First-ever WWE Greatest Royal Rumble wows 60,000 in Jeddah

John Cena, right, in action against Triple H at the show in Jeddah on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 29 April 2018
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First-ever WWE Greatest Royal Rumble wows 60,000 in Jeddah

  • In another landmark moment for Saudi Arabia, women were free to attend and enjoy the show
  • Four Saudi tryout WWE candidates also made an appearance, receiving a deafening reaction from the crowd as they took on Persian duo the Daivari brothers

JEDDAH: The first televised World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) event in the region was a huge success, with 60,000 delighted fans cheering their heroes at the King Abdullah Stadium on Friday night.

In another landmark moment for Saudi Arabia, women were free to attend and enjoy the show.

WWE pulled all the stops to ensure the success of its Greatest Royal Rumble, with all seven men’s titles on the line.

WWE legends The Undertaker, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho and Mark Henry were part of the loaded roster.

This was the first WWE event with a 50-man “Royal Rumble” match, rather than the traditional 30.

Four Saudi tryout WWE candidates also made an appearance, receiving a deafening reaction from the crowd as they took on Persian duo the Daivari brothers.

In the first bout of the night, John Cena defeated Triple H. Cedric Alexander then retained his cruiserweight title against Lucha sensation Kalisto, while Jeff Hardy held on to his US championship title against modern-day maharaja Jinder Mahal.

In the fatal four-way intercontinental championship ladder match, Seth Rollins came out on top against Samoa Joe, The Miz and Finn Balor.

Meanwhile, A.J. styles defended his WWE championship title against Shinsuke Nakamura, while the legendary Undertaker defeated Rusev in the Kingdom’s first casket match.

The battle between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns for the universal championship proved to be too much for the steel cage that was supposed to contain them, with Lesnar ending up the winner after the pair destroyed part of the structure.

The final match was the 50-man Royal Rumble match, which was down to Big Cass and Braun Strowman. Braun ran into Cass and knocked him to the floor to win the Greatest Royal Rumble match.


Soviet-era motorcycle sidecars add to Cuba’s retro appeal

Updated 21 March 2019
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Soviet-era motorcycle sidecars add to Cuba’s retro appeal

  • Ranging from rusting relics to the pampered and the pristine, hundreds of old motorcycle sidecars rattle through the streets of Havana

HAVANA: Cuba’s love affair with 1950s-era American cars is still intact, but the communist-run island also has a lingering attachment to a stalwart of Soviet-era leftovers, the motorcycle sidecar.
Ranging from rusting relics to the pampered and the pristine, hundreds of old motorcycle sidecars rattle through the streets of Havana.
The retro appeal gets a lot of attention from tourists “but here it’s common, normal,” says Enrique Oropesa Valdez.
Valdez should know. The 59-year old makes a living as an instructor teaching people how to handle the sidecar in Havana’s traffic, where riders seem able to squeeze the machines through the narrowest of gaps.
And they’ve built up an intense loyalty among the mend-and-make do Cubans.
“They’re very practical,” according to Alejandro Prohenza Hernandez, a restaurateur who says his pampered red 30-year-old Jawa 350 is like a second child.
Cheaper and more practical than the gas-guzzling, shark-finned US behemoths, the bikes are used for anything from the family runabout to trucking goods and workers’ materials.
“A lot of foreigners really like to take photos of it,” says Hernandez. “I don’t know, I think they see it as something from another time.”
Cuba lags several decades behind the rest of the world due to a crippling US embargo, so the makers’ badges on the ubiquitous sidecars speak of a bygone world.
Names like Jawa from the former Czechoslovakia and MZ from the former East Germany, as well as antiquated Russian Urals, Dniepers and Jupiters.
Havana’s military acquired them from big brother Moscow at the height of the Cold War in the 1960s and 70s, for use by state factories and farms. Over the years, they gradually filtered down to the general public.
That’s how Jose Antonio Ceoane Nunez, 46, found his bright red Jupiter 3.
“When the Cuban government bought sidecars from the Russians in 1981, it was for state-owned companies,” he said.
Later, the companies “sold them on to the most deserving employees,” he said. His father, who worked for a state body, passed the bike on to him.
“Even if the sidecar gets old. I’ll never sell it because it’s what I use to move around. It’s my means of transport in Cuba, and there aren’t many other options,” said Nunez.
Valdez himself has a cherished green 1977 Ural.
“I like it a lot, firstly because it’s the means of transport for my family, and secondly because it’s a source of income.”
And it costs less than a car, still out of reach of many Cubans.
Settled on the island with his Cuban wife, 38-year-old Frenchman Philippe Ruiz didn’t realize at first how ubiquitous the motorcycle sidecar was.
“When I began to be interested, I suddenly realized that I was seeing 50 to 100 a day!”
Renovating a house at the time, he saw that many sidecars were being used to transport building equipment.
Through an advert on the Internet, he bought a blue 1979 Ural a few months ago for 6,500 euros.
“It’s a year older than me and in worse shape,” he said. “Soon he had to strip the bike down and “start repairing everything.”
With few spare parts available in Cuba, “people have to bring them in from abroad,” which slows down repairs.
But he has no regrets. An experienced motorcyclist, he’s discovered a whole new side to his passion by riding the Russian machine.
“It’s very funny, it’s a big change from the bike because we cannot turn the same way, we can’t lean, so you have to relearn everything but it’s nice.”
“It’s especially nice with the family because you can put a child in the sidecar, my wife behind, and suitcases,” he said.
In future he hopes to take advantage of the interest in the old bikes to rent it out.
“I think it will be a bit of a change from all the convertibles here.”