After weeks of tension, WWE Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia finally took place.
For many fans, the state of the show matched the pessimism that surrounded the event in it's build up.
With a guaranteed new Universal champion and the donning of the 'Best in the World', This was guaranteed to be a little more than a house show.
But some of what ensued won't be to everyone's taste - we can safely say that.
So let's get into a mixed bag of action on the night.
Hulk Hogan introduces Crown Jewel
Hulk Hogan introduces the show and says all the usual stuff about his Hulkamaniacs and Hulkamania still running wild. The crowd, in fairness, ate it up and it was a very big pop for the Hulkster.
Score - 6/10
Hulk Hogan in a WWE ring seems a little weird and given the reason for his absence, I'm not sure putting him into Saudi Arabia with all the tensions was the greatest idea. His theme music was maybe the least fitting way to start the show! Still, the crowd enjoyed it so there's that.
Randy Orton Vs Rey Mysterio
After Randy Orton controlled the opening parts of the match, these two conjured up a couple of cool spots that showcased Mysterio's quickness and their chemistry is still clearly alive and well. In a bit of a shock, Mysterio wins via a rollup, but, of course, Orton attacks him after the bell.
Score - 7/10
It wasn't nearly long enough to be a classic of any kind, but these two fitted in a fine, fun match to kick off the show. The story was about making Mysterio the underdog moving forward through the tournament and they achieved that.
The Miz Vs Jeff Hardy
Next up, we had a bout that almost had an identical energy. The Miz and Hardy created some fun spots with Hardy's high-flying nature, but Miz would win after reversing Twist of Fate and landing Skull Crushing Finale.
Score - 6/10
Once again, this match didn't nearly have enough time to be anything special and that is a recurring theme with the quarter-final contests. Miz going over was probably the right decision, but the fact that he did it clean as a whistle suggests that Hardy doesn't have a bright future anywhere near the main event scene. I'd be surprised if he was still wrestling this time next year.
Bobby Lashley Vs Seth Rollins
The man that smells like money and looks like money, Bobby Lashley, dominated this battle in almost it's entirety, just for Rollins to snatch the win following a Curb Stomp. Lio Rush could only look on from ringside as his prized bull suffered yet another loss.
Score - 5/10
The World Cup is hardly flying here. Lashley looked the beast he was meant to be, but in losing to Rollins again, it doesn't matter how the WWE seemingly protect him, that's three losses on the bounce now and fans notice those things. Rollins progressing made sense and he looked plucky in the process.
Kurt Angle Vs Dolph Ziggler
This was by far the best match of the quarter-finals with two amatuer wrestling superstars putting on a clinic. Angle showed he could go here with several suplexes and he brought out the Angle Slam and the Ankle Lock. The fact that Ziggler could kick out of the Angle Slam is a big thing for the Showoff and he would eventually put a fun affair to bed as Ziggler won following the Zig Zag.
Score - 8/10
I could have really enjoyed these two going at it on pay-per-view and one thing it has convinced me of is that Angle can still go in a one-on-one environment. I want to see it! Ziggler, like he always does, made his opponent look fantastic but Angle really did the same for him, especially with the Angle Slam kick out. Best match of the night so far.
The New Day Vs The Bar - SD Live Tag Team titles
This match takes a very methodical pace and save for a few bursts of energy, the heels control the vast majority of the bout. This definitely got longer than any of the World Cup matches and Big Show proved to be the difference maker with his Knockout Punch on Big E that led to Sheamus nailing the Brogue Kick. The Bar retain.
Score - 6/10
There really wasn't that many big moments in this match for anyone to get excited about and it was just the heels wearing down someone until they could make the hot-tag. Tag team wrestling 101, nothing exciting here. The climax of the bout saw Big Show make the all-important difference, but where these teams go from here is anyone's guess. In theory, The Bar will renew their rivalry with The Shield at Survivor Series, but that is almost certainly not going to happen.
The Miz Vs Rey Mysterio
The Miz tried to target Rey's ribs during this encounter, but Mysterio did a strange job of selling the injury as he still did his splash to the outside under the bottom rope, which would surely hurt. After some back and forth action where each man looked for his finisher, Rey Mysterio hit the 619 and went for the Frog Splash, but The Miz got his knees up, allowing him to get the 1-2-3.
Score - 7/10
The story here was, Mysterio wasted too much time getting to the top rope because of his ribs, he then took some knees to the ribs and that's what ultimately cost him. Miz gets a win back over the high-flyer and advances to the finals. Not many fans will remember the action, but Mysterio in particular continues to try and make his matches a fun pace.
Dolph Ziggler Vs Seth Rollins
Ziggler tried his best to wear down Rollins in the early going and the Showoff remained in control for the vast majority of the bout. Drew McIntyre distracted Rollins when he did manage to get on a roll and Ziggler landed some heavy moves - like his jumping DDT - to stop the Architect in his tracks. Once the action broke down, Rollins went to follow-up the suplex off the top with a Falcon Arrow, and had to survive a Zig-Zag. However, when Rollins targeted McIntyre with a Suicide Dive, the Scottish Psychopath caught Rollins on the top rope and pushed him off. That allowed Ziggler to land the superkick for the upset victory.
These two seem incapable of having a bad match and they delivered the goods once again here. Although this won't rank as their very best, the whole 'Drew McIntyre is a difference maker' point is well made and proved to be the pinnacle of the match. Almost everyone - this writer included - thought that Rollins would make the final and lose thanks to Ambrose, so the swerve was a welcome one at least.
Samoa Joe Vs AJ Styles
The WWE champion dominated the early going of this bout before Joe managed to get a foot-hold with some work on the outside. Joe held the advantage until both men traded their best moves to showcase the personal nature of this feud. It was very back and forth, but after AJ fought out of the Coquina Clutch, he landed the Phenomenal Forearm and collected the victory.
This was kind of good for what it was, but the fact that every fan with access to the internet knew that Joe was a last minute replacement for Bryan and he was never going to win the title, and thus, the result was very easy to telegraph, made this a hard sell. They did well to continue their disdain for each other though and their chemistry is undeniable.
Brock Lesnar Vs Braun Strowman - Universal title
Lesnar wins after Corbin hits Strowman with the belt before the match even starts. Lesnar hits five F5s and he's your new Universal Champion.
Score - 2/10
Utter stupidity from the WWE. Why we are forced to watch these one dimensional Brock Lesnar matches is one thing, but the fact he isn't able to take one bump because of his UFC training is another - and it's insulting. Awful decision, and it really hurts Braun Strowman to no ends.
The Miz Vs Dolph Ziggler - World Cup Final
After a Miz injury during the match, Shane McMahon inexplicably decides to take his place for SmackDown Live just when the match was about to be awarded to Ziggler. McMahon goes Coast to Coast and ends up winning the World Cup, much to the confusion of every person alive.
Score - 3/10
Seriously, what is going on?! This was fractionally cool because A) Shane McMahon is a hero and B) It was totally unexpected and C) Coast to Coast is a fun move, but the fact that it makes no sense, makes a mockery of the tournament and is pretty insulting to Ziggler makes those three points redundant. With Corbin's and Shane's actions in the last two matches, it's obviously a build of some sort to Survivor Series, but it was painful.
DX VS The Brothers of Destruction
Triple H and Kane kicks things off with some standoffs before Triple H gets the upper hand and tags Shawn Michaels in. His first move back in? Double axe-handle off the top rope. Lots of taunting from both men give fans plenty of nostalgia. Speaking of which, Undertaker goes for Old School on HBK, but Triple H intercepts. The Brothers of Destruction slowly take control and dominate Triple H, keeping him in their corner and chipping away at The Game. Kane would ChokeSlam Triple H through the announcer's table after a weird spot involving 'Taker and The King of Kings. Then, Shawn Michaels would, somehow, do a moonsault from the top rope to the outside onto both Brothers of Destruction. Back in the ring, 'Taker and Kane went to hit stereo Tombstones on DX, but Shawn Michaels' thumb to Kane's eye gave him enough room to Sweet Chin Music both men and Triple H delivered a Pedigree on Kane for the win.
Score - 7.5/10
Ok, so this wasn't the smoothest or fastest match you will ever see, but you have to hand it to these guys, they left it all out there and really went for it. Michaels, in particular, hit that moonsault off the top and while it would be too generous to say he hasn't missed a beat, he's certainly still in tune. Should this have been the main event? I think we're slowly getting the past the point where we expect world titles to main event, and that's sad. Still, for what this was, it was entertaining.
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