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Crown Jewel 2022 recap & reactions: Still the one but just barely

Roman Reigns walked out of Crown Jewel by the skin of his teeth in an excellent main event ending a very good show.

Easy Street?

Roman Reigns took Logan Paul lightly. In ‘90s New York rap parlance, Roman played Logan for sweet. WWE built this entire match around Logan nailing one lucky punch, and that punch was his only chance at defeating the so far impervious Reigns. Roman approached the ring like a man with the match in the bag. He scoffed at Paul, left the rest of the Bloodline in the back, and openly mocked the man across from him in the ring.

But then something funny happened. Roman found himself in the middle of an actual wrestling match. More to the point, a match he didn’t prepare for at all. Turns out Logan is about more than just punches. As we saw in his first two matches, Paul can go. We got a Fireman’s Carry, Gut Wrench Suplex, a Flying Forearm Smash (courtesy of Shawn Michaels), and even a Frog Splash onto the commentary table with cell phone in hand. Yes, even in a match of this size, Logan wanted a viral moment. It wasn’t just Logan getting to Roman either. The more the crowd turned against him and cheered for Logan, the more his insecurity showed and the more desperate he got for a finish.

Logan didn’t submit to chin locks or a Camel Clutch. Logan kicked out of Back Suplexes, much to Roman’s amusement, and withstood everything Roman threw at him. It got to a point where Roman, with Logan’s neck in his hand, told the camera he doesn’t want to see anymore YouTubers around here. He then shouted out *checks notes* KSI and Mr. Beast. None of them belong in the WWE ring, according to Roman, and he knew just how much rode on him not just beating Paul but embarrassing him.

Yeah, about that.

Roman didn’t embarrass Paul at all. In fact, one might say it was the other way around. Roman walked in unprepared and paid the price. Logan moved well, he countered well, he played to the crowd perfectly, and sold Roman’s big moves better than some of the full-time cats on the roster. He gets this wrestling thing and while the winner of the match was never in doubt, how we got there remained the big question. We got our answer in the form of Paul’s entourage. While sitting at ringside and celebrating every big blow with Logan, his two homies found themselves accosted by the Usos. Yup, the match got to the point where Jimmy & Jey made an appearance. Jake Paul, complete with his own music, entered the chat and took care of the tag team champs, then revived his brother. Guess who showed up next? If you said Floyd Mayweather then I question what you’re watching and if you know the current year. The correct answer is Solo Sikoa, which foreshadowed a possible confrontation between Sikoa and Jake.

And that was actually the turning point for Logan. Always the showman and clearly high of adrenaline, Paul took to the skies and wiped out Jimmy & Jey with a Suicide Dive. But he took his eyes off the champ way too long. Roman nailed Logan with a Superman Punch when the latter stepped back into the ring, then hit him with a spear for the W.

But the look on Roman’s face is the lasting image for me. After the ref counted three and the bell went ding, Roman looked as if he saw a ghost. He backpedaled in the ring with a look of sheer terror, one usually reserved for Brock Lesnar. Because it’s lasted for so long, some might forget the Tribal Chief’s inherent insecurity. He needs the Bloodline more than they need him because they stroke his ego. They, along with Paul, are his own personal cheer squad. So in a moment where the “YouTuber” took him to the brink, he was more than a little shook. Shoutout to Havoc and P.

As the Bloodline made their way up the ramp with the titles held high, Paul gave Reigns the pep talk of all pep talks while Reigns’ eye focused on his championships with a look of despair. Paul reminded him that he’s still the champ and still the man and still the Tribal Chief. Then something clicked and Reigns found that confidence again. He found that attitude Logan Paul blotted out like a lunar eclipse. For a brief moment, the Tribal Chief was back to normal as the credits rolled. But at what cost?

Amazing match, better story, and so many seeds planted for the future if WWE ever feels compelled to revisit.


Extracurriculars

The Beast in the East?

Keeping it real with everyone, this match went a lot longer than I expected. The minute WWE announced Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley as Crown Jewel’s opening match, I figured Brock wanted out of the Middle East as quickly as possible. When Bobby started the match before the bell rang and injured Brock’s knee, I figured the writing was not just on the wall, but engraved.

Instead, we got a pretty dominating performance from Brock that painted the story of a man just surviving. Seriously, Brock did a hell of a job making Bobby look like the monster we normally see Brock portray.

But for an opening match, this was lackluster. Especially the ending. Bobby slaps on the Hurt Lock after surviving an F5 and Brock has nowhere to go. Pulling a move out of the Bret Hart playbook, Brock uses Bobby’s momentum against him, launches himself off the turnbuckles and gets Lashley’s shoulders on the mat while Lashley never breaks the Hurt Lock. Lashley, like the crowd—and even Brock—in utter shock, sits for a bit while Brock recuperates in the corner. Lashley’s anger gets the best of him and he slaps on another Hurt Lock until he finally relents thanks to the ref’s beckoning. Brock barely won the battle but there’s no question who walked out of Crown Jewel looking like the better man.

Very meh match but it’s the clearly the first part of a much larger story.

Soul Controller

Props to all four women for putting on an excellent tag match. Asuka & Alexa Bliss vs. Kai-N-SKY, minus one quibble, delivered everything I wanted. We got psychology with Asuka’s knee injury, physicality on behalf of all women involved, some high-flying spots, and logical storytelling. For the most part. Asuka injured her already hurt knee early in the match and the ref almost counted her out. Now, with the championship on the line, a countout does nothing for Damage CNTRL, yet I saw no sense of urgency on their behalf. The ref got to an 8-count while IYO SKY paced in the ring and talked trash. Logically, Kai or SKY should get Asuka back in the ring at all costs. Or, at the least, break up the ref’s count. It was a weird moment in an otherwise very logical match.

But the ending is the intriguing part. With Alexa & Asuka on a roll, Nikki Cross hit the ring. She attacked Alexa behind the ref’s back and Damage CNTRL regains the tag championships.

We saw Bayley whispering sweet nothings into Nikki’s ear on the most recent Raw, so this is obviously connected. But what’s in it for Nikki? Is she a part of Damage CNTRL now? Did Bayley promise her a title shot should she defeat Bianca? The game is afoot.

Key to the Game

I love a story where the over-the-top villain succumbs to their own errors in judgment. Sometimes they overthink everything on the road to cartoon villainy. Scarlett is, without doubt, a cartoonish supervillain. It’s one of the best things about her and what makes the thing with her and Karrion work as well as it does. Her machinations are why Kross left Crown Jewel with an L firmly in hand and why Drew finally got the monkey off his back.

This was a physical cage match, just like I like them. It wasn’t necessarily violent, but they did beat the hell out of each other. As they should. It’s a blood feud and it’s in a cage.

Scarlett is the story here though. At one point, she sprayed mace in Drew’s face and the ref’s face when Drew made his way for the cage door. I chuckled loud enough that my entire neighborhood probably heard me. In the match’s third act, Scarlett locked the cage door and took the key, leaving Drew only one obvious option: climb out. Scarlett’s incredulous look was worth 1000 words.

Her utter shock that her “brilliant” plan didn’t work hit every right note. Made worse by the fact that she scrambled unlocking the door while Karrion crawled towards it for his own exit. While she’s fumbling with the key, Drew nonchalantly climbs the cage. She eventually opened the door and Karrion crawled through, but it was too little too late as Drew’s feet hit the ground way before Karrion even got halfway through the door. And that’s with Scarlett pulling him through!

Fantastic stuff all around.

The Problem

Rhea Ripley, much like Scarlett, starred during a match in which she didn’t compete. The O.C. went into their match with the Judgment Day fully aware that Rhea presents a problem. And, as of now, they still have no solution for said problem. So color us all shocked when Rhea once again factored into the finish.

The match boiled down to AJ and Finn, which is where this story started and where it will ultimately end. AJ almost picked up the W for his team too! There was Finn, right in the middle of the ring. And AJ stood on the apron, cocking his Phenomenal Forearm. AJ lost track of Rhea and she attacked him before he took flight. Finn picked what was left on AJ’s bones and finished the match with a coup de grace.

This is the right finish for an entertaining match. The story is the same for AJ and Team California until they finally get Beth Phoenix by their side. Rhea made that obvious as she wore her hair as an homage to “the late great Beth Phoenix” according to Michael Cole. So it’s a matter of when, not if.

Monster Mash

Omos looked more than decent here. Not great but definitely competent. Braun Strowman has a lot to do with that as well, so props to him. While their match wasn’t my cup of tea, there were a few very impressive moments due to the sheer strength. Braun hitting Omos with his trademark power slam was a big moment. Pun intended.

Not a match for me but like I said, it had its moments.

Brawl for All

The Usos tried walking out of this match. They felt the Brawlin’ Brutes disrespected them and said “nah.” But that didn’t happen. Butch & Ridge Holland dragged them into a war. A war that committed grand larceny at Crown Jewel. Not even going to try recapping this one or giving some sort of emotional hook for you, dear cagesider. Just watch it for yourself and marvel at the fact Jey Uso wrestled a lot of this match with his torn t-shirt hanging between both ankles. That’s incredible and says a lot about his skill as a wrestler and an athlete.

He’s quite Ucey.

Have a Seat

Look, let’s not pretend I can even write about this Last Woman Standing match between Bayley and Bianca Belair for the Raw Women’s championship. It was a spot fest filled with plenty of fun spots, one very silly one featuring a golf cart, and an ingenious one with a ladder finish. However, the match’s narrative interested me. Bayley is a known villain with no bar too low. Bianca, as Wade said on commentary, is a good person.

For the first few minutes, that dynamic played out as Bayley went for weapons while Bianca resisted. Only when pushed to the edge did Bianca fight fire with fire and go all out with a Kendo Stick. Which opened the floodgates for a bunch of mayhem and chaos.

Fun match that fulfilled its purpose as a glorious, silly, and violent mess.


Fantastic overall show. The bright spots shined like the sun and made the less than stellar stuff palpable. Reigns & Paul stepped up big time, and a huge shoutout to Logan for answering the bell—pun intended—in a gargantuan way.

Grade: A

That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.

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