On Thursday afternoon, WWE held an international event for the first time since February 2020, with Crown Jewel taking in Saudi Arabia. The in-ring action delivered far beyond any previous event in the history of WWE's controversial partnership with the Saudi government.
The show had several highlights, starting with the first bout of the main card, a thrilling Hell in a Cell match between Edge and Seth Rollins, and running through nearly every match to the main event between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. While the show wasn't perfect, there was still plenty to talk about as WWE now transitions to the completion of the roster changes from the WWE Draft.
CBS Sports was with you the whole way through the event, providing updates and highlights as the action went down in the live blog below.
2021 WWE Crown Jewel results, grades
The Usos vs. Hurt Business: A hot start from Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin saw the duo trap Jey Uso in the ring, cutting him off from his brother and working him over with a variety of kicks and armbars. Jey was finally able to make the hot tag to Jimmy Uso as the match followed a very classic by-the-numbers tag formula. Alexander and Benjamin took back over on Jimmy, with Benjamin hitting Paydirt for a near fall. The Usos eventually got the win with a double superkick and Jey hitting the Uso Splash for the pin. Many of the WWE shows in Saudi Arabia have started with matches that followed very classic structures as a warm-up for crowds that only rarely see live WWE events and this was no different. That isn't necessarily a bad thing but these two are capable of bigger and better matches. The Usos def. Hurt Business via pinfall. Grade: B-
Edge vs. Seth Rollins (Hell in a Cell): Rollins was the first man to hit the Cell wall, with Edge moving out of the way of a suicide dive. A chair was brought into the match early before Edge hit the Edgecution for a near-fall. Edge tried to break off part of the chair leg to use in a crossface, but Rollins was the one who used the chair to take over the match before nearly hitting Edge with a con-chair-to. Rollins did use the chair to blind Edge in one eye and hit an Unprettier for another near fall. Edge came back by driving Rollins from the top rope into the cell and through a table below. The ring steps were brought into the ring, atop which Edge hit the Edge-O-Matic before leaping off the top rope with a steel chair and crashing onto Rollins. The two counts continued coming with Rollins hitting a Pedigree and Edge hitting a spear as both men continued to play all their greatest hits.
Rollins drove Edge through a table in the ring with a sunset flip bomb off a ladder, continuing to bring a ton of carnage to the match. With Edge on the verge of defeat, he managed to drive a chair into Rollins' groin after Rollins hit a series of superkicks, including one with a chain wrapped around his boot. Edge used a wrench to lock in a crossface but let go of the hold, choosing instead to hit a stomp on Rollins, driving Rollins' head into a chair for the pinfall. Aside from being a little too heavy on the callbacks early, this was maybe the best match WWE has put on in Saudi Arabia during their controversial partnership. A lot of drama and a fitting end to the rivalry between the two, assuming WWE doesn't decide to run it into the ground. Edge def. Seth Rollins via pinfall. Grade: A-
Mansoor vs. Mustafa Ali: Mansoor was obviously a huge fan favorite for this one. He did manage to hit a standing moonsault early to get a near fall. Ali repeatedly rolled from the ring whenever Mansoor built momentum, a move that eventually worked out when Mansoor tried to follow him to the outside before Ali yanked him to the floor and took over before locking in a camel clutch when the action returned to the ring. As Ali drove kicks into Mansoor's chest, taunting along the way, Mansoor was able to counter and fire up for a comeback as Ali begged off. Ali hit a top-rope moonsault for a two count before Ali locked in a Koji clutch to nearly force the submission. Ali missed a 450 splash and Mansoor hit a slingshot neckbreaker to score the win. Ali attacked Mansoor after the match before a man entered in a head wrap, walking to the ring, removing the wrap to reveal Olympic silver medalist in karate, Tarek Hamdi. Hamdi dropped Ali with a head kick and celebrated with Mansoor. Very much the expected result as Mansoor is Superman on WWE's Saudi shows, even if his in-ring work isn't quite up to the level to meet that. Still, between Mansoor winning and Hamdi showing up, this was pure fan service for the live crowd. Mansoor def. Mustafa Ali via pinfall. Grade: C
Raw Tag Team Championship -- RK-Bro (c) vs. AJ Styles & Omos: Orton nearly hit Styles with an RKO just moments into the match. Riddle tagged in and used a modified airplane spin on Styles before accidentally depositing the challenger in his corner, allowing Styles to tag in Omos. Both Riddle and Omos failed to put a dent in Omos as the giant was able to easily handle both men. Omos eventually tagged Styles back in, which proved to be a bad move as Orton was able to counter a Phenomenal Forearm into an RKO before tagging in Riddle to hit a Floating Bro and secure the pin with Omos removed from the match. Solid enough tag action in this one, though you'd think the near-invincible Omos would stop tagging in Styles at some point. RK-Bro def. AJ Styles & Omos via pinfall to retain the titles. Grade: B-
Queen's Crown finals -- Doudrop vs. Zelina Vega: Doudrop caught a few kicks from Vega before delivering a headbutt. Vega went to the top rope where Doudrop caught a crossbody and tried to hit a slam. Vega managed to hit a tornado DDT for a near fall. Vega went on a run on offense before driving her knees into Doudrop in the corner for a near fall. Doudrop hit a side slam for a near fall moments later. Vega managed to hit a Code Red on Doudrop to score the victory and become the first-ever Queen's Crown winner. After all of the ultra-short tournament matches, this went just under six minutes, long by comparison but still very short for a tournament final match. Zelina Vega def. Doudrop via pinfall to win the Queen's Crown tournament. Grade: C
Goldberg vs. Bobby Lashley (Falls Count Anywhere): Lashley wrapped a chain around his hand before the match. Goldberg tried to attack with punches immediately but was quickly dropped as Lashley used his chain-wrapped fist. Lashley sent Goldberg into the ring post and Goldberg was bloodied on his scalp almost immediately. Lashley grabbed a steel chair and began to work over Goldberg before also hitting a chop block to work over the same knee Goldberg injured at SummerSlam. The aggression from Lashley eventually backfired as he missed a spear and drove himself through a table propped in the corner of the ring. Goldberg hit a spear and a jackhammer but refused to go for the pin, instead removing his gloves and throwing Lashley from the ring. On the floor, Goldberg drove Lashley through the ringside barricade with another spear. Despite having the match won, Goldberg continued to attack, trying to drive the ring steps into Lashley's head and stalking Lashley as he tried to leave the match only to have Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin come to his aid -- only for both to be quickly handled by Goldberg. Goldberg then got the win by driving Lashley from the entrance ramp through three tables below with yet another spear. This was a better match than the two had at SummerSlam, if maybe a little bit longer than it needed to be and maybe a bit less violent than Goldberg had promised after vowing multiple times to kill Lashley. Goldberg def. Bobby Lashley via pinfall. Grade: B
King of the Ring finals -- Finn Balor vs. Xavier Woods: Balor got the early momentum after a bit of back and forth action to start the match. Woods nearly won the match early with a big superkick right as Balor was getting rolling for a corner dropkick. Both men exchanged chops, elbows and kicks before Woods got Balor into the corner and delivered a superplex. Woods tried to end things with the rope walk elbow drop, but Balor got his knees up and flurried back trying to finish things with a Coup de Grace only for Woods to move. Woods went for the rope walk elbow again, this time hitting it and scoring the pin. This was far shorter than expected but is yet another great moment a New Day member, with Woods getting to live his dream as King of the Ring. Xavier Woods def. Finn Balor via pinfall to win King of the Ring. Grade: B
WWE Championship -- Big E (c) vs. Drew McIntyre: Various tests of strength opened the match, with both men failing to knock the other down with shoulder blocks before McIntyre got the early advantage. After the match went outside the ring, McIntyre hit Big E with a belly-to-belly suplex on the floor. McIntyre nearly won the match with a spinebuster as he continued to have the champion on his heels. Both men hit several belly-to-belly suplexes before a Big E splash scored him a near fall. McIntyre scored his own near fall with a Future Shock DDT. After McIntyre countered his way out of a stretch muffler submission, Big E hit the Big Ending but only scored a two-count. McIntyre also had his big move not get the finish when Big E kicked out of a Claymore. A second Big Ending was enough to get it done for Big E, winning the match and retaining his title. This was a very good match, with some very convincing near falls. Exactly the kind of match Big E needed to continue building his title reign. Big E def. Drew McIntyre via pinfall to retain the title. Grade: B+
SmackDown Women's Championship -- Becky Lynch (c) vs. Bianca Belair vs. Sasha Banks: Lynch was very over with the live crowd but was nearly immediately taken out of the match after being knocked from the ring, allowing Belair and Banks to shine, with Belair hitting a one-arm press slam. Lynch and Banks paired off next, with Banks using a meteora for a near fall before locking Lynch in the Banks Statement, which was broken up by Belair. Lynch tried to hit both women with a dropkick from the top rope but was caught and thrown back into the turnbuckle. Belair nearly hit Lynch with the Kiss of Death, but Lynch was able to counter and then get her knees up on a splash. Belair got more chances to shine with impressive shows of power, forcing Lynch and Banks to work together, locking in a simultaneous Banks Statement and Disarm-Her. Banks used Belair's hair to pull her into several knees before Belair countered and nearly got the win with a bridging pin. Lynch made the save and then hit Banks with a Manhandle Slam only to have Belair break the pin. The action continued with wild swings in momentum before Lynch locked both women in the Disarm-Her simultaneously. Belair came back moments later to hit the Kiss of Death on Lynch but wasn't able to get the pin as Banks tried to rush in to steal the pin. Lynch was able to then roll up Banks and grab the bottom rope -- legal in triple threat matches -- to score the pin and retain the title. After a somewhat clunky start to the match where everyone looked a little bit off their game, the momentum picked up for a very hot middle and final stretch. Becky Lynch def. Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks to retain the title. Grade: B+
Universal Championship -- Roman Reigns (c) vs. Brock Lesnar: Lesnar was able to hit an early German suplex before Reigns was able to escape the pressure by ducking outside of the ring. On the floor, Reigns was able to drive Lesnar into the ring post and also dig a thumb to the eye to avoid an F-5. Reigns dropped Lesnar with a Superman punch as Lesnar tried to re-enter the ring and followed up with a dive over the top rope onto Lesnar on the floor. Reigns hit a spear for a two-count as the action returned to the ring, nearly picking up a very quick victory. Lesnar leaped over another Reigns spear attempt, sending Reigns crashing face-first into the ring post.
Lesnar followed up by hitting an F-5, but Reigns was able to kick out of the pin. Lesnar kept up the pressure before hitting another F-5, though this time he also hit the referee, knocking him out. As Lesnar tried to revive the ref, he turned into a Reigns spear, but again with the referee down. Paul Heyman threw the title belt between both men and yelled, "You know what to do with it." Both men wrestled over the belt before Lesnar ripped it away. The Usos then ran in, hit a double superkick and Reigns laid out Lesnar with the belt before a second ref ran to the ring to make the count. This was a fairly solid match that also did nothing to settle the issues between the men or the situation involving Heyman's loyalties. There's still a lot left to play out between Reigns and Lesnar. The overall rating here takes a hit for a fairly weak finish that hurt the action that came before. Roman Reigns def. Brock Lesnar to retain the title. Grade: B