The endless controversy surrounding WWE Crown Jewel may continue, but at least after Friday afternoon the show is now officially over. The four-hour event from King Saud Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, featured a new universal champion being crowned, a superstar being named the "best int he world" at the end of the World Cup tournament and a nostalgic main event between DeGeneration X and the Brothers of Destruction.
WWE properly decided to neither mention "Saudi Arabia" nor air any of the propaganda videos that further tarnished an already questionable Greatest Royal Rumble show back in April. Still, something felt off about Crown Jewel considering many of the company's best superstars were not on the show -- and certainly not in the World Cup tournament. The booking will certainly leave WWE fans questioning the company's plans going forward, but whether that is worthwhile as a result of the event is worthy of argument.
Overall, there were a couple notable moments, and all the match reviews below are graded on a curve considering the expectation for an event like this. Certainly if they were to have been held at a normal WWE pay-per-view, the grades would be a bit lower. Same goes for the show itself, which failed as a normal event but at least had enough to talk about afterward. Grade: C-
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WWE Crown Jewel results, grades
United States Championship -- Shinsuke Nakamura (c) def. Rusev via pinfall to retain the title (Kickoff Show): In a match that was filled with constant action, it looked like Rusev was on his way to winning the U.S. title after he locked Nakamura in the Accolade in the middle of the ring. But as Nakamura began to crawl toward the ropes, Rusev released the hold in attempt to lock it in stronger. Nakamura took the opportunity to head-butt Rusev's groin and followed with Kinshasa to pick up the 1-2-3. Better match than expected for a kickoff show but nothing too special. Grade: C-
World Cup Quarterfinals -- Rey Mysterio def. Randy Orton via pinfall to advance: In a short match, as most of these World Cup matches will be, Mysterio took down Orton by folding him up in a pinning combination. Immediately afterward, Orton hit Mysterio with an RKO, launched Mysterio out of the ring and threw him over the announce table. Whether that extra punishment will hurt Mysterio later on will be interesting to see. Grade: C
World Cup Quarterfinals -- The Miz def. Jeff Hardy via pinfall to advance: Hardy dominated most of the match and looked ready to put Miz away with a Twist of Fate, but Miz quickly countered into the Skull-Crushing Finale for a rare clean win for the heel. Grade: C
World Cup Quarterfinals -- Seth Rollins def. Bobby Lashley via pinfall to advance: Lio Rush entered with Lashley and put him over strong on the mic, deviating from the normal lines he uses each week on WWE television. Lashley dominated the early going with his strength, but a pair of suicide dives from Rollins took Lashley down outside the ring. Rollins sold his injuries following the attack from Dean Ambrose throughout the bout. In a quick finish, Rollins absorbed a big blow, leapfrogged a charge from Lashley and surprised with the Stomp for the pinfall. Grade: C+
World Cup Quarterfinals -- Dolph Ziggler def. Kurt Angle via pinfall to advance: The momentum was Ziggler's in the early going, and it looked like angle had a clean win midway through the mass when he hit the Angle Slam clean in the middle of the ring. Ziggler kicked out at two, which is exactly what Angle did a few moments later when Ziggler hit him with the the Famouser. Angle dodged a Zig-Zag attempt and rolled Ziggler over into his ankle lock, and it did not look like he would be able to get out. Ziggler eventually rolled through, shoved angle through the turnbuckles into the ring post and hit the Zig-Zag for the victory. Grade: C+
SmackDown Tag Team Championship -- The Bar (c) def. The New Day via pinfall to retain the titles: Entering the ringside area on a "magic carpet" hovering next to the entrance ramp on an elevated platform, New Day received a huge ovation. With Sheamus elevated on Big E's shoulders in the corner, Kofi Kingston hit a double stomp to his back, followed by a Big E powerslam, but New Day only got a two count. A short while later, with the referee distracted, Big E found himself run into the corner. Big Show climbed to the top rope and hit the knockout punch, and Sheamus followed with a Brogue Kick for the 1-2-3. Grade: B-
World Cup Semifinals -- The Miz def. Rey Mysterio via pinfall to advance: Aside from a few rest holds early, this match picked up the pace quickly. A huricanrana by Mysterio began what looked to be the closing process, but after Mysterio was thrown face-first into the corner, he kicked out of Miz's Skull-Crushing Finale. Mysterio gained momentum at that point and had Miz prone, but his frog splash attempt was thwarted by elevated knees by Miz, who took advantage of Mysterio's injured ribs with a pinning combination for the win. Grade: B-
World Cup Semifinals -- Dolph Ziggler def. Seth Rollins via pinfall to advance: Rollins nursed his injured neck again, and an early distraction from Drew McIntyre provided Ziggler with the advantage for the majority of the match. The two repeated many of the same combinations from their prior matches, including the DDT spot and roll-up pinning combination. Rollins' ripcord knee evened things out late in the bout and provided him with a respite. Rollins slingshotted Ziggler out of the ring and followed with a suicide dive to knock out both Ziggler and McIntyre. Back in the ring, Ziggler dodged a flying Rollins and hit a Famouser for a two count. Ziggler then followed up with the Zig-Zag, and Rollins kicked out late again. With the referee distracted and Rollins on the top rope, McIntyre pushed him off. Rollins flew and fell flat on his face, and Ziggler took advantage with a superkick for the win. Rollins cut a short promo after the match, declaring himself the best in the world and saying everyone would know it to be true later in the night. Grade: B
WWE Championship -- AJ Styles (c) def. Samoa Joe via pinfall to retain the title: The match was relatively slow with Joe taking early advantage using his brutal style. Styles did his best to work the injured leg of Joe, eventually wearing him down with a Calf Crusher. Joe could barely stand by the time the match came to its finish, and Styles hit a Phenomenal Forearm from the top rope to retain his title. Grade: C+
Universal Championship -- Brock Lesnar def. Braun Strowman via pinfall to win the vacant title: Before the match began, Raw general manager Baron Corbin -- ringside to oversee the vacant title fight -- brought the universal title into the ring and hit Strowman over the head with it. Lesnar proceeded to hit Strowman with three F5s, attempting to pin him after each one. When Strowman kept kicking out, Lesnar hit the F5 on Strowman over the top rope, throwing him outside of the ring and onto the floor. Strowman beat the 10 count, and once back inside, Lesnar hit him with one more F5 to regain the universal title. While you may not like the result, this was certainly a surprise, and WWE does deserve some credit for that. Still, with no offense from Strowman, this cannot get a quality rating. Grade: D+
World Cup Finals -- Shane McMahon
The Miz def. Dolph Ziggler via pinfall to be named "best in the world:" McIntyre was banished from ringside when the match began, and Miz attacked Ziggler as an effort to gain an early advantage. When Miz hopped outside the ring to continue attacking Ziggler, he appeared to land horribly on his ankle and sold a major injury. It was made to look quite real with Miz appearing in serious pain, but it did not take long to appear to be a clear work as SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon -- also at ringside -- refused to allow Ziggler to win by forefit. McMahon took off his jacket and entered the ring, pummeling Ziggler. Corbin attempted to interfere but got tossed. Ziggler got the upperhand for a moment, but McMahon turned things around with an around-the-world DDT. With Ziggler prone in the corner following a slingshot, McMahon hit his version of the Van Terminator from corner-to-corner for the win. This was creative though a bit confounding, but it definitely moves the needle ahead to Survivor Series. Grade: C+
DeGeneration X vs. Brothers of Destruction: The crowd was hot for Shawn Michaels being tagged in, but he quickly got decimated by Undertaker and Kane, who stood tall as DX regrouped outside the ring. Michaels dodged a running knee from Taker, allowing DX to take over. Triple H made work of Kane for a bit but appeared to legitimately injure his shoulder or ribs, leading to a quick tag back to Michaels, who got knocked down and did a kip-up to the crowd's delight as the fans chanted "you still got it." Michaels followed with an elbow drop , but as the fans chanted for Sweet Chin Music, Kane caught Michaels and hit a chokeslam. Taker tagged himself in soon after, and Michaels hit him with Sweet Chin Music but was unable to capitalize as everyone was exhausted. With all four men outside the ring, Kane chokeslammed Triple H through an announce table, and Taker concentrated on Michaels. Back in the ring, the Michaels was singled out by Taker and Kane, though he eventually got the upper hand with a moonsault outside the ring that stunned the crowd. Michaels crawled his way to the corner for a hot tag to Triple H, who used his standard move set.
Triple H and Taker reversed signatures and finishers until Triple H hit the Pedigree on Taker. As he attempted to capitalize, Taker sat up, grabbed Triple H's arm and locked him in Hell's Gate. Michaels thwarted Kane with Sweet Chin Music, and DX got out of an attempted double tombstone piledriver with a thumb to Kane's eye. A now-bloodied Michaels then hit Sweet Chin Music on both Taker and Kane, and Triple H followed with a Pedigree to Kane for the 1-2-3. All four men did well enough considering their age and athletic ability, but it was clearly that they were operating at 50 percent of their prior capacity. As the match wore on, it got slower and slower with things looking more choreographed. The teams get an "A" for effort and nostalgia -- because that was definitely present -- but not much more. Consider this a gift. Grade: C+
WWE Crown Jewel highlights
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