By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Crown Jewel 2019 Kickoff Show
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at King Saud University Stadium
Aired live on October 31, 2019 on WWE Network and social media
-Charly Caruso hosted the show from the WWE studios in Stamford, Connecticut. She was joined by the panel of Scott Stanford(!), Booker T, and David Otunga. Caruso and Stanford ran through the Crown Jewel lineup.
-Byron Saxton interviewed Ric Flair on a backstage interview set in Saudi Arabia about the Team Flair vs. Team Hogan match. Flair said Hogan is more than a rival, he’s a lifetime nemesis. Flair ran through his team and said they are five of the greatest athletes in the world today and not just in wrestling. Flair promised that they would make history. Flair said Saudi Arabia would witness the greatest sporting event in sports entertainment in 2019.
Powell’s POV: WWE isn’t shying away from mentioning Saudi Arabia. Caruso and Flair both said it a couple times. I imagine the logic is that if you’re already watching the show then they have no reason not to mention it.
-The men on the panel spoke about the Rusev, Lana, and Bobby Lashley saga and wondered how Rusev would focus. Booker noted that Otunga has had “woman problems.” Otunga smiled and said he has.
-A video package focused on the Braun Strowman vs. Tyson Fury match. A tale of the tape was shown. Stanford played up Strowman’s 125-pound weight advantage. He also wondered if Fury is 100 percent after he suffered the ankle injury during the WWE Performance Center angle.
-Footage aired of Mansoor winning the battle royal at WWE Super Showdown. The hosts hyped his match with Cesaro for Crown Jewel. Otunga said Mansoor is a gym rat who is always the first one at the WWE Performance Center and the last one to leave. He said the problem is that he’s facing Cesaro and it’s going to be a long night.
-Caruso said the battle royal was coming up next, then they went to some advertising for WrestleMania tickets going on sale.
The Singh Brothers, Tony Nese, Akira Tozawa, Titus O’Neil, Drake Maverick, No Way Jose, Apollo Crews, Sin Cara, and a group of wrestlers came out together. R-Truth received his own entrance, but he didn’t sing his song. Cole noted that the 24/7 Title would not be on the line during the match. Buddy Murphy received his own entrance (encouraging). Eric Rowan, Andrade also received their own ring entrances.
1. 20-Man Battle Royal for a shot at the U.S. Championship. Michael Cole and Corey Graves were on commentary at ringside. Cole noted that it was a late arriving crowd. Luke Harper, Heath Slater, Eric Young, Brian Kendrick, Humberto Carrillo, Cedric Alexander, and Mojo Rawley were among the other wrestlers in the match. Harper and Rowan worked together early on.
Rowan pressed Maverick over his head and dumped him to ringside to eliminate him. Rowan also eliminated Slater. AJ Styles was shown watching the match on a backstage monitor and they missed Nese being eliminated. Harper eliminated Kendrick and Young back to back. O’Neil eliminated Rawley. Andrade eliminated Sin Cara to continue his domination over him. Crews eliminated O’Neil. They went to a split screen commercial.
Powell’s POV: They aired ads for Crown Jewel just in case you didn’t realize the event was today despite watching the Kickoff Show for the event. I don’t get it.
Rowan and Harper went face to face in the middle of the ring. Jose encouraged them to fight and danced. Harper acted like he would dance along with him, then gave him a discus lariat. Rowan tossed Jose over the top rope, then he and Harper bickered. Tozawa patted Rowan on the back and called for a fight. Tozawa became sheepish when he noticed Harper standing behind him. Rowan quickly eliminated Tozawa. Carrillo eliminated Shelton Benjamin (oh, um, Benjamin was in the match). There were a few quick eliminations.
The final four were Harper, Rowan, Carrillo, and Alexander. There was an audible “Let’s go Harper” chant. Rowan worked over Harper and eliminated him. The Singh Brothers were still at ringside. R-Truth emerged from under the ring and then rolled up the Singh that held the WWE 24/7 Championship and pinned him. A group of eliminated wrestlers ran out and chased R-Truth around the ring and then to the back.
Harper tried to eliminate Carrillo when Rowan came up from behind and dumped Harper over the top rope to eliminate him. Carrillo quickly shoved Rowan over the top rope and gave him a second shove to eliminate him. Styles was shown pointing at the TV screen…
Humberto Carrillo won a 20-man battle royal in 12:25 to earn a U.S. Championship match on the main show.
Powell’s POV: It was a battle royal. You had to assume that Harper and Rowan would turn on one another given their teases of fighting during the match. No complaints about Carrillo winning the battle royal as it sets up a good rematch with Styles. Carrillo could really use a win or should at least escape without a clean loss after losing to Styles and Seth Rollins over the last two weeks.
-The broadcast team spoke about the first women’s match in Saudi Arabia between Natalya and Lacey Evans. They listed mainstream media outlets that covered the story (many in their pro wrestling sections) and played it up as a historic moment…
-Back in the studio, the panel spoke about Natalya vs. Evans. Booker said Evans is the breakout star of 2019. Caruso spoke of how the rivalry developed on Raw (completely ignoring that they actually teamed together since Natalya beat Evans in their last singles match).
-A tale of the tape was shown for Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez. A video package aired on the build to their match. The hosts spoke about the match and Booker said Brock would take every shortcut to win, especially in Saudi Arabia.
-Saxton interviewed Kofi Kingston and Big E backstage in Saudi Arabia and brought up the Xavier Woods injury. Big E was comical as he recalled Woods telling him not to cry. Kingston spoke about the power of positivity carrying them to victory in the tag team turmoil match and also pushed their Smackdown Tag Title match with The Revival for Friday Night Smackdown.
-The panel spoke briefly and then set up promos from Heavy Machinery and then Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode regarding the tag team turmoil match.
-Caruso and Stanford ran through the main card lineup again.
-A video package focused on Seth Rollins vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt for the WWE Universal Championship.
-The hosts spoke about the Universal Title match and wrapped up the Kickoff Show. Otunga noted that Rollins had a warmup match on Raw with Erick Rowan. “Who does that?” Otunga asked.
-A camera showed Paul Heyman sticking his head inside Brock Lesnar’s dressing room. Heyman spotted the cameraman and told him to move along.
Join me for my live review of WWE Crown Jewel in a separate article that is accessible via the main page.