WWE’s Middle Eastern fans are getting treated to yet another special event.
It won’t be the second ever Greatest Royal Rumble (maybe next year). Instead, it’s a brand new WWE Superstar showcase called Crown Jewel. Talent from both Raw and SD Live will be on hand to give the Saudi Arabian fans a match card for the ages. The Universal Championship and the WWE Championship will both be on the line, as well as a special tournament deemed the WWE World Cup. The world will be watching as Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Brock Lesnar, Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, and more do battle in the Middle East.
Here’s a preview of the international match lineup for WWE’s inaugural Crown Jewel.
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Rusev (WWE United States Championship)
Predictions & Winner: As far as last minute additions go, this bout should be decent enough. Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev have put on a respectable series of bouts in recent months that have seemingly gone ignored by most fans. Seeing as how this was announced during the week of Crown Jewel (and the fact that this title bout is a Kickoff Match), the winner really shouldn’t be in question. Rusev’s being treated as nothing more than the latest roadblock for Nakamura to overcome. WWE doesn’t seem to care that much about both men and it shows, sadly. Nakamura and Rusev will put forward a respectable effort, but no one will care enough to really notice.
Cesaro and Sheamus (c) (with Big Show) vs. The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and/or Xavier Woods) (WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship)
Predictions & Winners: So The Bar finally managed to capture gold over on the Blue Brand. They were a non-factor during their first few months as members of the SD Live roster, but they eventually knocked The New Day off the top of the mountain. The only disappointing part of that whole ordeal is the way that SmackDown Tag Team Championship victory took place. Cesaro and Sheamus owe their latest title win to another tired Big Show heel turn that nobody asked for. The Bar is running wild as tag team champs once again but this time, they have a familiar (and stale) giant backing them up. Yay…
This match is is taking place just two weeks after The Bar claimed the tag team titles. While The New Day are always on the cusp of becoming tag team title holders, they won’t be getting the straps back so quickly after losing them. Plus there’s the new X-Factor known as the Big Show, who will find a way to neutralize the third member of The New Day on the outside. And I’m quite sure he’ll interfere on The Bar’s behalf when the ref is distracted. This one’s an easy one to predict – The Bar shall remain the top title-holding duo on SD Live.
AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe (WWE Championship)
Predictions & Winner: So I’m sure you’ve heard about all the controversy surrounding this event. The dark cloud hovering over it has caused John Cena and Daniel Bryan to refrain from competing in Saudi Arabia. Because of those major decisions made by both Superstars, WWE had to make some key changes. Cena’s been replaced by Bobby Lashley as a member of the World Cup tournament. As for the previously announced WWE Championship match for this card, it took place on the final episode of SD Live before Crown Jewel. That aforementioned event has resulted in two things – it gave Bryan his WWE Championship title shot and ended up giving AJ a new challenger right after it ended. And that new challenger happens to be his old nemesis, Samoa Joe.
Now here’s the thing – AJ managed to defeat Joe on two occasions, most notably at Super Show-Down. AJ moved onto Bryan as his next foe since he soundly defeated Joe and seemingly moved on. But due to all the aforementioned developments, Joe popped up to antagonize AJ once again and goad him into giving him another WWE Championship title shot.
So now we’re probably getting one final grudge/title bout between AJ and Joe this year. In my opinion, Joe really shouldn’t lose here – a third loss to AJ could really damage his credibility. The crowd loves him for his promos and mean streak persona, but I feel like they’d love him less if he took another loss to AJ. WWE must know this too, which is why I think they’ll finally award Joe with a championship win here. This might not be a title reign that lasts as long as AJ’s, but it should mainly be used as a vehicle used to keep Joe’s heat intact.
Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar (Match for the Vacant WWE Universal Championship)
Predictions & Winner: At Hell in a Cell earlier this year, Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman engaged in a caged war for the Universal Championship. Before we could get a definitive ending, Brock Lesnar shocked the world by kicking the HIAC door in and destroying both competitors. Due to his actions, the match ended in a No Contest. Lesnar’s interference actually led to him getting rewarded instead of punished for his shocking interference (what a surprise…). In an even more shocking twist, Reigns was forced to vacate the Universal Championship due to leukemia.
The circumstances surrounding this match have made it all the more interesting now! Now we’re getting a heel vs. heel match between WWE’s most dangerous hosses. This is a match that I can’t see going too long. It’ll be on par with Reigns and Lesnar’s SummerSlam 2018 main event brawl – Braun and Lesnar will embroil in a war reminiscent of a throwback Godzilla film. Lesnar had his time in the sun as the unstoppable force on Raw. But he’s been stopped once before and he’ll be halted here once again. Lesnar’s too focused on the UFC to care about running around Raw as Universal Champion all over again. WWE’s most certainly not looking to have another part-time champion again, which means Braun will claim the title and run Raw like the main-event beast he truly is.
WWE World Cup (8-Man Tournament; If SmackDown’s Finalist loses, They Will be Fired from SmackDown)
Predictions & Winner: If there’s one thing wrestling fans can wholeheartedly agree on, it’s the excellence of tournaments. WWE is experienced in the art of presenting amazing tourney’s (the Cruiserweight Classic and Mae Young Classic are shining examples). Crown Jewel will play host to a rare main roster tournament that will feature four Superstars from Raw and four from SD Live. Over the course of the entire evening, eight amazing in-ring talents will fight to claim the tourney’s top honor. Bobby Lashley, Kurt Angle, Seth Rollins, Dolph Ziggler, Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton, The Miz, and Rey Mysterio will be the ones competing within this one-night tournament.
While every one of the aforementioned participants are excellent in their own right, only one man shall prevail. The Quarterfinal matches are as follows – Bobby Lashley vs. Seth Rollins, Kurt Angle vs. Dolph Ziggler, Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz, and Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton. I’m betting on Rollins, Angle, The Miz, and Mysterio winning their respective bouts. I’m guessing we’ll get some inter-promotional action during the Semi-Finals, which will result in Rollins defeating The Miz and Mysterio taking out Angle. Then the Finals will provide us all with a Dream Match scenario between Rollins and Mysterio. After the dust settles, I can totally picture Mysterio marking his comeback in the best way possible by winning the 2018 WWE World Cup.
D-Generation X (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) vs. The Brothers of Destruction (The Undertaker and Kane)
Predictions & Winners: We all know this one was coming. The buildup to Triple H and The Undertaker’s final singles encounter featured Shawn Michaels and Kane in equally prominent positions. Once the match finally took place at Super Show-Down, all four men ran wild in the squared circle and at ringside. It took a lot to put “The Deadman” down, but HHH managed to get the victory after a Sweet Chin Music assist from HBK. Both men tried to celebrate in a respectful manner after the match, but The Brothers of Destruction decided to dish out some much deserved post-match punishment.
After witnessing that, it only made sense to prolong this feud. And the most sensible thing to do is put on a tag team match between two legendary duos. The allure (and huge payday!) coming from Crown Jewel was probably too hard to ignore for HBK. If there’s one thing we all know about wrestling, it’s that being retired doesn’t really mean anything in the long run. D-Generation-X will be reuniting in the ring to take on ‘Taker and Kane. This one’s probably going to feature a lot of smoke and mirrors – that element did a halfway decent job of masking HHH and ‘Taker’s decreased mobility at Super Show-Down. With such a big return taking place within this bout, it only leads to one definite outcome – HBK and his degenerate ally will be claiming victory!