WWE made its third foray into Saudi Arabia -- they may not want to say it, but we will -- with Super ShowDown on Friday, and while the event did have a couple notable moments, it was mostly yet another in a string of uneventful pay-per-views as part of the company's 10-year agreement. There were no title changes on the show, all but one expected winner was victorious, and the 50-man battle royal was just as pandering as it was endearing to the locals in representing the country.
WWE had been promoting Super ShowDown -- for better or worse (mostly worse) -- as a "WrestleMania equivalent" show. There was nothing equivalent to 'Mania on Friday except the set, which was reused from the New York show in April. That's not to say much was expected Friday, but WWE should really not be putting on shows and promoting them this heavily if they aren't going to treat the match finishes as important.
There are already two rematches -- basically three -- from this event set for Stomping Grounds in two weeks, and those rematches were actually announced before the show was overr. Furthermore, there were reports that WWE and Saudi Arabia were negotiating to get Alexa Bliss and Natalya on the show for a match (both women flew over there hoping to get that opportunity); in the end, KSA denied WWE's request and we had another show without women in the midst of the company's "women's evolution."
There were few positives to take away from this show as even the match quality was weak compared to recent WWE PPVs. The company was very much going through the motions here, which is fine with this viewer, but WWE should not be promoting this as "equivalent to WrestleMania" or anything similar if they're going to put on a product that poor. While you may not like the TV product these days (I certainly do not), WWE PPVs are generally solid enough. This one was not, but my rating takes into consideration that is not one of their 12 main shows but rather an international special. Super ShowDown grade: C-
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2019 WWE Super ShowDown results, grades
The Usos def. The Revival via pinfall (kickoff show): After landing stereo superkicks that knocked Scott Dawson to the outside of the ring, Jimmy & Jey Uso did the same to Dash Wilder before picking up the pinfall victory. This was a fun opener that served its purpose, which was to be a hot match in a short period of time to get the crowd going. Still, you can't help but wish that these two teams are eventually given a proper program one day, preferably with titles up for grabs and much more time to work. Otherwise, enjoyable way to get things started. Grade: B-
Universal Championship -- Seth Rollins def. Baron Corbin via pinfall to retain the title: Rollins heavily sold the injured ribs throughout in a match that was better than expected. Near the end of the bout, Corbin attempted to introduce a chair, but was thwarted by the referee. As he was arguing with the official, Rollins surprised him with a roll-up for the 1-2-3 to retain. Corbin launched a post-match attack on Rollins afterwards, and naturally, the familiar theme music of Money in the Bank winner Brock Lesnar rang through the stadium as we believed we were getting the promised the cash-in. That cash-in was never able to come to fruition, however, as Paul Heyman fumbled the briefcase as he was entering the ring. Rollins was able to capitalize and earn some retribution in the process by brutalizing Lesnar with chair shots to prevent the attempt at his title. Serving as the exclamation point was a Stomp to Lesnar onto his own Money in the Bank briefcase. Solid booking here, and now one has to wonder if the promised "Friday!" cash-in may come to haunt WWE champion Kofi Kingston later today instead. Grade: B (match + aftermath)
Intercontinental Championship -- "Demon" Finn Balor (c) def. Andrade via pinfall to retain the title: Good action throughout this one with Balor hitting his signature offense. The crowd was a bit dead after being totally amp'd for the opening match, but it popped for the big moments. Balor kicked out of Andrade's Hammerlock DDT finisher to the challenger's surprise and capitalized with a top-rope facebuster and Coup de Gras for the 1-2-3. Grade: B
Shane McMahon def. Roman Reigns via pinfall: This was a slow match, as was to be expected. McMahon got a lot of offense in early and even avoided a Superman punch by Reigns, locking him into a triangle choke as he tried to deliver on his promise to submit Reigns for the first time. Reigns countered by lifting McMahon into a powerbomb to break the hold. Drew McIntyre attempted to interfere outside the ring, but Reigns threw him into a post and hit him with a Superman punch. McMahon hit the distracted Reigns with a spear once the former champion reentered the ring, but Reigns kicked out. As McMahon climbed the top rope to hit Coast to Coast, Reigns knocked him off with another Superman punch. With the referee accidentally taken out by Reigns, McIntyre ran into the ring and drilled Reigns with a Claymore; McMahon revived the ref and laid atop Reigns for the 1-2-3 and the surprise victory. Reigns losing is the result that should have taken place at 'Mania -- to McIntyre -- not here to McMahon. Grade: C+
Lars Sullivan def. Lucha House Party via disqualification: Sullivan got his mouth busted open at the start of the match. Other than that, there was nothing notable with the spots you would expect and an absolutely dead crowd, which commentary tried but failed to cover. The finish came as LHP attacked Sullivan 3-on-1 in the ring and the referee inexplicably called the match. Afterward, Sullivan destroyed the trio on the entrance ramp. Sullivan continues to be an abject failure on the main roster, and this did nothing to help him. Grade: F
Triple H vs. Randy Orton: The former Evolution teammates exchanged offense early with Orton taking it to Triple H outside the ring, throwing him into the announce table and then the steel steps. The action was slow and much less exciting than the HHH-Batista match at 'Mania. As Triple H called for the Pedigree, Orton countered it with a powerslam. Triple H responded by countering an RKO into a spinebuster and locking in a crossface. Hunter then attempted to counter a RKO into a Pedigree but failed, providing an opening for Orton to hit the RKO but only get a 2.7 count. An angered Orton attempted a punt kick but was caught by Triple H, who threw his leg down and hit a Pedigree for another 2.7 count. The crowd chanted "this is awesome" for some reason. Triple H then slammed Orton on the announce table four times and posed for the crowd as Orton stirred. When Triple reentered, Orton hit the RKO outta nowhere for the 1-2-3. This popped the Jeddah crowd more than it likely did American fans, but the final few minutes saved an otherwise dull match, and the right guy went over. Grade: C+
Braun Strowman def. Bobby Lashley via pinfall: These two traded both powerful and athletic maneuvers in the early going with Lashley actually hitting Strowman with his own running powerslam for a 2.5 count. An angry Strowman ran down Lashley both inside and around the outside of the ring, but Lashley retook the advantage shortly thereafter. When Lashley went for a high-risk maneuver, Strowman pulled him down, hit a bodyslam and then followed with his running powerslam for the victory. Grade: C
WWE Championship -- Kofi Kingston (c) def. Dolph Ziggler via pinfall to retain the title: Kingston donned his old green and yellow colors with a crowned picture of himself on his tights, while Ziggler had a big American flag on his butt. The pace was picked up considerably when the duo traded pinning combinations before Kingston hit Ziggler with an S.O.S. for a 2.5 count. Kingston injured his lower back on a dive outside the ring, and Ziggler took advantage by throwing him into the steps and then hitting Xavier Woods with a superkick. Ziggler then dodged Trouble in Paradise, but with the referee looking the other way, was hit with a high kick outside the ropes by a retaliating Woods. Kingston then nailed Ziggler with Trouble in Paradise to hang on for the win. This was was far from the best match these two have put together over the last decade, but it appeared to entertain this crowd just fine. After the match, Ziggler cut a promo backstage with Byron Saxton about Kingston cheating to win. "Everyone can see Kofi is nothing more than a coward," he said, pointing out that he outwrestled Kingston and wants a rematch inside a steel cage. Grade: B-
Mansoor wins the 50-man battle royal: There were some surprises as it pertains to who competed, including both members of AOP (making their return) and Buddy Murphy (making his TV debut). Miz, Elias, Cesaro and Titus O'Neil were the only ones with separate entrances, though Ricochet, Ali, Rusev, Shinsuke Nakamura, The Usos, The Revival and Bobby Roode, among others, were in the match. The only nootable early elimination was Sin Cara actually eliminating Nakamura despite being hit with Kinshasa. The final six were Ricochet, Ali, Mansoor, Elias, Cesaro and Samoa Joe. Ricochet and Ali teamed up to eliminate Joe, Cesaro took out both of them, Mansoor tipped Cesaro over the top leaving only Elias left.
It looked like Elias was poised to eliminate Mansoor, but he saved himself by hanging onto the top rope, eventually flipping Elias over and out. The crowd went wild for the finish, especially the younger children. Mansoor was asked by Saxton how it felt to win "the most prestigious battle royal in WWE history" and he cut a promo about how he was a prospect one year ago and now a real WWE superstar. The finish to the match and the promo were both legitimately solid, and the crowd popped huge. It is tough to demand and praise representation for Kingston but not understand the significance of Mansoor winning here, especially considering the audience's response. Still, it was clearly pandering. Grade: C+
The Undertaker def. Goldberg via pinfall: Goldberg mocked Taker with his throat slash gesture to start the match, but Taker was having none of it and attacked him first. Still, Goldberg drilled him with consecutive spears but only got a 2.5 count about 30 seconds into the match. Goldberg, who cut his head backstage in the locker room before even entering the ring -- a throwback to his old entrances -- saw that gash popped open moments later after hitting his head on a turnbuckle. Taker hit Old School and a chokeslam on Goldberg followed by a Tombstone Piledriver, but Goldberg kicked out at two flat after legitimately hitting his head on the canvas. Goldberg rebounded from Snake Eyes with a third spear and followed by hitting an awful Jackhammer for a 2.8 count that nearly saw Taker land on his head. In a series of botches, Goldberg attempted to hit the Tombstone on Taker, but Taker fell to the ground when trying to reverse it into another Tombstone. Instead, Taker just called the match and picked up Goldberg, hitting a chokeslam for the 1-2-3.
The truth is that this match was actually decent until the final 2 minutes. But none of the power moves worked for two guys that are a combined 106 years old, and they were definitely far too ambitious with both guys tired at the end of the match. Still, the crowd popped for the old guys, and it was unique to see Undertaker and Goldberg squaring off after all these years. But that finish has to affect the final rating. Grade: C-
2019 WWE Super ShowDown highlights
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