Entering Friday, most fans didn’t know what to expect from the WWE Crown Jewel special. There was a nervous anticipation for an event that felt like both a trip down memory lane and the show that would kick off the Road to WrestleMania.
Uncertainty swirled after the unfortunate announcement of Roman Reigns’ cancer, the vacating of the WWE Universal title, and late changes in both the World Cup tournament field and the WWE championship match. These mysteries are what ultimately made the show a must-watch event for fans and cemented it as one of the most impactful WWE events of the year. From Nakamura’s unexpected headbutt to Rusev’s crown jewels that helped him retain the United States Championship to the 25-plus minute matchup between WWE legends DX and the Brothers of Destruction, Crown Jewel packed surprises from beginning to end. Don’t believe us? Look no further than the return of Hulk Hogan as official Crown Jewel host.
The previously mentioned Nakamura title defense kicked off the night and he used every trick in the book to pull off the win over title challenger Rusev. That match was a nice warm up to the main card, which began with the WWE World Cup first-round matches. Rey Mysterio, The Miz, Seth Rollins, and Dolph Ziggler would pass their early tests and advance to the semi-finals of the tournament later in the night.
The Bar—Sheamus and Cesaro—would then defend their titles against The New Day. Oh, we can’t forget to mention that The Bar had a 7-foot tall man in their corner to even the numbers advantage. The Big Show has become a thorn in the side of The New Day over the past couple of weeks, even costing them the titles on SmackDown LIVE, and his presence was equally as impactful at Crown Jewel. His “Knockout punch” would be the difference maker in the match and in The Bar narrowly escaping as SmackDown tag champs.
The World Cup semi-finals would follow the tag team match and wear and tear suffered in the first round matches played a big part in these matches. Rey Mysterio was nursing an injury after being attacked by an irate Randy Orton post-match and couldn’t muster the strength to overcome The Miz. On the other side of the bracket, Drew McIntyre’s interference gifted Dolph Ziggler the victory and halted Seth Rollins’ momentum.
The winners would be given a few matches to catch their breath as the WWE and Universal Championships would be defended next. AJ Styles was first to defend his belt in the latest saga between him and bitter adversary Samoa Joe. The match would exhibit much of the same fire and physicality as their most recent bouts, and like those, Styles would retain his title in the end.
It’s hard to follow up a heated rivalry like Styles-Joe but Brock Lesnar and Braun Stroman were up to the task. Shockingly, the matched proved to be one-sided as The Beast Incarnate would run through the Monster Among Men en route to retaining the Universal Title he lost to Roman Reigns just a few months ago. No one was more excited to see Lesnar recapture the belt than his advocate Paul Heyman. The two laughed menacingly up the ramp as Lesnar proudly brandished his title belt. It’s the first time audiences have seen Braun Stroman utterly dominated by an opponent, and the fallout on RAW will be must-see television.
As for the future:
Yes, the Lesnar victory was shocking, but it paled in comparison to the developments that occurred in the World Cup final. Dolph Ziggler was geared up to take on The Miz, but a quick injury would cause The Miz to pull out of the match. That is when SmackDown LIVE Commissioner Shane McMahon would take his place and defeat Ziggler in just over 2 minutes. It was a move that left the crowd speechless and Shane holding the trophy. Fans barely had time to catch their breath before the music for one of WWE’s greatest factions hit.
The D-Generation X theme song began, and the crowd erupted with some of the loudest cheers of the night. Those were hushed by the all-too-familiar gong that precedes the entrance of The Undertaker. Just a few minutes later, the Brothers of Destruction—Kane and The Undertaker—stood toe-to-toe with Triple H and the returning Shawn Michaels.
A dream match by any stretch of the imagination—the WWE veterans put on a show in what was easily the longest matches of the night at 27 minutes and 45 seconds. All four men had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands with signature moves and some patented high-risk spots by HBK. In the end, a busted open Shawn Michaels would deliver a series of Sweet Chin Music superkicks to the Brothers of Destruction and allow Triple H to finish Kane with a Pedigree.
The crowd roared in appreciation as fireworks lit up the sky above these four legends. In the end, there were no losers and winners because the fans got exactly what they came to see. Crown Jewel showed that some of the Attitude Era’s most iconic names can still entertain the sports entertainment world alongside the next generation of WWE superstars.