Crown Jewel 2023: Getting Ready To Get Ready
Crown Jewel 2023
Date: November 4, 2023
Location: Mohammed Abdu Arena, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
WWE is back in Saudi Arabia for another pretty strong looking show. The main event will see LA Knight challenging Roman Reigns for the Smackdown World Title in a match that could see quite the set of fireworks. Other than that, Seth Rollins is defending the Raw World Title against Drew McIntyre and a good bit more. Let’s get to it.
Kickoff Show: Sami Zayn vs. JD McDonagh
They start slowly and fight over arm control, with the fans rather behind Zayn. An armdrag into an armbar has McDonagh in trouble and Zayn sends him into the corner a few times. McDonagh gets in a shot of his own to take over for a bit, only to have Zayn chop away in the corner.
Some choking has Zayn down again and a Spanish Fly gets two. McDonagh’s moonsault hits raised boots though and Zayn suplexes him into the corner (as there is a nasty bruise on McDonagh’s side). The Helluva Kick into the Blue Thunder Bomb finishes McDonagh off at 9:45.
Rating: C. This could have been on any given Raw and it would have been about the same. Zayn winning is going to get the fans off on the right foot and that should make for a good start to the show. If nothing else it was a bit of a twist to have it be the Kick into the Blue Thunder Bomb so they even shook it up a little.
The opening video looks at Riyadh and some of the bigger matches on the show.
We recap Drew McIntyre vs. Seth Rollins for the Raw World Title. McIntyre is mad that he never got his big moment in front of the fans because of the pandemic but Rollins has told him to get over it. Now McIntyre wants his moment here instead.
Raw World Title: Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre
Rollins is defending. Feeling out process to start with the bigger McIntyre hitting some running shoulders. A snap suplex gives McIntyre one but Rollins knocks him to the floor for the dive….which is countered into a belly to belly onto the floor. Back in and Rollins’ bad back is whipped hard into the corner as McIntyre has a target. They chop it out until McIntyre kicks him down for two.
Rollins manages some kicks of his own, including an enziguri to stagger McIntyre. A knee to the face sets up a springboard Swanton and a Lionsault for two on McIntyre as Rollins mixes it up a bit. The Falcon Arrow gives Rollins two more, followed by the superplex but McIntyre grabs a brainbuster for two of his own. The Futureshock gives McIntyre two more and frustration is setting in.
Rollins plays a bit of possum and clotheslines McIntyre to the floor, setting up the suicide dive. McIntyre is fine enough to send him back first into the steps though and a side slam on the apron makes Rollins’ back far worse. Back in and a desperation Pedigree gives Rollins two but McIntyre kicks him down again. The Claymore is loaded up but Rollins reverses into the Stomp for a rather near fall. Rollins misses the Phoenix splash though and the Claymore gets two more. McIntyre loads up something else but Rollins reverses into a Pedigree and the Stomp retains at 19:25.
Rating: B. Good opening match here and it felt like an important title match, though they never quite hit that higher gear. What mattered here was getting McIntyre cleared out, though it would not surprise me to see him getting a rematch, likely at Survivor Series. He lost here however, and it came after a strong showing from both guys.
Post match Rollins celebrates….and here is Damian Priest to cash in. Before he can do that though, Sami Zayn pops in and takes the briefcase, meaning no cash-in.
In the back, Rhea Ripley gives Drew McIntyre an “I told you so” look.
We recap the Raw Women’s Title match, which is a five way hoss battle for Rhea Ripley’s title.
Raw Women’s Title: Rhea Ripley vs. Nia Jax vs. Shayna Baszler vs. Zoey Stark vs. Raquel Rodriguez
Ripley is defending and gets a very long entrance, with about twenty men carrying cups and making a mini tunnel for her. Jax bails to the floor so the others can trade shots to the head inside. Rodriguez gets taken down on the floor and Ripley’s dive onto Jax is broken up. Back in and Rodriguez gets two clean house but Ripley and Jax are back in for a fight of their own.
Jax crushes Ripley for two as Stark makes the save, only to get Pounced by Rodriguez. Back up and Baszler gets a hold on everyone but Stark, who has to make the save. Stark goes up top but gets caught in a Tower of Doom, leaving everyone but Jax down. That doesn’t last long as Jax is knocked down too, leaving Ripley and Rodriguez to kick each other down for another breather.
Stark is up with a springboard dive onto everyone but Jax on the floor. Back up and Jax runs some people over until an impressive Tejana Bomb puts her down, leaving Ripley to make the save. Riptide hits Baszler so Stark makes the save this time. With that not working, Rodriguez goes after Baszler but Ripley Riptides Stark onto both of them and pins Baszler to retain at 11:05.
Rating: B-. It was the hoss fight but there is only so much you can do with that many people in there. Instead of letting us have a showdown between two, or even three, of them it turned into the usual “these people fight and then someone else breaks up a pin” sequence over and over. Ripley winning is the right call, though I could go or her defending the title against some of these people one on one.
Video on Saudi Arabia, with everyone talking about how absolutely amazing the place is.
We recap John Cena vs. Solo Sikoa. Cena hasn’t won a televised singles match in over five years and is starting to doubt himself. Now he needs to prove he still has it.
John Cena vs. Solo Sikoa
Cena goes after the arm and hand to start, with commentary pointing out that he’s weakening the Spike hand. The hand is sent into the steps but Sikoa headbutts him right back down. A Banzai Drop hits Cena but it’s way too early for the Samoan Spike. Sikoa crushes him in the corner but Cena is right back with a crossface (not the STF Cole). That’s broken up and Sikoa hits a belly to belly for two.
Cena grabs a quick Protobomb but the AA is countered into a Samoan drop. Sikoa takes a bit too much time though and Cena gets up top for a high crossbody and a near fall of his own. A chokeslam of all things gives Cena two but Sikoa is back with Spinning Solo for two. Cena counters the Spike into the STF, sending Sikoa over to the ropes. Back up and Sikoa hits three straight Samoan Spikes but for some reason Sikoa won’t cover. The fourth Spike finishes Cena at 16:15.
Rating: B-. I said in my preview for the match that there was an interesting story to be told with Cena losing but I didn’t think they would go through with it. Cena losing his confidence and thinking that his time is up could lead to quite the story if he is gearing up for retirement, but now there are a few different ways to go from here. This also makes Sikoa look huge and I’m curious to see where this goes. Good ending here, even if the match was only pretty good for the most part.
Post match Cena gets the big respect moment and walks up the ramp rather slowly.
Here’s the Miz for an unadvertised MizTV. Miz wastes no time in bringing out Saudi Arabian actor Ibrahim Al Hajjaj. They exchange pleasantries but before they can get very far, Grayson Waller interrupts. Waller has his people take over and turn it into the Grayson Waller Effect but Al Hajjaj says he can talk to both of them. For now though, he’s here to be on the hottest talk show in WWE: MizTV. Waller doesn’t like that so a fight is teased but Miz makes the save, including an assist from Al Hajjaj. We’re not done as Al Hajjaj adds in a People’s Elbow. Nothing wrong with a quick segment for the live crowd.
We recap Logan Paul challenging Rey Mysterio for the US Title, which isn’t much of a story. Paul challenged Mysterio for the title and Mysterio accepted, with Paul jumping him backstage after the match was made.
Earlier today, Paul drove a fast vehicle of some kind around the desert.
US Title: Logan Paul vs. Rey Mysterio
Paul is challenging and drives said vehicle into the arena. Rey can’t do much with the power game to start and then cranks on the arm. Back up and Rey takes him down with Paul bailing out to the floor. The headscissors sends Paul into 619 position but he sends Rey to the apron instead. A Death Valley Driver into the corner sets up a Lionsault for two on Rey and Paul hammers on the ribs in the corner.
The waistlock stays on the ribs so Rey gets creative by stomping on the foot. Paul grabs a gorilla press drop into a Warrior Splash for two. The bearhug into an over the shoulder backbreaker has Rey in more trouble but he armdrags Paul into the post. A high crossbody gives Rey two but Paul is back up with a slingshot Swanton for two. Rey shrugs if off and pulls him into a crossface, sending Paul crawling over to the ropes.
A springboard moonsault is loaded up but Paul has to catch Rey before he spikes his head on the mat. They go up, where Paul hits a flipping fall away slam for two in a heck of a crash. Rey tries a 619 but Paul pulls him out of the air and takes them up top. A super electric chair is countered into a superbomb, followed by a Code Red to give Rey two. Cue a member of Paul’s entourage to give Paul some brass knuckles but Rey breaks it up. Santos Escobar comes out to take care of the goon but Paul knocks Rey cold with the knuckles for the pin and the title at 17:53.
Rating: B. That’s exactly what it should have been and the ending fit perfectly. There was no reason to keep the title on Rey and Paul has needed to win something for a bit now. There will be a long list of people coming after Paul and he’ll bring some extra eyes to the title. As usual, the match was pretty strong and I’ll take that combined with the right result any day.
Post match Paul praises Rey, who says he knows what Paul did.
Bianca Belair says beating Bayley last night was phase one. Tonight it’s phase two, where she gets the Women’s Title back.
Smackdown Women’s Title: Bianca Belair vs. Iyo Sky
Sky is defending after cashing in Money In The Bank at Summerslam to take the title from Belair. Sky gets taken down to start and a delayed vertical suplex makes it worse. Some shots to the knee slow Belair down and a jumping stomp to the ribs gets two. Sky misses a top rope backsplash though and Belair sends her flying with a fall away slam.
Belair goes up but gets pulled down into the Tree of Woe to stay on the leg. The knee is fine enough to snap off a release German suplex. Belair wins a slugout but Sky rolls her up out of a Glam Slam attempt. Sky’s running hurricanrana is countered into a powerbomb faceplant before Belair uses the hair to pull her into the post.
Cue Bayley for a distraction though and Belair crashes off the top. Belair falls out to the floor and there’s a moonsault to knock her silly again. Back in and Belair gets in a knockdown of her own, only to miss a handspring moonsault. Belair fights up again and gets a rollup but Bayley distracts the referee. That earns Bayley a dive from Belair, leaving the referee to check on a downed Sky. Cue the returning Kairi Sane to jump Belair, allowing Sky to hit Over The Moonsault and retain at 16:36.
Rating: B-. This went a bit long though the Sane surprise at the end did help. Sky needed to get a more traditional win over Belair after the cash-in but this wasn’t clean either. The other problem is this just didn’t feel like a big match. Maybe it’s having Charlotte always looming over everything or Ripley being one of the biggest stars in WWE but this didn’t come off like a major title match. They got the result right though and that’s what matters most.
Post match the beatdown is on as Bayley seems rather confused by the whole thing.
We recap Cody Rhodes vs. Damian Priest, which is another part of the Raw Friends vs. Judgment Day. Their teams have traded the Tag Team Titles but now it’s a singles match.
Cody Rhodes vs. Damian Priest
Cody’s ankle is still a bit banged up following a recent attack. Priest jumps him before the bell but gets knocked outside rather quickly. Back in and Cody slugs away but he ankle gives out, allowing Priest to drop him. Cody fights back up and they go outside, where Priest is sent into the steps a few times.
A hard clothesline puts Cody down though and the Reckoning onto the announcers’ table drops him again. Back in and Cody counters another Reckoning into the Cross Rhodes but cue Finn Balor for a distraction. JD McDonagh comes out as well, allowing Priest to hit South Of Heaven for two.
Dominik Mysterio, with a chair, comes out but here is Jey Uso to clear things out. Cody hits a Flip Flop and Fly into the Bionic Elbow but the Cross Rhodes is broken up. A superkick knocks Priest out of the air though and the Cody Cutter gets two. Priest tries to fight up but gets Cross Rhodesed for the pin at 11:00.
Rating: B-. Pretty much the same thing again here, as we had a match that could have been a solid Raw main event and was good enough here. They seem to be heading towards building Cody up for Wrestlemania again and I can go with him beating Priest on the way there. If nothing else, it was kind of nice to just have a grudge match rather than something for a title for a change here as you don’t get that very often.
Some WWE people met some Saudi children. Nothing wrong with that.
We recap Roman Reigns vs. LA Knight. Reigns has been Universal Champion for over three years and is running out of challengers. Knight is on the roll of a lifetime though and is getting the biggest match of his career.
WWE Universal Title: LA Knight vs. Roman Reigns
Knight is challenging and starts fast with a neckbreaker. Reigns is knocked to the apron and an elbow to the chest sends him outside. There’s a clothesline to the floor but Reigns slugs away back inside and grabs a cravate to slow things down (as we get what sounds like a one person CM PUNK chant). Reigns knocks him into the corner but charges into a boot, setting up a middle rope bulldog for a double knockdown.
A Russian legsweep into a DDT gets two but Reigns is back with something close to a release Rock Bottom for the same. Back up and the Superman Punch is countered into the torture rack neckbreaker. The LA Elbow is cut off with a Superman Punch and they’re both down for a needed breather. Knight leapfrogs over the spear though and Reigns crashes hard into the buckle.
Reigns headbutts his way out of a superplex attempt but Knight jumps back up for the top rope superplex. Now the LA Elbow can connect but cue Jimmy Uso to pull Reigns outside. The distraction lets Reigns hit a Superman Punch and the spear gets two. We hit the front facelock but Knight fights up and drives him into the corner. BFT connects out of nowhere but Jimmy puts the foot on the rope.
Knight goes after Uso on the floor and sends him into the announcers’ table over and over. Reigns comes outside and gets sent into it as well, followed by Uso being sent through said table. Back up and Reigns spears Knight through the barricade, followed by another spear for the pin to retain at 20:04.
Rating: B. That’s a Roman Reigns title match all right and we’ll probably see him in January for the Rumble. I’m not sure what is next for him, but these title matches, while good, are getting repetitive. As for Knight, he did hang in there with Reigns but at the end of the day it’s interference and a spear to put him down. That doesn’t so much make him look special as much as it makes him look like everyone else who has fallen to Reigns and that’s not a good thing.
Overall Rating: B. This was a good show overall with nothing really bad, but there is nothing you need to go out of your way to see. The problem comes down to it being right before Survivor Series and then the Royal Rumble, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for this show to matter. This show was setting the table for the big stuff down the road and while it was good, Paul winning the US Title is pretty much the only significant moment. Check it out if you have the time, but it’s not required viewing.
Sami Zayn b. JD McDonagh – Blue Thunder Bomb
Seth Rollins b. Drew McIntyre – Stomp
Rhea Ripley b. Shayna Baszler, Zoey Stark, Raquel Rodriguez and Nia Jax – Riptide onto Baszler
Solo Sikoa b. John Cena – Samoan Spike
Logan Paul b. Rey Mysterio – Right hand with brass knuckles
Iyo Sky b. Bianca Belair – Over The Moonsault
Cody Rhodes b. Damian Priest – Cross Rhodes
Roman Reigns b. LA Knight – Spear
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