We’ve gone on at length about why WWE was wrong and bad for doing what they’ve done in Saudi Arabia, mostly that they allowed themselves to be used for propaganda because they were paid handsomely for it. So we don’t need to rehash it all here. The best thing you can say about Crown Jewel, the show we’re here to recap, is that it wasn’t the same as Greatest Royal Rumble. They didn’t run any video packages promoting social progress or pushing the Kingdom. They just put on a wrestling show.
That said, even in a vacuum, without considering everything around it, the show itself was pretty bad.
- Shawn Michaels is — what a shocker — still a good professional wrestler eight years removed from his last match and that many years older. It was clear he was the best in the ring during the main event DX vs. Brothers of Destruction match, a sloppy affair that was still somehow better than expected. They told a decent story, and the live crowd was really into it. That’s the best that can be said for it. The match had a lot of problems otherwise, but considering who was involved and what could be expected of them, they’ll take this as a win.
- There isn’t anything bad to say about AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe, but there isn’t necessarily anything good to say about it either. It was a fine match on a show no one wanted to be watching. The two worked hard.
- The last good thing to say about the show was Shinsuke Nakamura finding a new and innovative way to win a match thanks to a low blow.
- They ran a bunch of promos for Survivor Series that included the line “the one time of year Raw and SmackDown stars compete in head-to-head competition” on the same show they booked a tournament where the final was guaranteed to feature a Raw star wrestling a SmackDown star in a head-to-head match.
- That tournament ended up being a great example of why single night tournaments don’t work all that well, with a series of matches that ranged from bad to uninteresting to downright boring. I’m not sure a single wrestler involved in it came out looking good, and most came out looking bad.
- That tournament featured a winner, Shane McMahon, who isn’t a wrestler and wasn’t ever in the field, with a referee who cared a lot about fair play by sending people to the back so they couldn’t interfere but was totally cool with putting McMahon into the match because he said “yeah, I’m in.”
- Brock Lesnar won the Universal title in the most Brock Lesnar fashion imaginable and both Michael Cole and Corey Graves made sure to say, essentially, that we may not like it but we’re going to have to accept it.
- Big Show is still out here ruining SmackDown tag team title matches, not because he interfered, necessarily, but because New Day vs. The Bar used to be fun until it became about whatever Big Show might be doing.
- Hulk Hogan returned to television, just to ensure that this felt as dirty as possible. Beyond all the reasons he shouldn’t be back for his general behavior outside of professional wrestling, I fail to see what value he adds inside it. He’s still spitting out the same tired catchphrase he was literally over 30 years ago, he can barely move, and there’s no place where he actually fits in. Again, that’s without considering anything else.
Evolution was the best WWE show I’ve watched this year. Crown Jewel was the worst.