Hello everyone, you've landed on Planet Kayfabe. I'm glad you could join me again. This time reviewing WWE Crown Jewel live from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The show will feature the 'World Cup" tournament to crown the "best in the world". The world cup featuring all Americans because... no shit the best in the world has to be American, right? If a Smackdown Superstar loses to a Raw Superstar in the finals Shane McMahon said he would fire them. Gee, what a guy. This dude is supposed to be a babyface voice of reason type authority figure, right? On Smackdown he said he can't live with giving Stephanie bragging rights... so... he's going to fire one of his top stars and let her sign him over to her show? Weird. That's WWE logic for you. Also, the vacant Universal Championship is on the line and the 'Heartbreak Kid' Shawn Michaels is wrestling his first match in 8 and a half years.
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) defeated Rusev (Singles match for the WWE United States Championship)
It was a standard match like you'd see on any pre-show or any episode of Smackdown. Also, because it's the pre-show, the fans were still making their way into the building so it pretty much looked like a Smackdown crowd as well. Nakamura won when after Rusev tried going for the Accolade Shinsuka headbutted Rusev in the cock before hitting the Kinshasa for the win.
...to the cock.
Get that on a shirt, WWE.
The show began with the announcement of the host of this event. That would be none other than the Immortal Hulk Hogan. This is his first WWE appearance since Wrestlemania 31 or when he was hosting Tough Enough however you decide to look at it. The fans in attendance enjoyed the presence of Hogan so agree with his return or not this was the right or safest event to have him return.
He cut a typical Hulk Hogan promo and mentioned how he was happy to be back in WWE and how the power of the Hulkamaniacs "brought him there" even though he didn't mention where he was. Yeah, they're still doing this, I guess. Hogan hit his catchphrases and then all his signature poses in the ring because Hogan must pose, right? So I've heard. I've written in length about what a Hulk Hogan return to WWE means in terms of healing, forgiveness, moving forward and accepting responsibility. Is he a changed man? None of us know for sure, but he's going to have to prove it for the rest of his life. He's undeniably one of the biggest stars in wrestling history, perhaps the biggest, so it would be impossible for WWE to fully erase his memory and why should they? Like him or not without Hogan who knows if there is a WWE today.
Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton (WWE World Cup Quarterfinal match)
This is the first of the 'World Cup' matches. If you're wondering why they didn't just use the name 'King of the Ring' it could be some Saudi law where you can't use the term "King" out of context. They couldn't call Jerry Lawler "The King" at the Greatest Royal Rumble earlier this year either. Randy Orton probably had the best take on his position of WWE doing this show: "I got 5 kids to feed, so if they want me going to Saudi, I'm going to Saudi" there ya go.
They had a competitive back-and-forth match but it was pretty short. About five minutes. Expect these World Cup matches to be more to the point. Rey won with a quick rana double leg cradle. Orton got his heat back at the end by RKO'ing Mysterio and then continuing the assault to the outside of the ring. I guess this gives Rey an excuse to lose later on without it killing him.
Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz (WWE World Cup Quarterfinal match)
Jeff Hardy cut a pre-taped promo about vanquishing his demos. Prior to that The Miz talked about being the most must-see Superstar whatever. So far everyone that has come out has gotten some level of pyro. Miz looked like he got little Gillberg sparklers. Some A-lister. That's a joke. Once he got in the ring he got the big fireworks. This is like late 90's WCW when literally everyone on the roster came out to pyro.
These two styles don't mesh well. Look, I love The Miz as a character but I'm not going to be one of you people that think he's one of the most underrated workers in WWE. You need to pump the breaks on some of The Miz love a bit. He deserves a lot of credit but when I hear stuff about his being the best promo in WWE and the most underrated worker in WWE I have to laugh a bit. That's when he starts to actually get into overrated territory.
The match was ok. It was, again, like anything you'd see on Smackdown.
Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Lashley (WWE World Cup Quarterfinal match)
Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion Seth Rollins came out first with just his Intercontinental title. I don't get why they don't have him come out with both titles. Even commentary sounded confused by it. Lashley came out next with his "hype man" Lio Rush. Lashley got into this tourney when Cena said he would not be attending this event after he was already booked. Everyone gave John a big pat on the back for taking a moral stand... Where's he been living the last 4 or 5 months and putting over on Twitter again?
Lio did cut a promo at the start but he did not have a mic at ringside like usual. There was a point where Cole said "It's night time here at Crown Jewel and Lio Rush still has sun glasses on" Yeah. Like he does at every Monday Night Raw when it is night time. The match featured mostly Lashley on offense but Seth was able to pick up the win with a Curb Stomp. Commentary put over how Lashley dominated the match as well. Not much to say. Seth won and he was my pick to win the whole thing.
Kurt Angle vs. Dolph Ziggler w/ Drew McIntyre (WWE World Cup Quarterfinal match)
Before the match Kurt Angle cut a promo about how he is going to prove that he is still the best in the world. Kurt Angle came out and even in Saudi Arabia he gets "you suck" chants of love. We also got his old pyro back. Dolph Ziggler came out next with Drew McIntyre by his side.. Kurt's ring gear was fairly reminiscent of the classic singlet that became his trademark.
This would be the most competitive match so far so Angle had a chance to look good here. After some mat brawling and Kurt hitting his signature German Suplexes he would hit the Angle Slam on Ziggler who would kick out. Wow a false finish in one of these matches? I was actually surprised. Kurt would drop the straps and eventually get Dolph in the ankle lock. Dolph Ziggler would counter out and send Angle into the corner to hit the Zig-Zag for the clean victory.
The match was fine. Kurt cosmetically looks to be in great shape for his age but he's obviously much slower. My pick was Angle, but I'm glad Dolph is moving forward here. Kurt seemed pretty tired. I'm not sure a second match in the same night with an even younger guy like Rollins would have been any prettier. It was clear that Kurt was maxed out here. I saw some that thought he looked pretty good. I don't know. I don't see it. His day is done. You may want Kurt vs Rollins but what you really want is 2003 Kurt vs Rollins and you're not going to get that.
The Bar (c) vs. The New Day (Tag team match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship)
The New Day came out on a "Magic Carpet". Not to sound like a broken record but it was another TV quality title match. Maybe a step above that. Nothing special. The Bar won with the help of the Big Show who knocked out Big E when the ref wasn't looking. The Bar retains as expected. It was fine, but they've done better.
Rey Mysterio vs. The Miz (WWE World Cup Semifinal match)
They had an ok match. Miz won. Again, I'm sure given more time they could do better but it was just a match designed not to eat too much time. Rey looked good and the crowd seemed to like his moves. Miz got the win to advance.
Dolph Ziggler (with Drew McIntyre) vs Seth Rollins (WWE World Cup Semifinal match)
Cut and paste. Decent match, again not their best together. Like I said, Seth was my pick for the winning this thing, but Ziggler got the win here. Drew McIntyre shoved Rollins off the top rope and then ate a superkick to allow Dolph to win. Seemingly setting up a heel vs heel finals match.
AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe (Singles match for the WWE Championship)
This was a fine match but they've had better. Not much else to say. It was a match. AJ won clean as I expected him to. Joe was only here in this slot because Bryan pulled out of the event. The match between Bryan and AJ on Smackdown was much better. They worked their usual hard-hitting, physical style and Joe's injured leg played into the story of the match. AJ would win to retain the title. Again, this wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. It was another one of those average paint-by-numbers WWE title matches that you would see on any lesser event. Nothing memorable but nothing grossly offensive. The AJ win didn't surprise me. Joe was just filling in for Bryan and they put over how AJ is 5 days away from holding the WWE title for a full year. He'll likely hold it the rest of this year after having a non-title match with the Universal Champion at Survivor Series. I've said it for months now that he might as well hold it all the way to Wrestlemania. Why not? I know some of you don't think this run as been perfect, but it's been a hell of a lot better than when Jinder held the title for half a year.
Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman (Singles match for the vacant WWE Universal Championship)
Raw General Baron Corbin came out to present the vacated championship to the official. He then hit Strowman with the title and Brock hit the F-5 on Braun Strowman and pinned him for a two count. Strowman got to his feet and got hit with another F-5. Strowman got up again and was hit with a third F-5 and... kicked out again. So yeah it's a Lesnar match. Strowman was them dumped to the outside where the ref would begin a 10 count. For some reason Brock and Heyman were wanting the count out even though that would mean no one would win the vacated championship. Strowman got back in the ring after recovering and was hit with yet another F-5, Brock's only move apparently and this time he picked up the win.
Brock Lesnar wins the Universal Championship again. I don't mind him as champion, but wow... f*** this match. What a pile of shit that was. It was like watching someone playing a video game on easy and only hitting their finisher just to get through career mode quickly. It really did NOTHING for Braun even though they can say he was "protected" he really go no offense in. I guess it puts him in line for a re-match but whatever. If I were to give it a star rating it would be half a star. Really a nothing match.
The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/ Drew McIntyre) (WWE World Cup Final match (If The Miz loses, he will be fired from SmackDown)
Miz came out first. Record scratch Ziggler came out next with Drew McIntyre who I will never get tired of seeing. Amazing how even on a show with zero goth babes I can still find ways to enjoy myself.
Wait. The referee ejected Drew McIntyre from ringside. What?! Screw this. What a terrible referee. Cole put it over as a great decision. No. Terrible decision. McIntyre should always be out there for the fans to see. Fire this man.
Dolph and Miz had a pre-match brawl. Miz was selling some injury. The ref, who I already hate as it is, wanted to throw the match away due to injury, but Dr. Shane McMahon knows better and didn't want the match thrown away. So after much resistance from the official, Shane McMahon took the spot of The Miz, so it will be a babyface/heel match after all.
Shane McMahon vs Dolph Ziggler (WWE World Cup Finals Match)
Shane started the match with his usual shitty-ass punches and Corbin tried to get involved but the ref ejected him from ringside too. I guess that's a good call. Doesn't make up for before, though. Shane was in street clothes which was conveniently enough a muscle shirt which is a good look for him. Better than watching an old guy beat people up in a custom baseball jersey. The match didn't last long. Shane hit the Coast-to-Coast dropkick on Dolph and picked up the win.
Yes. Shane McMahon has been crowned the BEST WRESTLER IN THE WORLD!
Shane celebrated in over-the-top fashion while commentary didn't really put it over. They in fact acted like it was the most ridiculous thing they've seen in a while. The heel Corey Graves even halfheartedly put it over as a great win. Yeah, who needs to put over a new star when you can just harp on nostalgia right? That's what WWE has been telling us the past month. Nostalgia is better than all the current shit anyway so might as well put them over all the current talent. Isn't that great? Dolph can beat an Olympic gold medalist and the current IC/Tag Champion Seth Rollins but not Shane McMahon. He is a McMahon after all and apparently the best wrestler in the world.
D-Generation X vs. The Undertaker and Kane (Tag team match)
D-X came out first. It was a normal D-X entrance as if they never left. Nothing really special for Shawn's big return to the ring. Gotta say for all this talk about Shawn's hair, have you looked on the body on that man? Some guys have hair at 53, some don't but not many 53 year olds have that physique. All respect there. Shawn has taken care of himself. Kane's music hit next who did like a half entrance and then The Undertaker followed. The entrances pretty much began at the top of hour 3.
The crowd was hot for this match before it even started. Kane and HHH started things off. It didn't last too long as Shawn was tagged in and worked in almost jocular fashion until Kane tagged Undertaker and Shawn got serious remembering he was the guy that ended his career 8 and a half years ago. I guess no one takes Kane seriously. The crowd remained hot as the action continued.
Shawn got tagged back in against Kane and looked like his old self. He hit his old spots. He hit the forearm into the kip up which popped a "you still got it" chant. Shawn had an ear-to-ear smile on his face. He then connected with his top rope elbow and signaled for Sweet Chin Music but ate a chokeslam instead. Kane tagged Undertaker who took advantage of Shawn for a bit.
The match made its way outside. It looked like Undertaker was going to Tombstone HBK through the announcer's table but Hunter saved his partner and ate a chokeslam by Kane through the other table for his troubles. It looked like a pretty hard landing, too. Somewhere around this time Triple H got injured. It may have even been before that chokeslam, so that's pretty brutal. It could have happened when he took that Harley Race bump over the top to the outside. After the show WWE officially confirmed that he sustained a torn pectoral muscle in the match, so that will require surgery and may leave HHH off the WrestleMania card for the first time in years.
This would mean Shawn Michaels would have to carry the match for his team. Shawn had his work boots on, that's for sure. If this is truly his last match (which I doubt, but in a web interview he hinted that it is) he made it count. Shawn looked like he was having a blast out there. He didn't look like some of these guys that go out there for a pay check and painfully carry themselves through a match and try to be the guy they once were. This match was fun at times but it wasn't without its gaffs. Most noteworthy being Shawn punching Kane's mask off his face. That was great. As a kid I used to watch Kane's matches just to see if his mask would ever come off. Here it did and Kane had to sell his way over to his mask just to get it back on.
Michaels would then hit his signature moonsault to the outside. The flip looked great. The landing... not so much. Undertaker and Kane are two large veterans and they just let Shawn fall flat on his face. What the f*** was that? Are they a couple of rookies out of NXT? No. They aren't and if it were anyone else they'd both be getting buried left and right on the internet right now. Can you imagine if Shawn came back to wrestle Seth Rollins and he didn't at least make sure 53 year old Shawn didn't land on his f***ing head? I don't think people would just be glossing over this spot.
Right here is where the match got less fun and probably less fun for Shawn. We can have all these fun nostalgia trips and play the old hits and laugh like old times, but here age set in. Triple H was hurt and this is where it pretty much became evident to everyone at home. So, the guy who hasn't worked in 8 1/2 years had to carry his team. If you're an old fan of Triple H you know he is a tough guy. He worked through two torn quads so if you're an older fan you probably knew that Hunter would get back in there eventually.
Hunter tagged back in clearly favoring one arm. They did some safe offense and chops before Hunter ended up in the Hell's Gate but Shawn super-kicked Kane who landed on Undertaker to break the hold. Triple H hit a very awkward looking Pedigree on Kane for the win.
The match is done. It was fun seeing Shawn go at it again. He looked like he never stopped. Other than the bald head, which doesn't suit him well at all, he moved very well. He moved better than the other 3 in this match and better than Kurt Angle in his match. Otherwise I share the same feelings I had a month ago at Super Show-Down. These guys are too old. I hope Triple H is okay. I have nothing but respect for him and the others involved here, but their day is done. The only thing is this match by far, yes BY FAR had the most heat of all the matches on the card. This is what they came to see. Well, at least the fans in Saudi Arabia enjoyed it. Maybe that's all that matters here. I hope Triple H makes a full and speedy recovery and continues to do what he's doing down in NXT to ensure a bright future for the WWE. I hope Kane takes off his mask and just handles his duties as mayor of Knox County, TN. Undertaker, one of the best gimmicks of all time, but look, he's done. The guy is just an entrance and a couple signature holds now. There's your Undertaker. As for Shawn, I don't know what this means for him. Maybe it was just a one-off. Maybe not. If it is -- fine. I can live with that. Shawn is one of my favorites ever. Perhaps my favorite and he might be the best worker in WWE history. Even here he showed how inhuman he is seamlessly having a good showing against a couple of guys who are old, tired shells of their former selves now. However, if he never wrestled again I'm okay with that. His day has come and gone, too.
There's WWE Crown Jewel. I don't think once throughout the show they mentioned where they were, which its funny since it's obvious they weren't in America. Hulk Hogan was the "host" of the event. He came out at the start of the show and that was it. The host was never to be seen again. Why call him the f***ing host? Just say promote it like "and a special appearance by Hulk Hogan!" Whatever. That's the least of my concerns today.
The 'World Cup' that they built up as a way to determine who the "best in the world" is turned out to be a joke. The commentary team didn't even really put it over when Shane won. They treated it like a joke. I'm guessing Shane winning was a rib for the fans chanting "CM Punk" at him in the ring a few weeks ago. The fans here chanted "CM Punk" throughout the night too... and what do you expect? "Best in the world" was CM Punk's tagline. It was his catchphrase they printed on shirts and everything and it was part of his famous "Pipebomb" promo in 2011. The CM Punk chants were really starting to die down but here WWE was straight up asking for it. Well, ask and you shall receive I guess. Even outside of Shane winning none of the World Cup matches were noteworthy. They were just standard matches like you'd see on any episode of Raw or Smackdown. The only thing that stands out is I guess Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton are going to feud now. Cool, I guess.
The Universal Championship is back on Brock Lesnar. I don't love him as champion again but I don't hate it. What I do hate was that match. It was probably the worst match on WWE PPV all year. It did nothing for Braun. Braun got NO offense in. You want to put over Braun in a loss? Have these guys go 25 minutes in a physical match with one, maybe two false finishes. Having Braun get hit with the belt and F-5'ed 5 times is some Goldberg getting tasered type shit. If anything all it did was make the F-5 look weak and Brock barely even sold it when Braun kicked out. He just did the move again. I remember when people gave Dean Ambrose shit for when he said he had all these ideas for his match with Lesnar but was met with laziness. Yeah, well I f***ing believe it. What a gig the guy has. Making all this money and his lay out for a match is basically just "I'm going to hit you with my finish 5 times and take that title". Whoopie. I'm guessing Brock will be at Wrestlemania and he's probably going to be holding the title until then so if you're one of those fans who hates Brock and part time champions you're gonna have a blast this fall and winter.
I tried to look at this show in a vacuum and give you a fair review. I ignored the politics of the show and WWE allowed me to ignore it for the most part since they didn't air straight up propaganda packages like they did during the Greatest Royal Rumble. This was a bad show. Don't let the nostalgia and fireworks fool you. It was bad. The nostalgia was sad. The World Cup matches were generic. The finish of the world cup was a joke. The Universal title match sucked and like I said it was possibly the worst PPV match of the year. Fair doesn't mean I'm going to sit on the fence and give it an average review. It means I'm going to give you my honest opinion on this show as a wrestling event and nothing else.
With all that being said, I am giving WWE Crown Jewel a 2.75/10 but hey it's a 2.75 WITH FIREWORKS!!! WOOO!!! Last week I said if you skipped on Evolution due to poor promotion then you missed a great show. This week if you skipped this show out of protest or lack of caring, you just saved yourself 4 valuable hours of your life. There. Let me know what you thought in the comments section or hit me up on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone. God bless.