Wrestling Review: WWE Crown Jewel (2021)

The city of Riyadh, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia once again plays host to WWE Crown Jewel, where four championships will be decided, two tournaments crown royalty, a hometown hero returns to face his former mentor, a father defends his family, and a rivalry ends inside Hell in a Cell. The Universal Champion, Roman Reigns will renew his rivalry with Brock Lesnar, as Paul Heyman tries to prove his faith to the Tribal Chief against his former client, and Big E will defend the WWE Championship against former two-time champion Drew McIntyre in the champion’s first title defence. Becky Lynch will face two opponents at the same time as she battles Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair in a triple threat for Lynch’s SmackDown Women’s Championship, and the team of RK-Bro (Randy Orton and Riddle) will face AJ Styles and Omos once again with the Raw Tag Team titles on the line. Also, after Bobby Lashley put his hands on Goldberg’s son at SummerSlam, Goldberg has promised to beat Lashley within an inch of his life, and leave his body in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Xavier Woods and Finn Balor will do battle in the finals of the 22nd King of the Ring tournament, and Zelina Vega and Doudrop will go one on one to determine the first ever winner of the Queen’s Crown, and Saudi Arabia’s own Mansoor will face his former friend and mentor, Mustafa Ali. Finally, kicking off the show, Seth Rollins and Edge conclude their trilogy with the rubber match, which will take place inside the ominous Hell in a Cell structure.

+ Roman Reigns (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) vs Brock Lesnar (Universal Championship): this has been the best thing in WWE in years, and babyface Brock is fantastic. This match was essentially more of what these two have done before, albeit with the roles reversed, and that really did make it feel fresh and unique. The timing and placement of everybody was absolutely perfect, so that the crowd were on the edge of their seats (and I had no idea what to expect)
+ Becky Lynch (c) vs Sasha Banks vs Bianca Belair (SmackDown Women’s Championship): goodness me Bianca is so damn strong. I cannot understand the appeal of Sasha, and I’d prefer her as the bad guy she is so much better at playing, and Bianca is good but starting to wear a bit thin for me. Meanwhile, is the total package and I love everything about her to the point she doesn’t even need to lean too hard into being the bad guy because people will cheer her no matter what. This was a bit sloppy at times, and I think Becky landed on her head a few more times than I’d have liked, but overall it was still very exciting
+ Big E (c) vs Drew McIntyre (WWE Championship): say it with me: big meaty men bumping meat. This was almost like a New Japan style match, and I loved it. Drew has been a long time favourite of mine no matter where he’s been wrestling, and Big E has grinded out the resume to not just deserve this WWE title, but more than earn it. This match, almost exactly as it was, could have headlined any top PPV and it wouldn’t have been out of place
+ Bobby Lashley vs Goldberg (No Holds Barred): the buildup to this match has been some of the most garbage shit I have seen in wrestling for a long time, because the story they want us to believe has been the exact opposite of what has *actually* happened. This was not a technical masterpiece (lmao can you imagine) but there were some big weapon spots and the crowd loved it; and best of all, it wasn’t very long. This was fine
+ Mansoor vs Mustafa Ali: these two worked their asses off in front of a really excited crowd. Mustafa Ali has long been an ‘if you know, you know’ kind of wrestler who never really got a chance to shine outside of his brief pre-Retribution reveal (and look how that went…). Mansoor meanwhile is by no means great or horrible, but he has improved so much since his first WWE appearance that this was never a one-sided match. And what a treat it is to see a hometown wrestler so beloved by the crowd, even despite these somewhat wonky circumstances
+ Edge vs Seth Rollins (Hell in a Cell): this was really good. This Seth Rollins trilogy is the best thing Edge has done since his return; this Edge trilogy is the best thing Seth Rollins has done in a very long time; and this was a more than fitting end to this story. I am genuinely quite surprised how much I enjoyed this match

Finn Balor vs Xavier Woods (King of the Ring Final): this was a very safe match, but it was done exceptionally well. Finn Balor needs to be back at the top of these big cards sooner rather than later, because he is too damn good to be another bit player. Woods has always been an underrated wrestler as a tag team guy, and I will admit he looked a step behind Balor in this match, but he did nothing wrong. This was a perfectly fine match, but didn’t feel like the big final match of a tournament as it was
Zelina Vegs vs Doudrop (Queen’s Crown Final): is it just me, or is Doudrop’s theme an absolute banger? That bit near the beginning that goes ‘oh-OOH-ooh’ has been in my head for days. Doudrop is really good, and I look forward to getting more of her in the coming years now that she is hopefully split from the charisma vacuum that is Eva Marie. Vega also looked better than usual, though considering the sub-2 minute time she’s been given lately that might not be surprising. This wasn’t a good match, but it was still better than I was expecting it to be
RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle) (c) vs AJ Styles & Omos (WWE Raw Tag Team Championships): Riddle and Orton had a fun entrance, have good chemistry, and are solid champions. I’m happy to make the claim that AJ Styles is one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, across any company he is in. But I don’t really know what to think about this Omos fellow. He’s big, but when he was standing across from Orton he didn’t look that much bigger, and he certainly can’t wrestle, talk on the mic, or make the facial expressions that all of the others can. WWE really could have used someone like Big Show or Braun Strowman to teach this guy a thing or two about being a giant in WWE (much like Big SHow did with Braun Strowman, when Strowman was still the lumbering bodybuilder). The match was fine, but I’m losing steam in Omos
– an overall negative regarding both of the tournaments as a whole is that the tournaments were announced like three weeks ago, and finished here with a total of eight midcard guys and no top women in the respective tournaments. It’s hard to pretend these are the old school King of the Ring events when the WWE shines no spotlight on any of them

> all throughout this show, the crowd was so invested in everything that happened that it made everything seem so much bigger and more important
> I’ve noticed that that WWE has been referencing the referees by name lately, and I wonder if that is in response to AEW having referees as more prominent ‘characters’ (read: real people, not just geeks in stripes)

Should you watch this event: I never thought I’d say this, but this was a really good show. Even the negatives above were overall not show-ruiners like often they can be, and the crowd made every single match come across as really important. This was a fun show to watch.

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