So Crown Jewel just finished and I am left with two emotions, anger and bewilderment.
What started off as a routine PPV descended into bad booking and a main event so chaotic it made Super Show Down seem tame in comparison. WWE tried to pull off an acceptable show in a controversial country that has left many people boycotting the event and cancelling their subscriptions. This looked like it took effect halfway through the show as the booking team seemed to get drunk and pull match finishes out of a hat. Anyway beginning rant out of the way, let’s try and break down this mess of a show.
The Good (Yes there was some good in here)
One Female Voice
On the surface the announcement that Renee Young was joining the commentary team for Crown Jewel doesn’t mean all that much. She works for the RAW commentary team so it would make sense she was there. Its only when you remember where the event is taking place that it means a bit more. Renee Young was the only female WWE worker allowed on the show and that is significant. It’s a small step for progression but it’s not that impressive. There’s still a whole roster that can’t perform on the show but I suppose it’s one step at a time. Let’s celebrate the small victories here. A female technically got to perform on the show, even if she wasn’t in wrestling attire.
First Round Fun
The first round of the WWE World Cup was a lot of fun. There were four relatively short but energetic matches that mostly had definitive finishes and showcased all the talent involved. Both RAW and Smackdown matches were fun little experiences and provided some snappy entertainment to kick off proceedings. None of these were anything special but compared to the latter stages of the tournament might as well have been match of the year contenders. Again it’s a weak positive but with this show it’s the best you’re going to get.
Tag Teams Kill It
The New Day and The Bar came to work and came to steal the show even if they weren’t going to reach the biggest audience. They had the match of the night and offered the Saudi audience a fast paced and well told tag match. The heel team basically beat down Kofi, preventing him from tagging and trying to grind him down for a three count. The Big Show was in the Bar’s corner and would often get involved hurling psychological abuse at Kofi and eventually getting involved in the finish by throwing a close range WMD punch. It wasn’t their best match by any stretch but it was fun to watch and again it was a shining example of a quality match on this show.
Same Story, Good Match
AJ and Joe was everything you expected it to be. A personal slug fest that focused on limb targeting and stiff offense. It followed a similar story to their last match just without the no DQ stipulation. AJ went to work on Joe’s knee and kept going on the attack until Joe was worn down. There was plenty of back and forth and some pretty awesome counters. Again it was an excellent match against a mediocre card and did it’s job to raise the prestige of the WWE Title. By the end of the show it clearly meant more than the Universal Title.
The Show Happened
So yes this is a very broad statement but it needs addressing. Saudi Arabia has become even more of a political hot potato since May when the Greatest Royal Rumble took place. Even back then people were taking umbrage with WWE getting into bed with Saudi Arabia. Now the country is even more controversial given the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the suspicious circumstances and events surrounding his death. Throw into the mix the fact that no women can take part in the event, just after Evolution and it was even more questionable. The world’s eyes were looking at WWE to see whether they would fulfil the show or move it elsewhere. WWE took the chance and potential PR hit to deliver Crown Jewel. A move that shouldn’t be applauded but sighed at. This is basically a question of how much money did this show make the WWE. It must have been a lot to make it worth the fallout and cancellations that happened because of it. Not to mention it’s all just a bit dirty really. The country is in hot water with the rest of the world and you’re there putting on a wrestling show. It’s not a good look for the WWE.
Nakamura & Rusev are Short Changed
Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev probably had one of the most enjoyable matches on the card. The kicker is it took place on the preshow. This was another time where a title match took place on the preshow when it could have easily been on the main card. After all the talk of expanding PPV times to accommodate more matches, it’s a tad ridiculous that we are still seeing title matches on the pre show. The US Title match was a fun 10 minute sprint that had the greatest hits of both men and saw Nakamura win with a creative low blow and a Kinshasa. It was a nice warm up and could easily have slotted in between World Cup matches. Once again it seems WWE sacrifice good matches to the preshow in hopes that people will tune into them.
When in doubt, copy TV
The semi-finals of the WWE World cup were a repeat of RAW and Smackdown matches seen in recent weeks. There was Miz vs Mysterio and Dolph vs Seth. Both of these were great matches to watch but came off as lazy choices given you could have seen both matches already had you tuned in to WWE TV. It made what already seemed like a pointless tournament appear like even more of a pointless tournament as neither of the semis provided unique experiences for the at home audience. I can understand it being new to the live audience as they may not watch RAW and Smackdown but still, it’s not a good idea to short change the people who bothered to tune into the network and watch.
Your New Universal Champion
Hey Braun Strowman, you might be over as hell but it seems WWE only want audiences to see the belt every few months again. Brock Lesnar took the Universal Title in the most boring fashion possible. Strowman was hit by the belt before the bell, hit with 5 F5’s and pinned without much fuss. He was made to look a monster for all of two seconds then decimated by Brock because WWE hates you all. Whilst we all knew Brock being champ again was a distinct possibility, there was always the chance that WWE would make the smart choice and carry on Roman’s work reminding audiences that the Universal Title does exist. All this match did was make Baron look like a petty GM, showed Brock still doesn’t care about putting on a proper wrestling match and proved WWE have no idea what they want to do with the Universal Title. Had Brock had an actual wrestling match and not just thrown a few F5’s then I may have been more hopeful. Unless WWE do something big with Brock or Braun now it may be a long time before anyone cares about the Universal Title again for a while.
World Cup Waste
Whilst the semi-finals were tried and tested matches, the final was going to give the audience a new chapter in an old feud. Miz vs Dolph electrified the old IC Title scene and showcased the two as main event players again. However this potentially exciting new match between old rivals with a newly heel Dolph was scrapped to give Shane McMahon the big shiny trophy. I am not kidding. Miz was injured within the first two minutes of the match and as such was forced to forfeit so Shane took his place. Then we got a whole five-minute match that saw Shane kick out of a Zig Zag and then obliterate Dolph with a slingshot to the corner (that looked like Dolph went face first into the actual steel) and a Coast to Coast. This was an awful excuse of a final that made me think the creative team had given up. WWE seemed to think that giving us a shock twist match was better than letting Miz and Dolph fight.
It was a sad joke and another total waste of time. The whole thing seems like a sad joke as it was never a “world cup” and the big kicker was a McMahon was a best in the world. Were WWE just trying to make the internet cry so we’d forget the show was still happening?
A Giant Waste of Time
So we’ve had boring matches, bad matches and controversy galore, what else could possibly be wrong with this PPV? Well the answer is that this PPV was borderline worthless. The Universal title match was the only title to change hands and given the match quality we got, it may as well have taken place on an episode of RAW as an awful main event. There were no meaningful matches, the tournament was a bust and the best matches could easily have been on an episode of RAW or Smackdown. That means that none of the controversy, the PR mess ups or the cancelling of subscriptions was even worth it. The stain the show may have left on WWE’s reputation is not worth the event they put on. It felt like a half arsed house show and nothing more. The booking was awful and any changes that did happen were not good. One of the best matches was on the pre show meaning half the audience won’t have seen it. This will not be one of the events that will be remembered fondly.
That Main Event
So DX vs The Brothers of Destruction sure was something. It wasn’t wholly good nor was it wholly bad, it was just a mash up of older wrestlers beating each other up and trying to put on a solid match. It was an admirable attempt but often came off as frantic and funny rather than intense. There was a terrifying moment where Shawn Michaels tried to do a Moonsault and basically face planted when he wasn’t caught properly. Watching this match was almost like watching a drunken brawl at times as it would seem uncoordinated and messy. There were some segments where moves looked rough but that was to be expected given the age of those involved. This match did it’s job and entertained the fans. It certainly received the biggest amount of crowd reaction and certainly wasn’t boring to watch. It wasn’t exactly a good match but it was better than some of the matches this show had to offer.
One of the biggest problems with The Greatest Royal Rumble was the general disinterest from a large portion of the crowd as the show went on. This was still present at Crown Jewel but it wasn’t as noticeable and the crowd was definitely a lot more vocal. This made the show feel a bit more normal despite it’s anything but normal circumstances. Unfortunately there were still plenty of cuts to the crowd where they either had no idea how to react or were clearly doing something else. A lot of the time the audience could be seen staring at their phones rather than the match. There were people in the front row that clearly couldn’t care less. This doesn’t exactly sell your PPV nor does it make your matches look exciting.
I would have made this a bad but Hogan was barely involved in the show so it baffles me that he was such a big deal. He appeared at the start of the show, said a few words and pulled a couple of poses. He was so purposely inoffensive and his cameo so pointless that it once again made me question why it was worth risking the controversy. WWE had nothing to lose in bringing here and it does provide a place for Hogan to return without really stinking up the place with his presence but again it just seemed so unnecessary. This was just another weird moment that needs documenting as it was kind of groan worthy and kind of pointless in the end. Not to mention he seemed to get the most pyro out of the whole show which just seems really unfair given the other performers on the show.
So as you can see, this pay per view was not worth the controversy it caused. It was a pretty bland and pointless show where the wrestlers tried to do the best they could but were marred by bad booking and boring matches. This was a chore to watch and at some points out right frustrating. It looks like the Universal Title scene is going to be way more restricted once again, the World Cup was even more pointless than first thought and repetitive matches reign supreme. This was a colossal waste of time and I just hope everyone that took part gets paid properly for their time. Now let’s all do the right thing and forget this PPV ever existed. It need never be mentioned again.
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