WWE Super Showdown took place on February 27th at the Mohammed Abdu Arena at the Boulevard in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In the main event, Bill Goldberg returned to the ring for the first time since SummerSlam to be the next challenger for the Fiend’s WWE Universal Championship. Ricochet was the next opponent in-line to try and take down Brock Lesnar and win the WWE Championship. Bayley and Naomi competed in the first SmackDown Women’s Championship match on a Super Showdown card, and six men competed in a gauntlet for the Tuwaiq Mountain trophy to start the show.
Gauntlet Match for the Tuwaiq Mountain Trophy
Out first was my original pick to win Tuwaiq Trophy, R-Truth. Even thousands of miles away from North America, Truth is still a crowd-pleasing wonder. Lashley was the second man out, touching the Tuwaiq Trophy as he made his way to the ring. Much like in other sports, touching the trophy before winning it must have been bad luck here, as Truth was able to roll-up the All Mighty for the first fall. Despite the ending, Lashley put on a very dominating performance and looked impressive in his part of the match. Next up, we have the returning Andrade, who would begin the match by kicking R-Truth while he was recovering in the corner. After a sick-looking arm-bar within the ring ropes, Andrade would take nearly full-control of the pace of the match and deliver more damage to Truth’s left arm. But, all that momentum would work against him as an overzealous Andrade would flip over the ringropes trying to pound Truth into the corner. After both men conked heads with each other as Andrade attempted a spinning elbow, Truth fell on top of the United States Champion and the referee would count to three as both men were regaining their wits. Unfortunately for Truth, his next opponent would be Erick Rowan. Although he put up a good effort (channeling Lashley’s performance from earlier), Rowan’s cage falling off the ring steps caused him to lose his mind and smash the ring steps into Truth’s face, disqualifying the former Bludgeon Brother. Up next was the first match for AJ Styles since his minor injury at the Royal Rumble. Being the laureate of the ring that he is, Styles would focus a majority of his offense on Truths’ left shoulder and arm as well as his legs. After showing off his dance moves, Styles would lock on a Calf Crusher and put an end to Truth’s valiant underdog story. Styles’ last opponent was meant to be Rey Mysterio, but the Club had other ideas in making sure their leader would cakewalk their way towards winning the Tuwaiq Mountain trophy on top of Mysterio’s beaten body. As Styles looked to have the trophy all but fitted for his house, the Man in Black of WWE returned to the ring for the first time since July of last year by taking out both Gallows and Anderson. One chokeslam and that was all she wrote for Mr. Styles. A surprise (at least in the sense that he wasn’t announced for the show) appearance by the Deadman lit up the Riyadh crowd and gave this pretty decent gauntlet match a memorable ending.
Winner: The Undertaker Time: 22:00 Rating: 2.5 Stars
The New Day (C) vs. The Miz and John Morrison
Big E and Miz were the first out to start the match. The New Day had the advantage early on by going through their usual playbook of tag team moves like Big E rhythmically smacking Miz’s butt and Kofi boom-dropping Morrison. A miscommunication would lead to Morrison and Miz taking over control of the match and executing some big offensive moves like Morrison hitting a corkscrew plancha on Big E on the outside of the ring. From here, the heels cut the ring in half and focused their attention (through chinlocks and knockdowns) on the Big man, specifically on his big knees. Eventually, Big E caught both men off-guard and was able to launch himself over to his corner to give Kofi the hot tag and swing the pendulum of momentum back in the New Day’s corner. Kofi was able to hit a huge double-knee stomp to Morrison, who was held on top of Big E’s shoulders in a powerbomb positioned. Miz and Morrison would return the favor to Big E a minute later with a springboard-stomp neckbreaker. Kofi straight up crashed-and-burned on the outside on a missed Trust Fall when Miz stepped out of the way. With one-half of the New Day indisposed, a Skull-Crushing Finale by Miz only resulted in a two-count in what was the best opportunity for a pin in the match at that point. The climax of the match came when Morrison stealthily hit Kofi with a chair in-between the ring ropes when the referee wasn’t looking. Add in a roll-up with some pulled tights and the A-Listers won tag team gold in WWE for the first time in approximately a decade. This was the right call in my book, giving more prestige and seriousness to Miz and Morrison as a relatively new team on SmackDown Live, a brand that needs a captivating heel team to go up against a face-heavy tag team division with the New Day, the Usos and Heavy Machinery. Good match.
Winner: The Miz and John Morrison Time: 13:15 Rating: 3 Stars
Angel Garza vs. Humberto Carrillo
The amount of precision and control Carrillo has walking up and spring-boarding off the ring ropes is nothing short of mesmerizing, especially for how young he is at 24. Carrillo had total control of the first part of this match until a well-placed kick from Garza knocked the former off the ring ropes and into the corner. Garza would take control of the match and lock in a camel clutch to weaken his cousin’s back and neck. Garza has a great dropkick, which he showed off by knocking the face cruiserweight out of the sky late in the match. A big right hand from Carrillo knocked his cousin off his feet and dazed him even more with an off-kilter destroyer. After many different pinning combinations rolling from one to the other for both men, Garza was able to lay out Humberto attempting a sunset flip and score a three-count in a match that could have gone either way. Humberto’s outward frustration after the match underscored this well thought-out decision to keep this storyline moving forward. A good cruiserweight match to add some more variety to this show.
Winner: Angel Garza Time: 9:05 Rating: 3 Stars
Seth Rollins and Murphy (C) vs. The Street Profits
A spear by Dawkins right out of the box gave the Street Profits some crucial early momentum. I was talking about dropkicks earlier with Angel Garza, but Montez Ford hit an exceptional dropkick in the beginning of this match, as well. After knocking Ford off the ring apron, the heels took over and began to beat the energy out of Ford in the middle of the ring. The crowd seemed a little more subdued in this match than they had been earlier in the night. Ford took an overwhelming majority of the Monday Night Messiah’s and Murphy’s offense and was the victim of a number of heel tactics to extend that onslaught, from distracting the referee to cheap-shotting Dawkins waiting for the tag. Ford would catch a break in-between beatings and tag-in his partner who would go on a tear like a wild javelina by throwing both men around the ring with his pure strength (at one point, he threw a shoulder-block that knocked Murphy over the Arabic announce table at ringside). Rollins would continue to employ his previous heel tactics and take advantage of Murphy distracting the referee to Curb Stomp Dawkins (who was tied up in the ropes) to help his team retain the belts. A fine match, but this felt a little too much like a match we would see on Monday Night Raw.
Winner: Seth Rollins and Murphy Time: 10:40 Rating: 2.5 Stars
Mansoor vs. Dolph Ziggler
The appearance of Robert Roode at ringside was a great addition to this match to give the impression that Ziggler would have a two-on-one advantage over the hometown hero. Fun-fact: Mansoor is five days younger than Humberto Carrillo. (It’s true! Look it up!) Anyway, this match reminded me a great deal of Mansoor’s last match in Saudi Arabia against Cesaro. If there are two guys on the WWE roster that will help you create a mat classic and boost your stock a bit more with the WWE Universe, you can’t do much better than Cesaro and Dolph Ziggler. I think with a little bit more conditioning, Mansoor could be a standout member of 205 Live roster or even Monday Night Raw now with the additions of Carrillo and Garza. He’s got the looks, he’s got a good bit of charisma, he just needs a little bit more experience working against veterans like Ziggler. Here, nearly any move Ziggler would execute would simultaneously come off as a pissed off veteran showing up a new rookie while also riling up the Riyadh crowd into getting behind their hometown hero. This was a paint-by-numbers match, but it followed the babyface comeback formula that’s been tried and executed for decades in professional wrestling: Mansoor scores some big moves early on to wow the crowd, Ziggler gets the momentum for the middle of the match, Mansoor makes a comeback, Ziggler attempts one last grasp at glory but ultimately fails as the babyface overcomes the odds to walk away victorious on a moonsault that hit Ziggler in the abdomen with Mansoor’s knees.
Winner: Mansoor Time: 9:20 Rating: 3 Stars
Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Ricochet
This wasn’t a match: This was a mauling. It was a squash match with lasers, pomp, and circumstance. Blocked dropkick, slam, suplexes, F5, pin. That’s everything that happened. Ricochet did not get one move of offense in this match. It looked like that this match was purely set up to add some b-roll to the Lesnar-McIntyre highlight package before WrestleMania. I didn’t care for this match because it was too short and I wanted to see more offense out of Ricochet, but I understand the point of continuing to show-off Brock as an unstoppable animal. If anything, this was the only way to conduct this match after Brock decimated nearly half of the entrants in the Royal Rumble last month.
Winner: Brock Lesnar Time: 1:30 Rating: 2 Stars
Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin
I look to the skies and ask the Heavens “Why oh why, is this feud still going on?” I understand you need something for Roman and Corbin to do to kill time until the Elimination Chamber, but what was once an enticing feud has been milked dryer than desert sand. I will say though, I liked the touch of King Corbin entering the cage clad in chainmail. To counteract this strong defense, Reigns entered the ring with a heavy chain (which really ties back the “dog” references littered throughout this feud) to lock down the door. While finalizing the lockdown, Corbin ran over to the Big Dog and knocked him over with a fury of kicks. The King would throw Roman into the cage walls again and again and again to the point where Reigns was favoring his quadriceps. Corbin would climb up the cage in attempt to take the long way toward an escape, but Roman would quickly catch up with him and eventually drag him back down to the ring. The former Baron would snake through Reigns’ pockets to find the key for the lock and chain and try to escape the steel structure. But every time Corbin would get close to the door, Reigns would be there to stop him and pull him back in. In an attempt to end the match and knockout the Big Dog for good, Corbin would wrap the chain around his Golden Gloves-certified right fist and try to Superman Punch Reigns. After a one-step ahead counter, Roman would avoid a mouth full of metal and retrieve the chain, wrap it around his own hand, and deliver a go-ahead Superman Punch for the pinfall victory. This just didn’t have a “big time, end of a feud” steel cage match “feel” to me. Mercifully perhaps, this is the last proper match between these two for quite some time.
Winner: Roman Reigns Time: 12:50 Rating: 2 Stars
Bayley (C) vs. Naomi
Naomi had a lot of devastating leg-based offense in this match between leg drops and nailing a splits on Bayley’s chest for a two-count. Naomi also hit a big corkscrew plancha over the top rope that I’m sure made John Morrison look back on for some pointers. Bayley’s offense, on the other hand, consisted of headlock-based submissions and knocking Naomi out of the air. Of course, it needs to be stated that this match is a huge deal in regards to being the first Women’s Championship match on the Saudi pay-per-view shows in company history. WWE steadily built to this moment from introducing Renee Young as a ring announcer, Lana as a manager, and Lacey Evans and Natalya as wrestlers. Seeing Naomi and Bayley (two of my favorites on the women’s roster) wrestle for the SmackDown Women’s Championship in Saudi Arabia (something that was unheard of only a few years ago) is pretty damn cool to see. Anyway, I really liked the ending of this match with Bayley utilizing what Corey Graves called a “Texas Shoehorn” by placing Naomi’s legs inside her own shirt and slamming Naomi’s head into the mat. That being said, I thought this match was just fine too. At least the crowd in Riyadh seemed to enjoy it a good deal.
Winner: Bayley Time: 11:30 Rating: 2.5 Stars
The Fiend (C) vs. Goldberg
Goldberg’s sparkler entrance malfunctioned so he had to shadowbox on the ramp sans the usual fire and fury around him. Goldberg may have more gray in his beard than black, but he’s still built like a guy you wouldn’t mess around with if you bumped into him on the street. After an initial staredown, Goldberg slowly backed up and exploded out of his corner for a spear on the Fiend still removing his entrance jacket. The Fiend would kick out after one and immediately try to lock-in a Mandible Claw to choke out the WWE Hall of Famer. Goldberg would power out of the hold, push the Fiend back, and spear him three more times in succession. This time, all of that effort and power only resulted in a two-count. Ala the Undertaker, the Fiend sat up and tried to lock in his “HURT” glove into Goldberg’s mouth with the Mandible Claw. A few well-placed gut-check kicks to the stomach gave Goldberg enough room to lift up the Fiend and Jackhammer “it” into the mat. And with a shocking three-count, Bill Goldberg has won the Universal Championship for the second time and has accomplished what might be the upset of 2020 by defeating the Fiend in the middle of the ring to the pop of the Riyadh people.
A LOT of wrestling fans online despised this decision, to have a 53-year old part-time have his first match in six months and defeat a near-supernatural demon (and one of the company’s highest merchandise sellers) in 180 seconds. Personally, I thought the match itself was fine. Not a lot of story or build-up, but this was not a bad match. Bill Goldberg’s last appearance in Saudi Arabia facing the Undertaker at the last Super Showdown show was a bad match. I don’t agree with this decision to give him the belt, but I won’t say this was a bad match. Having the Fiend stand up after the pin and attempt to jaw-jack at Goldberg before disappearing into darkness left this decision with more questions around it than answers. But, this does give the people who haven’t cancelled their WWE Network subscription an added interest in watching the immediate aftermath on SmackDown Live. A fine match with a head-scratching booking decision.
Winner: Goldberg Time: 3:00 Rating: 2.5 Stars
Overall Thoughts: I know a lot of people were apoplectic about the decision to give Goldberg the belt over the Fiend, but I’ll try to play neutral observer here. I want to see what happens here in the following five weeks until WrestleMania. That being said, this whole show was very “par for the course” for me. Nothing really stood outnet, but there wasn’t any “Goldberg vs. Undertaker” abominations on this show either. Just a lot of “fine-to-good” over the course of three hours. My match of the night honors goes to New Day and Miz and Morrison, just barely edging out Mansoor-Dolph Ziggler. My least favorite match was the steel cage match between Reigns and Corbin, which felt very rehearsed and didn’t have a lot of life and excitement.
Final Super Showdown Rating: 2.5 Stars