Has it already been 4 years since the WWE started doing pay-per-views in Saudi Arabia? It does seem quite longer but that’s only because they’ve been flying in and out of the country at least twice a year. I will say the WWE’s Saudi Arabia shows have steadily gotten better over the years. I still remember the early stinkers like the “Greatest” Royal Rumble and the original Crown Jewel, which felt like glorified house shows. What’s doubly amazing to me is I was actually looking forward to this year’s Crown Jewel. What a shift from the original way back in 2018, right?
Anyway, let’s go look at what happened during this year’s Crown Jewel and if I was correct in looking forward to it.
The first match of the night pitted Brock Lesnar against Bobby Lashley. I will admit, I wasn’t all excited for this one because I generally don’t enjoy “big man” matches as they usually come off as slow and plodding. Thankfully, I was only half right as both Bobby Lashley and Brock Lesnar, while not exactly the speediest in the WWE locker room, were able to ramp up the intensity with some stunt spots. I do like how Lashley tried to take the early advantage by slamming Lesnar into the steel ring steps, seemingly causing a leg injury. This led the All Mighty to dominate most the match. The Beast Incarnate did get a few licks in but Lashley was quick to reverse the momentum.
The finish was, well, smart but rather disappointing. Lashley locked in the Hurt Lock on Lesnar. Lesnar tried to rally and break out of it but couldn’t. So, instead, he actually used his smarts as he used the corner turnbuckles as leverage to land on top of his opponent and get the pinfall win. Lashley is understandably upset and goes on a rampage and beats down on Lesnar before locking in another Hurt Lock to render the Beast Incarnate unconscious.
This was generally a fun match. Despite it being a couple of brutes trying to break each other, they made it up with some good in-ring storytelling and just good intensity. The finish leaves a lot to be desired as seeing Brock use his head instead of his strength to win just feels odd. However, I understand why this was done as it did not make Lashley look weak despite the loss. A good and passable match to start out Crown Jewel.
The next match of the night saw Asuka and Alexa Bliss defending their newly won WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships against the former belt holders, Dakota Kai and IYO SKY of Damage CTRL. Coming in to tonight, I just felt Damage CTRL was going to win the belts back just so the WWE can say titles do change hands during their Saudi Arabia shows. Well, I guess I was right but the circumstances on how this happened were, at the very least, interesting. Not really much to say about this match as, for me, the only real highlight was when Asuka and IYO SKY faced off and that awesome looking Code Red by Bliss to SKY. Bliss and Asuka did try to do some neat double team stuff but it just didn’t gel together.
The finish came while Asuka was fighting with IYO SKY in the outside. Dakota Kai tried to get one over Bliss but Bliss connected with a DDT. Alexa then went to the top turnbuckle for her Twisted Bliss splash but Nikki Cross ran through the crowd and hit Bliss with her Whiplash finisher while the referee was distracted by Asuka and SKY’s brawl. Kai then takes advantage and pins Bliss for Damage CRTL to become the NEW/AGAIN WWE Women Tag Team Champions.
This was just okay and nothing spectacular. I generally don’t like run-in finishes but this does seem to further Damage CRTL’s storyline as Cross was seen talking to Bayley last week so Bayley could’ve had a hand on the outcome. I guess the biggest problem right now is that Damage CRTL doesn’t have any real worthy Women’s Tag Teams to really feud with. I mean, Asuka and Bliss just seems very thrown together at the last minute. Hopefully, the WWE can find a worthy enough team for Damage CRTL to feud against *coughSashaBankscough*.
The next match of the night had Drew McIntyre take on Karrion Kross in a Steel Cage match. I don’t know why but I just couldn’t get into why these guys are feuding with each other. So, this does impact my impression of this match quite a bit. However, I do like how this felt like an old-school Steel Cage match as they didn’t go for pinfalls here and it felt like the only real way to win was to escape the cage. There was a lot of hard hitting blows here but the star here was Scarlett and her distractions and how she managed to interfere in the match without actually entering the cage.
The finish saw Scarlett locking up the steel cage door after pepper spraying McIntyre and the outside official. This led to the Scottish Warrior to get out the cage the old-fashioned way: by scaling and going over the cage walls. Kross, who was knocked out with a Claymore, starts to stir and then starts going for the steel cage door. It becomes a race and, with Kross halfway out the door, McIntyre drops down and wins as he was the first to have both feet touch the floor.
Once again, this was just a decent match. No real spots of note here but I do like how each blow looked like they hurt. That’s more of a testament to Drew and Karrion’s selling than anything else. I did like the finish as it became an old-school race to see who could escape the cage first. However, while it was fun in the moment, I don’t think I’ll remember this match after a week.
The next match had the OC, consisting of AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, take on The Judgement Day, featuring Finn Balor, Damien Priest and Dominik Mysterio. This was the match I was expecting to be match of the night but mostly because of how the WWE was pushing The Judgement Day to be this unstoppable force. There was indeed a lot to like here but it didn’t exactly meet my expectations. I do like how Dominik Mysterio turned into this sniveling bully ever since aligning himself with The Judgement Day. However, some of the big spots, like the double electric chair and superplex spot, just didn’t make sense. Sure, it looked cool as they all went down at the same time. I just don’t get why Damien Priest and Luke Gallows were also hurt since they were the ones doing the electric chair spot to their opponents. Oh, well. It looked pretty at least.
The finish was, well, pretty predictable because of how The Judgement Day has won many of their big matches previously. It got down to AJ Styles and Finn Balor as everyone else was taken out by the aforementioned electric chair spot. The Phenomenal One managed to connect with a big forearm, stunning Balor. Styles then set up for the Phenomenal Forearm but Rhea Ripley slammed Styles into the ring apron while the referee was distracted by Dominik. This allowed Balor to hit Styles with shotgun dropkick and his Coup De Grace finisher to get the pinfall victory for The Judgement Day.
This was a good match overall but the finish, like I said, could be seen happening from a mile away. I don’t mind it that much but the act is getting a little tiresome by now. Still, I do think the action overall was good. I do wish they did emphasize things more, like Luke Gallows and Damien Priest displaying more power moves. These are minor quibbles to an otherwise good match.
The next match had Braun Strowman take on Omos. I’ve already mentioned how I dislike “big men” matches but I was going to give this a pass because I do like Braun Strowman and I believe Omos has been steadily improving in the ring. I do like the twist by making Bruan Strowman the underdog because of how huge Omos is. They really did try to hammer this point home as The Monster Among Men was simply getting beat down by Omos repeatedly throughout the match.
The finish did seem to come out of nowhere, though. Omos had Strowman in the corner and he went for an avalanche splash. Strowman managed to sidestep the splash and snatched the Nigerian Giant up into a powerslam to get the pinfall victory.
Despite it ending so abruptly, this was as good as it was going to get. They did a good job of making Omos look like a monster that even the Monster Among Men couldn’t conquer. Having it end suddenly also makes it come across that Strowman managed to eke out a victory but, at the same time because of the powerslam, make it look conclusive. It’s not the best match of the night but good in-ring storytelling made it come off as more brilliant than it was on paper.
The next match has the reigning WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos defend the titles against The Brawling Brutes, Ridge Holland and Butch. While we already know The Usos can put on a good show, I was more concerned with the Brawling Brutes but I do have to say this is the best they’ve ever looked. This goes especially for Ridge Holland as he really increased his intensity during this match with some impressive feats of strength. That’s not to say Butch didn’t show off some good resilience but I gotta say I was really impressed with Ridge Holland during the match.
The finish came after Jey Uso kicked out of a pinfall attempt by Holland after White Noise. The Brutes then dumped Jimmy into the audience and they then did a head kick into a body slam to Jey. Butch went for the pin but was still broken up by Jimmy. The Usos then take out Holland with a double superkick. Butch connects with a step-up enziguri to the back of Jey’s head but the latter gets the tag to his brother. Butch then went up to the top but Jey stuns him with a superkick to the gut. The Usos then perform their 1D finisher on Butch from the top turnbuckle and get the pinfall win to retain their WWE Tag Team Championships.
This was an excellent match with a lot of awe-inspiring spots. The close 3-counts really felt legit and earned. The spots were well done and the action was just fantastic. I can’t really think of anything to really improve on what happened here. Kudos to Ridge Holland and Butch for really stepping it up here to make it look like The Usos could’ve lost their belts here.
The next match had Bianca Belair defend her RAW Women’s Championship against the leader of Damage CTRL, Bayley, in a Last Woman Standing match. There was some classic face and heel dynamics on display as Bayley went to using weapons very early into the match and feigning an injury in order to sucker punch Belair. Belair, for her part, once again did a good job of displaying her overall strength, amazing agility and incredible resilience to counter most of those aforementioned attacks. I also loved the creative spots, like Bayley trapping Belair in the ring steps and in an equipment case. Also, the entire golf cart sequence was a hoot. The overall execution of those spots were a little wonky as they could’ve been done better in retrospect but they were fine in the moment because of the spectacle.
The finish came after Belair missed a 450 splash and into a set of chairs. Bayley then tried to hit the Rose Plant to Belair onto a standing chair but The EST of the WWE blocked it and smashed Bayley into the chair with her KOD finisher. Belair then sandwiched Bayley in between a ladder and slid it under the bottom turnbuckle. This trapped Bayley long enough to not be able to answer the 10 count, making Bianca Belair the Last Woman Standing and retaining her RAW Women’s Championship.
This was a really fun match and I would say it was match of the night. It had everything I wanted in something like this. Some really brutal spot but mixed in with some silly and creative moments. I do wish some of the spots were executed better, such as the entire golf cart thing and the finish did leave a lot to be desired as it did look like Bayley could’ve easily slipped out from the sides. Still, it’s wrestling storytelling so I really shouldn’t be dissecting the flaws and just enjoy it for what it was.
The next thing to come up for Crown Jewel was a Bray Wyatt spot. I feel really weird reviewing this as this isn’t a match but it’s supposed to be a highlight for the show so I’ll just tell what happened and give my impressions of it all. Bray gives a speech, telling that he had to create a monster to become the best. Wyatt then says he can still change and take a new direction in life. This is when Uncle Howdy appears on the screen and he tells Wyatt will go back to his old ways because it feels so good.
It’s fine. I don’t think it needs to be on a pay-per-view, especially since Crown Jewel is set in a different country. I don’t think they needed to fly Bray Wyatt all this way just to do this. However, it might have been necessary since Bray Wyatt is a big draw and the bigwigs might have requested for him to appear. So, yeah. Nothing special here.
The last match of the night had Roman Reigns defend his WWE Undisputed Universal Championship against Logan Paul. On paper, this was going to be a bad match. I mean, Logan Paul? He’s not even a full-time wrestler! However, his previous couple of bouts was impressive so, while I seriously doubt he would win, there’s more than a good chance it would be good. I wasn’t wrong. This was better than I ever could imagine. Logan Paul was more than impressive, busting out moves like a Buckshot Lariat, a Blockbuster and that “selfie splash” through the announcer’s table. Of course, a lot of the credit as to why Logan Paul looked good has to go to Roman Reigns. He sold most of his opponent’s offense very well… even though we knew he wasn’t going to drop the belt to Logan Paul.
I will say the match did devolve into insanity as it went on as The Usos came out to take out Logan Paul’s entourage. This led to Logan Paul’s brother, Jake, to take out the Usos with a couple of (weak looking) punches. This allowed Logan to take advantage and get a 2-count on Roman Reigns after a frog splash. Solo Sikoa then comes out to take out Jake Paul but officials from the back break it up. The Usos are back up and threaten Jake Paul but Logan dives to the outside to take them out. Logan Paul then slides back into the ring but eats a superman punch upon his return. The Tribal Chief then connects with a spear to Logan Paul to get the pinfall victory and retain his WWE Undisputed Universal Championship.
This had a lot of big match energy and incredibly entertaining. Logan Paul really impressed me with how he was able to handle the pressure and get into this big of a match without really seeming like he was nervous. Roman Reigns was mostly there to make Logan look good but he still showed why he deserves to keep his WWE Undisputed Universal Championship. Things did get a little too bonkers by the end with a ton of run-ins, which did make me have to knock it down a few points. Still, an incredible match to close out this year’s Crown Jewel.
Overall, I will say this year’s Crown Jewel event was a success. While most of the matches were generally okay, the final bouts, the Last Woman Standing match for the RAW Women’s Championship and the one for the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship, pushed it from what should’ve been just an okay event to something you must watch. Really good showing here, WWE.
What did you think of this year’s WWE Crown Jewel? Let me know in the comments section below!