Posted April 26th, 2018 by 1Wrestling News Team



By Don “The Predictor” Murphy

First, I wanted to take a brief moment to share my thoughts on the passing of “The Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino last week. I started watching wrestling at the end of 1985, when Bruno was semi-retired and was primarily an announcer on the WWF’s syndicated weekend shows. Through the magic of technology, I’ve been able to go back and see many of his classic matches and re-live his extraordinary career. When you look at the history of wrestling, you can point to many performers as the primary drivers behind the phenomenon wrestling has become. The names of Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Dusty Rhodes are a few of the names that come to mind. But, I’ll argue that none of those names would have had the impact they did if there never was a Bruno Sammartino driving the industry in the 1960’s and 70’s. The man is the epitome of the American dream – an Italian immigrant who left his native land to make it big in the States. And, that he did in spades, selling out Madison Square Garden close to 200 times and transcending beyond the wrestling industry into a pop-culture icon. I am happy that I had the chance to meet him at shows over the years and attend his induction ceremony. I’m also happy that he was able to mend whatever grudges he held with the WWE to have the moment he truly deserved. Rest well Bruno…a true pioneer.

Now, speaking of the phenomenon that wrestling has become, we’re on the eve of an historical event, as, for the first time, the WWE will give us a 50-man Royal Rumble match, as part of its Greatest Royal Rumble show, emanating from the King Abdullah International Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. What started out as a standard international show, has turned into a WrestleMania-level line-up. And, there’s been a lot of discussion around the WWE’s decision to run in this market, as well as their choice in matches. I’m choosing to view and enjoy this show for what it is, at face value, without getting bogged down into the controversy and politics of the decision. With that being said, let’s run down the card!

The Greatest Royal Rumble Match

Topline Thoughts: There’s not much of a story behind this match, other than it will have the most participants of any Royal Rumble in history. I’ll be interested to see how the time intervals between participants break down, as if it’s every two minutes, we’re looking at close to a two-hour match. And, we only know a handful of the entrants, so there’s always a chance we can get a surprise or two that completely changes the dynamic of the match. Based on what we know so far, I was torn between Daniel Bryan and Braun Strowman. I ultimately went with Bryan since this would mark his first big moment since his return, while giving the WWE their desired content of having the entire crowd chanting “Yes!” to Bryan’s music. I did like the way we were reminded that Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn have a lot of enemies in this match, so that will make for some fine entertainment throughout. Other than that, it will be interesting to see where we are from a storyline standpoint when the dust settles.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Daniel Bryan wins the Greatest Royal Rumble

WWE Universal Championship Match: Brock Lesnar defends the WWE Universal Championship against Roman Reigns Inside a Steel Cage

Topline Thoughts: The popular school of thought is that Vince McMahon will have Roman win the title in front of a more fan-friendly crowd. When I heard this match was signed, that was my first thought as well, but I also thought it was a foregone conclusion that he would walk out with the title at WrestleMania, and we all saw how that worked out. After a lot of back and forth, I’m picking Lesnar to retain. For one, he just signed a new, lucrative deal, so I don’t think they’re looking to take the title off of him just yet. Second, Lesnar is close to breaking CM Punk’s 434-day record as champion, which is a name the WWE would like us to forget. Finally, I truly think that when it’s time to put the title on Reigns, they want to do it when most of their audience will be watching live. This card airs at noon on the East Coast in the United States, so many of the fans will be watching later that night or over the weekend. With the potential of results leaking throughout the day, I don’t think they want to risk the Reigns detractors passing over the show upon reading that he’s won the title. So, I think this is just another chapter in this long-standing saga.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Brock Lesnar retains the WWE Universal Championship

WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles defends the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura

Topline Thoughts: I am a fan of Nakamura’s heel turn, as it gives this match a different look and feel from their WrestleMania match, which really didn’t live up to the hype. I’m expecting these two to finally have the breakout classic everyone knows they can deliver. And, unlike my previous comments, I think you can do a title change here without risking fans skipping the show. Given the popularity of both, I think a Nakamura win would actually increase interest in fans wanting to check the match out after it’s aired. And, should they go with a Nakamura title run, I hope that the next stage will be to develop his personality more than what we’ve seen in the past. His babyface persona has been flat, so I’m hoping that being a heel gives him some more range as a character.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Shinsuke Nakamura wins the WWE Championship

WWE Intercontinental Championship Match: Seth Rollins defends the WWE Intercontinental Championship against Finn Bálor, Samoa Joe and The Miz in a Ladder Match

Topline Thoughts: As you know, I love a good story, and there really isn’t one here. But, the caliber of talent in this match makes up for any lack of storytelling. Any of the four contestants would be fine choices to hold the title, but given that they’ve just given Rollins the title and they’re clearly high on him and giving him opportunities to shine in his recent performances, I’m going with Rollins retaining and working to give this particular title some needed credibility over the next several months.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Seth Rollins retains the WWE Intercontinental Championship

WWE United States Championship Match: Jeff Hardy defends the WWE United States Championship against Jinder Mahal

Topline Thoughts: I like putting this title on Jeff Hardy, as I think he has one more good run in him and he’s just the guy to give that title some level of credibility. I’m not sure if the WWE has given up on the Jinder Mahal experiment or not, but I don’t think having the title helps him one way or the other. Plus, since I believe Rollins is keeping the Intercontinental title, they’re not going to keep both secondary titles on the same brand.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Jeff Hardy retains the WWE United States Championship

WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt meet Cesaro and Sheamus

Topline Thoughts: It didn’t make sense to me that they took the titles off Sheamus and Cesaro the way that they did. However, as they’ve now moved over to Smackdown, I suppose it makes sense. Since I don’t see the Bludgeon Brothers dropping the titles to the Usos, I see Hardy and Wyatt winning here to keep the two tag titles on separate brands. I’m not quite sure what to think of the Hardy/Wyatt pairing yet, but keeping them in the mid-card, albeit within a depleted tag division, is better than having them floundering on the undercard and on the pre-shows.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt win the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship

WWE Smackdown Championship Match: The Bludgeon Brothers defend the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship against the Usos

Topline Thoughts: The two teams can deliver. We’ve seen it before, though not recently. I’m really hoping we get the level of performance we know is possible. I don’t think we’ll see a title change or any meaningful storyline advancement, but I am hoping for better than we’ve seen.

“The Predictor” Predicts: The Bludgeon Brothers retain the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship

WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Cedric Alexander defends the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Kalisto

Topline Thoughts: I’ve always liked Cedric Alexander and think making him the face of 205 Live is a definite step in the right direction. A solid victory over Kalisto, a credible former champion, will further cement his title run. Moving forward, I’m intrigued by a potential program with Buddy Murphy, along with a rematch with Mustafa Ali.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Cedric Alexander retains the WWE Cruiserweight Championship

Singles Match: Triple H meets John Cena

Topline Thoughts: This should be interesting. Both guys can still give a better than average performance, even at an advanced age. There’s really no story to tell here, other than to get two of their top stars in front of an international audience. I’m fairly confident that this will be a “feel-good” match to give Cena a needed-win after his recent losing streak.

“The Predictor” Predicts: John Cena defeats Triple H

Casket Match: The Undertaker meets Rusev

Topline Thoughts: This is another example of stacking the card with legends for the international crowd. I’m not quite sure about all the back and forth with Rusev and what that could mean. I also find it curious that they’re essentially feeding one of their more popular acts to the Undertaker, but if you just enjoy this match for the spectacle of the entrance and the Undertaker’s ambiance after all of these years, you’ll be highly entertained.

“The Predictor” Predicts: The Undertaker defeats Rusev

Follow me on Twitter: @don424

Category: Wrestling.

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