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WWE King and Queen of the Ring, Triple Threat, Undisputed WWE Championship rated

Favourites Gunther and Nia Jax were crowned King and Queen, Sami Zayn and Cody Rhodes defended their titles; Liv Morgan brought in a surprise at the WWE special event on May 25. Vinu Syriac writes

WWE King and Queen of the Ring, Triple Threat, Undisputed WWE Championship rated
WWE has a new King and Queen of the Ring in Gunther and Nia Jax, while Cody Rhodes defended his Undisputed WWE Championship title

Last Updated: 01.45 PM, May 26, 2024


Sportswashing: A practice of rehabilitating the bad reputation of nation, company, etc., or mitigating negative press coverage with a sports event. Also known as reputation laundering through sports.

One of the WWE’s most criticized endeavours is its tie-up with Saudi Arabia. The country’s civil right record and its treatment of women is always brought up when the fans go ballistic about it. The WWE brass choose not to react and go about their business. After all, it is all about the moolah.

From 2018, when a Greatest Royal Rumble was held in Jeddah, WWE has made it clear the association was here to stay. Initially, these were special events that wouldn’t have much effect on the main storylines. Since 2022, WWE has been trying to get one, if not two, official roster events held in Saudi Arabia. This year it is time for the King and Queen of the Ring.

The King of the Ring was a WWE Main Event that had been dumped since 2015. This year, it came back with a name change and a lot of promotion. For the past few weeks in Raw and Smackdown, the various knockout matches were held to determine the finalists for the King and Queen of the Ring events. And we came down to Saudi Arabia for the conclusion.

Women’s World Championship

It was a surprise when the popular Rhea Ripley had to vacate her Championship belt last month because of an injury that supposedly arose from a backstage attack by Liv Morgan. As is the case in Sports Entertainment, one will never know if the storyline needed an injury or the storyline came up because of the injury. The fishnets, face paint and all-round freakiness didn’t make its way to the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Instead, we had Liv Morgan and Becky Lynch clash in full body suits in a match that was notable for how silly it was. Lynch is very popular and is always committed to her fights. But her physique often comes in the way. If there were a match with Lynch versus a fly, you would totally believe that she would kill the fly, but you would be hard-pressed to accept that she would actually be able to hurt said fly.

She was looking particularly frail in the match. It didn’t help that Liv Morgan build herself up on a Barbie persona. The match could not convince anyone of its seriousness. Most of the blows seemed to connect with the air. When Domink Mysterio of the Judgement Day villain group arrived ringside to take revenge on behalf of his teammate Rhea Ripley, it just was the final nail in the coffin.

Liv won, Dominik pouted and Becky raged. Thankfully, it was a short match.

Rating: C-

Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental Championship

Sami Zayn is a practicing Muslim. A fact that is no one else’s business in any sports event. But this is Saudi Arabia, a place Canadian-born, Syrian-origin Sami had refused to travel to, before the Saudis restored diplomatic ties with Syria. But since then, he has gone to become one of the most-loved wrestlers in the kingdom. He went to Mecca last year, spoke Arabic at events and even wore the thobe to his matches. There was no way in Jeddah that he was not going to defend his belt.

Bronson Reed is six feet tall. Which makes him taller than most men. However, among the other WWE giants, he is just a chubby little bear. The mass of pure muscle he is supposed to embody just doesn’t manifest itself. Even when he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, he wasn’t taken all that seriously.

Chad Gable is an Olympian who later made the move to WWE, like a certain Kurt Angle. The latter turned out to be a bona fide superstar and one of the most memorable heels WWE ever had. He was a master at getting the crowd against him and the “You Suck!” chants that came on whenever his music played, made for a memorable moment. The crowds have now started doing the same for Gable, who clearly has a long way to go.

Like all triple threat matches, each of the participants took time outside the ring while the others dueled inside. The actual chubby baby Otis had an unfortunate part to play in stopping his Alpha Academy teammate Gable, as Sami retained his title with a huge kick on the face to Reed. The crowd got their money’s worth.

Rating: C+

Queen of the Ring

Lyra Valkyria came out of nowhere to be the finalist in the Queen of the Ring. She was facing the formidable Nia Jax. The bigger players in wrestling were rarely the champions. Probably, the idea was to have someone who could be beaten. Or the audience just didn’t want to like huge bodies. So the Typoons and Earthquakes and Mabels didn’t have much chance. Andre the Giant, Yokozuna and Big Show were the exceptions. Nia Jax towered over her contemporaries in the women’s division, but her storylines rarely went anywhere.

The obviously mismatched pair dueled it out. It was obvious that Lyra would win. One needed to find out how as none of her blows were making much of a dent on Nia. The scenario of her win became more and more improbable and one started thinking of who would come from outside and interfere. Then, al of a sudden Nia unleashed her Annihilator. Lyra was history and Triple H crowned the Irresistible Force in a ceremony that was much more moving that it had any right to be. How long would they take the storyline, one needs to see. After all, Nia has just become a contender, not a champion.

Rating: B

King of the Ring

In an over-the-top theatrical entertainment business like WWE, one cannot cease to wonder at the career Gunther has had so far. While they are continuing with the Ring General shtick, Gunther as a personality remains the antithesis of the industry. He just comes and does his job. He is not flamboyant, doesn’t have a theatrical finishing move, doesn’t have unrealistically well-defined muscles, but he persists. He gets the job done. He may not be the most popular one now, but I am sure people are going to get behind him. The Viper Randy Orton is at the fag end of his career in WWE. It is obvious when commentators keep referring to him as “future hall-of-famer” multiple times.

A supposed knee injury added some justification to the ultimate result, but it was evident to all that Gunther was the future. Like Nia Jax before him, the crowd was solidly behind the eventual loser. But Gunther prevailed.

Rating: B-

Undisputed WWE Championship

Love him or loathe him, Logan Paul is here to stay. With his incredible social media reach and his inane ability to court and cause controversies, the 29-year-old is the lightning rod any marketing team would want to embrace. What tends to go into the background is the fact that he is a fearless wrestling performer, willing to put his body out there in high-risk maneuvers for the sake of entertainment.

The Cody Rhodes story will end one day. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Logan will be selected to take over the top spot. Influencers are called that because they have the ability to affect the way people think of them. I don’t think it is remotely a stretch for Logan to become the good guy.

Cody received a rapturous reception and played to the gallery like there was no tomorrow. He went around shaking hands with the Arabic commentators and kids in the crowd. He was nice to a fault and that will be the fault that takes him down.

Logan came promising that he would win fair and square. There was a ridiculous exchange with him and commentator Michael Cole when the expected brass knuckles came out. Cole sounded like a kindergarten teacher telling Logan he promised a clean fight.

In an entertainment match like WWE, counting someone out would happen only if it was a plot point, it is how slowly and how badly referees count that is cause for disbelief. Ideally, a 10-count should have 10 numbers. WWE referees have the wherewithal to extend that to many more! Logan should have been counted out, but goody Cody decided he wanted a pinfall. A move that almost backfired but for the timely intervention from the guest ring announcer. Mr Rhodes lives to fight another day.

Rating: A-

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