I’ve generally been irked about the WWE’s shows which take place in Saudi Arabia. The very first one, the ironically titled Greatest Royal Rumble was a horror-fest of dumb. The previous couple of Crown Jewel pay-per-view were mired with gimmicky no-heat matches. They had things like the entire WWE World Cup tournament (which had Shane McMahon inexplicitly winning it despite not being in the tournament), D-Generation X fighting the Brothers of Destruction (with the final moments becoming a botch fest with Triple H injuring himself and Kane’s mask falling off), Brock Lesnar going toe-to-toe with Cain Velasquez (even though the latter isn’t a trained professional wrestler) and a 10-man tag match (because the WWE needed to cram as many wrestlers into the show as possible). I’ve written off the Crown Jewel show as something to skip.
There was something about the WWE’s Crown Jewel show in Saudi Arabia that seemed different this year, though. There was a lack of any real gimmicky match and, to my shock, some of the matches had some legitimate build! They even decided to hold the finals of the King of the Ring and Queen’s Crown tournament during the night! So, with cautious optimism, I decided to hunker down and watch the Crown Jewel show. I’m honestly glad I did because it was more than just a decent show and didn’t look like the WWE was just looking for a gigantic paycheck from the country.
The first match of the night had Edge taking on Seth Rollins in a Hell in a Cell match. This match had just the right amount of build-up and there was a good amount of heat between the two to pique my interest. Both Edge and Seth Rollins were able to do their signature moves or, at the very least, hint at doing them. I don’t get why Seth Rollins would use the Unprettier against the Rated R Superstar since that’s Christian’s finisher and not Edge’s move. I do appreciate the callout, though. I also do like how Seth managed to bounce off the Hell in a Cell wall and through a table! That was definitely something new!
The finish came after Edge kicked out of a sunset bomb through a table from near the top of a ladder. The Visionary then nailed Edge with a couple of superkicks before wrapping his boot in a chain and connecting with another superkick. Rollins wasn’t done yet so he put Edge’s head on top of a chair and signaled for a curb stomp. The Ultimate Opportunist, however, manages to lift up the chair and crotch Rollins with it. Edge then went in with a couple of superkicks of his own before locking a crossface with a wrench around Seth. The Rated R Superstar managed to get the pinfall victory after using a curb stomp on the Visionary.
This was a really good match with both Edge and Seth Rollins doing something to actually use the Hell in a Cell stipulation properly. While they didn’t actually use the Cell that much, the amount of viciousness and weaponry involved made it feel necessary to cage both individuals while they duked it out. This was a good way to start the night.
The next match had the home town hero Mansoor taking on his former partner/mentor Mustafa Ali. There’s really nothing much to talk about here. It followed the basic structure of the hometown favorite getting the upper hand early before the heel using some underhanded tactic, in this case, pulling the ring apron under Mansoor to cause him to slip, in order to get the upper hand. Then the usual comeback from the face by feeding of the hometown cheers. I will say Mansoor did impress me quite a bit here.
The finish came after Ali drop kicked Mansoor who was attempting a suicide dive through the ropes. Ali went for a 450 splash but landed on his feet as Mansoor rolled out of the way. Mansoor then connected with a belly-to-belly suplex, sending Ali smashing into the bottom turnbuckle. Mansoor connected with a moonsault but, while trying to get the pin, Ali reversed it into a Koji Clutch. Mansoor reached the rope to break the hold. Ali then tried for another 450 splash over Mansoor who was draped over the bottom rope. Mansoor rolled out of the way and connected with a slingshot neckbreaker to get the pinfall win.
Ali is enraged and attacks Mansoor after the match. A mysterious man interrupts the beatdown and very slooooowly walks to the ring. The man turns out to be Tareg Hamedi, a karate silver medalist from the 2020 Olympics (had to look that up). Ali mocks Tareg then gets nailed in the head with a forward roundhouse kick. Both Mansoor and Tareg celebrate. I wasn’t expecting many surprises here but, seeing as Mansoor is getting the big home crown welcome, I expected the match to be decent, which it was. I do think Mansoor’s initial run seemed a little too long and Ali’s turn came off as just a smidge too short. I may not care for the Saudi Arabia silver medalist sticking his nose into the match but I bet the live crowd loved. Gotta do what’s best for business!
The next match had RK-Bro, consisting of Randy Orton and Riddle, taking on AJ Styles and Omos for the RAW Tag Team Championships. Riddle gets the quick cheap pop by riding a camel to the ring instead of his traditional scooter. Like the previous match, there’s hardly anything to say about this match as you already know how it’s going to go until the finish. RK-Bro took control until AJ Styles tags in Omos who quickly takes over. Styles eventually gets back into the match, allowing for Riddle and Orton to mount a comeback.
The finish came after Orton and Riddle managed to take Omos off the ring apron. Styles snuck in an elbow strike, stunning Orton. The Phenomenal One then tried his Phenomenal Forearm but Orton reversed it into an RKO. Riddle then landed with his Floating Bro corkscrew senton to get the pinfall win and retain their RAW Tag Team titles. Not much to say here. It was entertaining for what it was but nothing to write home about.
The next match had Zelina Vega taking on Doudrop for the crown of the Queen’s Crown tournament. Is it weird I’m cheering for Zelina Vega here as she would be a better fit if she started using a Queen gimmick? Also, can I comment on the lack of flair in the women’s outfits because of where they are? Suffice to say, the lack of pomp and circumstance in their attire did suck away from how good the match could’ve been. Anyway, this did come off as your standard big “man” vs. scrappy little “man” match but with the much larger opponent coming off as very, very limited in the ring. There were some missed opportunities, like Doudrop simply picking up Vega instead of sitting on her during a sunset flip attempt.
The finish came after Vega moved out of the way from Doudrop’s cannonball and connects with a codebreaker and then comboed it into double knees in the corner. She went for a pin but, as she had to drag Doudrop away from the ropes, Doudrop recovered enough to kick out. Doudrop connects with a spinning sidewalk slam and a senton splash but Vega kicks out at 2 after both moves. Doudrop tries a running splash but Vega rolls out of the way. One Code Red later and Zelina Vega picks up the pinfall victory and becomes the inaugural winner of the Queen’s Crown tournament!
I liked this match in a strange way. There was nothing spectacular about the match itself. Doudrop is just okay in the ring and she really needs some tips on how to work the crowd. Because of how limited Doudrop still is, Zelina Vega did a lot of the heavy lifting here, so to speak. The reason why I like this is it just warms my heart to see Zelina Vega finally getting some recognition in the WWE by winning something! I’m not sure if it’ll go anywhere of if they’ll actually do anything big with it, though.
The next match had Goldberg taking on Bobby Lashley in a No Holds Barred and Falls Count Anywhere match. The latter was announced on the day itself… which basically makes the No Holds Barred stipulation moot because Falls Count Anywhere automatically means no disqualification anyway. Lots of gaffes here early on, with Lashley unable to drag a table from under the ring and taking a noticeably long time to wrap Goldberg leg around a chair. There’s also the moment where the ringside barrier collapsed under Lashley’s weight and The All Mighty had to set it up back so Goldberg can spear him through it. I’m also getting increasingly nervous each time Goldberg attempts the Jackhammer as he’s just having much more trouble getting his opponent up these days.
The finish for this match was strange, to say the least. Lashley coaxed Goldberg to the ramp and it turns out The All Mighty had his fellow Hurt Business members, Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin, to come out and assault Goldberg. It didn’t matter as the duo are immediately taken out by Goldberg, making this spot nonsensical. Goldberg then wails on Lashley with a kendo stick before breaking the stick and then spearing Lashley though some conveniently set tables found on the side of the entrance ramp. Goldberg gets the pinfall victory and that’s that. It’s an okay match and Goldberg getting the pin in a spectacular, albeit very convoluted, spear was a nice way to keep the live crowd happy.
The next match saw Xavier Woods facing off against Finn Balor in the King of the Ring Finals. This was shockingly a good and straightforward match between two athletic competitors. While we know Finn Balor can deliver a high caliber match, you don’t really think of Xavier Woods being able to do the same as he’s generally been in the shadow of both Kofi Kingston and Big E. This match does prove he can also hang with the big boys when it comes to delivering a good match.
The finish came after Balor set up Woods for his Coup de Grace double footstomp finisher. Woods managed to recover fast enough to climb to the top rope and deliver a superplex to Balor. Woods attempted a top rope elbow drop but Balor got the knees up. Balor follows up with a slingblade and a shotgun dropkick to the corner. Balor tries his Coup de Grace again but Woods rolls out of the way and tries to pin his foe with an Oklahoma Roll but Balor kicks out. Woods stuns Balor with a couple of kicks and a modified gutbuster. Woods then goes for the top rope elbow drop again but this time it connects, giving him the pinfall victory and becoming King of the Ring!
I honestly would be happy for either of them to win as they would do good with a fresh King gimmick. Having Woods, the sentimental favorite, take the King of the Ring is good and I can see him doing fun things with it. This was a really good match and, while this won’t be Match of the Year or anything like that, it was definitely much better than it deserved to be.
The next match had Big E defending the top prize of the RAW brand, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, against Drew McIntyre. While both Superstars focus on the power game, there are some obvious differences with how they use them, as Big E uses more his mass and Drew more on his striking ability, this did come off rather different than your standard “big man” match. Some cool moments here, like watching Drew McIntyre do a Michinoku Driver as well as a jumping spinebuster to Big E and Big E reversing a claymore kick into a powerbomb.
The finish came after Big E kicked out of a pinfall after eating a claymore kick. The Scottish Warrior appeared to try using the Big Ending to Big E but Big E squirmed out of the move. Big E tosses McIntyre into the ropes and manages to scoop him up into a Big Ending to finally get the pinfall victory and retain his WWE World Championship. This was a really fun match overall. While I do dislike how each of them managed to kick out of finishers, the overall energy of the match was really high.
The penultimate match of the night had Becky Lynch defend her Smackdown Women’s Championship against Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks in a Triple Threat match. Once again, I have to complain about the outfits as it does take away from the glitz and glamour of the world of professional wrestling but, then again, there’s nothing we can do about it right now. Anyway, this was much better than most Triple Threat matches. It did start out like your standard kind with one Superstar being taken out while the other two wrestle. However, most of the more memorable spots did generally involve all 3 competitors, mostly showcasing Bianca Belair’s strength and agility, which is always a good thing.
The finish came after Big Time Becks attempted a Manhandle Slam to Sasha Banks but The Boss blocked the move. This allowed The EST to come in and connect with her KOD slam to Lynch. Banks tried to toss Belair to the outside to steal the pin but Belair reversed it. Belair bounced off the ropes, allowing Banks to trip Belair and drag her to the outside. This allowed Lynch to recover enough and roll up The Boss while using the ropes to get the pinfall victory and retain her Smackdown Women’s Championship.
This was match of the night for me. All 3 ladies, even with the handicap of the bland outfits, put on a really good show. I loved how it felt much more hectic than your standard Triple Threat match and all 3 of them were in the ring at the same time, just picking up their spots when needed. Belair was the standout, for sure, but both Banks and Lynch definitely were no slouches either.
The final match had Roman Reigns defending the WWE Universal Championship against Brock Lesnar. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this match. So color me surprised as they did a few smart things here. There’s the entire “who’s Paul Heyman going to side with?” storyline (which didn’t pan out). It was also smart to start off slow and Reigns managing to block the suplex attemps by Lesnar early on. There was even a spot trying to highlight Lesnar’s athletic ability by leapfrogging over Reigns’ spear. I was enjoying the entire affect… until The Beast F5’ed the Head of the Table into the referee, knocking the official cold.
At that point, I knew the finish was going to be a screwjob. Reigns connected with a spear while Lesnar was distracted by the downed referee. Paul Heyman then took the WWE Universal Championship Belt and tossed it in-between both Reigns and Lesnar to use as a weapon. Both scramble for the belt and Lesnar is the winner of that tug-of-war. Unfortunately for him, the Usos sneak into the ring and nail The Beast with dual superkicks. Reigns then cocks Lesnar with the belt just as a new official rushes into the ring. Reigns covers Lesnar for the pinfall victory and retains the championship.
I liked the match in general but I dislike the screwjob finish. I guess it’s there to protect Lesnar from coming off as weak as he wasn’t pinned clean. I also didn’t like how they didn’t answer who Paul Heyman is with as it’s a dangling story thread that should’ve been answered here. The only thing I did like about the finish is how perfect Heyman tossed in the belt right smack in the middle of the two. That’s just really good aim, Mr. Advocate!
As Crown Jewel shows go, this is definitely the best one. The lack of a gimmick match made this legit feel like a regular pay-per-view show and not some pandering program to a certain wrestling fan who rules over a country. Not every match was spectacular and some of the outcomes were obvious because of how some wrestlers were moving from RAW to Smackdown and vice versa. Still, if future Crown Jewels are like this, then maybe they’ll be worth watching in the future.
What did you think of this year’s WWE Crown Jewel show? Let me know in the comments section below!