While the second edition of WWE Crown Jewel -- the company's fourth foray into Saudi Arabia -- took a while to get going, there were a handful of moments on the show that fans will appreciate. Most notably was a major unexpected title change as part of surprising finishes to both of the heavyweight championship matches on the card.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez made his in-ring debut with WWE in the first match of his multi-year deal with the company. Boxing's "lineal heavyweight champion" Tyson Fury had his first career wrestling match, and it was filled with the pomp and circumstance one would expect from a Fury fight. WWE also held its first women's match in Saudi Arabia in a moment that deserves some praise but also received a bit of criticism.
So what went down Thursday? CBS Sports was with you the entire way updating this story with results, grades and highlights below. Subscribe to the State of Combat with Brian Campbell podcast for our reaction to Crown Jewel and the rest of the world of professional wrestling.
2019 WWE Crown Jewel results, grades
Humberto Carillo wins 20-Man Battle Royal, becomes No. 1 contender for U.S. title (Kickoff Show): Surprisingly, with eight competitors left, big names like Buddy Murphy, R-Truth and Andrade were eliminated leaving Erick Rowan, Luke Harper, Cedric Alexander and Humberto Carillo as the final four. The fans chanted for Harper off the bat, and he eliminated Alexander. Following a brief interruption (see below) the former partners double teamed Carillo. However, as they attempted to eliminate him, Carillo slid under their legs on the ring apron and tipped them both over the top rope to win. One of the more creative battle royal finishes we have seen in quite some time saved a boring match. Grade: C-
24/7 Championship -- R-Truth def. Sunil Singh (c) via pinfall to win the title (Kickoff Show): Once both were eliminated from the battle royal, Truth rolled up Singh outside the ring in a title change that popped the crowd.
WWE Championship -- Brock Lesnar (c) def. Cain Velasquez via submission to retain the title: The match was contested in mixed martial arts style with Lesnar and Velasquez brawling and striking each other. Velasquez caught Lesnar in the midsection with a knee, which sent Lesnar falling backward. However, as Velasquez attempted to ground and pound the champion, Lesnar kicked Velasquez's injured knee out from under him and caught the challenger in the Kimura Lock, eventually earning a tap out. Lesnar refused to release the hold, so Rey Mysterio grabbed a chair and hit Lesnar in the back. Lesnar was unfazed, hitting Mysterio with an F5 onto the chair and dumping him out of the ring. As Lesnar attacked Velasquez with the chair, Mysterio reentered with another and beat the hell out of Lesnar with it, causing him to scramble away. The booking made little sense with Velasquez losing his first match quickly and Mysterio (on Raw) continuing his rivalry with Lesnar (on SmackDown). The MMA aspect was smart, but the title was not needed in this match. Perhaps this leads to a Survivor Series match between Lesnar and Mysterio, but it is clear this is being drawn out to WrestleMania. The interest was high, and there was some good action with the chair, but failing to let Velasquez get somewhat over was confusing. Grade: C
Mysterio calls out Lesnar: Backstage later in the show, Mysterio gave Lesnar credit for beating Velasquez, but Mysteriro said Lesnar will pay for everything he did to his son Dominick and their family soon.
The O.C. def. The Viking Raiders via pinfall to win the Tag Team World Cup: Ivar successfully broke up the Magic Killer, but The O.C. was able to throw him out of the ring and concentrate on Erik, hitting him with the finisher to secure the victory, trophy and title of "best tag team in the world." While the final match was not spectacular, the entire tag team turmoil was decently fun with legitimately good tag team action throughout. It certainly exceeded expectations, particularly the first, fourth and sixth matches (complete order listed below). Grade: B
- Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode def. Lucha House Party via pinfall after Ziggler superkicked Gran Metalik behind the referee's back and Roode hit the Glorious DDT.
- Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode def. Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins via pinfall after the duo hit an elevated Zig-Zag slam on Ryder.
- Heavy Machinery def. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode via pinfall as Roode was taken down with the Compactor.
- New Day def. Heavy Machinery via pinfall as Kofi Kingston hit Tucker with Trouble in Paradise after an exciting back-and-forth between the teams.
- New Day def. B-Team via pinfall as Big E quickly hit Curtis Axel with the Big Ending.
- New Day def. The Revival via pinfall in a hard-fought match that ended with Kingston rolling up Scott Dawson. After being eliminated, Dash Wilder entered the ring and Revival hit Shatter Machine on Kingston ahead of their SmackDown tag team title match on Friday night.
- The O.C. def. New Day via pinfall, taking out Kingston with the Magic Killer. The O.C. tried to capitalize on the Revival's attack but initially failed before taking down Kingston soon after.
Mansoor def. Cesaro via pinfall: Just as it looked like Mansoor was gaining momentum, Cesarno nailed him with a European uppercut as the local product dove out of the ring. Mansoor wobbled Cesaro with a step-up enziguri followed by a huricanrana that flung him outside, a cannonball tope and a tornado DDT for a two count. Cesaro knocked Mansoor face-first into the top turnbuckle as he climbed the top rope and followed with an avalanche gutwrench suplex but only got 2.5. Mansoor kicked out of a number of other near-finishes and escaped a crossface, nearly pinning Cesaro after hitting him with a superkick and falling on top of him. Mansoor reversed another avalanche gutwrench suplex into a powerbomb and hit a picture-perfect moonsault for the upset win. While it is obvious WWE is pushing and putting over Mansoor due to the Saudi Arabia relationship, you cannot take away his effort. Mansoor looked like a real-deal future superstar for WWE, and Cesaro did a tremendous job calling the entire match and putting the youngster over. The crowd was hot, and both men delivered. Grade: B+
Tyson Fury def. Braun Strowman via countout: The match began with a mix between wrestling and boxing. Strowman took down Fury with a right hand outside the ring, but Fury caught a charging Strowman with a double boot. Fury avoided a running powerslam and hit a drop toe hold on Strowman followed by a big boot. Strowman caught a running Fury for a slam and was successful with two running shoulder tackles. As Strowman attempted to climb back into the ring, Fury connected with a right cross, knocking him off the ring apron and into the barricade. Strowman rose at seven and stumbled around but was unable to reenter before the 10 count. An angry Strowman hit a running powerslam on a celebrating Fury afterwards, but Fury quickly stood up and yelled at Strowman. This was never going to be a good match, but Fury did well enough and the finish was smart, especially with Strowman being given the opportunity to hit his finisher. Grade: C
24/7 Championship -- Samir Singh def. R-Truth (c) via pinfall to win the title: Backed into a corner backstage, Truth tried to escape but ran into a pair of closed doors and knocked himself out.
United States Championship -- AJ Styles (c) def. Humberto Carillo via pinfall to retain the title: The crowd was dead for a good match after spending all its energy on Mansoor and Fury. Carillo bounced off the middle and then top rope for a corkscrew crossbody, and the competitors traded an enziguri and Pele kick. When Carirllo tweaked his knee on a counter, Styles concentrated on it and locked the challenger in a Calf Crusher (as he did on Raw). This time, Carirllo reached the bottom rope. But an aborted moonsault tweaked his knee again, and Styles caught him with the Phenomenal Forearm. Solid action throughout and the right result in the end. This won't get the credit it deserves. Grade: B
Natalya def. Lacey Evans via submission: The first WWE women's match in Saudi Arabia saw the competitors not only wear full-length bodysuits but loose T-shirts to cover any features. It was clear those were last-minute additions to the attire and certainly distracted some at he start. Natalya got a big pop upon her entrance and had to hold back tears as the match began in a truly touching moment. The crowd chanted "this is awesome" as the action picked up. There were a couple bright spots, but the action was rather muted with Natalya winning via Sharpshooter. She consoled Evans after the match, and the women raised hands together and teared up as fireworks went off. "The women's evolution takes another step tonight," Michael Cole exclaimed. "Those two women accomplished something that we never thought we'd see." The women held hands and hugged a Saudi Arabian woman at ringside who appeared as if she played a role in making the match happen. The women's emotions were clearly real. Some minor credit to WWE getting it done. Cole trying to put over the progressiveness of Saudi Arabia detracted from it. Grade: C
Team Hogan (Roman Reigns, Rusev, Ricochet, Ali & Shorty G) vs. Team Flair (Randy Orton, Drew McIntyre, King Corbin, Bobby Lashley & Shinsuke Nakamura): There were a lot of quick tags in the early going with everyone getting a couple featured minutes in the ring. Reigns got the hot tag and ran through Team Flair both inside the ring and at ringside. Orton escaped a pinning attempt following a Superman punch, and the heels began hitting their finishers. As they prepared to gang up on Reigns, Rusev entered the ring and cleared house, standing off one-on-one with Lashley. Reigns took out everyone with a splash over the top rope and rolled Orton into the ring to finish the job. Orton countered Reigns' spear with an RKO, but Reigns kicked out at 2.8. As Orton prepared to punt kick Reigns, Shorty G grabbed his foot and Ali took him down. Ricochet, Ali and Shorty G all flipped outside of the ring to eliminate the heels, and Reigns hit Orton with a spear for the expected 1-2-3. The crowd was hot for the action here, and while a 10-man non-elimination tag team match is a lot, the booking worked with the false finish and Reigns finally going over. A for effort, but in reality ... Grade: B+
Universal Championship -- "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt def. Seth Rollins via pinfall to win the title (Falls Count Anywhere): This match could not be stopped for any reason. The Fiend immediately got the upper hand on Rollins and no sold a Stomp at ringside area, slamming Rollins on the ring apron. Rollins then sent Wyatt exploding through the barricade and hit him with the top of the announcer's table before setting up tables atop one another. Rollins attempted to slam a sledgehammer into the Fiend's head atop a steel chair but was caught with a Mandible Claw. He escaped with a couple sledgehammer shots, but the Fiend snapped his neck. The Fiend then took himself out by missing a senton on an announce table, but he kicked out at one. Rollins set up the Fiend for an elbow drop on top of an announce table with a chair, but the Fiend instead knocked him off the top rope through the double tables on the other side of the post.
The Fiend stalked Rollins and lifted the ringside mat to reveal a steel grate, but as he tried to hit Sister Abigail, Rollins struck him with a kick and drilled him with the steel steps before hitting The Stomp on the steel grate. The Fiend kicked out at two. Chair shots followed, and though the Fiend caught Rollins with Sister Abigail atop an elevated platform, Rollins kicked out at two. The men made their way to the stage, where Rollins hit a third Stomp; the Fiend immediately rose. Rollins hit five more Stomps (eight total), but the Fiend kept moving and the crowd lightly booed. Rollins then hit three superkicks, launching Wyatt off the stage and into a pit that caught on fire. Fire extinguishers calmed the blaze, but as Rollins removed a road case to get access, sparks flew into Rollins' eyes. The Fiend stood and gave Rollins the Mandible Claw followed by Sister Abigail to win the title. The lights went out before Wyatt was found standing on the stage with the universal title and flickering lights.
Interesting developments in this one as the Fiend, a SmackDown superstar, is now the universal champion on the Raw brand just weeks after WWE promised a real brand split with no crossover between shows. The match itself was good -- as the first one was between Rollins and the Fiend -- the difference being this one had a far better ending that made sense in terms of the Fiend character. The story was well told, and the action was brutal throughout with Rollins taking much of the punishment. Grade: B+
2019 Crown Jewel updates, highlights
Thanks for stopping by.