The SmarK Rant for WWE Crown Jewel 2019 – 10.31.19
Live from the gloriously benevolent kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Your hosts are Michael Cole and Corey Graves.
WWE title: Brock Lesnar v. Cain Velasquez
At least they seem to have an actual crowd of wrestling fans tonight. I’m guessing Brock wants to get his money and get the fuck back to his farm. Brock takes him to the corner and tries for some grappling, but Cain holds him off with the stand-up as they seem to be doing a different MMA-style match. And then Cain suddenly blasts Brock with a head kick and goes in for the kill, but Brock suddenly hooks him in the kimura and retains at 2:10. Well that seemed like an interesting style of match until the abrupt finish. *1/2 Brock refuses to release the hold until Rey gets involved, so Brock destroys him as well and then gives Cain an F5 on a chair, but Rey chases him off with his own chair.
The World’s Largest Tag Team Turmoil Match in History to Determine the Best Tag Team in the World!
Not to oversell it or anything. Naturally, here in this match to determine the best tag team in the entire world, we start with…
Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler v. Lucha House Party
Dolph starts with Dorado and takes a rana as a result, but comes back with a back elbow and dropkicks him. Over to Roode, but Dorado hits an Oz-Cutter and Metallik comes off the top with a splash for two. Dorado walks into a backbreaker from Roode and Dolph gets the fameasser for two. Dolph goes to a chinlock while Corey talks about how they want to win as fast as possible. Roode with a suplex for two. Dorado dives for the hot tag to Metallik, and he gets a headscissors on Roode and follows with a missile dropkick for two. Dorado dives on Dolph, but Roode shoves him off the top and into a Dolph superkick. Back in, Dolph superkicks Metallik into the Glorious DDT and they’re moving on at 5:42. This was perfectly acceptable wrestling. **1/2
Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler v. Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder
The Edgeheads charge in and immediately hit a double-team neckbreaker on Roode for two, but Ziggler superkicks Hawkins off the apron and finish Ryder with a Zig Zag at 0:44. ‘member when they were tag team champions for like two months after Wrestlemania?
Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler v. Heavy Machinery
Tucker catapults Ziggler into the corner and follows with a crossbody, but misses a blind charge and the heels take over. They work Tucker over and Dolph drops an elbow for two. Roode tosses Tucker and then back in, but Tucker fights them off and it’s hot tag Otis. So he throws them all over and exposes his bosums (Corey: “I’m not sure that’s even legal in this country!”) which sets up a Caterpillar, but Roode bails to escape it. Back in, the Compactor on Roode finishes at 5:52. This was fine and Otis got over. **1/4
Heavy Machinery v. The New Day
Do Kofi’s pancakes have to be halal? Big E trades with Tucker to start and does an impressive limbo bridge, and they collide with a clothesline and both are down. Over to Kofi and he slugs away on Otis, but gets slammed and Caterpillared for two. They double-team Kofi, but Kofi hits Otis with Trouble in Paradise and it’s back to Big E. Tucker suplexes him for two, but goes up and misses a crossbody, and the Midnight Hour finishes at 3:18. Another rushed but fine match. **1/4
The New Day v. The B-Team
Dallas and Axel quickly double-team Big E and Bo drops a knee for two, but E throws them both off and finishes Axel with the Big Ending at 1:26.
The New Day v. The Revival
Dawson attacks Kofi in the corner and stomps him down, and Dash tries a monkey flip but Kofi lands on his feet. Dropkicks for both guys, but Dash catches him with a powerslam for two. Dawson comes in with a backdrop suplex for two and Dash drops a leg for two. Dash with a top wristlock and Kofi fights for the tag and hits Dash with the SOS to CREATE SEPARATION. Dash knocks Big E off the apron to cut off the tag, however, and they double-team Kofi with a flying knee in the corner for two. Finally Big E takes out Dash and Kofi rolls up Dawson out of a suplex for the pin at 5:00. And then the Top Guys hit Kofi with the Shatter Machine afterwards to show some good sportsmanship. ***
The New Day v. The Good Brothers
Magic killer on Kofi, but he fights out of it and double-stomps Karl Anderson. Gallows takes out Big E, however, and another Magic Killer ends it at 0:45.
The Good Brothers v. The Viking Raiders
So these are the last two teams and the winner of this match is the BEST TAG TEAM IN THE WORLD. Erik tosses Anderson into Gallows, but they trap him in the corner and Gallows dropkicks him off the apron. Back in, Gallows with a suplex for two and we hit the chinlock. Erik fights out and brings in Ivar, who runs wild and dumps Gallows. Erik slams Ivar onto Anderson, but Anderson runs Erik into the post and he’s Viking-in-peril. Gallows with a double-team neckbreaker for two, but Ivar breaks up the Magic Killer. A second try finishes at 3:48, however, and apparently that makes Anderson & Gallows the best tag team in the world. I’ll take their word for it. **
The whole thing was all right, but did not at all live up to the crushing hype delivered upon it. Just a bunch of short decent matches. I’m impressed that the crowd has been mostly hot through the whole thing so far, though.
Meanwhile, Rey Mysterio wants to make Brock pay. That’s not how it works, pal! Other people pay Brock!
Cesaro v. Mansoor
Big reaction for the home-kingdom boy, of course. Cesaro is wearing jeans and sneakers for some reason, perhaps having lost his luggage? Mansoor counters a leapfrog and gets a rollup and a standing moonsault for two, then goes to the armbar. He dropkicks Cesaro to the floor and follows with a dive, but Cesaro cuts him off with an uppercut and sends him into the railing. Back in, a double axehandle gets two and we hit the chinlock. Mansoor escapes and tries to springboard, but Cesaro trips him up and bounces his head off the top turnbuckle for two. Cesaro with another chinlock and into a sleeper, but Mansoor reverses, so Cesaro hits a backdrop suplex for two. Cesaro to the top, but Mansoor catches him with a dropkick on the way down and makes the comeback with chops and an enzuigiri. Cesaro hits the floor and Mansoor follows with a dive. Back in, that gets two. Tornado DDT gets two. Cesaro gets a cheapshot behind the ref’s back and rolls up Mansoor for two, but Mansoor springboards with a neckbreaker for two. I will say, Mansoor has perfected the “Shocked look after a two count” face that they train hard in NXT. Mansoor goes up and Cesaro cuts him off with a gut wrench off the top for two. Neutralizer is reversed into a cradle for two, but Cesaro hits the Swiss Uppercut into the crossface. Mansoor rolls him over for two and gets a superkick for two. Mansoor pulls himself to the top rope, but Cesaro cuts him off again and beats on him in the corner with forearms. Another gut wrench is reversed by Mansoor into a powerbomb, and he makes the comeback and goes up with a moonsault for the pin at 12:36. Cesaro is a goddamn miracle worker because this was a banger of a match. ****1/4
Meanwhile, Seth Rollins wants to remind everyone that he did not start the fight he has to finish tonight. Even this super-hot crowd of Saudi marks is booing the poor bastard. They’ve gotta pull the plug on him.
Braun Strowman v. Tyson Fury
So they actually do a LOCKUP to start and fight over a wristlock, complete with kip up from Fury, but Braun boots him down and gives him the clubbing blows. Braun misses a charge and hits the post, because it’s a day of the week ending in “y”, and they fight on the floor. Braun knocks him down and does the ringside tour, but walks into a boot from Fury. Back in, Fury gets a big boot for two, but Braun runs him into the corner and clubs him down again. Fury goes a zombie situp in a cute spot, but his timing is way off and they stumble into a powerslam from Braun. The structure of the match isn’t BAD, but Fury just doesn’t know how to do the mechanics of working. Braun sends him out and hits the shoulderblock, but Fury knocks him out on the apron and wins by countout at 7:58. Not good, like at all, but Fury was at least having fun. ¼*
US title: AJ Styles v. Humberto Carillo
AJ stomps him down in the corner, but misses a charge and gets armdragged by Carillo and dropkicked to the floor. Carillo teases a dive, but AJ outsmarts him and gets an ushigoroshi in the ring to take over. We hit the chinlock and Carillo fights up, so AJ hits him with a backbreaker for two. AJ offers a crotch chop to the crowd and goes back to the chinlock, but Carillo comes back with a handspring elbow. AJ faceplants him for two and follows with a brainbuster for two, and it’s back to the chinlock again. They slug it out and Carillo gets an armdrag into a rolling moonsault for two. Carillo with a bodypress for two and they trade enzuigiris and fight on the apron, where Carillo dropkicks him to the floor and follows with a dive. Back in, that gets two. Carillo takes him to the top and tries a rana, but AJ brings him down with a sunset flip for two and hits the roaring lariat for two. Carillo escapes the Styles Clash, but hurts his knee on the landing and AJ goes after it and rolls into the calf crusher. Carillo makes the ropes, although it didn’t seem like much of a threat. Carillo comes back again and goes up with a moonsault, but he misses and lands on the bad leg. AJ hits the Forearm and that’s it at 12:33. This was pretty dull stuff but not terrible. **1/2
Meanwhile, R-Truth accidentally runs into a door and gets pinned by Samir Singh to lose the 24-7 title.
Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan is finally going to take care of Ric Flair after 35 years. Team Hogan has been doing wind sprints in the desert and drinking glasses of sand when they get thirsty, so you know he means it.
Natalya v. Lacey Evans
And now, the first ever historic women’s match in Saudi Arabia. With LACEY EVANS. They are of course covered head to toe, with an additional t-shirt on top of their black bodysuit, so anyone hoping for a scandalous glimpse of ankle will be sorely disappointed. But then it’s not like Natalya is exactly out there showing a lot of skin anyway. Lacey meanwhile has no makeup and looks very different, like your average single mom. They trade wristlocks to start and Nattie gets a rollup for two. More basic stuff with headlocks and another stalemate, but Nattie dumps her and Evans gets a slingshot dropkick for two. Lacey drops an elbow for two and goes to work on the arm, but Natalya gets the atomic drop into a low dropkick to set up the Sharpshooter. Lacey counters with a rollup for two and suplexes her into a moonsault for two, although she hits the knees and Nattie sells it anyway. Nattie comes back with a lariat into the Sharpshooter and Lacey taps at 7:20. This was fine, just a generic women’s match. **1/2 Amazingly, the Saudi government structure does not immediately fall to pieces from the shock of watching women perform sports entertainment.
Team Flair (Bobby Lashley, Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton, Drew McIntyre & King Corbin) v. Team Hogan (Roman Reigns, Ali, Shorty G, Rusev & Ricochet)
Apparently Chad Gable has joined the Spirit Squad in addition to changing his name. But at least he’s not Rusev right now. Gable hits Nakamura with rolling suplexes for two, but Nakamura puts him down and brings in Corbin. Ali tags himself in and rolls into an X-Factor for two, and it’s over to Lashley. Rusev wants in and I can feel ratings drop already, but luckily Drew comes in before they can lock up and drive off another half a million viewers. McIntyre pounds on Rusev, but walks into a leg lariat and Rusev gets two. Man, Rusev barely even looks like the same guy with his new body. Ali gets laid out by Drew and Corbin sends him into the railing, and back in for a backbreaker from Lashley that gets two. Lashley tosses Ali and Orton gets some shots in. Back in for Bad Vibrations from Nakamura, which gets two. Drew hurls him into the corner to set up for the kick, but Ali fights back with a tornado DDT and makes a hot tag to Ricochet. Have they ever mentioned that he’s like a real life superhero? Ricochet takes care of the heels and moonsaults Drew for two, but he goes after Corbin and gets caught by Drew as a result. So Ricochet is your superhero in peril and Orton goes to work on him with chinlockery. Corbin comes in and hits him with the Dine & Dash while Flair struts on the floor, and the heels continue working Ricochet over and cutting off the ring. Finally we get the hot tag to Roman, who has managed to make himself top babyface again by virtue of not being Seth Rollins, and he runs wild on the heels. Roman boots the King down and drops the leg, but Randy Orton gets a blind tag. Superman punch for him gets two, and everyone runs in and starts doing finishers on each other, leaving Roman alone against all the heels. But then Rusev saves him and takes out everyone one by one, leaving him against Lashley the homewrecker. So they slug it out and then Roman comes in with a superman punch on Lashley out of nowhere, but instead of covering he hits everyone with a dive outside. See, I don’t like when they let the “performance” aspect overwhelm the internal logic like that. Back in, Roman sets up to spear Orton, but RKO OUTTA NOWHERE gets two. Orton sets up again, but Ricochet and Ali team up on him and everyone hits dives outside, leaving us with Roman to spear Orton for the pin at 19:53. Started a little draggy but got great with all the smoke and mirrors and stuff. ****
Universal title, Falls Count Anywhere: Seth Rollins v. Bray Wyatt
Oh man, they’re doing the stupid red light gimmick again. The Fiend attacks and puts him down with a headbutt, but Seth comes back with a sling blade and blockbuster. Stomp misses and they fight to the floor, where you can’t see shit, and I guess Wyatt takes over out there. He charges and crashes through the railing, but Seth goes to retrieve a table instead of covering, and then hits his dives. Next up, he gets a chair and beats on Wyatt with that, and then grabs something that looks like a sledgehammer, but who the fuck even knows. Wyatt escapes having his skull crushed by using a mandible claw and preps the announce table and gives Seth the ZEUS NECK SNAP on the table. Because apparently it hurts a lot more while sitting on a table. He tries a senton but puts himself through the table as a result, and Rollins gets one from that. The Fiend goes back on the table, but suddenly revives and shoves Seth through…a table? I think? It’d be an impressive bump if I could tell what the fuck was going on. Shards of broken table confirm that in fact it was a table Seth went through. Bray pulls up the mats, but Seth escapes Sister Abigail and stomps Bray on the exposed material for two. So they head into the crowd and onto some kind of table or ramp, and Sister Abigail gets two for Bray. They fight up the ramp, although “fight” is relative because it’s just Bray walking up the ramp while Seth crawls, and Seth gets another stomp, which Bray no-sells. Another three stomps andFiend won’t stay down, so Seth does it again and makes a big production of revving himself up for…another stomp! Bray still won’t stay down so Seth gives him a bunch of superkicks and Bray falls into an bunch of random electrical stuff, which produces some pyro that blinds Seth. Everything has gone red for him! No wait, that’s just the shitty production. And then Bray pops out of the wreckage like a horror movie villain and gives Seth the Sister Abigail to win the Universal title at 21:30. Well that was a month too late but they had to get the belt off Seth. Just an atrocious match, though, slow and physically irritating to watch thanks to the terrible lighting. *
I’d call this by far the best of the Saudi shows, a very enjoyable show that actually had a hot crowd and didn’t overstay its welcome. The main event was a complete waste but had the right result, although I wouldn’t recommend sitting through it. Overall, this one warrants a rating of WATCH IT thanks to the shockingly great Mansoor match and the Team Hogan v. Team Flair 10-man match.