz recapture the Intercontinental Championship and take it over to Smackdown, so that the blue brand can truly “win” the Superstar Shake-Up. The only other option I see happening is Bálor finally getting that secondary title. I think we’re all just hoping for a great match where nobody gets hurt. And I think all four of these guys are probably motivated by a little NXT ladder match we saw a couple of weeks ago.
Scott Heisel – Presumably, this will be the show-stealer of the night (er, day), and also, thanks to its gimmick, could serve as a way to move the title to Finn without Seth actually being pinned, to keep that feud growing. Plus, Finn has experience with winning gold on random WWE Network specials airing at strange times (hello, Beast In The East!). So I’m gonna pick Finn for a quick switch, with the one-on-one rematch getting booked for Payback on Monday.
Elle Collins – Seth retains, I think. If anybody else wins, it’s Finn. Probably not here though, I’m sticking with Seth.
Robby Cole – Because of the Superstar Shake-Up, I feel that Rollins and Bálor are the only two viable winners here. This should probably be the match of the day. Miz has a future feud with Daniel Bryan to build to and Samoa Joe has a date with Roman Reigns in a couple of weeks. I feel that Seth and Finn are going to feud over the IC belt for a while after this, and I think it’s too soon for a title change so quickly after WrestleMania.
50-Man Greatest Royal Rumble Match
What Should Happen: Kofi Kingston. This should be Kofi’s trophy. Trofi? The poor guy is a focal point of every Royal Rumble, every year, and can never actually win one because of the whole “winner gets a title shot at WrestleMania” thing. This is for nothing but bragging rights and one of the like 15 giant trophies WWE bought on clearance or whatever last year, so giving it to Kofi would be the right move. He gets to be the guy who won the “greatest” Royal Rumble for the rest of his life, whether ever wins a real one or not.
What Will Happen: It’s either Braun Strowman or Daniel Bryan, and I’ve gotta lean toward Strowman. Bryan’s probably more useful getting thrown out by Big Cass (or The Miz) to set up their thing at Backlash, and we all know how mad Daniel Bryan getting prematurely eliminated from a Royal Rumble pisses off everyone in the world. Strowman gets these hands and Gets This Win, hopefully by eliminating Nicholas last. Hey, we can dream.
Emily Pratt – I semi-recently watched the 1997 WCW World War 3 PPV for the first time. The titular sixty-man battle royal main event included Meng, and I was very disappointed to see that he did not win. Meng, as King Haku, competed in the Wrestle Kingdom 10 New Japan Rumble two years ago and lasted almost 25 minutes, despite being in his late fifties. We recently had a WK10 sequel match at WrestleMania. Additionally, Tama Tonga recently wore a King Haku shirt during a successful NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship defense. Therefore, I predict that [King] Haku/Meng will be a surprise entrant in the 50-Man Greatest Royal Rumble Match and will win the whole thing. If not, I will be very disappointed.
Robby Kalland – Braun Strowman. This is probably the most fun match to predict because unlike the rest that are hamstrung by Raw/Smackdown storylines and the like, this is just a random ass 50-man Rumble with nothing on the line, so WWE can get weird. They’ll want this to be a big name to have the PRESTIGE of being the first GRR champion and they’ll give that honor to Braun Strowman, because they kinda owe him for being like “hey man, we have nothing for you at Mania, so you’re winning the tag titles with a child then dropping them the next night.” I’m fully prepared for them to screw this up and make Randall Orton the winner.
Bill Hanstock – I mean … it’s Braun Strowman, right? It seems like the winner of this Greatest Royal Rumble isn’t getting anything other than a big, nondescript trophy, so you might as well have your biggest (literally) star win the dang thing. Other candidates I might see winning this: Daniel Bryan, Owens and/or Zayn, Big Show, Undertaker? My guesses for surprise entrants are Alberto Del Rio, Wade Barrett, Fit Finlay, and anyone from NXT. Velveteen Dream, please and thank you. This is going to be weird and wild, and Royal Rumble matches are almost always good. So sure, let’s have a third one this year. I’m for it.
Scott Heisel – I don’t have any idea who is even in this, but if Braun Strowman doesn’t win, then I will officially stop watching WWE (for the rest of the week).
Elle Collins – With this many people in the match, it’s hard to even make a dark horse pick. Braun Strowman seems like a good bet, but I could also see it going to Daniel Bryan, who could use a strong win as his in-ring career gets going again. So yeah, I’m going with DB, but keep an eye on Braun.
Robby Cole – Are there even 50 men on the roster currently? What’s fun about this match is, because there really isn’t anything at stake, anyone can win. You could use this to build up anyone, the way they tried to do with the Andre Battle Royal. Could this finally be the match where Curt Hawkins turns it all around? Does a battle royal count towards someone’s win and loss record? If I had to guess, though, I’d say Daniel Bryan outlasts everyone and wins the whole damn thing.
WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
What Should Happen: A “make-up” for the disappointing WrestleMania 34 match, sorta like how Daniel Bryan and Sheamus had that barn-burner Extreme Rules match a month after the sub-20-seconds horror at a WrestleMania. Nakamura is head and shoulders a better and more engaging presence than he was just a few weeks ago, so giving him his proper swagger and having Styles have to deal with that instead of doing the first 20 minutes of a New Japan match without the 20 it builds to is the call.
I don’t see any championships changing hands besides the Universal (and technically the Raw Tag Team, because they’re vacant), so I’m picking Styles to retain. Here’s why.
What Will Happen: One of the best reactions the Road Dogg ever got was in his King of the Ring ’99 match with Chyna, when he countered a low blow by revealing that he’d been wearing a cup. There’s no way Road Dogg’s in charge of a WWE Championship feud about low blows that isn’t going to end with Nakamura going for one behind the referee’s back, Styles revealing he’s wearing a cup, and hitting something to win the match.
Emily Pratt – Shinsuke wins after a debilitating strike to AJ’s phenomenal ones, and begins a legendary heel champ run (and eventually loses the belt to Daniel Bryan.)
Robby Kalland – AJ wins by somehow countering a Shinsuke low blow attempt. I just feel like they can’t have the entire build be “this guy keeps hitting the champ in the dick” and then pay it off with that guy winning. What kind of message does that send to the children?!
Bill Hanstock – My advice to AJ Styles: watch out for the dickpunch. I feel like Nakamura NEEDS to win the title here, but I’m guessing it will just be the middle chapter of a trilogy, with a non-finish to lead to a third match, maybe no disqualifications, at Backlash, where we finally get the classic we’ve been wanting all along. AJ retains, although the feud must continue. I’m okay with it!
Scott Heisel – With the Universal Championship (probably) changing hands, the WWE Championship will (probably) stay with the champ. AJ retains due to dick-punch-related disqualification.
Elle Collins – I don’t know what this show is going to be like in terms of match integrity. Is it a big enough event that they want most matches to have clean finishes, or is there room for some schmozz? I bring this up here because Shinsuke is obsessed with low blows right now, and I would be surprised if he gets DQed here because he’d rather threaten AJ’s ability to keep fathering children than win the WWE Championship. Either way, AJ retains.
Robby Cole – Heel, ball busting Shinsuke Nakamura has been perfect so far. As much as I can see Shinsuke cheating his way into the title and having AJ have to chase to get it back, I just don’t think it’s happening now. I’m predicting a dick punching disqualification. AJ works the knee so Shinsuke can’t connect cleanly with the kinshasa has psychology and nuance, while AJ gets hit in the groin has AJ getting hit in the groin. It’s universal.
WWE Universal Championship Steel Cage Match: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns
What Should Happen: This *has* to be where Roman Reigns finally defeats Brock Lesnar, ending our nearly half-a-decade-long coronation of Roman Reigns as the “guy” and the most important singles champion in the company, right? We aren’t just … doing another match like this?
The steel cage match stipulation seems important because Roman could effectively win and become Universal Champion without Brock Lesnar getting pinned, which would (sigh) set up a rematch between the two for SummerSlam or whatever. I think most wrestling fans, pro- or anti-Roman, want them to just shit or get off the pot with this story, make Roman the champion, and move the hell on. Can we have Roman finally triumph and then let Samoa Joe completely ruin him at Backlash?
What Will Happen: Again, this has to be Roman’s night, right? It’s not WrestleMania but it’s WrestleMania Extra, in front of a crowd that probably isn’t going to treat him like we would in The States, on a “first-ever” event called “the greatest” something. In a steel cage. Unless they’re planning to literally put him over Jesus Christ and have him stop the Rapture, you aren’t gonna get better conditions to put the guy over. Just do it. It’s fine. It’s fine.
Emily Pratt – Roman wins and gets to get cheered for winning a thing that isn’t Shield-related and isn’t at a house show. After Mania, I honestly have no idea whether this match will be good or bad. I expected that main event to be way more enjoyable than it was. If it’s not good, I’ll try to assuage my feeling by thinking of the upcoming Battle of the Samoan Josephs at Backlash.
Robby Kalland – Roman has to win here, right? I love that the general idea is WWE wants Roman to win in front of a more favorable crowd as though that’s going to keep him from getting mercilessly booed when he shows up on Raw with the title on Monday. Anyways, Roman finally takes a win here unless they secretly love just burying the guy.
Bill Hanstock – Rumors suggest WWE is still undecided about who’s going to win this match, but come on: Reigns has gotta win the title, finally. We were all ready for it to happen in New Orleans, actual burnt-out crowd in the building aside, and we need a fighting champion who’s always there, not a special attraction. There are so many Universal Championship feuds ready to go with Reigns as champ, and we need those to start happening, already.
Scott Heisel – The internet seems convinced the Universal title switch will happen here, and it makes sense: Brock can lose without being pinned, the crowd will (hopefully) cheer Roman, and we can move on with this sh*t already. Part of me thinks Vince will never let his top title change on a random-ass event taking place halfway around the world in the middle of a Friday afternoon, but at the same time, it will get people talking, so might as well do it.
Elle Collins – We’re all assuming it will be Roman this time, but we were all assuming it would be Roman at WrestleMania! I still think it’s going to be Roman. Brock winning would make EVEN LESS SENSE here than it did at Mania. So I’m saying Roman. (It still might be Brock.)
Robby Cole – Even though I think this is the only scenario where Roman Reigns can end a show as champion without the crowd shitting all over him, I still can’t see them pulling the trigger on the title change here. It just feels like a super lucrative house show, and my expectations are the same. Brock retains after Roman kicks out of literally a dozen F5s or something equally stupid.
That’s it for the card. Who do you think will win? Will the Greatest Royal Rumble be the, you know, greatest Royal Rumble, or will it not even be the best Royal Rumble this year? Let us know in our comments section below, and make sure you join us tomorrow for the show.