After a run of so-so shows but an improved weekly product WWE Extreme Rules 2022 really lit a fire and now we had back to Saudi Arabia for this year’s Crown Jewel, with a card that is decent but also could falter if things are not handled well. Celebrities in main events, two big lads slapping meat and a towering giant vs. monster match? What could possibly go wrong. Well, let’s see if anything did…
The show opened with a big video package that addressed all the major matches, and Bray Wyatt’s appearance, narrated by WWE’s Global Ambassador Titus O’Neil. He really is “World-Wiiide”.
1. Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley
Did not expect this one to kick us off but I mightily enjoyed this second match between Bobby Lashley and Brock Lesnar, which was infinitely superior to their screwy Royal Rumble disappointment. For a Lesnar match, WWE took a really fresh unexpected direction with this one, as he was the underdog to the unstoppable All Mighty, who started the fight before the bell, injuring The Beast in the process. This was virtually all action and chaos, and ended up with Lesnar surviving his opponent for once, instead of the other way round, as he countered The Hurt Lock into a skin-of-the-teeth pin. Great stuff, and post-match Lashly laid out Brock again with the hold, which he sold beautifully. Round three should be the full meal! WrestleMania perhaps?
New women’s tag champs Asuke and Alexa Bliss (as of RAW this week) were interviewed backstage and during the talk, on the TV behind her, there was a cryptic distorted tease for Bray Wyatt, which went over huge with the crowd. Interesting.
2. WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships
Damage Ctrl (Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky) vs. Asuke and Alexa Bliss (c)
As much as I was pulling for new champions Alexa and Asuke, and them ultimately losing the belts here felt a tad pointless as they just won them days prior, this women’s tag title match was a fun fast-paced affair purposely crafted to get expectations going for things to come regarding the Last Woman Standing match (could Damage Ctrl hold all the gold by event’s end?). It was enjoyable stuff and the ending with a (now back to her manic roots) Nikki Cross costing the champs their gold finally gave us a sign that there are plans for Cross ahead.
Logan Paul and Jake Paul and their entourage arrive at the building and Logan’s talks about “hitting that one lucky punch”.
3. Steel Cage Match
Karrion Kross w/ Scarlett vs. Drew McIntyre
Karrion Kross got a nice entrance here with drones in the sky creating an hourglass effect (the drones came into awesome use all night) and Scarlett coming out looking like one of the Cenobites from Hellraiser, a reference not missed by Wade Barrett on commentary (who was ace all evening). After a somewhat underwhelming strap match at Extreme Rules I am thrilled to say that Kross vs. Drew McIntyre II was fantastic. A nice old fashioned cage match with a smartly booked race to the finish climax that protected both guys. Evenly matched action, with Scarlett pulling out every trick to get the win for her man but ultimately Drew got a well earned and deserved win on this round. Really enjoyed that, far better than the strap match, have a feeling this isn’t quite over though.
The Bloodline arrive at the building, unfortunately minus Sami Zayn (as this is Saudi Arabia), and Byron Saxton asks Roman Reigns for a response to Logan’s earlier comments, he gets none. But does get mocked by Paul Heyman.
4. Six-Man Tag Match
The O.C. (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson) vs. The Judgment Day (Finn Balor, Damian Priest, Dominik Mysterio) w/ Rhea Ripley
The newly reformed and returned O.C. meshed well with Judgment Day in what was a quick-moving little table setter of a match. Aided even more by Michael Cole and Barrett’s super commentary (they even mentioned Bullet Club’s history on-air!). Seriously WWE can these two do every PLE going forward, they were excellent all event but especially here, with a back and forth commentary that recalled JR and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler circa 2002. I digress though, this was a fun bout, and surprising as Rhea Ripley got her gothic lads the win again, and nearly got into it with a vocal Cole too (careful Michael). Another big win for the dark side. How Triple H has turned Judgment Day around in the last few months has been rather miraculous. Ripley is the X factor for sure but Dominik Mysterio keeps on improving in this heel role too. Hopefully The Good Brothers get their win next time though.
5. Omos vs. Braun Strowman
Now we come to the Tale of the Tape spectacle match and needless to say people did not expect a mat classic here. Nor should you. When you have these kind of matches, the results are often mixed, when it’s good you get Big Show vs. Braun Strowman, when it’s bad you get The Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez, and sometimes you just get something odd like The Great Khali vs. Hornswoggle. Yet, Omos and Braun delivered an enjoyable big man bout here which did not outstay its welcome…and really that was enough. Probably to the shock of many, this was did its job well. Even in defeat Omos looked like a real monster and Braun made him look great even after a sudden victory via a running power slam. This was like Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah in real life.
6. WWE Undisputed Tag Team Championships
The Usos (c) (Jimmy and Jey Uso) vs. The Brawling Brutes (Butch and Ridge Holland)
Banger after banger again! Look, I was pulling for The Brutes but knew they wouldn’t get it, especially with all the talk around The Usos potentially surpassing The New Day’s longest tag title reign record in mere days, but my word they got me thinking I was wrong at some points. There were some NEAR falls here, and this was a great match, that helped make Ridge Holland and Butch really stand out. The crowd were really hot for it, mind you the crowd were really into every match this evening. Hope The Brutes get those titles some time, one of my favourite teams in WWE at the moment.
Also, it is worth noting that Sami Zayn got a hell of a response from the Saudi crowd, despite his absence. I think it spoke volumes that the crowd were chanting his name. This was a moment that shows how this mad little sport and form of entertainment can sometimes forgo the issues that afflict this divided world and create something very special, very unifying and really rather cool. We don’t deserve Sami, we really don’t!
7. Last Woman Standing WWE RAW Women’s Championship Match
Bayley vs. Bianca Belair (c)
I mean, what more can I say about this one. Hands down Bayley and Bianca Belair (whose drone-lit logo entrance was an exceptional feat) had the match of the night here. This was absolutely brilliant and expertly orchestrated mayhem. Innovative hard hitting excellence with both women being absolute warriors and taking some rough bumps and creating some compelling memorable spots. I loved every single minute from beginning to end, and the caddy carnage was particularly sublime. This was the first main roster Last Woman Standing match in quite some time (I believe the last was Lacey Evans vs. Natalya on RAW in 2019) and just excellent, with a ladder-assisted ingenious finish that – like the match as a whole – cooked up something new. These two ladies stole the show, as Bianca reclaimed her gold, and both her and Bayley showed why these two are getting this deserved spotlight.
Bray Wyatt is Here!
Bray Wyatt’s new direction continues to intrigue and expand, as he came out to the ring, with that ear worm of a new theme (“Shatter” by Code Orange – I love it) and his Silence of the Lambs esque Moth logo lighting up the sky in drone form. In the ring he again presented to us that this was the real Bray, even addressing his very real Windham wrestling family lineage. The crowd hung on every word and were highly invested in Bray, who since returning has shown us all exactly why he was so missed. He spoke about wanting to rewrite his story and how wearing a mask (as The Fiend) changed him and how he was loved as an idea but not as a man. But, it wasn’t long before the genuinely creepy Uncle Howdy (who I think is Bray but theories still persist it is someone else behind that skin mask and hat of thorns) appeared onscreen. Surely, Howdy is the catalyst for Wyatt’s mental fracture to come, urging Bray, “Just don’t take the mask off.” This is all a slow burn but don’t rush it WWE, this will be worth the wait, it always is with Bray, and I cannot wait to see where it is all heading. So happy to have him back!
8. WWE Undisputed Universal Championship Match
Roman Reigns (c) w/Paul Heyman vs. Logan Paul
This had a great big fight presentation, with the press conferences, face-offs and colourful drones (I seriously love these drones man) depicting this battle in the skies above the arena. But, just two matches in to his WWE career, could Logan Paul justify taking this title match spot and how would the match with the seemingly unbeatable Roman Reigns play out? Would it be a squash? Would it be a good match even? Would WWE have Paul beat Reigns…no surely not?! Well, I’ll say this, Paul gave Reigns a war. What a main event. Look, I’m not a Roman worshipper as I’m sure you’ll realise by now, and I think most social media influencers are one step away from Satan, but this match was brilliant. Paul won himself many fans tonight and Roman proved why he is THE main event, in a showcase of great wrestling, high drama and some spots (Logan’s selfie table dive was a sight, as was his Buckshot Lariat). A time or two I genuinely believed they might do it but in a crazy finish, as The Usos beatdown Logan’s entourage, Jake Paul KO’d The Usos, Solo Sikoa came out to confront Jake, it all came to an end as Roman hit a trusty spear on Logan for the win. This capped off the night great, and post-match Roman really sold how much he’d been pushed to the limit. Fantastic stuff that proved to me that the celebrity-tries-to-wrestle era is now officially dead, if they are here folks, they can work! (see Stephen Amell, Bad Bunny, Pat McAfee and now Logan Paul).
Overall, I went in to Crown Jewel not expecting anything too flashy at all but came out highly entertained and energised. There was not a single match I did not enjoy on the card. Bray’s promo was compelling, the main event was a wonder and The Last Woman Standing match was one of my favourite PLE matches this year. The booking was clever or original constantly and everything really worked off of Extreme Rules’ palette cleansing success to build up to War Games at Survivor Series with incredible momentum (yes finally the RAW vs. Smackdown lazy gimmick has been dropped, hurrah!). One of the best and most consistent WWE PLE events this year!