Powell’s WWE Crown Jewel live review: Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman for the vacant WWE Universal Championship, AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe for the WWE Championship, Undertaker and Kane vs. DX, World Cup tournament

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Crown Jewel
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at King Saud University Stadium
Aired live on November 2, 2018 on WWE Network and pay-per-view

A video package opened the show… Pyro shot off around the top of the stadium… The broadcast team was Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young, who were seated at ringside…

Hulk Hogan was introduced as the host of the event. Hogan made his entrance to a decent reaction. The broadcast team gushed over Hogan and then more pyro shot off around the top of the stadium. Cole noted that Hogan once held the WWE Championship for over four years. Hogan spoke about flying over on a 747 jet and finding Hulkamaniacs “right here in the Crown Jewel, jack.” Hogan said it was great to be back in WWE and to be the host. “Amazing, what a way to start off Crown Jewel,” Young said as Hogan posed…

Powell’s POV: Well, Hogan made it through his first appearance without saying anything that could get them in trouble with Saudi officials. Hogan was well received by the Saudi fans.

Ring announcer Mike Rome introduced a Saudi dignitary and referred to him as “his excellency”… Graves introduced the Arabic broadcast team and they spoke in Arabic briefly…

1. Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton in a World Cup tournament match. Orton made an early play for Mysterio’s mask while Cole chalked it up to psychological gamesmanship. Orton blocked an early 619 attempt and performed a hanging DDT. Orton set up for an RKO, but Mysterio countered into a rollup for the quick win. Orton hit Mysterio with an RKO and worked him over after the match and slammed him onto a broadcast table…

Rey Mysterio beat Randy Orton in 5:30 to advance to the World Cup semifinals.

Powell’s POV: Did they do the post match angle to make Rey a Cinderella story winner or to give him an out for losing later in the tournament? My guess was that Miz was the most realistic candidate to be fired by Shane McMahon if they really intend to fire someone and move them to Raw. This may have paved the way for that to happen, though it’s definitely possible a Smackdown wrestler wins and Shane’s threat is wiped out.

Byron Saxton interviewed The Miz backstage and asked him how he’s feeling. Of course, he feels awesome…

2. Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz in a World Cup tournament match. A Jeff pre-tape aired during his entrance. He said he must win and prove that his demons have met their day of reckoning. Cole said one of Jeff’s demons was Samoa Joe since he beat him to qualify for the tournament.

Miz was in offensive control early. Hardy came back with a Whisper in the Wind. Miz went for a figure four, but Hardy countered into an inside cradle for a near fall. They went to ringside where Hardy ran the barricade before leaping onto Miz. Back inside the ring, Hardy went for a Twist of Fate, but Miz countered into the Skull Crushing Finale and scored the clean pin…

The Miz defeated Jeff Hardy in 7:05 to advance to the World Cup semifinals.

Powell’s POV: Another brief match, which is to be expected give the number of matches on the show. They did more than Orton and Mysterio, but the length of the matches are briefer than their television matches would be against one another. I like the added touch of having ring announcer Greg Hamilton run through the various titles that the entrants have won in an attempt to make the tournament feel more prestigious.

A Survivor Series ad aired…

3. Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Lashley (w/Lio Rush) in a World Cup tournament match. A Rollins pre-tape aired and he said the felt like he was on top of the world. Not so much after the Dean Ambrose attack, but he needs to go back to doing what he does best. Rush had a live mic (ugh) and he told the fans they will never look as good as Lashley. Lashley was in offensive control early and Rush simply watched the match without a mic in hand (yes!). Late in the match, Rollins leapt over a spear attempt and rolled Lashley over before hitting him with a Stomp and pinning him…

Seth Rollins defeated Bobby Lashley in 5:30 to advance to the World Cup semifinals.

Powell’s POV: More of the same in terms of the length of the match preventing it from being anything memorable. On the bright side, they didn’t have Lio Rush talk during the match. I really do like the pairing of Rush and Lashley as heels, but that live mic during the match bit is channel changing heat. Only time will tell whether this was done for the Saudi show or if they have scrapped the live mic gimmick.

Byron Saxton interviewed Kurt Angle backstage. Saxton said Ange was best in the world at one point in his career and now he has a chance to prove it all over again. Angle said people doubt him when it comes to winning the tournament just as the did when he won a gold medal with a broken freakin’ neck. He said he wasn’t here to put an exclamation point on his career, he was here to write the next chapter…

4. Kurt Angle vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Drew McIntyre) in a World Cup tournament match. Pyro shot off above the stadium during Angle’s entrance. Ziggler and Drew McIntyre were given a pre-tape and Ziggler did all the talking. Angle performed a few early suplexes. He went for another, but Ziggler grabbed the ropes. Angle went to the apron and tried to suplex Ziggler to the floor, but Ziggler held onto the ropes again and eventually elbowed Angle in the face.

Ziggler ran Angle into the ring steps and rolled him back inside the ring. Ziggler applied a sleeper hold. Angle eventually came back with more suplexes. Ziggler performed a DDT for a near fall. Ziggler went for the Fameasser only for Angle to counter into the Angle Slam for a near fall. Angle lowered the straps on his singlet and went for an ankle lock. Ziggler avoided it and hit a Fameasser for a near fall. A short time later, Angle rolled through a move and applied the ankle lock. Ziggler eventually rolled out of the hold. Angle charged him in the corner and crashed into the corner when Ziggler moved. Ziggler performed a Zigzag and scored the clean pin…

Dolph Ziggler defeated Kurt Angle in 8:10 to advance to the World Cup semifinals.

Powell’s POV: A surprising outcome in that I expected Angle to get to the finals. The match was fine for what it was and they told the story that Ziggler was simply quicker than the older Angle. So the semifinals are set with Rollins vs. Ziggler and Mysterio vs. Miz.

New Day made their entrance on a “magic carpet” (a motorized platform). The fog machine didn’t do a good job of blocking the lower part and instead made it tough to see the New Day members.

5. Sheamus and Cesaro (w/Big Show) vs. “New Day” Big E and Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods) for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. There was pyro when Big Show held up his choke hand prior to the match. Kingston caught Cesaro with an early dropkick.

Around 9:00, Big E went for a spear on Sheamus on the apron, but Sheamus put his knee up. Sheamus threw punches at E on the ropes in the New Day corner. Kofi tagged himself in and he leapt over Sheamus from the top rope and kicked him from behind before E slammed him down. Cesaro raced in to break up the pin. A short time later, Show was standing on the apron when Sheamus pushed E to the corner where the referee ducked and missed Show punching E. Sheamtus hit a Brogue Kitck on E and pinned him…

Sheamus and Cesaro defeated New Day in 10:30 to retain the Smackdown Tag Titles.

Powell’s POV: A solid tag match and it was nice to see a longer match after the rushed World Cup matches. I like E taking the punch from Big Show and the pin because it gives me more hope that we’ll eventually see a singles feud between them.

Saxton interviewed a hoarse Miz backstage. Miz said the night isn’t about happy endings (no kidding), it was about him proving he is best in the world… Miz made his entrance… Saxton interviewed Mysterio, who said being the best is about never making excuses (for his injuries coming out of the Orton attack)…

6. Rey Mysterio vs. The Miz in a World Cup semifinal match. Graves said Monroe Sky Mizanin is on the short list to become the new offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns (could be an upgrade). Miz was on the offensive for the majority of the match while Mysterio sold his injuries and got hope spots. At 9:30, Miz performed a Skull Crushing Finale for a near fall. Later, Mysterio hit a 619 and went for a frogsplash, but Miz put his knees up and ended up getting the pin…

The Miz defeated Rey Mysterio in 11:15 to advance to the World Cup final.

Powell’s POV: Solid storytelling with Mysterio selling his injury and that being the out for him losing. So it’s now Miz wins the tournament for gets fired by a-hole Shane McMahon who can’t handle his sister gloating. Miz being fired seems very possible, but I can’t rule out Dean Ambrose costing Rollins the tournament final. Either way, I would have flipped the match order because I would have been more likely to buy into the possibility of a babyface vs. babyface final than a heel vs. heel final.

Seth Rollins delivered a brief backstage promo before making his entrance…

7. Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Drew McIntyre) in a World Cup semifinal match. Graves said both wrestlers had grueling first round matches (um…). Rollins clotheslined Ziggler to the floor and then worked him over at ringside before tossing him back inside the ring. McIntyre walked over and stood between Rollins and the ring. Rollins dared McIntyre to hit him (so he could get the DQ win). Rollins returned to the ring and was DDT’d for a two count.

At 11:45, Rollins performed a superplex and tried to follow with a Falcon Arrow, but Ziggler countered into a Zigzag for a near fall. Rollins avoided a second Zigzag attempt and caught Ziggler with a kick. Rollins went up top. Ziggler cut off Rollins, who shoved him off. McIntyre shoved Rollins off the rope while the referee wasn’t looking, then Ziggler connected with a superkick for the win…

Dolph Ziggler defeated Seth Rollins in 13:05 to advance to the World Cup final.

After the match, Saxton came out and said that while the referee’s decision was final, it didn’t seem fair that he was going to the finals. Saxton said it was an upset. Ziggler threw a fit about no one believing in him and boasted that he’ll be holding the trophy because he is the best in the world…

Powell’s POV: Well, so much for my belief that they wouldn’t go with a pair of heels in the finals. So the World Cup is now a battle of Ohio? Strange, but it’s unique and thus I’m curious to see what they have in mind. Perhaps the best thing about this being called a World Cup tournament rather than a King of the Ring is that we have someone doing a hokey king gimmick.

A video package aired on WrestleMania… A video package set up the WWE Championship match…

8. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe for the WWE Championship. There were some “Joe” chants along with his entrance music. A loud chant for Styles broke out before he made his entrance. Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. They went right at one another with strikes once the bell rang. Styles targeted the bad knee of Joe, who came back while they fought at ringside. Joe performed a suicide dive that drove Styles into the broadcast table. Joe took offensive control for a stretch back inside the ring.

Joe performed a great quick powerslam around 7:30 for a near fall. A short time later, Styles applied a Calf Crusher, but Joe reached the ropes. Joe applied a Coquina Clutch, but Styles reached own and wrenched on the bad knee to break the hold. Styles caught Joe with a Pele Kick. Styles caught Joe with a forearm on the apron, then followed up with a Phenomenal Forearm and scored the pin…

AJ Styles defeated Samoa Joe in 11:15 to retain the WWE Championship.

Powell’s POV: Good effort from the wrestlers and they were having a quality match before the abrupt finish. I didn’t expect Joe to win given that he wasn’t supposed to be in the match, but I thought we’d get more believable near falls and drama, which would have allowed Joe to leave the match looking strong in defeat. Instead, it was a very decisive finish to a brief by pay-per-view standards title match.

A WWE video game ad aired…

Acting Raw general manager Baron Corbin made his entrance to nearly no reaction, then ring entrances for the WWE Universal Championship match occurred…

9. Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) for the vacant WWE Universal Championship. Corbin sat at ringside next to the title belt. Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Hey, where’s Raw ring announcer JoJo? Oh. Heyman took the mic and introduced Lesnar in the way he said people would hear him labeled afterward – the new champion. Strowman entered the ring with the title belt during the introductions and took a cheap shot at Strowman by hitting him from behind with the title belt. Corbin called for the bell.

Lesnar smiled and hit an F5 for a near fall. Lesnar hit another F5 for a near fall. Rinse and repeat for a third time. Lesnar hoisted up Strowman on his shoulders and tossed him over the top rope to the floor. Strowman beat the referee’s count by rolling back inside the ring. Lesnar removed his MMA gloves and went for another F5, but Strowman slipped away and kicked him. Lesnar came right back with another F5 and scored the pin. Pyro shot off as Lesnar and Heyman celebrated…

Brock Lesnar defeated Braun Strowman in 3:15 to become the new WWE Universal Champion.

Powell’s POV: Strowman was protected by the Corbin cheap shot and because he kicked out of four F5s. I can’t say that Lesnar having another part-time title reign does anything for me, but let’s see how long it lasts. I didn’t feel like this was the right time for either man to win the championship, and it would have felt very rushed for Strowman to win given that he just turned babyface awkwardly. I hope we get a rematch at Survivor Series rather than a champion vs. champion match, which would once again be Lesnar vs. Styles if they take that approach and they don’t drop their titles before then.

Smackdown Commissioner Shane McMahon made his entrance for the World Cup tournament final and joined acting general manager Baron Corbin next to the trophy. Hey, where’s Stephanie McMahon? Oh. Ring entrances took place…

The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, and Drew McIntyre came out for the World Cup Final. The referee ordered McIntyre to the back. Miz roughed up Ziggler and tossed him to ringside. Miz hopped down to the floor and acted like he suffered an ankle injury. Graves noted that the referee never called for the bell. Miz whipped Ziggler into the ring steps. Shane came over and checked on Miz. The referee said he couldn’t let Miz compete and told Hamilton that Ziggler won by forfeit. Hamilton tried to make the announcement, but Shane cut him off twice and then told the referee he would take Miz’s place.

10. Shane McMahon vs. Dolph Ziggler in the World Cup Final. Shane worked the match in his jeans and a tank top. He jumped out to a quick start, but Corbin tripped him. Young called it insanity. You don’t say. The referee ordered Corbin to the back. Ziggler hit Shane with a Zigzag for a near fall. A “this is awesome” chant broke out. Shane came back and performed a Coast To Coast on Ziggler and pinned him.

Shane McMahon defeated Dolph Ziggler in 2:30 to win the World Cup.

Cole questioned how Shane could be proud of winning in the way that he did. Shane ran around the ring and slapped hands. Cole said he couldn’t believe what was happening. Shane celebrated with the World Cup trophy and pyro shot off. Graves defended everything that had happened involving the authority figures as being fine. Cole questioned him. Graves said he knows who signs his paychecks. Shane continued to celebrate with the trophy in an over the top manner and pyro shot off…

Powell’s POV: If only Shane had lost and fired himself. Anyway, this was a clusterf—, but I got a big kick out of Shane celebrating in such an over the top manner. It sure looks like he’s a heel now, which explains his dickhead move of threatening to fire a Smackdown wrestler if they lost in the finals. Does Miz turn babyface? Does Chris Jericho eventually show up because he takes offense to Shane boasting that he’s the best in the world when Jericho claims that he’s the best in the world at what he does? Is this only for the bad Raw vs. Smackdown gimmick they do for Survivor Series?

A video package set up the tag team main event…

DX was out first and received pyro treatment. Shawn Michaels took off his cowboy hat once in the ring and rubbed his bald head in ta fun way. Kane made his entrance and Undertaker was out last with a special event entrance that included fire shooting off at the top of the entrance set…

Powell’s POV: And then Shane McMahon ran out and superkicked everyone and pinned them all! Not really, but I wouldn’t have complained. Anyway, no DX mic work, so apparently Saudi Arabia is not ready to suck it. The show is scheduled to go until the top of the hour. Of course, they don’t have to go that long, but I assume this will be a lengthy match.

11. Shawn Michaels and Triple H vs. Undertaker and Kane. Cole assumed DX has a plan and wondered what it was. Fans chanted for Undertaker and then “this is awesome” loudly before the referee called for the bell to start the match. Hunter and Kane started. Undertaker and Michaels ended up in the ring together and had a throat slash and crotch chop exchange.

Taker performed Old School on Michaels at 7:55. Another “Undertaker” chant broke out. Michaels avoided Undertaker charging in the corner and tagged in Hunter, who ended up taking a clothesline from Taker at 9:00. A couple minutes later, the fans chanted “you’ve still got it” for Michaels, who performed a top rope elbow drop on Kane. Michaels tuned up the band and fans counted along awkwardly. Kane blocked the Sweet Chin Music attempt and chokeslammed Michaels at 12:30.

Taker tagged in and worked over Michaels, who caught him with a superkick out of nowhere that knocked him down. Both men remained down for a moment, then Taker did his Michael Myers sit-up. They went to ringside where Taker tore apart the Saudi broadcast table. Taker went for a Tombstone, but Hunter came over and broke it up. There was a bizarre spot where Taker grabbed Hunter by the arm and they both ran toward the barricade and Taker hit it. Cole said Hunter was able to reverse it at the last moment. Kane chokeslammed Hunter through a broadcast table. Young mentioned something about the scene of the crime (awkward).

Undertaker legdropped Michaels on the apron and then went over and checked on Hunter, who may be injured. Hunter remained down as Michaels was worked over by Kane and Taker. Cole said medics were tending to Hunter and he was a non-factor in the match. Michaels came back and ended up performing a moonsault off the top rope and onto both opponents on the floor. Cole called it shades of ’96. Triple H returned to his corner and took a tag from Michaels at 24:45.

Hunter held an arm at his side initially while working over both opponents. Hunter performed a Pedigree on Taker, who came back with Hell’s Gate. Michaels hit Sweet Chin Music on Kane, which knocked him into Taker, thus breaking up his submission hold. Taker and Kane both sat up and went for double tombstones, but Hunter and Michaels avoided the moves. Michaels hit Sweet Chin Music on Taker to knock him out of the ring, then hit another on Kane. Hunter performed a Pedigree on Kane and pinned him.

Shawn Michaels and Triple H defeated Undertaker and Kane in 27:45.

The broadcast team gushed over the performances of all four men. DX celebrated and pyro shot off around the stadium. Cole said there should be a celebration of the greats of all time. Hunter had one arm wrapped around Michaels and they both held up the too sweet hand gesture as Cole signed off…

Powell’s POV: Well, they tried. You can’t question the effort or that the live crowd loved this, but it was nowhere near as glorious as Cole and Graves made it out to be. Cole has called some truly classic matches and never laid it on that thick. Overall, this felt like less of a house show than the Greatest Royal Rumble due in part to the new Universal Champion being crowned and the Shane McMahon angle, but it was not a strong show, particularly from an in-ring standpoint. I will have more to say in my audio review for members coming up shortly. Honestly, I’m just happy Crown Jewel is behind us.

Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest John Canton.



Readers Comments (5)

  1. IF ANYONE still thinks Vince gives a crap about the “universe”, you’re an idiot.

  2. Crown Jewel behind us which is great and now on to the most pointless PPV of the year where no Championships will be on the line. I know it is one of the originals on the calendar but honestly to me Survivor Series is just a waste of time these days

    • Pesumably Styles beats brock to make it 1-1 and then next year when both have dropped and regained the titles by this time next year we will have the final of a best of 3 series spread out over 3years?

  3. Jason.. How in the hell, and in what universe would Miz turn face?

    • He already did once before. Granted, it was terrible because he didn’t do anything differently. That said, things have changed and fans respect him more. I’m not saying I would turn him now, but he will turn eventually and I think it will go better the second time around.

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