Join Matthew Roberts as he takes a look at WWE Home Video’s latest DVD release, Crown Jewel.
They are the WWE’s most “controversial” shows of the year, even if many of the people who go out of their way to publicly (Twitter/Facebook) to boycott the Saudi shows seemed to enjoy Anthony Joshua regaining his Heavyweight boxing titles a little while later. But that’s another article for another time. Let’s stick to the action for this one.
Usually, WWE’s Saudi shows take the opportunity to bring back some legends for a payday although there was none of that here. Perhaps it was because those matches have brought us on a level that has been pretty abysmal or maybe it was just that “outsiders” Cain Velasquez and Tyson Fury could pick up the slack and provide the novelty value for this year’s Crown Jewel.
Personally, I couldn’t care less about Velazquez, being at best, a casual MMA fan. I knew enough to know about their history but it seemed impossible that the challenger could unseat Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship and I was hoping that retention would be the name of the game. At less than three minutes duration they didn’t hang about here and I popped for Lesnar’s quick win. It ruined Velasquez’s aura in the WWE before it he’d even had the chance to get one in a moot point, but hey this is the show that “no-one watches” so I guess they’ll just ignore it when he returns to the WWE.
They followed the shortest match of the night with the longest in the form of the Tag Team Turmoil World Cup. Even with the “gauntlet” gimmick and most of the match segments being short this half an hour or so dragged interminably. The fans didn’t really seem to care about most of it and whilst there were moments of excitement there weren’t enough to retain your attention.
The fans did care about local wrestler Mansoor and he had the fortune to be in there with Cesaro, who was perhaps as close to a guarantee on the roster of making the local guy look great as you could get. And indeed he did. This was the match of the night and although it would be fair to put most of that accolade at the feet of Cesaro, it would be unfair to say it was all his work. Mansoor kept up with him, worked hard, and made the most of the opportunity.
Next up was Tyson Fury, who wasn’t really afforded the same “opportunity” as Mansoor as he was up against Braun Strowman. This battle of the big men might have worked as a short intense brawl but they actually attempted something approaching a wrestling match. And that most certainly didn’t work. They tried though, I will give them that. Even if the count-out finish seemed like a complete cop-out.
Humberto Carrillo, who won the pre-show Battle Royale, got a chance at United States Champion AJ Styles in a match you might have had high hopes for but in the end just had to settle with being “ok”. If ever there was a night to throw it all up in the air and break out from the traditional WWE style this might have been it but alas it wasn’t to be. Having Natalya and Lacey Evans being the two women to wrestle the first women’s match on WWE’s Saudi shows must have been someone’s idea of a joke. The match wasn’t bad at all, essentially being like most of their TV matches from around this time i.e. decent but nothing great. And you can by cynical all you want about the WWE’s motives with the Saudi deal, but this did at least feel like genuine real-life progress. And why woulndn’t the WWE shout about that from the roof-tops.
The WWE legends were wheeled out for Team Hogan vs Team Flair but only as managers for their respective teams which was a relief. Although this match started out a bit too slow it picked up for the second half and became a whole lot of fun. Which it should have been given the talent on show. Of course the main event for the WWE Universal Championship between Seth Rollins and “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt should have been good as well and whilst I do not think it was anywhere near as bad as some people have stated neither can I truthfully say that it wasn’t any good either. Is it that the two don’t have any chemistry, or is that Wyatt (and by extension the WWE bookers) haven’t yet worked out how to transfer the character into matches that actually last more than a few minutes? Or is it that bathing the match in the awful red lighting just makes it all too much of an effort to follow…
So that was Crown Jewel, a distinctly below-average show. It gave us something that mattered in the main event (albeit in an awful match) that made a difference to the TV shows that followed it. It gave us a couple of decent matches and also gave some “celebrity star power”.
But there’s literally nothing on here worth watching for a second time at all.
Format Reviewed: DVD
Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE
You can find me on Twitter @IWFICON