Welcome to the TJRWrestling WWE Crown Jewel preview. It’s a unique card with two matches featuring athletes from other sports making their WWE debuts.
Cain Velasquez has moved on from his UFC days to become a pro wrestler and he gets a WWE Title shot against Brock Lesnar just because Velasquez beat Lesnar in a UFC cage nine years ago. Also, undefeated pro boxer Tyson Fury faces off with Braun Strowman in a battle between two guys that are nearly seven feet tall. I don’t think either of these matches are going to appeal that much to the hardcore WWE fan that wants to see 20-minute classic wrestling matches. They are more for the spectacle being in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. They are attraction matches and not necessarily expected to be technical wrestling classics. I guess what I’m saying is we should probably lower our expectations. This will be one of WWE’s most profitable shows of the year along with the Super Showdown show from Saudi Arabia earlier this year, so to WWE, it’s very important even if the quality of the show is poor. Last year’s Crown Jewel was the worst PPV of 2018 and this year’s Super Showdown is the worst WWE PPV so far this year.
The phrase “glorified house show” has been mentioned for these WWE events in Saudi Arabia where the babyfaces usually get the wins to make the fans happy. I expect a lot of that on this show. I think my favorite thing about it is that I can watch it at 1pmET on a Thursday and it will probably run for four hours, but I’ll have my evening free after it’s over. It’s a lot better than these shows that end at 11pmET and writing about them live can be exhausting.
There are only three titles on the line on the show, so that hurts the card because fans typically like title changes. There was some bigger news earlier today when WWE announced the first-ever women’s match in Saudi Arabia with Natalya set to face off with Lacey Evans. More on that later.
WWE Crown Jewel emanates from the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, streaming live Thursday, Oct. 31 at 1 p.m. ET / 8 AST on WWE Network. The WWE Crown Jewel Kickoff begins at 12 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. AST on WWE Network, WWE.com, the WWE App, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Twitch.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE. The banner up top is courtesy of our friend Melo Man.)
Battle Royal: The Winner Earns US Title Match (KICKOFF SHOW) – Apollo Crews, Buddy Murphy, Andrade, Drake Maverick, Eric Young, Luke Harper, Cedric Alexander, Heath Slater, Humberto Carrillo, No Way Jose, Champion Sunil Singh, Mojo Rawley, Erick Rowan, R-Truth, Sin Cara, Brian Kendrick, Titus O’Neil, Tony Nese, Akira Tozawa and Shelton Benjamin
There’s a mix of talent here featuring some guys that are relatively new to the main roster along with plenty of veterans in there. Since the winner of the match gets to face the heel United States Champion AJ Styles then that likely means a babyface winner. I’ll go with a final four of Humberto Carrillo, Andrade, Erick Rowan and Buddy Murphy.
My pick for the winner is Carrillo because he had a good match with AJ Styles on Raw, which he lost and then after the match, Styles attacked him with a Styles Clash. That tells me they are likely to have another match.
Winner: Humberto Carrillo
Lacey Evans vs. Natalya
I’m happy that WWE is finally being allowed to have a women’s match in Saudi Arabia. I’m sure they will be bragging and celebrating this during the whole show as well as months in advance. As soon as I posted about this earlier today, people were asking why did they pick these two? It’s not up to me, but I think with Natalya it’s a sign of respect since she has had more matches in WWE history than any other woman. I know she’s had the most on PPV too. As for Evans, WWE has high hopes for her and they want to feature her more. Could they have picked Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Bayley or Sasha Banks? Sure, but they didn’t. It’s not up to us. That’s a WWE decision.
Evans and Natalya wrestled many times in the last few months. Now Evans is on Smackdown while Natalya remains on Raw, so this will probably be their last match for a while. I’ll go with Natalya getting the win since she’s the face and Evans is continuing her heel act.
Mansoor vs. Cesaro
Mansoor is from Saudi Arabia and announced as being from Riyadh where Crown Jewel is taking place, so this is about getting the hometown guy on the show. Mansoor was signed after last year’s Greatest Royal Rumble event and earlier this year, he won a battle royal at Super Showdown. Cesaro is one of the best wrestlers in WWE and he can have a good match with anybody. I’m sure they got a chance to practice the match at the Performance Center in the weeks leading up to this. Due to the lack of storyline, there’s not much to analyze, but I fully expect the crowd to be into it rooting for their countryman Mansoor. I also expect a win for Mansoor, which is going to piss off the hardcore WWE fans that fail to understand this is basically a house show to put over the good guys. Should Cesaro be booked better? Absolutely, but I totally expect him to take the loss here.
Tag Team Turmoil Match: The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Big E), Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode, Smackdown Tag Team Champions The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder), Raw Tag Team Champions The Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar), Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins, Heavy Machinery (Tucker and Otis), Lucha House Party (Kalisto, Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado), The OC (Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson), and The B Team (Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel)
It’s another World Cup trophy like last year when Shane McMahon won a tournament he wasn’t even a part of, which led to his heel turn. This time it’s all about the tag teams. A Tag Team Turmoil match means that two teams start and then there are tag team matches with eliminations until all nine teams have been in the ring. As is the case with a lot of matches on this show, I’m expecting a babyface win.
Since the Viking Raiders are undefeated in WWE, they are definitely favorites to win. I think if they were to lose here to another Raw team (like The OC for example) then that could set up a title feud. That would allow another babyface team like The New Day or Heavy Machinery to win the match. The good thing about putting over Heavy Machinery is they have never been Smackdown Tag Team Champions, so they can use the momentum from winning this “World Cup” to get a title shot at The Revival soon. The New Day are the most popular team in the match, so that’s an easy choice. I’m going with the Viking Raiders just to have them remain undefeated in tag team action, but if it’s Heavy Machinery then that’s a good choice too.
Winners: The Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar)
United States Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Winner of Battle Royal
I have Humberto Carrillo winning the battle royal as you saw earlier, so it would be a rematch of their match on Raw. As I think about this as a match, I think it would be smart to have Styles get disqualified when he realizes he can’t find a way to beat him. Either that or have Styles cheat to retain. That way it shows Carrillo has improved from their match on Raw and it can continue the story. I would then have Carrillo beat Styles for the title before the end of the year. I want that to happen because I want Styles in the Universal Title picture even though I have enjoyed his US Title run. I’m going with the heel Styles to cheat to retain the title for a rare heel win on this show.
Winner: AJ Styles
Five on Five Tag Team Match: Team Hulk Hogan (Roman Reigns, Rusev, Ricochet, Ali and Shorty G) vs. Team Ric Flair (Randy Orton, Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley, Shinsuke Nakamura and Drew McIntyre)
It’s Survivor Series a few weeks early although it’s not an elimination match as far as we know. It’s just a one fall match that will probably get 20+ minutes because they will want everybody to get in there at some point. If it’s an elimination match that would be better, but that hasn’t been announced yet. I fully expect some Hogan/Flair physicality that may include Hogan giving Flair a body slam on the floor or at least a punch to the head leading to a ridiculous Flair bump. That should pop the crowd huge towards the end of the match.
There’s not that much to discuss in terms of storyline other than the Rusev and Lashley angle that has received a lot of attention on Raw. Rusev’s wife and Lashley’s on-screen girlfriend Lana flew to Crown Jewel as well, so she may be at ringside for this match. While I’m sure there will be some big Rusev/Lashley singles match in the future, I expect Rusev to get revenge on Lashley for what happened on Raw.
A win by the faces is the obvious outcome here. Reigns is the biggest name, so he might be the one that gets the win for his team, but on Smackdown last week he deferred to Ali to get the win in the main event. It wouldn’t surprise me if Ricochet was the one that got the win here just because he needs a big victory. They could also have Rusev pin Lashley. I’ll go with Reigns hitting a Spear on Corbin for the win for his team. It should be a fun match to watch because usually books these multi-man matches well with plenty of big spots (everybody hitting finishing moves) leading to an exciting finish.
Winners: Team Hulk Hogan (Roman Reigns, Rusev, Ricochet, Ali and Shorty G)
Tyson Fury vs. Braun Strowman
There’s a lot of unknown here because Fury has never had a pro wrestling match. Triple H and others have said that Fury has been impressive in getting ready for this match. Fury has been training at WWE’s Performance Center in Orlando for most of the last month and Strowman lives there in Orlando (check his Instagram), so I’m sure they got the chance to practice the match a lot. They will probably do classic big man spots like body slams where they sell them as a big deal, maybe we’ll see a bearhug and of course the dreaded running shoulder tackles.
Picking a winner is tough, but I have leaned towards Fury since the match was announced. I find it hard to believe that Fury would agree to work a WWE match where he was booked to lose considering he has never lost as a professional boxer. It’s the Floyd Mayweather thing from 2008 against Big Show. It felt obvious to me that Floyd was going to win since he’s undefeated in boxing and I expect the same for Fury. It will probably be something where Fury nails Strowman with a punch to the jaw and Strowman sells it like he is knocked out. It will be shitty for Strowman and fans will complain about a WWE full-timer losing to a one night rental, but that’s what this show is about. I expect Fury to win in a short match.
Winner by pinfall (or knockout): Tyson Fury
Falls Count Anywhere Match for the Universal Championship: Seth Rollins (c) vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
(It has been announced by WWE that this match “can’t be stopped for any reason.”)
The frustrating thing about this match is that WWE hasn’t attempted to try to explain what happens if Wyatt/Fiend won the Universal Title. Does that mean the Universal Title is on Wyatt/Fiend on Smackdown, which would leave no major title on Raw? I doubt that very match. Does it mean that Wyatt/Fiend would be on Raw only while he’s the Universal Champion? That’s a possibility, but once again it’s not like WWE lets us know this stuff. In order to tell a story properly, you need to tell the fans what would happen after the match if Wyatt were to win. When you don’t, it’s only frustrating fans that have questions that are not being answered. Don’t frustrate the audience! Give them more information! It’s not that hard.
I expect a brawl all around the arena and it would be a surprise if there was a title change. I’m not sure how Rollins is going to win, but I fully expect him to retain. I remember going into Hell in a Cell I thought Wyatt/Fiend would leave with the Universal Title. However, that was before WWE drafted Wyatt/Fiend to Smackdown. If Wyatt/Fiend loses they need to be very creative about the finish because he should look strong even in defeat. I’m hoping it’s a better match than what they did at Hell in a Cell. The finish has to be better, right? It can’t be as bad as what they did at Hell in a Cell. I sure hope not. I’ll go with Rollins, but I fully admit I’m not that sure about it.
Winner: Seth Rollins
As a follow up, I expect Seth’s next feud on Raw to be with Drew McIntyre, who is back fresh and being booked strong. I’m not sure how WWE will book The Fiend going forward, but a rivalry with Roman Reigns makes a lot of sense on Smackdown.
WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Cain Velasquez
There are a few differences between this match and the Strowman/Fury match. Obviously, the WWE Title is on the line, which seems ridiculous considering Velasquez is in his first WWE match ever. There’s also a backstory here, so that helps. The most important difference is that Velasquez has signed a multi-year deal with WWE, which means he’s going to be around for a few years and this is a match they can do again down the road. If this wasn’t for the WWE Title then I think Velasquez may win, but I doubt that Cain is going to win the title in his first match. I certainly wouldn’t do that. I’m not saying it’s impossible. I just think Lesnar is going to keep the gold.
I saw Cain’s two matches earlier this year with the AAA promotion and he moves around well for a bigger guy. This match feels like they will hit more of the bigger moves, put over the striking ability of both guys and try to tell the story that one knockout could win it for either guy. I’m going with Lesnar for the pinfall win after hitting about three F5’s to finally put Cain away. My other expectation is that this match will be better than most fans anticipate because of Cain’s brief experience in wrestling.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
The Match I’m Looking Forward To The Most
There’s really nothing that stand out, but I’ll go with the 5 on 5 tag team match because it will probably be the best match. I’m intrigued by Lesnar/Velasquez too.
The Match I Care About The Least
Battle Royal. They aren’t that interesting to me.
If I were to count Tag Team Turmoil as just one match then that’s it, but I don’t think it’s right to count. I expect the 5 on 5 tag team match to go 20+ minutes. Nothing else should go over 20 minutes.
Tyson Fury vs. Braun Strowman. I can’t see them going past 10 minutes. Half of that is fine. No reason for Fury to do crazy stuff and risk injury.
Excitement Level on a Scale of 1-10 (1 being low, 10 being high)
5. I can’t pretend like I’m overly excited about Crown Jewel. It’s just a basic show with mostly babyfaces going over while providing some entertainment for wrestling fans in Saudi Arabia that pay a lot of money for two average shows every year.
I’ll be back with a review of Crown Jewel on TJRWrestling.net live on Thursday afternoon on Halloween day. Check it out during the show or after it’s over.
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