02nd Nov2018

‘WWE Crown Jewel’ PPV Review

by Phil Wheat

crown-jewel-header

So WWE’s latest pay per view Crown Jewel, mired in controversy and not just because of the political events that took place last month… A PPV put on in a country that many other countries have severed ties with, yet Vince McMahon and his big fat greedy pockets put money first and everything else – including the feelings of the WWE talent – last. Dead last.

Match #1: United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura def. Rusev

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

In a rare title defense for Nakamura since claiming the U.S. Championship at WWE Extreme Rules, The King of Strong Style nearly saw his star-spangled prize slip away when he fell victim to the excruciating Accolade. However, as Rusev momentarily released the hold to drag The Artist to the middle of the ring and seal a submission victory, Nakamura literally used his head to deliver a low blow to the challenger, leaving him vulnerable to the Kinshasa and the pinfall. Although it remains to be seen whether this was incidental contact or an intentional underhanded tactic, history has proven that Nakamura tends to aim low to score victories. Regardless, Nak-America remains strong, and The Artist will carry his title to SmackDown LIVE. Whether he chooses to defend it anytime soon is another question entirely.

My Take: A championship match on a pre-show? You know that the belt wasn’t going to change hands. However that didn’t stop Rusev and Nakamura from putting on a great show – and one that put a LOT of other matches on the main card to shame. Turns out Rusev is actually a great fit for Nakamura’s style – both menfight hard and look strong. More of these two feuding please WWE.

Match #2: Rey Mysterio def. Randy Orton (WWE World Cup First-Round Match)

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Orton, who came into the tournament expecting a waltz to the finals, the trophy and the title of “best in the world,” was in emphatic control of the entire match from the moment he executed a pitch-perfect standing dropkick to knock Mysterio out of the sky. Mysterio tried to fight back, but The Apex Predator took the wind out of his sails at every turn and didn’t skimp on the mockery, laying hands on Mysterio’s prized mask in an act of disrespect to his opponent’s lucha libre culture. After Orton countered Mysterio’s attempted 619 into a hanging DDT, the RKO seemed all but assured. On this night, however, Orton ultimately suffered defeat the same way he typically earns a victory: Out of nowhere. Mysterio reversed Orton’s attempt at his fearsome finishing maneuver into a roll-up pin that earned him the three, though the victory came with an immediate, emphatic cost. An incensed Orton struck with a bitter RKO and battered Mysterio on the outside, concluding his assault with a slam on top of the announce table before stalking back up the ramp.

My Take: Another dull Randy Orton match, where Randy Orton does what Randy Orton does, i.e. just goes through his highlight reel. Only this is 2018 and his shtick is so 2009. Even the post-match attack on Mysterio was cliched.

Match #3: The Miz def. Jeff Hardy (WWE World Cup First-Round Match)

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Being an A-Lister has its perks, but The Miz wants to know what comes with being known as best in the world. Apparently, he’s willing to do anything to find out, as he showed in his win over Jeff Hardy in the first round of the WWE World Cup tournament. The Charismatic Enigma continued to show the ruthless side that has awakened inside him after his brutal Hell in a Cell Match against Randy Orton, ramming Miz’s face repeatedly into the turnbuckles. However, Hardy’s high-risk offense gave The Awesome One an opening to take control of the bout and ground the high-flyer.

Hardy once again took to the skies, however, as he stunned Miz with Whisper in the Wind, then used the ringside barricade to propel himself onto a dazed A-Lister at ringside. Back in the ring, The Miz showed just how low he would go to advance, rolling Hardy up and attempting to put his feet on the ropes for leverage during the pin, but the official caught Miz in the act and stopped the count. Hardy attempted to take advantage of the situation and put The Awesome One away, but The Miz swiftly countered and planted The Charismatic Enigma into the mat with the Skull-Crushing Finale to secure his place in the WWE World Cup Semifinal.

My Take: A solid match between two guys who know how to put on an impressive match. Both men got the advantage, toing and froing throughout, with huge spots from both wrestlers – though Hardy’s Whisper in the Wind off the top rope looked a little short. A much better first round match than the one that proceeded it!

Match #4: Seth Rollins def. Bobby Lashley (WWE World Cup First-Round Match)

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Looking to clear his head and begin anew following the collapse of The Shield and the betrayal of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins took one step closer to being named the best in the world by toppling Bobby Lashley in a WWE World Cup First-Round Match. With hype man Lio Rush cheering him on, Lashley showed awe-inspiring aggression, rocking The Architect with a brutal slam in the early going. Rollins struggled to regain his bearings for minutes afterward, allowing Lashley to continue his powerful onslaught. Even when The Kingslayer scored some offense, landing back-to-back suicide dives against The Rocky Mountain-Made Machine, he still showed the effects. Lashley tried repeatedly to put Rollins away, but the reigning Intercontinental and Raw Tag Team Champion had resiliency on his side, as well as a distinct speed advantage. The latter attribute came into play when Rollins leapfrogged over a charging Lashley and suddenly walloped him with the Stomp to claim the pinfall victory and advance to the Semifinals.

My Take: A quick match but one that saw Lio Rush keep his gob shut for once. That meant the audience could focus more on the in-ring action, which wasn’t amazing but satisfying enough to sell thr struggle Rollins had against the powerhouse of Bobby Lashley.

Match #5: Dolph Ziggler def. Kurt Angle (WWE World Cup First-Round Match)

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

An Olympic Gold Medalist, Grand Slam Champion and WWE Hall of Famer, Angle went into the tournament determined to show his critics that he hasn’t lost any luster with age, and to his credit, The Olympic Hero proved that he could still hang with one of the most athletic Superstars in recent history. After hitting Ziggler with multiple German Suplexes and an Angle Slam, the red-white-and-blue veteran soon applied the Ankle Lock, nearly making the six-time Intercontinental Champion submit. Hobbled by the iconic submission hold, Ziggler nevertheless dodged a charge from Angle, sending the veteran into the ring post. Dazed, Angle was then susceptible to a picture-perfect Zig Zag and a pinfall.

My Take: A surprising win for Dolph Ziggler, seemingly making Angle’s appearance, and return to action, in this tournament something of a throwaway. Methinks Angle wa used as a marquee name here, in muvh the same way as DX, Taker and Hulk Hogan – the fans of WWE in Saudi Arabi seem to love their old-school champs!

Match #6: SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bar def. The New Day

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Big E and Sheamus started off the contest, and the two powerhouses pummeled each other in the bout’s early moments. The Bar soon took control by overpowering Kofi Kingston and isolating him in their half of the ring, while Big Show taunted him from ringside, encouraging The Dreadlocked Dynamo to give up. Despite Sheamus & Cesaro’s devastating offense, Kingston would not give in, fighting back to his feet and battling back to his corner to tag in Big E. After hurling Cesaro around the ring with ease, Big E charged at Sheamus for a spear through the ropes. Though he ran right into The Celtic Warrior’s knee, he and Kingston persevered and soon looked to have the champions on the ropes. However, Big Show proved to be the difference maker, as he took advantage of poor positioning by the official to wallop Big E with a Knockout Punch, leading him right into a Brogue Kick that ensured The Bar remained SmackDown Tag Team Champions.

My Take: So The New Day enter travel to the ring on a magic carpet a la Aladdin…. Hmm. An innocent homage to the fables of Arabia, or a politically incorrect slap in the face to the host country? Either way this was another great match between these two teams, though once again Big Show became the difference maker – yes, his addition is welcome as it changes up the dynamic of these constant rematches. Isn’t about time Raw got a few more tag teams to add some competition for these two teams? Still The New Day and The Bar still put on a good show. Big E took a huge punch from Big Show, here’s hoping the two “big” men get to have a one-on-one feud in the [near] future.

Match #7: The Miz def. Rey Mysterio (WWE World Cup Semifinal Match)

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Mysterio entered the Semifinals battered and bruised following The Viper’s attack after their First-Round showdown. The legendary luchador fought valiantly despite the headwinds, but his weakened condition was obvious to everyone, including Miz, who ruthlessly targeted Mysterio’s ribcage in the hope of exacerbating his injuries. Showing the fighting spirit that made him The Ultimate Underdog in the first place, Mysterio mounted a thrilling comeback, even coming back from a Skull-Crushing Finale to nail The Miz with the 619. When Mysterio took flight with a top-rope Frog Splash seconds later, however, The Awesome One got his knees up, causing a painful landing for the masked Superstar. Miz then immediately cradled the reeling Mysterio for the three-count, dealing The King of Mystery his first loss since returning to WWE.

My Take: Ridiculously predictable… That’s one way to describe this match. Given Orton’s post-match attack on Mysterio it was obvious that his “injuries” would cost Rey the match, allowing The Miz to beat a man he couldn’t beat for real on his best day. Though to be fair to both men, they put on one hell of a match, with The Miz giving more to this match than the previous. Interestingly I expected Rey Mysterio to win and lose in the final, so he could be “fired” from Smackdown and move over to Raw. Seems not to be he case. No way Miz is wiining the final though… Bye Miz!

Match #8: Dolph Ziggler def. Intercontinental & Raw Tag Team Champion Seth Rollins (WWE World Cup Semifinals)

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Seth Rollins took the Intercontinental Championship from Dolph Ziggler. He took the Raw Tag Team Championship. And, in many ways, he even took the workhorse-appreciation adulation of the WWE Universe from Dolph Ziggler. But he won’t get to call himself best in the world because Seth Rollins’ biggest “problem” followed him to WWE Crown Jewel and cut his evening short. True, The Showoff is the one who technically punched — or kicked, rather — his ticket to the finals of the WWE World Cup, but Drew McIntyre once again proved to be the deciding factor after spending most of the match simply providing cover for his associate. Ziggler relied heavily on his amateur wrestling background to keep Rollins from taking off; Ziggler, who was still nursing a mangled ankle courtesy of first-round opponent Kurt Angle, occasionally benefitted from McIntyre rearing his head, getting in Rollins’ face and giving Ziggler time to rally.

As Rollins began to gain momentum down the stretch, however, he made a point to target the Scotsman where he could — even taking him out with a suicide dive through the ropes. Rollins strategy perhaps motivated McIntyre to get involved in a more concrete sense; after trading big moves and near-falls with The Showoff, Rollins had Ziggler right where he wanted him after shoving The Showoff off the top rope and seemingly aggravating his ankle. But when the ref went to check on Ziggler, McIntyre shoved Rollins from behind, sending the Intercontinental Champion tumbling straight into a superkick that ended the match and sent Ziggler to the final round.

My Take: What the hell did you expect from two men who have been holding down Raw every Monday night? Another superb match between Ziggler and Rollins and one that (as usual) had interference from Drew McIntyre – which means Rollins still looked strong despite eating the pin. But to get to that pin the two really out on a fantastic match – Rollins is a machine… God help Raw if anything happens to him. He is THE cornerstone of wrestling on that show.

Match #9: WWE Champion AJ Styles def. Samoa Joe

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

This past Tuesday, AJ Styles defended the WWE Championship against Daniel Bryan in a respectful, competitive bout predicated entirely on skill and desire. His match against Samoa Joe, who ambushed The Phenomenal One and finagled himself a title bout as a result, had a markedly different tone, but the final note remained the same. In short, Styles retained the WWE Title to bring his reign to the cusp of the elusive 365-day mark and survived a match that couldn’t have been more different in tone and pace from Styles’ gritty, respectful grapple with Bryan. Joe was out to hurt the champion, and hurt him fast, so The Phenomenal One found himself quickly transformed into a human punching bag by the Superstar who tormented him and his family throughout the summer. Ironically, however, for all that was different between Joe and Bryan, Styles disposed of them the same way. While Joe attempted to brutalize AJ past the point of no return, The Phenomenal One focused solely on The Samoan Submission Machine’s leg in the hopes of creating an opening that could be exploited later. His opportunity came when Joe locked in his excruciating Coquina Clutch, which Styles broke by cranking on Joe’s tenderized leg. The champion followed up with a quick offensive burst, executed a Phenomenal Forearm and that was that. Or, as Samoa Joe might put it himself: Night-night.

My Take: Another great match – but what did you expect from two guys with so much experience with each other? Not many near falls, which would have added some extra excitement but otherwise a fine show from the two former TNA stars ;) Can we see more from these two WITHOUT the ridiculous storyline in future? I doubt it as the WWE seem to have an issue with just making Samoa Joe a human wrecking ball, who takes on who he wants hen he wants, which is how he should be booked; not as some crazed stalker.

Match #10: Brock Lesnar def. Braun Strowman to win the vacant Universal Championship

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Paul Heyman warned the WWE Universe that he was spoiling the Universal Championship Match at WWE Crown Jewel when he declared Brock Lesnar would once again be the champion. Heyman was right. In a shocking turn of events, The Beast put Braun Strowman down with five F-5s to begin his second Universal Championship reign. However, the match was not without controversy. Before the bell, Acting Raw General Manager Baron Corbin smashed The Monster Among Men with the title that had been made vacant weeks earlier after Roman Reigns needed to relinquish it due to illness. This allowed Lesnar to hit his first F-5. Strowman kicked out of that one, sending The Beast into a rage. Lesnar would deliver three more F-5s to his titanic opponent, one of which sent Strowman crashing to the arena floor. Strowman kicked out of all of those, as well. It was a fifth F-5, however, that proved to be Strowman’s undoing, as The Beast put him down for the three count to once again claim the Universal Championship as his own.

My Take: Well that was a huge mistake. Putting the belt back on Lesnar? Will the WWE ever learn? Er… nope. Vince has some sort of fetish for Lesnar (or is in LITERAL love with him), even though Lesnar is clearly only in this for the part-time schedule and the huge stash of full-time money. Thankfully the Corbin attack on Strowman with the belt meant Braun didn’t get buried as much as Lesnar would have liked him to (that many F5′s was a bloody insult IMHO). F*ck Lesnar and f*ck this match!

Match #11: Shane McMahon def. Dolph Ziggler (WWE World Cup Finals)

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

In a bizarre and controversial turn of events, McMahon took the place of an injured Miz and pinned Raw’s Dolph Ziggler to win the WWE World Cup Finals and earn the distinction of being the best in the world. The fireworks began before the opening bell. First, SmackDown referee Ryan Tran ejected Drew McIntyre from ringside to prevent the Scottish Superstar from interfering on Ziggler’s behalf. As The Showoff protested the decision, The Miz attacked him from behind. The tactic backfired, though, as The A-Lister injured his leg when the fight went to the floor. Despite Miz’s pleas, the referee informed McMahon and Acting Raw General Manager Baron Corbin that The Awesome Superstar could not compete and that he was awarding the match to Ziggler by forfeit. Hell-bent on making sure that Raw didn’t claim a win in the battle for brand supremacy, McMahon stepped in to take Miz’s place, and the bell finally rang, making the new matchup official.

Shane-O-Mac opened with a flurry of punches, overwhelming the battle-wearied Showoff. An outraged Corbin interfered almost immediately, earning himself an ejection from ringside, too (which prompted Michael Cole to suggest Tran was acting biased). Ziggler stunned McMahon with a Zig Zag from behind, but the SmackDown Commissioner not only kicked out, but returned fire, nailing Ziggler with a DDT before leaping across the ring with a beautiful coast-to-coast dropkick to claim the shocking victory.

My Take: Yes, you read that result right. WTF was that all about? A ridiculous, stupid, creatively unhinged decision taken to an illogical extreme. Shane’s back so he has to insert himself into the action… Where have we seen that before? Oh yeah, whenever Shane is back to a regular WWE schedule, thats when! A stupid stunt to help sell Survivor Series no doubt. Just made a mockery of the entire tournament – even if said tournament wasn’t actually worth a damn (see also the NXT Dusty Rhodes tag Team Classic, the Andre the Giant Battle Royale, and the womens division equivalent – which doesn’t have a catchy name due to MORE controversy).

Match #12: D-Generation X def. The Brothers of Destruction

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

The Undertaker & Kane went into WWE Crown Jewel making a familiar promise, with one key difference: That D-Generation X, who were reuniting to face The Brothers of Destruction, would suffer a loss so demoralizing that they would never rest in peace. As ever with DX, though, the joke was on their opponents. Triple H & Shawn Michaels ultimately defeated The Brothers of Destruction in the WWE Crown Jewel main event, completing a comeback scenario for HBK that had been the stuff of fantasy and “what-if” ever since The Deadman retired him in 2010. At the risk of veering into cliché, he’s still got it. The kip-up, the elbow drop and especially the Sweet Chin Music, which paid dividends down the stretch after the bout had long since ceased to be a “match” and sharply veered into the realm of a brawl. In that regard, The Brothers of Destruction were far more at home. While DX’s speed allowed them to control the action within the squared circle, Kane & Undertaker didn’t hesitate to exploit their surroundings outside the ring to devastating effect. At one point, Triple H was driven through the announce table with a Chokeslam, which kept him out of action for an extended period and even required the ringside physician to ensure he was still fit to compete.

Michaels, luckily, more than held his own in isolation. On occasion, he got a little too pleased with how well his skills had kept — in fairness, anybody would — and allowed his opponents to get back in the fight. And, occasionally, he got a little too high-risk for his own good, like a moonsault to the outside that took out Undertaker and Kane but also opened a gash above the WWE Hall of Famer’s eye. Yet he was clutch in every sense of the word, no more so than when The Brothers of Destruction reared up from the mat for a last gasp and set up their battle-weary opponents for stereo Tombstone Piledrivers. HBK foiled that plan when he raked the eyes of Kane — the legal man — to free Triple H. Facing one last obstacle, Michaels blasted Undertaker with Sweet Chin Music to cut him off from his brother. The Showstopper administered a second superkick to Kane, Triple H followed up with the Pedigree, and that was all she wrote.

My Take: Old men wrestle. Old men get gassed. Wrestling turns into fighting. Someone has a rest. Everyone gets to do their special move and please the audience in attendance, feeling special in the process. The guy who ISN’T The Undertaker eats the pin. I’m guessing the WWE don’t like Kane’s politics? Sidenote: How hairy is Shawn Michaels’ chest? More or his chest than his head! Yes, that question was a sign of how interesting this match was! Zzzzzzzzzzzz…

News of the Night:

  1. Hulk Hogan opened the PPV, despite the issues talent have with him backstage (cough, racist, cough). Amazing what money will do, eh Vince?
  2. Every wrestler was announced with a list of the championships – very much a case of “look at all these winners taking part” rather than actually celebrating their successes.
  3. AJ Styles (Smackdown) to take on Brock Lesnar (Raw) at Survivor Series.
  4. Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins (Raw) to face US Champion Shinsuke Nakamura (Smackdown) at Survivor Series.

Final Verdict: 1.5/5

Crown Jewel ended up feeling like the network pay per view it actually was. This was no “Big Four”, no big deal even, hell it wasn’t even on par with Evolution and the WWE buried that womens show to promote this crap. The entire PPV felt like a company going through the motions, with a main event that was hyped more than it deserved – it was four old guys wrestling, not the second coming. As for THAT World Cup final… Well fans get what they deserve for putting faith in any of these special “tournaments”.

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