Super ShowDown, WWE's third major show in Saudi Arabia, put the spotlight directly on the first match ever between Goldberg and The Undertaker, which closed out the show in Jeddah. While the ending of that match and several other moments Friday left something to be desired, to say the least, there were some bright spots along the way, such as the Intercontinental title match between Finn Balor and Andrade, the shocking winner of the 50-man battle royal and a solid outing from Triple H and Randy Orton, among others.
It wasn't the type of match Goldberg and The Undertaker would have had at the peak of the Attitude Era, or even what it could've been in the decade that followed.
The closing moments of their match to close out Super ShowDown left a lot to be desired, even though Undertaker (54 years old) and Goldberg (52) had done a solid job up to that point. A failed jackhammer attempt that almost turned into a dangerous brainbuster gave way to a failed tombstone transition and finally a chokeslam, giving Undertaker the victory and bringing the show to an end at almost 1 a.m. local time in Saudi Arabia.
Those late mistakes will almost certainly overshadow the moments between that Undertaker and Goldberg that made their first meeting special. Their entrances were gaudy and as big as they'd ever been, and the stare-down and sizing-up moment at the start of the match which seemingly lasted minutes brought the excitement of the audience way up.
When Goldberg imitated Undertaker's throat slash and Undertaker got to swinging, it was on. Goldberg quickly hit back-to-back spears and looked as though he might be channeling his first post-return victory Brock Lesnar. But it earned only a two-count before Undertaker sat up and reminded fans about the best of what they remember about that character.
Goldberg charged into the corner with another spear attempt, and when he came up empty, the small cut Goldberg had on his head before the match was opened up into a full-blown, bleeding mess on his forehead.
After hitting old school, Taker got Goldberg up for a chokeslam and hit it. With some strain, Undertaker got Goldberg up and nailed a tombstone -- but it got only a two-count. After Undertaker ascended to the top rope and hit snake eyes, Goldberg bounced off the ropes and hit his third spear of the match.
Goldberg went for the jackhammer and got Undertaker up, but couldn't bring Taker down cleanly and ended up almost dropping Undertaker on his head. An ambitious tombstone transition went awry, and Undertaker ultimately chose to hit one more chokeslam to put the match to bed.
On a night when most of the match results were rendered all but meaningless with rematches scheduled for the coming weeks, it's probably best to recall a couple of the bright spots from this match and move along -- likely solid advice for Super ShowDown as a whole.
Mansoor wins 50-man battle royal
Quite frankly, it was the stuff of dreams. A 50-man battle royal that seemingly had few potential net-positive outcomes ended with, quite honestly, one of the most improbable winners of the bunch.
No, we're not talking Curtis Axel, or No Way Jose.
The achievement of winning the biggest battle royal in WWE history (and no, we're not counting Royal Rumbles) belongs to Mansoor. He hails from Saudi Arabia, and one year ago he made his debut on WWE programming as the lone bright spot during a disastrous in-ring segment that evoked tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. He's since debuted as an NXT superstar, and even a deep run in this match would've been a notable moment.
But from that to winning a match with this high a profile? Who would have thought?
In the match's closing moments, it looked as though Elias was going to win, as he was the only star to get microphone time before the match and it was down to just him and Monsoor. But the hometown favorite was met with a wave of support and "Man-soor" chants -- and when he ultimately eliminated his guitar-playing antagonist, it was to the delight of the roaring crowd.
"How important is this moment for me? For us?" Mansoor said in the ring afterward. "One year ago at the Greatest Royal Rumble I was a WWE prospect. I stood in this ring, in this stadium with a dream to make it as a WWE superstar and represent my country all over the world. Tonight, I won the most historic battle royal in WWE history and my dreams came true."
It seemed almost an impossibility, even when Mansoor reached the final six. Heavy hitters Samoa Joe, Ali, Cesaro, Ricochet and Elias were all in the mix, but as Ali and Ricochet knocked Joe out, Cesaro scored a double elimination on them. Then Cesaro went over the top rope and out.
Moments later, Mansoor celebrated a great moment, and an important one in a match that felt as though it had no viable story to tell.
WWE championship: Kofi Kingston (c) def. Dolph Ziggler
It wasn't long ago that Kofi Kingston was considered the long shot, the ultimate underdog who might never reach the top. By now, you know his 11-year journey in WWE finally led him to the WWE championship a couple of months ago at WrestleMania.
How things have changed. Not only does he hold the WWE's flagship title, but he's continued to run through WWE's top stars while having some of the best matches of the night every time out. At Super ShowDown, it was an old rival in Dolph Ziggler standing on the opposite side of the ring.
After a long hiatus, Ziggler made a sudden return to WWE television a couple of weeks ago. Whether this was a brief return for the sake of this event in Saudi Arabia (perhaps in AJ Styles' stead) or the beginning of another run is anyone's guess. But the bottom line is that while he had virtually no chance to win the WWE championship against the loveable Kingston on this particular night, Ziggler once again proved how hard he can bring it.
He's the proverbial five-tool player, even if, perhaps more than anyone, he's had more ups and downs than the rest of the active roster. If you're not a longtime WWE aficionado, you might not remember these two have a rivalry that dates back nearly nine years. This was the fifth time they met one-on-one on pay-per-view, and until Friday, Kingston had never won in such a scenario.
Kingston walked away as the winner on this particular night, although it wasn't what you'd consider a memorable matchup. The pace was strong, the energy was high and the potential was there. But ultimately, it was one Trouble in Paradise to Ziggler's head and Kofi walked away with his title in tow -- thanks, in part, to some distraction outside the ring centered around Ziggler superkicking Xavier Woods.
Afterward, Ziggler was distraught and downright mad. In a backstage interview with Byron Saxton, he said, "I thought Kofi earned his shot, that he was a fighting champion. But now we can see that Kofi is a coward. I want Kofi Kingston in a steel cage."
It's a fitting way for a proper match with a little more build and a fair bit more time to play out -- especially with Stomping Grounds a few short weeks away.
Braun Strowman def. Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman are the type of "tale of the tape" battle Vince McMahon dreams about on a nightly basis. The broadcast even showed a graphic that claimed both men can bench press north of 500 pounds.
Without anyone to back Lashley up, Strowman was the presumptive winner heading in, and he proved everyone right -- but not before Lashley sent a serious reminder of what he's capable of inside of the ring.
This was a battle between arguably the two strongest performers in the WWE. Lashley struck first with a powerful running powerslam that gave him a two-count. Later, Strowman caught Lashley with a powerslam of his own, but Lashley would not be slowed. Outside the ring, Lashley nearly put Strowman through the barricade with tremendous force, and then stuck Strowman with a suplex on the floor.
It was all going Lashley's way until Strowman regained his equilibrium. Strowman bulldozed Lashley twice on the outside, and two powerslams later, Strowman saw his hand raised in victory. While he's completely out of the title scene at the moment, Strowman gained a predictable, yet much-needed, one-on-one victory over a solid opponent Friday in Jeddah.
Randy Orton def. Triple H
The friendship and inexorable bond. The hate and hostility. Few competitors have a more storied and rich backstory than Randy Orton and Triple H do as both partners and foes.
It was a slow, methodical match that stood out on the Super ShowDown card, but ultimately delivered to the maximum of its potential along the way.
Although their paths haven't intersected often in recent memory -- this was their first one-on-one match in nine years, in fact -- the overall history that dates back more than 15 years was more than enough to build upon.
After a long entrance for Triple H, reminiscent of his recent WrestleMania entrances, the two stared each other in the eyes.
While this showdown didn't push the depths of Triple H's grisly encounter with Batista (no nose rings were harmed in the filming of this match), there were certainly notable physical spots. Early on, outside the ring, Orton sent Triple H into a television monitor with a spinebuster. Later, Triple H tossed Orton onto the announcer's table four times in a row.
These two certainly wouldn't be accused of being fleet of foot in this match, but they were methodical, biding their time until opportunity presented itself. There were long stretches in which neither Orton nor Triple H could manage a high-impact move, and yet a lightning-fast powerslam by Orton followed by a DDT a few moments later got the crowd back into the match.
Orton struck the first significant blow of the match on Triple H with an RKO, and after the length of the match to that point, most thought that would be it -- but it was not. Then Triple H nailed Orton with a pedigree, but that, too, conjured only a two-count. At this point, the crowd was getting more and more into it, chanting, "This is awesome" just as Triple H started to pummel Orton on the outside.
That had to be it, as Triple H lined Orton up for another pedigree, but Orton, on cue, came up huge another RKO out of nowhere to seal the win.
This won't go down as the most memorable moment or match between these two men, but they put on a worthy performance that doesn't feel out of place in their lengthy history of clashes.
Lars Sullivan def. Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik, Lince Dorado & Kalisto) via disqualification
Lars Sullivan's dominant win in a 1-on-3 handicap match is hardly the kind of kickstart that will give Sullivan much momentum; that won't come until he picks on someone his own size and stature.
After weeks of in-ring ambushes, this was meant to be a payoff for weeks of back and forth on TV.
But it wouldn't exactly work out that way for Sullivan. Despite picking apart the trio of Kalisto, Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado, it happened in a match that, until the very end, hardly did anything to ratchet up the energy.
After a fairly one-sided match, the Lucha House Party decided to take out Sullivan at the same time, resulting in a disqualification. It gave Sullivan the win, and his beatdown of the threesome reinforced his brute power. In the end, none of the four participants in this match was given much to work with creatively, and that was reflected clearly in the result.
Shane McMahon def. Roman Reigns
Shane McMahon pinning Roman Reigns on a major show is a jarring result to read, and yet, that's where we are after their match at Super ShowDown.
For weeks, McMahon utilized the services of Drew McIntyre and The Revival in his pursuit of embarrassing Reigns, and even with limited backup on Friday, McMahon still had enough on his side to pull out the victory.
After leaving Reigns lying on both Monday and Tuesday night, McMahon utilized a referee distraction and a McIntyre Claymore kick to pin Reigns in the middle of the ring, to the great surprise of the audience in attendance.
The match itself was slow and methodical. McMahon held his own, nearly making Reigns submit before the latter was able to reverse course. At that point, McIntyre got involved the first time, but Reigns was too savvy and landed a Superman punch from the apron to the outside, followed by another for Shane O'Mac, who was standing on the top rope.
Once again, the odds were stacked against Reigns, but this time, there would be no revenge on this night. As he lingered in the ring on one knee, Reigns shook his head in acknowledgement. With a match against McIntyre to come at the Stomping Grounds pay-per-view, this seems like a story with more chapters to come.
Intercontinental championship: Finn Balor (c) def. Andrade
There's Finn Balor, and then there's "The Demon" -- the unstoppable, undefeated alter ego, whose entrances are every bit as good as his performances.
The harsh truth for Balor is that he's hardly made his mark as the Intercontinental champion, rarely finding prominent one-on-one TV time.
Meanwhile his opponent, Andrade, who has never won a non-preshow WWE PPV match, is widely regarded as the future -- a superstar who is destined for the spotlight.
More than anything, this was an in-ring matchup between two guys who are never afraid to put their bodies on the line, and a tremendous opportunity for both men.
You could see how hot it was inside the stadium as the bout began, as Balor's face paint began to run almost immediately, as the two went back and forth. Balor began to pick up the pace and a 360 flip over the top rope slowed down Andrade, followed by a reverse piledriver.
Andrade abruptly caught Balor with a Hammerlock DDT that nearly gave him the victory and the Intercontinental title, but that momentum was short-lived. Balor landed a top-rope DDT and then a Coup de Grace for the three count, and he retained his championship.
It was an all-around solid effort, but something says this rivalry is hardly over. Without bringing his Demon persona, Balor might not find the same success against a guy who is certain to have gold around his waist sooner rather than later.
Universal championship: Seth Rollins (c) def. Baron Corbin
Even as the specter of Brock Lesnar hung over the match, Seth Rollins walked out of Jeddah with his Universal title in hand and a measure of revenge on Lesnar achieved.
After suffering a blistering attack at the hands of both Baron Corbin, his scheduled opponent at Super ShowDown, and Lesnar on Monday night, Rollins walked into the opening match of Super ShowDown with heavily bandaged ribs. Not surprisingly, Corbin started strongly by targeting that area to control the early stages of the match.
Of course, the idea of Rollins not making a comeback -- or even losing -- seemed less than remote -- not with so many other storylines encircling the champ. Slowly and surely, Rollins picked up momentum, diving through the ropes multiple times to take out Corbin before the challenger once again found his way, landing a Deep Six that earned a near-fall.
Ultimately, Corbin's temper was his undoing; after trying to introduce a steel chair, Corbin argued with the ref, Rollins saw an opening and then rolled Corbin up for the win.
A frustrated Corbin nailed Rollins with an End of Days, seemingly setting the table for a Lesnar Money in the Bank cash-in, and on cue, Lesnar's music hit. He came to the ring with a briefcase and chair. But as Lesnar went to strike Rollins with the chair, Rollins clocked him with a low blow and proceeded to unleash a series of chair shots that balanced out Lesnar's similar attack from Monday.
With a curb stomp to Lesnar's head while it rested atop the briefcase, any talk of a cash-in was over. But Lesnar will continue to hang over Rollins and the Universal championship in the weeks and months to come.
Kickoff show: The Usos def. The Revival
The heat was on -- literally -- during the Kickoff Show in Jeddah.
The broadcast team announced it was 94 degrees outside, with temperatures feeling more like 102 ringside. And yet, The Revival came to the ring in long-sleeved jackets.
Beyond the scorching air, there has been heat between The Usos and The Revival as well, with much of it stemming from childlike antagonism on the part of The Usos in recent weeks. Each tag team also played sidekick Monday in service of the Reigns-Shane McMahon feud.
With little was on the line for either team, and as fans continued to make their way into the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, this was a technically sound match that elevated the energy.
Still, it was predictably short as the teams went back and forth. Ultimately, Jimmy and Jey Uso simultaneously superkicked the stuffing out of Dash Wilder, and that was it.
Short and sweet -- and a proper tune-up for the main card.