SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE CROWN JEWEL 2021
OCTOBER 21, 2021
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA
AIRED LIVE ON PEACOCK
English Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
Saudi Arabian Commentators: Jude Aldajani & Faisal Alumghaisib
-The panel of Matt Camp, Kayla Braxton, and Peter Rosenberg from the WWE Studios in Stamford, Connecticut threw to video packages and made predictions on the matches throughout the pre-show.
(A) THE USOS vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER & SHELTON BENJAMIN – Smackdown Tag Team Title match
The crowd was very into the Usos here, and just enthusiastic overall, which will make the show better overall if it holds up. They were chanting “Usos! Usos!” at the start. Cole said this is the first big event of the Riyadh Season. Jey broke up a cover Shelton had on Jimmy. Lots of near falls and roll-ups late before the Usos won after stereo superkicks and a top rope frog splash on Shelton.
WINNERS: The Usos in 11:00 to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Titles.
-The show opened with shots of the crowd in the stadium as “Take My Breath” by The Weeknd played. Cole, Graves, and Saxton introduced the show. Saxton said he had goosebumps. They agreed this would be a show talked about for years to come.
(Keller’s Analysis: When the actual fans are the focus of the camera shots, these shows have had crowd energy. They are cutting away to crowd shots a lot, including during the Kickoff Show opener, who are reacting wildly to the action.)
(1) SETH ROLLINS vs. EDGE – Hell in a Cell match
Seth came out first, walking past camels next to the entrance ramp. Then Edge. Cole talked about the first Hell in a Cell in 1997 with Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker and the appearance of Kane. After some early intense back and forth brawling, Seth used a chair for the first time against Edge. Edge came back with a crossface mid-ring. Cole noted that Seth grabbing the bottom rope won’t force a break. Turned out Seth was reaching for a metal pipe, which he used to bash Edge in the face. The crowd quieted down. Seth knocked the chair into Edge’s face. Seth then leaped off the top rope with a frog splash for a near fall.
Seth went to ringside and pulled a table out from under the ring. Fans chanted “Yes! Yes!” He set it up at ringside, then went back after Edge in the ring. Graves said there is no depth Seth won’t sink to in order to topple his foe. Cole said Seth has something he wants to prove. Seth climbed to the top rope. Edge knocked him off, and Seth went crashing into the side of the Cell and then bounced onto and through the table on the floor. With Seth down, fans began singing. Edge picked up the base of the steps and slid it into the ring. Edge gave Seth an Edge-o-Matic on the steps. Both landed hard, as Graves noted. Fans chanted, “This is awesome!” Seth flew off the top rope with a chair and landed on Seth who was still on the base of the steps.
Edge charged, but Seth stopped him with a superkick. The kick showed some light, which Graves noted by saying he’s not sure of how much of it he caught. Seth landed a Pedigree. Cole said it was a callback to “the great Triple H.” Edge came back seconds later with a bucklebomb and a spear for a near fall. The crowd popped. Another “This is awesome!” chant broke out. Edge brought a ladder into the ring and rammed Seth in the head with it. Cole said there might not be anyone in history who can use a ladder as well as Edge. Seth reverse-whipped Edge into a ladder propped in the corner. Graves said matches like this can define careers, and it comes down to who wants it more. Cole said it’s also about who has the most stamina.
Seth set up a ladder in the corner. Edge met him up there and set up a superplex. Seth blocked it and sunset bombed Edge and sent him crashing through the table. He scored a near fall. Seth stood and superkicked Edge as soon as he stood. He landed another and another. He then looked off to the side and noticed a black bag full of apparatus. He grabbed a chain and wrapped it and tied it around his boot. Then he superkicked Edge in the head. Fans booed. Fans then chanted “You suck! You suck!” Graves said a three count is a formality at this point. Seth yelled at Edge,”This is how your fairy tale ends!” Seth set up another kick, but Edge held up a chair and shoved it into Seth’s crotch. They cut to a shot of a kid around age 10 who was just horrified. Edge then got up and superkicked Seth. Graves said, “Hell is in the eyes of the Rated-R Superstar.”
Edge superkicked Seth again as Cole said now Seth is the one who is helpless. Edge yanked the chain off of Seth’s boot and wrapped it across Seth’s mouth. He switched to the wrench that was in the black duffel bag and pulled back on an STF. Just as it appeared Seth might have tapped out, Edge let go. Edge put the chair under Seth’s head and then delivered a Stomp. That ended it. “How appropriate this match ends with Seth’s own move,” said Cole. Saxton called it poetic justice. As Edge’s music played, Saxton said Edge can finally say he ended this feud. Cole said Seth will never again underestimate the greatness of the Hall of Famer Edge. Saxton said it’s over. They stayed with Edge.
WINNER: Edge in 28:00. (****1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Excellent Hell in a Cell match. They didn’t use the Cell much, other than Seth bouncing off the side of it early. But the story it told and the use of each other’s signature moves was top level. I suppose on the downside, it’s going to be hard to believe basic finishers the rest of this event are worthy of a three count after all the violence that Edge and Seth kicked out of during this one, which is why matches like this are ideally positioned last on shows or at least near the end. I’m curious what’s next for Seth since both he and Edge are heading to Raw on Monday.) [c]
(2) MUSTAFA ALI vs. MANSOOR
Cole said this is the first time two Muslims have faced each other one-on-one in a WWE ring. Cole said Ali is known as jaded and Mansoor is known as optimistic. It was smart to put this match on after the Hell in a Cell, because while they can’t match the intensity or violence, fans will be into Mansoor, who is from Saudi Arabia. Ali bailed out at ringside and pouted a bit after early Mansoor offense. When Ali took control, he yelled at Mansoor that he is nothing. Mansoor came back with a step-up enzuigiri followed by several other moves. He fired up as Ali begged off. Mansoor threw some punches and stomps at Ali in the corner. As he charged, though, Ali caught him with a boot. Mansoor fired back, so Ali rolled to the floor.
Mansoor dove through the ropes, but Ali kicked him mid-air. Ali then went for a 450 splash splash in the ring, but Mansoor moved. He then gave Ali a suplex into the corner turnbuckles. He climbed to the top rope and and landed a moonsault for a near fall. They cut to a shot of a girl in the crowd at the ref’s possible third count, which was a strange choice by the director. Ali countered before the third count into a Koji Clutch submission hold. Mansoor crawled over toward the bottom rope. He began to fade, but then surged and reached the rope. Ali climbed to the top rope and went for a 450, but Mansoor rolled out of the way. Not much pop. Mansoor hit a neckbreaker and scored the three count and that got a nice pop.
WINNER: Mansoor in 10:00. (**1/4)
-After the match, Ali attacked Mansoor. Then music played and a man walked out in a karate uniform and red belt. Ali stopped and stared at him. The guy took his time walking to the ring. Cole asked Graves what his sources say. Graves said his phone service isn’t great and he doesn’t know. Cole said whoever it is, he’s in no hurry. Graves said whoever it is, he wants to make a name for himself at Ali’s expense. The man entered the ring and revealed his face. Cole said he is Tarek Hamdi, a silver medalist in karate at the Tokyo Olympics.
(Keller’s Analysis: The match was solid, although Mansoor’s punches could use some work. Ali played a good heel. It seemed the fans were more into the Usos than Mansoor, which is the surprise of the show so far.) [c]
-Titus O’Neal and Natalya came out and introduced a segment with four women to talk about breast cancer awareness and the Zahra Association. The women, who unlike Titus and Natalya, were wearing medical masks over their mouths and noses, were presented with commemorative pink WWE Title belts. They waved at the crowd.
-Cole talked about the Riyadh, the capitol of Saudi Arabia and the largest city in the Arab peninsula. He said they were treated to an air show from the Saudi Arabian air force. They showed footage. Graves said it was impressive.
(3) RANDY ORTON & RIDDLE vs. A.J. STYLES & OMOS – Raw Tag Team Title match
Styles & Omos came out first. Riddle came out on a scooter. He rode onto the stage, then turned and left. Graves said he knew Riddle would abandon Orton some day. Riddle came back out riding a camel. Orton looked at Riddle with disbelief and then walked alongside the camel to the ring. Riddle controlled Styles early. Riddle threw Styles toward his corner where Omos stood. Graves called it a sign of Riddle’s inexperience that he did that. Styles then stood and tagged in Omos. Riddle paced and then charged at Omos. Omos knocked him down easily, then went for a bodyslam. Riddle slipped free and ran over to tag in Orton.
Orton put on a brave fans as fans chanted “RKO! RKO!” Omos no-sold Orton’s punches and asked if that’s as hard as he can hit. Omos then headbutted Orton, who went down, writhing in pain. The ref checked on Orton. Omos dropped Orton face-first on the top turnbuckle with snake eyes. Styles tagged in and landed what Graves called “an art gallery-quality dropkick” to the face of Orton. Omos then applied a nerve hold. Orton raked Omos’s eyes, then leaped and tagged in Riddle just as Styles also tagged in. Riddle rallied against Styles and took a shot at Omos, too. Riddle landed a Bro-ton and a running kick, then scored a two count.
Styles set up a Styles Clash, but Riddle blocked it and landed a knee strike. He then tagged Orton back in. Orton shoved Styles into Omos, knocking Omos off the ring apron. Orton then snap powerslammed Styles. He set up a draping DDT, but Omos DISTRACTED him from the ring apron. Riddle grabbed Omos’s leg from the floor. Orton snapped Omos’s neck over the top rope. Omos dropped to the floor. Styles caught Orton with an elbow to the neck and then a Phenomenal Forearm attempt, but Orton turned it into an RKO out of mid-air. Orton tagged Riddle, who landed a top rope Floating Bro for the victory.
WINNERS: Riddle & Orton in 10:00. (**1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: Fun and effective match. They continue to put Omos in situations where he can be intimidating and get across his size gimmick without exposing how green he is otherwise. The other three are pros who delivered their key moves and their personalities interacting with each other effectively.)
-Backstage, Kevin Patrick interviewed Becky Lynch. Lynch wore sunglasses and had on a yellow t-shirt with Big Time written in big letters. She told Patrick they go back to the old country and she’s disappointed in his question about momentum. He said she could lose her title without being pinned or submitted. She was annoyed and said she knows how a triple threat match works. She acknowledged either of her opponents can weasel their way into stealing her title. She said it’s time for her to remind everyone who the hell she in. [c]
-A vignette hyped Charlotte appearing on Smackdown on Friday night.
(4) ZELINA VEGA vs. DOUDROP – Queen’s Crown Tournament Final
Vega came out first, dressed in black tights and long black sequined sleeves and a red t-shirt. Doudrop came out in black tights and long black sleeves and then a purple t-shirt with a rainbow of colors around her name. Graves said he got a text from Eva Marie saying she is making a movie right now, retorting Cole’s comments about her. Doudrop and Vega had a staredown mid-ring and exchanged words. Doudrop knocked Vega down. Cole said Vega is feisty and scrappy. Doudrop caught Vega’s roundkick and headbutted her. She ran the ropes, but Vega rolled to the ring apron.
Vega climbed to the top rope and leaped off, but Doudrop caught her. Vega leaped over and attempted a sunset flip. Doudrop blocked it and knocked Vega to the mat with double axe handles to the chest. She followed with a bodyslam and an elbowdrop. When Doudrop climbed the ropes, Vega yanked her off. Doudrop hit her face on the turnbuckle. Vega then gave Doudrop a DDT for a two count. Doupdrop went for a cannonball in the corner a minute later, but Vega moved. Doudrop came back with a sidewalk slam for a near fall. Vega held onto the bottom rope. Doudrop yanked her hard off of the ropes and landed a running senton for a near fall. Doudrop went for a running splash, but Vega moved. She then delivered a Code Red for the three count. Graves talked about what a true underdog she was.
Vega walked to the stage and put on the Queen’s robe and the Queen’s crown. Cole said she can call herself the first-ever Queen’s Crown tournament winner. Royal music played as she sat on the throne. “All hail, Queen Zelina!” said the ring announcer. Pyro blasted in the stadium.
WINNER: Vega in 6:00 to become Queen. (*1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: I guess Toni Storm losing in the first round to Vega doesn’t seem as bad. I’m curious how far they’ll go pushing her, but this gives her a hook in terms of a gimmick for TV. She’ll likely be protected in order to protect the Queen gimmick, too. The match was decent.)
-They showed the Riyadh parade and celebration that kicked off earlier in the week.
(5) BOBBY LASHLEY vs. GOLDBERG – No Holds Barred
Lashley came out first. Graves said Goldberg is out of his mind and that Lashley is going to try to turn Cujo into Old Yeller. Lashley wrapped his fist in a chain, but as the bell rang, Goldberg charged at him. Lashley absorbed some punches, then punched Goldberg with the chain several times. He threw Goldberg shoulder-first into the ringpost. Fans booed. Graves said they had to book these two wrestlers on separate flights to avoid a confrontation before this match. Lashley pulled a table out from under the ring. Cole called it a ladder. Graves corrected him (but without the derision he would have if Jimmy Smith had said it). Lashley set up the table in the corner, then charged and chop-blocked Goldberg. Lashley put Goldberg’s leg in a chair and then stomped on it. Cole said Goldberg is going to have to quit at some point if this keeps up. Graves said Goldberg won’t quit, but the ref might have to make a judgment call.
A brief “Goldberg!” chant rang out. Lashley charged at Goldberg in the corner, but Goldberg moved and Lashley crashed through it. Goldberg struggled to his feet as another “Goldberg” chant rang out. It wasn’t very loud. Goldberg then speared Lashley. He signaled for a Jackhammer. Graves said he doesn’t have it in him. He pulled it off, though. Goldberg then tore off his gloves rather than go for the cover. Graves said it could be over by now had he gone for the cover. Saxton said Goldberg believed this is bigger than a spear or Jackhammer, this is about ending Lashley once and for all.
Goldberg dropped to the floor, but continued to favor his leg. He speared Lashley through the barricade at the time keeper’s area. He yelled, “You touch my son, you’re dead!” Goldberg looked under the ring for something. Goldberg rammed Lashley’s head into the announce table. Goldberg rammed Lashley into the ringside barricade near some kids. An adult backed them away. Goldberg lifted the ringside steps and threw it down toward Lashley, but Lashley had moved. Graves said Goldberg almost just literally lived up to his word.
When Lashley walked up the ramp, Cedric and Shelton met him and handed him a kendo stick. Shelton and Cedric charged, but Goldberg easily fended them off. He picked up one of the kendo sticks they had. They each swung the sticks at each other. Goldberg broke one of his knee. Graves said he’s worried if Goldberg wins, he won’t stop. Goldberg speared Lashley off the stage through a landing pad of tables covered with a tarp. Goldberg got the three count on the tables. Cole said he didn’t know what to expect out of Goldberg tonight. He said they learned what he had left inside tonight. Graves said that was the damnedest thing he had ever seen. He said Lashley hadn’t moved. Just then, Lashley lifted his arm. Graves said he was thankful there was a sign of life. Goldberg went back to ringside and interacted with some of those kids who were thrilled to see him up close again.
WINNER: Goldberg in 12:00. (**3/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: They packed a lot into 12 minutes. This was one of Goldberg’s better matches in recent years. The use of weapons worked well to keep it interesting. The announcers were heavy-handed in making it seem like Lashley might have been near death after the spear off the ramp, but given how much Goldberg vowed to kill Lashley, they had to frame what Goldberg did as literally deadly.) [c]
(6) FINN BALOR vs. XAVIER WOODS – King of the Ring Tournament Final
Balor came out first. Xavier stared at the crown on the stage before heading to the ring. Cole said it has been Xavier’s life-long dream to become King of the Ring. He said he Tweeted earlier that he was told his whole career to tone it down and not be so ridiculous and that he doesn’t fit in, but tonight he is there to prove everyone wrong and that this is the most important match of his career. (I’m not sure how winning a wrestling match does anything to justify not toning down his act or being less ridiculous outside of the ring.) They fist-bumped at the start.
Back and forth action for several minutes. Cole asked Graves if the match is what he expected. Graves said it’s more cautious than he expected, but he understands it because of the respect both have for each other. Xavier scored a near fall with a small package at 5:00. Woods landed a superplex next for a two count. Xavier leaped off the top rope with a flying elbowdrop. Balor lifted his knees and scored a near fall. Balor hit a sling blade and went for a Coup de Grace, but Xavier avoided it. Xavier small packaged Balor for a near fall. He followed up with kicks and a gut-buster suplex. He went to the top rope next and this time landed the elbow for the three count. Xavier yelled into the camera, “This was destiny! The crown belongs to me!”
Xavier approached the cape and crown. Cole said he had been waiting for this moment since he was a child. He put the crown on and sat on the throne, then smiled as royal music played. The ring announcer said, “All hail King Xavier!”
WINNER: Xavier Woods in 10:00 to become King of the Ring. (**)
(Keller’s Analysis: A sorta blah match, even acknowledged as such by the announcers in how they talked about it mid-way. I’m curious if Xavier gets a boost from this or if it just cartoonizes him more and he becomes even more obnoxious than he’s been. Ideally, he’ll get a big ego from this and turn heel, because he’d be a good heel.)
-Two-and-a-half hours into the main show, and three major title matches left.
(7) BIG E vs. DREW MCINTYRE – WWE Title match
Saxton again talked about Drew leading WWE “through uncertain times.” He said the WWE Title is the most prestigious in WWE. (If so, shouldn’t WWE Title matches take place after, not before, Universal Title matches most of the time?) Big E said to the title belt on his way to the ring, “You will never leave me. You are my baby.” Big E told Drew he hopes he knows he’s in the ring with someone unlike anyone else he has faced. Drew just smiled. Big E bashed Drew in the chest with forearms on the ring apron. He then went for his running splash, but Drew rolled to the floor. When Big E came at him, Drew gave him a released belly-to-belly.
Back in the ring, Drew grounded Big E. They went to a wide shot of the stadium. They exchanged a series of big moves back and forth. Big E gyrated over Drew. Drew made a comeback, but Big E countered again and landed his running splash for a two count. (I will pop big if Big E ever does that facing away from the hard camera instead of facing it. Just once!) Drew came back with a Michinoku Driver for a near fall. Big E caught a charging Drew with a uranage for a near fall. Drew landed a Glasgow Kiss. Big E took Drew down with a backslide for a two count. Drew came right back with a Future Shock DDT for a near fall. Fans began a “This is awesome!” chant.
Big E countered a Claymore into a stretch muffler. Fans chanted “McIntyre!” Drew escaped, but Big E hit a Big Ending for a near fall. Big E tried to set up a Big Ending on the top rope. Drew blocked it and gave Big E a leaping bulldog off the top rope for a two count. Big E ducked a Claymore Kick. Big E waited for Drew to stand, but when he charged, Drew connected with the Claymore for a dramatic near fall. Fans chanted “Holy shit!” Then “This is awesome!” and “One more time!” Drew and Big E criss-crossed and countered each other. Big E came out of the struggle with a Big Ending for the win.
As Drew absorbed the loss on the ramp, Big E shouted at him and said they’re just getting started.
WINNER: Big E in 14:00 to retain the WWE Title. (***3/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: I really good match. No big storyline developments or hints of heel turns; it was just wrestled straight up as an honorable battle between two top tier wrestlers with high stakes. I was thinking they’d “protect” Drew by having him lose with a roll-up or another leverage pin since he’s heading to Smackdown to presumably be a top tier opponent for Roman Reigns. This continues to underline that Big E’s push and title reign isn’t just a transition or token move, but a good-faith attempt to turn him into a bona fide top tier singles player. So far so good.)
-Highlights aired of the Usos winning on the Kickoff show.
-Cole threw to a “Be A Star” vignette. He said they had one of those events earlier in Riyadh. There were around 80 kids at the event. Natalya said, “It was about spreading love, not hate.” Big E said they were there to talk about their differences and embrace them. All the wrestlers raised their hand to say they were bullied in the past. One kid said she likes to cook. Drew said, “I like to eat.” The kids laughed.
(Keller’s Analysis: Oh please. What is Saudi Arabia’s policy on members of the LGBTQ+ community? Wikipedia notes: “Homosexuality and being transgender are widely seen as immoral and indecent activities, and the law punishes acts of homosexuality or cross-dressing with fines, public whipping, beatings, chemical castrations, imprisonment up to life, the death penalty (though it has not been applied for homosexuality alone), and torture.” Forbes ranked Saudi Arabia the fourth most dangerous place in the world for gay people to travel. Additional online details HERE.)
(8) BECKY LYNCH vs. SASHA BANKS vs. BIANCA BELAIR – Smackdown Title match
Becky came out first, then Sasha, and finally Belair. Belair wore a glittery oversized jacket as she skipped to the ring while twirling her braid. Belair pressed Sasha in the air and smiled. She removed one of her arms, and with Sasha supporting herself on Belair’s left shoulder, Belair held the pose for a few seconds. Then she slammed Sasha. Becky tripped Belair running the ropes. Becky and Sasha paired off and battled next. Sasha fought off Belair and applied a Bank Statement on Becky. Belair broke it up.
They continued to battle back and forth for several minutes, with each wrestler getting a stretch of offense. Cole called it a very chaotic match. Becky climbed to the top rope and leaped at Banks, but Banks moved and then hit a quick backstabber into a Bank Statement. Belair moonsaulted onto both of them, then scored a two count on Sasha Banks. All three were down and slow to get up. They cut to another wide shot of the stadium and crowd. Becky broke up a leverage cover by Belair on Banks. Belair broke up a Becky cover on Banks after a Manhandle Slam.
Becky held onto Belair’s braid and landed elbows and forearms. Sasha kicked Becky, knocking her to the floor. She then charged and slid under Belair and went for a powerbomb off the ring apron. Belair held on and backflipped to the floor. Sasha kicked her and then went for a tornado DDT. Sasha set up a backstabber at ringside, but Becky leaped at both of them. Becky threw Belair into the ring as some fans chanted “This is awesome!” Becky applied a Disarm Her. Sasha entered and Becky released the hold to go after Sasha. She then put the Disarm Her on both of them at once. Belair powered both of them up and then dropped them. Becky and Sasha battled next. Belair entered and gave Becky a KOD. Sasha broke up her cover attempt and tripped Belair and dragged her to ringside. She ran into the ring, but Becky caught her with a surprise small package to win. Saxton noted that Becky held onto the bottom rope for extra leverage; Cole said it doesn’t matter because it’s a triple threat. (I still say it makes no sense that adding a third wrestler to a match necessitates all other singles matches rules being thrown out.)
WINNER: Lynch in 20:00 to retain the Smackdown Title. (***1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: It felt a bit too long given the setting. The audience seemed less into the women’s matches tonight than some of the men’s matches. Still, an honest effort and hard effort and well-executed.)
-Cole gushed about their trip as scenes aired of the architecture of the city. Graves said: “I know it sounds like something you have to say, but it’s the truth. Every time we come back here, it’s a little bit better, it’s a little more fun. The hospitality of the people here is unmatched.” He raved about the food. They shifted to commenting on the Seth-Edge match from earlier.
-A video package aired on the Roman Reigns-Brock Lesnar match and the Paul Heyman complication.
(9) ROMAN REIGNS (w/Paul Heyman) vs. BROCK LESNAR – Universal Title match
Cole said Reigns posted on Twitter earlier: “Always know who’s business and who’s blood.” Cole said you have to wonder if he was directing that to Heyman. Cole said that on the Kickoff Show, Heyman said he’d walk down the aisle with the Universal Champion Roman Reigns, and when all is said and done tonight, he would leave with the Universal Champion. Graves said Heyman’s only allegiance is to the almighty dollar. Graves said Heyman and Reigns each flew separately on private jets. Saxton wondered what it could do to Reigns having to consider he has a possible mole on his side going into this match. Cole said Lesnar has played up that doubt. Graves said the Dude is Roman Reigns today and maybe for ten more years, but Lesnar is possibly the best of all time. Cole chuckled and said he thinks the Dude is Brock right now. Reigns was overwhelmingly booed when his music stopped.
Lesnar’s music then played. Cole said Lesnar held the title for 503 days. Reigns is in second place, and to top Lesnar, he has to win this match. Cole said this is Lesnar’s first match in 19 months. Graves said he hasn’t spent that time eating potato chips on his couch, he’s been hunting with his bare hands. Reigns and Lesnar had a staredown during formal ring introductions. Fans cheered Lesnar and booed Reigns.
Lesnar got in early offense, but Reigns elbowed Lesnar to stop his suplex attempt. Lesnar lifted Reigns and drove him hard into the corner. Reigns forearmed Lesnar. Lesnar went for a German suplex, but Reigns held onto the top rope. Lesnar hit a suplex seconds later. Fans chanted “Suplex City!” Reigns thumbed Lesnar in the eye. A dueling chant broke out of “Suplex City / Let’s Go Roman!” in the first sign of support for Roman from the crowd. Reigns knocked Lesnar off the ring apron with a Superman Punch and then leaped over the top rope onto Lesnar at ringside. Back in the ring he speared Lesnar mid-ring for a near fall. Cole noted the crowd was electric. Reigns hit Lesnar with a Superman Punch. And a second one. Lesnar was down in the corner. When Reigns charged, Lesnar leapfrogged him. Reigns went face-first into the turnbuckle. Both were down and slow to get up. Fans chanted, “This is awesome!”
Lesnar gave Reigns a German suplex. He stood and let out a yell. He delivered another German suplex. He yelled again, mocking Reigns’s pre-spear mannerisms. Lesnar delivered an F5 for a dramatic near fall. Lesnar lifted Reigns, but Reigns slipped free and applied a quick guillotine. Lesnar delivered a spinebuster to break free. Lesnar looked a bit out of it and was slow to stand. He lifted Reigns for another F5. The ref Charles Robinson was knocked down. Lesnar got a visual count of five. Lesnar looked over at the ref, then he looked down at Heyman at ringside. Cole noted Heyman was less animated in this match than any other in his career. Lesnar leaned down to the referee and let out a yell of frustration. He picked him up and dropped him. Robinson rolled to the floor. Reigns speared Lesnar when he turned around. Cole said this has become a free-for-all. Saxton said you can hit your best shot and it won’t matter right now. Both were down and slow to get up. Saxton said they need an official to get this match to a finish line. The camera focused on Heyman, who threw the Universal Title belt right between them. “You know what to do with it!” he yelled. Lesnar smiled and looked over at Heyman. Reigns grabbed it. Lesnar won the tug-o-war. The Usos charged in and superkicked Lesnar. Reigns then hit Lesnar in the forehead with the belt. Reigns made the cover. A replacement ref ran to the ring and counted to three.
WINNER: Reigns in 13:00 to retain the Universal Title. (***1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: That was the finish you were expecting for a show like Crown Jewel. Not really satisfying in that nothing was resolved, but it does take away the possibility of Lesnar being another absentee champion, which is a good thing. Reigns can take issue with Heyman not sliding the belt directly to him but instead between him and Lesnar. Heyman can claim he’s not a particularly good athlete and meant it to end up closer to him. The match was good, hard-hitting, and dramatic, but it came up short of feeling epic overall.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: A good four hour WWE event, the best of the Crown Jewel events, I think.