WWE announced today that there will be a special live event held at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Friday, April 27th that has been dubbed, surprisingly enough, Greatest Royal Rumble.
Immediately, I had the same reaction a lot of people probably had: “Huhh?? Wait, is that a typo?” I mean, I could have sworn the 2019 Royal Rumble was set for Phoenix, Arizona, but maybe my wires got crossed somewhere along the lines.
Lo and behold, it’s not the 2019 event, but just an entirely separate thing altogether, which means it’s up for pure speculation in all sorts of different ways.
Who will be competing? Is there anything on the line for the winner to receive? Do any wrestlers stand out as potential winners?
Now is as good a time as any to run rampant with theories on all manners, so let’s just dive into it!
The Idea Itself
I’m a bit on the fence of whether or not I like this, as there are two completely different elements fighting each other on which is more important.
I like the idea that WWE is trying to appeal to another country to bring in more fans and to further extend the reach of the product to a more globalized scale, and having a big event is going to do much more than just a live tour of house shows, that’s for sure.
But why a Royal Rumble? Why not maybe do something different and special just for this crowd, like debuting a new gimmick match entirely or bringing back something we haven’t seen for many years (or, possibly, at all in WWE, if you can take a concept from WCW or ECW and usher that into the modern era like WarGames)?
In a way, I feel like this hurts the actual Royal Rumble, which should be one of the most protected things in company lore, in my mind. Granted, I know having this event isn’t going to make people think less of the Royal Rumble come January 2019, but I’m just not a fan of having a secondary one take place at random like that.
Right now, there are more pros to do this than cons, but I’m nitpicky enough that I can’t shake the uneasiness of it being a Royal Rumble.
In time, we’ll learn more about the specifics, and that could help or hurt my position on the idea. At the moment, I have to be willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.
Pinpointing Some Participants
The only bit of information that we’re aware of is that there will be 50 superstars in the match—nearly twice as many as the average event and 10 more than the previous record of 40 (that’s how math works).
I know I had previously written in January 2017 about how WWE should consider the possibility of a 60-man Royal Rumble just to tout that it’s the biggest one ever and utilize absolutely everybody at the company’s disposal, but I never thought they’d actually do something like that, and even if they did, it wouldn’t be on a random live event in Saudi Arabia, of all places, that’s for sure.
They’ve advertised some pretty standard names ahead of time: John Cena, Triple H, Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, The New Day, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt and Shinsuke Nakamura.
Obviously, if those guys are all healthy and not otherwise occupied, I would expect to see all of them performing in this match, with the possible exception of Triple H, as he isn’t a regular roster member like the rest.
There are well over 50 superstars on the active main roster, with roughly 30 a piece on Raw and SmackDown along with 16 on the 205 Live side of things.
Since nothing has been said about what the stakes are (more on that later in this discussion), we can assume all champions are eligible and there’s nothing stopping the cruiserweights from competing.
The same goes for people in NXT and the United Kingdom division, too, opening up the floor to another 50+ people just when taking those into account. Effectively, you could have TWO of these matches, but that would just be insane, wouldn’t it?
April 27th isn’t far enough away to start booking fantasy scenarios of lots of NXT talent coming up to the main roster, but we’ll be after WrestleMania by that point and heading toward Backlash, where the Raw and SmackDown brands will somewhat unify for pay-per-views, meaning there’s always a chance some people from the minor leagues get called up to team red and team blue.
That isn’t necessary, though, as we’ve seen people compete in the Royal Rumble and Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal without making the transition to the main roster even in the span of a year, so don’t be surprised if you see some names here that you aren’t super familiar with.
In particular, everybody of Middle Eastern descent should realistically be in this match, as it would just feel strange for someone like Jeet Rama or Kishan Raftar not to be competing while Steve Cutler gets a spot, wouldn’t it?
Plenty of injuries are going to get in the way, so don’t expect Dean Ambrose or R-Truth and company to be competing unless they’ve been healing well enough to step in the ring at that point, but it’s doubtful.
Also, don’t hold your breath for legends like The Undertaker, company outsiders like Chris Jericho (at least, at the moment, that’s where he stands) or retired stars. I wouldn’t even think Kurt Angle would be in the running, and I think one of the absolute safest bets is that Brock Lesnar won’t make the hike over there, so count him out.
With 50 superstars, though, there should be a fantastic mix of all sorts of different main event, midcard, jobber and unknown talent to satisfy everybody.
Who Should Win? Who Will Win?
Sometimes, in a non-American environment, WWE goes with the obvious booking of picking the winners based on the location, meaning the British Bulldog can win big at SummerSlam ’92 in the United Kingdom as the highlight of his career and Ric Flair is always going to get a pop in North Carolina.
Other times, you get the Montreal Screwjob for Bret Hart and the very often Monday Night Raw hometown hero loss that has happened to mostly everybody at some point.
As far as I’m aware, WWE has no superstars on the roster who are from Saudi Arabia, so there isn’t a hometown boy who stands above the rest, although if you expand to other areas in the Middle East, a few possibilities open up.