Despite political controversy, WWE will head back over to Saudi Arabia on Friday for the scheduled Crown Jewel event. There had been some speculation that the company would pull out of the show, but it recently announced it would be adhering to its 10-year agreement with the Saudi General Sports Authority and the show will go on as planned. Friday's event will mark WWE's second venture to Saudi Arabia this year, with the Greatest Royal Rumble show taking place back in April.
The Crown Jewel event on Friday will feature an eight-man World Cup tournament featuring some of the biggest names in the company. The universal and WWE titles will be defended, and of course, we'll see the return of the legendary Shawn Michaels after being absent from the ring for the past eight years. Crown Jewel is set for a noon ET start on the WWE Network, with an 11 a.m. kickoff show getting the festivities started.
Let's take a look at what's on tap for WWE Crown Jewel. Be sure to check out our audio preview of the show below and subscribe to the "In This Corner with Brian Campbell" podcast.
WWE Crown Jewel matches
Triple H & Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker & Kane: Heavy involvement from Michaels helped Triple H dispatch Taker at Super Show-Down in Australia. After the match, when it looked like the four men had made up and were celebrating together in the ring after the bout, the Brothers of Destruction turned on the former DeGeneration X members by Tombstone Piledriving, chokeslamming and otherwise ruining them to end the show. On the Raw following what took place in Australia, Michaels' in-ring return after over eight years away was confirmed as the tag team match was set.
Universal Championship -- Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman: After thethat he is battling leukemia, the decision was made later on that edition of Raw that the originally-scheduled triple threat bout will now be a 1-on-1 affair between Lesnar and Strowman for the vacant title.
WWE Championship -- AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe: Styles retained his title over Joe at Super Show-Down, and Bryan became the No. 1 contender by defeating The Miz in 2:25 on the same show. That was until Bryan reportedly refused to attend Crown Jewel, pulling out of the show. WWE got his title match out of the way Tuesday night on SmackDown, clearing the way for Joe to attack both men and slide into the open match.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship -- The Bar (c) vs. New Day: A Big Show heel turn on the SmackDown 1000 episode allowed Sheamus & Cesaro to capture the titles from New Day. The following week on SmackDown Live, the immediate rematch was announced for this Crown Jewel event.
WWE World Cup: The World Cup tournament will take place throughout the entire Crown Jewel event, with the bracket featuring a Raw side and SmackDown Live side. Below is a look at the bracket for Friday's tournament to determine the "best in the world."
WWE Crown Jewel predictions
The following matches are rumored and not confirmed at this time.
Cruiserweight Championship -- Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Cedric Alexander: Alexander is due his contractually-obligated rematch after dropping the title to Murphy in the latter's home country of Australia at Super Show-Down. This is one of the better matches that could be slotted on the card somewhere for the die-hard fans who aren't too thrilled with the overall slate.