WWE – Super Showdown 2019 (Cert 15)
2 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 221 minutes approx.
Not to be confused with the Super Showdown event from Australia in late 2018, this one is the third in the many shows that make up the 10 year, multi-million dollar contract between WWE and Saudi Arabia. The first of these Blood Money shows, Greatest Royal Rumble is only remembered for this:
Whilst the second, Crown Jewel was not only worse but was surrounded by so much controversy as it took place weeks after dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by the Saudi government, that it hasn’t been given a home video release nor is it spoken about ever again.
But, money talks and the contract has been signed (in blood no doubt) so here we go again with Super Showdown, a show that WWE had the nerve to promote as “even bigger than Wrestlemania”, so you knew it was going to fail before it even took place. Like before, no women were allowed to wrestle on the show although WWE did send Natalya and Alexa Bliss over in case they could persuade the Saudi sports council to change their mind, which did consider it but refused at the last minute.
Also, a few names refused to appear on the show – Daniel Bryan was injured whilst Kevin Owens stayed behind as his family begged him not to go. Sami Zayn is Syrian so he can’t enter the country for political reasons, but what is interesting is Ali, who is Muslim, donated his fee from this show to charity after criticism for appearing, which was also levied at many other wrestlers.
Finally, the chronology is a little askew regarding the timing of this release as this event was held in June yet the subsequent PPVs to date have had a home video release, meaning you’ll have to adjust to seeing people with titles you forget they ever held.
Super Showdown took place on June 7th 2019 at the King Abdullah International Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia before a crowd of approximately 21,000 with commentary provided by Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and covered up Renee Young.
As ever, while my match review won’t contain any results or major spoilers, expect plenty of opinion and backstory to the matches.
WWE Universal Title Match – Seth Rollins (c) vs. Baron Corbin
Perhaps an odd choice for the opener but the reality is this match was merely a conduit for the tease of Brock Lesnar cashing in his MITB briefcase, and we can only assume this was designed to give the show a “big bang” start. Considering Lesnar doesn’t even like travelling across the US to work, we wondered if he would make such a long trip without an official match but Brock likes money, so there is your answer.
Corbin connived his way into a fatal four-way match on RAW which he subsequently won to earn this title shot, Rollins is sporting bandages around his waist as result of the chair shot attack by Lesnar earlier in the week on RAW. Basic match with a deathly silent crowd when Corbin was on offence who only came alive for Rollins firing back, and the (spoiler) post match shenanigans. TV main event at best.
WWE IC Title Match – Finn Bálor (c) vs. Andrade
This is the Demon Finn Bálor defending the title here which means either Andrade must be such a dangerous threat for Finn that he has to transform into his dark persona, or it is just for spectacle’s sake since this show was “bigger then Wrestlemania”. In all fairness Andrade did have a non-title win over Bálor when he was drafted to RAW in the Superstar Shake-up, but when Finn was then drafted to SD Live, they moved Andrade back to SD too!
Arguably the best match on the show (which isn’t saying match) from a work rate point of view, the crowd was again dead except for the big spots like dives, etc. but even then the response was polite at best. Work was fine but again nothing above TV match level.
Roman Reigns vs. Shane McMahon
I know I usually rag on Shane O’Sweat for being a dripping mess whenever he drags his 50 year-old carcass to the ring but this time, he has an excuse, as it was 90 degrees outside the stadium and 102 degrees inside, so everyone was sweating heavily.
Drew McIntyre was in Shane’s corner which telegraphs how this match will play out. Now, I am aware of my self-imposed match spoiler embargo on this site, but this is one result where you have to say to yourself “really?” If this was to be the equivalent (or superior) to Wrestlemania then anything other than Reigns winning makes no sense. But you, know, “McMahon”… Just garbage all round.
3-on-1 Handicap Match – Lucha House Party vs. Lars Sullivan
Looks like the no spoilers embargo will be broken for a second match in a row because of the baffling booking of Lars here. Having beat up the Lucha Party individually and as a group, noted racist and homophobe Sullivan gets a sanctioned match against them with the view of making him seem a bigger monster.
So why in the blue hell did they end this on a DQ? That’s right – big bad Lars couldn’t get a clean and decisive win other three smaller men, he wins via DQ when they all gang up on him! I mean….How do you stuff up something so simple as having the monster destroy his opponents? Just baffling!
Triple H vs. Randy Orton
Equally as baffling is why Triple H still thinks he can work long matches despite being 50 and only a part time worker? His match at Wrestlemania 35 against Batista was a stinker because it went over 20 minutes and this cure for insomnia outing against the robotic Randy Orton, a man who hasn’t given a crap in over a decade, is even worse, running 25 torturously dull minutes that felt like a week.
Because the Saudis are stuck in the past (and I don’t just mean in their social attitudes) they only want old time stars so the build up for this match was in the 16 year history between Orton and HHH. Had it been shorter, like an 8 minute greatest hits display, it might have worked but they went for epic and couldn’t deliver. Triple H, please stick to running NXT/NXT UK. Thank you!
A video bonus of R-Truth losing his 24/7 title to Jinder Mahal on the airport tarmac airs next, followed by Truth regaining the belt on the plane. Because they didn’t think to suspend the 24/7 rules for the sake of the 50-man battle royale later in the show, they pulled Truth from the mach in case everyone tried to pin him, thus, like the women, he flew to Saudi Arabia for nothing. Still, 40 million dollars is 40 million dollars.
Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Lashley
This feud was built around the tests of strength between these two big guys on RAW and eventually culminated in a Last Man Standing match at Extreme Rules a month later. This was the “first” ever match and frankly, was nothing special failing to make up the crowd who were probably still comatose from the previous match. Some impressive feats of strength and athleticism from the big men otherwise nothing to see here.
WWE Title Match – Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
With Daniel Bryan injured and Owens at home, a challenger was needed for Kofi so Ziggler was brought out of the mothballs. His rational for attacking Kofi was that it should have been Dolph as WWE champion and not Kofi, but if Dolph didn’t disappear to try to start a stand up comedy career, it might have been him. Talk about a sense of entitlement!
One would think with the amount of matches these two have had in the past that they’d be able to pull off something decent here but true to form with the rest of the card, this was another dull effort that only the announcers were able to get excited about. Kofi-Mania may have swept across the US but clearly hasn’t extended to the Middle East.
50 Man Battle Royale
There are a couple of the old Silvervision WWF home videos from the early 90’s that had a 40-man battle royale on them (Tatanka won one, I forget who won the other), both of which were pretty bad since ring was chock full of bodies and the action couldn’t start until the numbers were severely reduced. When WCW held their 60-man Battle Royales as part of the World War 3 PPVs) they at least had the wherewithal to use three rings with 20 men in each until they got to the final ten or so, though it didn’t make it any easier to follow.
Anyway, to follow on from the 50-man Royal Rumble at the first Saudi sausage fest, we now have a 50-man battle royale, though somehow there are actually 51 men in it! Samoa Joe said it was like an inferno in the ring with so many large sweaty bodies in such close proximity. The line-up consists mostly of jobbers you forgot still worked with the company, faces from 205 Live which nobody watches, tag teams and the occasional pushed name like Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev, Bobby Roode, Matt Hardy and Ricochet.
Only The Miz, Cesaro, Joe, Titus O’Neil (to spoof on his faux pas from last year) and Elias got individual entries. So how to look out for? Well, Joe might be a favourite but he is already US charm, so maybe Matt Hardy, Miz, Elias, Nakamura or Cesaro? Or what about Mansoor? You know, the guy who has had maybe 1 or 2 matches on NXT? The Saudi Arabian guy? Has the penny dropped yet?
Goldberg vs. The Undertaker
A main event for the aged…I mean ages. Had this happened twenty years ago when both guys were in their prime it would have blown the roof of any arena around the world, but it 2019, with both guys in their 50’s, Taker not having a good match since 2010 and Goldberg only working short matches, the chances of a classic here are as slim as Boris Johnson telling the truth.
It started out okay with Goldberg getting a quick start with two spears on Taker and the Deadman coming back from it but then it fell apart badly. Goldberg was supposed to go shoulder first into the ring post but instead went HEAD first into it, not only busting his head open but knocking himself out in the process. Instead of stopping the match, they tried to carry own but for an immobile Taker and woozy Goldberg this was nigh on impossible.
With neither unable to stand or carry the other’s bodyweight, this became a sad sight indeed and will live in infamy as one of the most unfortunate and disastrous main events in WWE history.
Another Saudi show, another unmitigated disaster. It is hard to know where the fault is – do we blame the Saudi’s for having the WWE cram another two PPVs into its annual schedule which dilutes the many feuds and potential first run match potential, whilst their hankering the past results in broken down relics tarnishing their legacies? Or do we blame WWE for half-arsing it for the sake of the $40 million pay off?
With fortunes slipping in the US and globally in terms of attendance and TV ratings, the bloom has already come off for Saudi crowds as this show pulled less than half the first PPV did. When they cut to the overhead shots of the stadium for the pyro displays you can see just how empty it actually is, and if this freefall continues, heads may roll and not just euphemistically either.
I imagine the extreme heat didn’t help so we really can’t blame the wrestlers, except those deluded into thinking they have the same stamina of 20 years ago, whilst the booking ranged from odd to typically atrocious. Giving Mansoor the home town win was probably the smartest thing they did (and rare given Vince usually humiliates wrestlers in their home town/country), thought it might have helped if a) he had been built up before this show and b) they followed it up on TV but Mansoor has been MIA ever since.
Politically, these Saudi shows will always be a bone of contention which might explain the “grab the money and run” approach WWE has to these events, but is this wise if they only blot their copy book further handling it this way? The $40 million might come in handy to help buy Vince his new ivory backscratcher but these events have quickly become a millstone around the WWE’s necks, morally, creatively and practically, that in the eyes of western fans and the industry, they are now synonymous with failure.
Best Match – Finn Bálor vs. Andrade (by default)
Disc 2 Only:
Super Showdown Kick-Off Show Match – The Usos vs. The Revival
Monday Night RAW June 3rd 2019
Brock “Cashes In” On Seth Rollins
Triple H Confronts Randy Orton
Undertaker Sends A Message
Smackdown Live June 4th 2019
Dolph Ziggler Interrupts Kofi Kingston
Goldberg’s First Time On Smackdown Live!
Rating – **
Man In Black