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The Verdict is in on WWE Crown Jewel

A straightforward review of WWE’s latest spectacular from Saudi Arabia.

Crown Jewel, at first glance, appeared to be a promising spectacle and a potential candidate for WWE’s event of the year. With over four hours of sports entertainment action emanating from the vibrant landscape of Saudi Arabia, the question loomed: Did WWE deliver on the lofty expectations set during the pre-show buildup?

Read on to find out!

Seth Rollins (c) vs. Drew McIntyre - WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Verdict: Liked it

Less than five minutes into the match, Seth Rollins looked like he had been through a wood chipper as Drew McIntyre bruised the champ’s chest early with a series of chops. They continued the saga of Rollins’ ailing back, which Rollins sold expertly as the battle wore on.

But the highlight for me was the series of false finishes that brought me to my feet. By my count, there were at least three moments where the match looked to be over, highlighted by a Claymore Kick to Rollins after The Visionary missed on a Phoenix Splash.

The closing sequence that led to Rollins’ victory was as thrilling as they get, and the post-match shenanigans involving Damian Priest missing his opportunity to cash in his Money in the Bank contract (thanks to Sami Zayn) provided an extra buzz to what had already been an exceptional start.


Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Nia Jax, Raquel Rodriguez, Shayna Baszler, & Zoey Stark - Fatal 5-Way, WWE Women’s World Championship

Verdict: Liked it

The Undisputed Universal title fight notwithstanding, this was the match I was most looking forward to at Crown Jewel, and it did not disappoint. This was an absolute fireworks display of violence as these five women punished each other with a series of strikes and slams that escalated with each passing moment.

Each woman got a chance to show off their best stuff, such as Zoey Stark executing a springboard dive to the floor that wiped out Raquel Rodriguez, Rhea Ripley, Shayna Baszler, and a ringside cameraman. Also, Baszler had a sweet spot where she locked up three women at once in three different submission holds.

WWE continued to tease combinations of singles matches between Nia Jax, Rodriguez, and Ripley without giving away a conclusive outcome, yet still had Ripley look dominant in victory.

John Cena vs. Solo Sikoa

Verdict: Liked it

If I had to show someone what pro wrestling is and is supposed to be, this is the match. The story was simple: John Cena, the people’s aging hero, still fighting for their respect against Solo Sikoa, a young upstart in need of a victory over an established star to build his resume.

Cena fought perfectly as the good guy in peril, while Sikoa was the nasty heel whose taunts and vicious strikes were all it took to build heat. As the match progressed, the story became about the Samoan Spike. The more Cena could avoid it, the more it seemed that a Cena win was certain.

But when Sikoa finally hit his big move, the question became could Cena overcome it?

He could not.

And not because Cena wasn’t strong enough, but because Sikoa wouldn’t relent, hitting the Samoan Spike more than a dozen times, even as Cena sat lifeless on the mat.

“This is becoming grotesque,” quipped color man Wade Barrett, as Sikoa’s beatdown brought back memories of Cena’s trip to Suplex City at SummerSlam in 2014.

I am not a John Cena fan. But I found myself rooting for him to overcome and prevail. When he lost, I was sad, uncomfortable, and disgusted with Sikoa.

That’s how you build a monster.

Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Logan Paul - United States Championship

Verdict: Liked it

This was the first time I watched Logan Paul wrestle, and wasn’t impressed. Not because he wasn’t great. On the contrary, he was. The problem, if I can call it that, is that Paul looks like a ten-year veteran, though he’s had less than ten matches.

And it’s not just his moves. Paul’s selling is well beyond what you see from someone at this stage in their career. And his character work is as good as anyone’s, as he hilariously mocked Rey Mysterio afterward.

When fans talk about who is the future of WWE, Logan Paul belongs in the conversation. He’s a star and an attraction who absolutely gets it, and he had what I thought was his best overall performance to date.

Logan Paul: U.S. Champion today, World Champion tomorrow. Bet on it.

IYO SKY (c) vs. Bianca Belair - WWE Women’s Championship

Verdict: Didn’t like it

Based on Bianca Belair’s desire for revenge against Iyo Sky, who stole her title and sidelined her for two months, I expected Belair to come out like gangbusters. Instead, this was a pedestrian affair made worse by a fading audience despite Kairi Sane returning to help Sky retain.

Cody Rhodes vs. Damian Priest

Verdict: Liked it

I’ve never been happier to hear Cody Rhodes’ theme song than I was at Crown Jewel. The American Nightmare’s entrance reignited the crowd, as did Priest’s fast start, who attacked Rhodes before the bell rang.

Once the action officially started, Rhodes and Priest delivered an entertaining grudge match that resuscitated the show. Finn Bálor, Dominik Mysterio, and JD McDonagh all made a cameo before Jey Uso chased them off, leaving Rhodes and Priest to settle up one-on-one before Rhodes rallied back to hit three consecutive Cross Rhodes to get the victory.

Great pace, good energy, and solid physicality that didn’t overstay its welcome. Nicely done.

Roman Reigns (c) vs. LA Knight - Undisputed WWE Universal Championship

Verdict: Liked it

Earlier, I said if I wanted to show someone what pro wrestling is and is supposed to be, I’d show them the match between John Cena and Solo Sikoa. Were I to show them what a premium main event should look like, I’d present them with LA Knight and Roman Reigns.

Easily, this was Reigns’ best title defense since WrestleMania 39, thanks to LA Knight, who proved to be an intense challenger. He took none of Reigns’ guff starting during introductions, standing in The Tribal Chief’s way as Reigns tried to strut around the ring flashing his title.

It also helped that Reigns changed his style to help get Knight over, as I suggested, which he did here. The match got off to a fast start and held a good pace throughout, even as Reigns stopped to work the crowd, which drew chants of “A-hole” directed at him.

But Knight, as he said he would, couldn’t stop and didn’t stop, taking the fight to the champion all night. He ate a spear midway through, only to kick out just before three, adding to the many great false finishes seen throughout the night.

While the finish once again frustrated fans, I found it to be a beautiful execution of a rulebreaker retaining without making the challenger look like a chump.

After Jimmy Uso saved Reigns from sure defeat following a BFT, Knight took his steady eyes off the prize for just a moment, which was all Reigns needed to work his shenanigans and hit his power moves to pick up a win.

Once again, Reigns steals a victory, but coupled with Knight’s intensity, I found that Knight came away as the most credible threat to beat Reigns if he can neutralize Reigns’ numbers advantage.

Solid work all around. I am definitely in favor of a rematch.

Final Verdict:

I thoroughly enjoyed Crown Jewel. The fans in Riyadh were incredible, but like me, they began to fade as we entered the home stretch. Thankfully, Cody Rhodes and Damian Priest kicked it into high gear to revitalize the show.

With one exception, Crown Jewel proved to be an impressive event. It featured well-paced action, furthered future storylines like Sami Zayn’s beef with Judgment Day, and left us wondering what’s next for LA Knight, Drew McIntyre, and John Cena.

The intrigue generated by these questions makes Monday’s Raw a must-watch, and I can’t wait to see how WWE follows up next.

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