With the Crown Jewel pay-per-view in Saudi Arabia fast approaching, the card is coming together quickly. That build continued with WWE SmackDown on Friday night, a show that also included the start of both the King of the Ring and Queen's Crown tournaments.
Both of those tournaments will wrap up at Crown Jewel and we now know two semifinalists in both tournaments. Sami Zayn and Finn Balor both won their quarterfinal matches in King of the Ring while Zelina Vega and Carmella picked up wins in the first round of the Queen's Crown tournament. Unfortunately for the women, Queen's Crown was treated as little more than a sideshow attraction, with the two matches combining to last for less time than many stars' ring walks.
CBS Sports was with you all night with recaps and highlights of all the action from SAP Center in San Jose, California.
King of the Ring begins with first two quarterfinal matches
King of the Ring Quarterfinals – Sami Zayn def. Rey Mysterio via pinfall with a roll-up. Before the match, Zayn approached Dominik Mysterio backstage and told the younger Mysterio he believed he was better than his dad. After Zayn took the early advantage and threw Rey into the ring post, Dominik made his way to ringside to watch the match. Zayn removed the turnbuckle pad and Dominik attempted to reattach and Rey began arguing with his son before Zayn shoved Rey into Dominik to set up a roll-up to win and advance in the tournament.
King of the Ring Quarterfinals – Finn Balor def. Cesaro via pinfall after a Coup de Grace. The two veterans had a straight-forward wrestling match with no extracurricular activities before Balor won clean with the Coup de Grace. With the win, Balor advanced to face Zayn in the semifinals on next week's SmackDown.
It may be a bit of a spoiler for next week's semifinals to include Zayn since history suggests he will not be in Saudi Arabia for the finals at Crown Jewel. Still, both matches managed to accomplish something, with Zayn vs. Mysterio continuing that story and Balor vs. Cesaro giving a largely mediocre show at least one solid bit of wrestling. There's a lot left to be seen in how the tournament plays out and if there are more interesting developments in the remaining matches. Grade: B-
Queen's Crown tournament starts in terrible fashion
Queen's Crown Quarterfinals – Zelina Vega def. Toni Storm via pinfall with a code red in an extremely short match that lasted less than three minutes.
Queen's Crown Quarterfinals – Carmella def. Liv Morgan via pinfall after clotheslining Morgan on the top rope. Carmella again wore her "bedazzled carbon-fiber mask." She nearly finished the match seconds in with the Code of Silence but Morgan was able to briefly fight back before Carmella was able to clothesline Morgan on the top rope to score the pin.
There were bigger developments on the show than the Queen's Crown matches, which is somewhat the point of including Queen's Crown as a header. WWE finally is giving the women a King of the Ring-style tournament and gave the two opening matches less than four minutes ... combined. That's atrocious and inexcusable for a company that has, often correctly, taken a lot of credit for advancing women's wrestling. It's disappointing to see booking that reverts to the days of quick "Diva" matches. Grade: F
What else happened on WWE SmackDown?
- The planned contract signing between Becky Lynch, Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks broke down into a brawl. Banks attacked Belair from behind before Lynch attacked Banks. In the end, Belair drove both women through a table to end the segment standing tall.
- Roman Reigns forced Paul Heyman to prove his allegiance during an in-ring promo. After Heyman explained he would have to be stupid to turn on Reigns and help Lesnar, especially before Crown Jewel, Reigns made Heyman deliver a promo into the camera – and to Lesnar – explaining why Reigns would win at the upcoming pay-per-view.
- Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss attacked Kevin Owens during "Happy Talk." The Street Profits were supposed to be the guests on the "show" but Owens entered the ring only to find himself quickly beaten down by the duo.
- Naomi confronted Sonya Deville backstage. Naomi wanted to know why she wasn't selected for the Queen's Crown tournament only for Deville to insult her. Deville then said she would wrestle Naomi next week on SmackDown.
- Edge challenged Seth Rollins to a Hell in a Cell match. Rollins demanded Edge answer his challenge for a rubber match only to be attacked by Edge to end the show. After the two brawled, Edge threw down the challenge for the pair to meet inside the Cell.