The fourth event in WWE's 10-year deal with Saudi Arabia takes place today as King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh hosts Crown Jewel.
Former UFC champion Cain Velasquez will have his first match for WWE, and boxing star Tyson Fury will make his pro wrestling in-ring debut.
Brock Lesnar will defend the WWE title against Velasquez, who beat Lesnar for the UFC Heavyweight title ten years ago.
Fury, the lineal heavyweight boxing champion, will face Braun Strowman. The two had a confrontation on the first episode of SmackDown on FOX, and the feud has since escalated, including Strowman attacking Fury’s leg at the WWE Performance Center.
Another high-profile match will feature Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan coaching teams in a five-on-five tag match. Flair’s team will consist of Randy Orton, Bobby Lashley, King Corbin, Shinsuke Nakamura & Drew McIntyre. Hogan’s team will feature Roman Reigns, Shorty G, Ali, Rusev & Ricochet.
The pre-show begins at noon Eastern time, with the main card starting an hour later.
Humberto Carrillo won a battle royal to face AJ Styles for the United States title later in the show
A bunch of people, mostly the 24/7 geek squad, came out first. R-Truth, Buddy Murphy, Erick Rowan and Andrade came out and got entrances.
Drake Maverick was eliminated first, with Rowan press slamming him to the floor. Heath Slater followed quickly, then Tony Nese, Brian Kendrick and Eric Young.For whatever reason Sunil, but not Samir Singh, was in the match.
Titus O’Neil eliminated Mojo Rawley, followed by Sin Cara. In case you can’t tell, there’s not much to this match. Titus O’Neil was dumped by Apollo Crews. Remember when they were part of a stable? The commentary team sure didn’t. Now there’s an inset commercial for a show I’m already watching.
Erik Rowan and Luke Harper had a staredown, because I guess they are now enemies, but then No Way Jose came in and tried to break it up with dance. Harper killed him with a discus clothesline and Rowan dumped him. Akira Tozawa, who probably should be on the list of people who should leave, tried to intervene and got dumped quickly as well.
A bunch of eliminations followed, including R-Truth, Apollo Crews, Sunil Singh and Buddy Murphy. Harper and Rowan, Humberto Carillo and Cedric Alexander were the last four remaining. Harper and Rowan beat up both of the smaller men. Cedric tried a comeback but was quickly eliminated.
The Bollywood Boyz started to walk away as R-Truth was still recovering on the outside.He suddenly recovers, shoves Samir and rolls up Sunil to win the 24/7 title. All the geek wrestlers that just got dumped came back out again to chase everyone away.
Harper and Rowan continued to work on Carrillo. Harper went to eliminate Carrillo, but Rowan took the opportunity to dump out Harper as Carrillo fought elimination on the apron. Carrillo quickly got back into the ring and eliminated Rowan to win the match. Not much to this at all.
There was an interview with The New Day on the pre-show. They said that despite setbacks in recent weeks, including Xavier Woods being taken down by a torn Achilles tendon, they’ll win the tag team turmoil match tonight. Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler and Heavy Machinery said the same.
Brock Lesnar defeated Cain Velasquez to retain the WWE title
Yes, it’s kicking off the show.
They started by exchanging some strikes. Lesnar tried or a takedown but instead took Cain to the corner. Cain with some strikes. Lesnar takes him back to the corner. Cain strikes Lesnar with a big kick and takes him down. Cain starts striking Lesnar, but Lesnar puts Cain in the kimura and Cain...submits. Yes, that quickly. I am guessing this was booked to be like an MMA match. Not much of anything.
Lesnar wouldn’t let go of the kimura lock after the match. Mysterio broke it up with a chairshot, but Lesnar immediately dumped him out of the ring and laid out Cain with an F5 on the chair. Rey Mysterio came back with a chair and hit him enough times that Lesnar retreated. My feeling is they’ll do a rubber match but Cain came off like such a nothing here.
The Revival and The Viking Raiders said words about the tag team match.
Anderson & Gallows won a tag team turmoil match
Lucha House Party and Roode & Ziggler starts things off. Heels get the heat on Lince Dorado. Dorado cuts off Roode and tags in Metalik. Dorado tried to take out Ziggler on the outside, but eats a superkick. Ziggler superkicked Metalik and Roode planted him with the Glorious DDT for the elimination.
Hawkins & Ryder came next and cleared house, but Ryder was quickly taken down and pinned with a spinebuster/zig zag combo.
Heavy Machinery came next. Tucker got the better of Ziggler, but Roode quickly cut him off when tagged in. They get the heat on Tucker until Ziggler misses a splash in the corner and tags in Otis, who clears house. He went for the caterpillar on Roode.
Tucker laid out Ziggler on the outside as Otis caught Roode, allowing both of them to hit the compactor for the elimination.
New Day were next. Tucker and Big E had a nice exchange where they looked pretty agile. Heavy Machinery got the heat, but Kofi made a comeback and laid out Otis with the Trouble in Paradise. Big E is tagged back, then tags back Kofi after Tucker missed a crossbody. They hit the Midnight Hour to eliminate them.
B-Team are next. Astonishingly this didn’t last long, but at the same time it lasted long enough for a Bo Dallas resthold sequence. Kofi took out Bo Dallas with a trust fall then Big E pinned Axel with the Big Ending.
Revival were next and isolated Kofi, working him over. Kofi hit the SOS but still couldn’t tag in. Kofi then pinned Dawson with a cradle out of nowhere. Dash and Dawson were not happy about that and beat up both men, laying out Kofi with the shatter machine.
Gallows & Anderson came out next and went for the magic killer but Kofi escaped. He tried to tag in Big E, but Big E was taken out and Kofi ended up getting pinned with the magic killer.
The Viking Raiders are the last team in. Anderson clips the leg of Erik as Gallows gets the heat in the ring. Both tag out as Ivar does his hot comeback. The two work over Anderson and go for a double team, but Gallows cuts them off. They went for the magic killer on Ivar but Erik breaks it up. Erik went to suplex Gallows but Anderson clipped Erik’s leg then landed the magic killer on him for the win. They are the best tag team in the world despite being in a very long, nothing happening match.
Mansoor defeated Cesaro
Mansoor went for a handshake, but Cesaro refused. Mansoor hit a standing moonsault for a two count. Cesaro punched Mansoor as they went for a clean break. Mansoor dropkicked Cesaro out of the ring and went for a suicide dive, but Cesaro hit an uppercut as he left the ropes. Mansoor is clearly very athletic and knows where he needs to be for everything.
Cesaro wore down Mansoor in the ring with a chinlock, then went for a sleeper. Mansoor countered with one of his own, but Cesaro countered with a back suplex. Cesaro went for something on the top rope, but Mansoor cut him off with a big dropkick.
Mansoor made his comeback, taking Cesaro out of the ring with a hurricanrana and wiping him out on the outside with a tope con hilo. He follows that up with a tornado DDT. Cesaro shoved Mansoor into the ref, attacked Mansoor’s throat and rolled him up but only got a two count.
Mansoor hit a springboard neckbreaker but Cesaro put his foot on the rope. Mansoor tried to follow with something on the top rope, but Cesaro cut him off, grabbed him on the apron and hit a gutwrench suplex. Cesaro planted him with an uppercut and a crossface, but Mansoor countered with a pin attempt.
Cesaro cut off Mansoor on the top rope and went to gutwrench Mansoor off there, but Mansoor countered with a sunset flip powerbomb. Mansoor then hit the moonsault for the win. Honestly this was one of the best matches WWE has put out in this country. Cesaro is consistently one of the better wrestlers WWE has and Mansoor showed a ton in this match, he definitely has something.
Mansoor after the match says he woke up this morning and looked in the mirror, saying that this was his most important match. He admitted he was scared, but then he stepped into the ring in front of this crowded and remembered anything is possible. This was the most important victory in his life. He cannot wait what we do next. We dreamed that one day there would be a Saudi star in WWE.
Seth Rollins backstage says this ends tonight. The Fiend brought out the worst of him. There has always been mind games, but this is different. It is uncomfortable and unsettling. No matter what happens tonight, he didn’t pick this fight. He didn’t start it but he will finish it. He will be Universal champion after tonight, no matter what it takes.
Tyson Fury defeated Braun Strowman by count out
Tyson Fury got an incredible entrance, with tons of pyro and “It’s Your Thing” by the Isley Brothers playing in the background. Fury came out in a Saudi outfit. It was here where I felt Braun’s chances of winning evaporated.
They locked up, with Braun getting the advantage with a wrist lock. Fury did the slowest kip up I’ve seen in some time. Braun quickly got the advantage, but missed a charge in the corner after Fury dodged and posted himself. Braun tackled Fury on the outside and went for a running pounce but Fury cut him off with a boot to the chest.
Braun went for a powerslam but Fury escaped, did a drop toe hold into the ropes then followed with a boot for a two count. Braun tackled Fury into the corner then punched him in the chest. Fury sat up like the Undertaker but Braun tackled him back down. Fury cut off Strowman with a boot, but Strowman came right back with the world’s strongest slam.
Strowman hit the running shoulder tackle on the outside and then hit another one. He threw Fury into the ring, but Fury punched him as he was coming back to the ring. Braun sold it like was knocked out as the referee counted to ten. This looked bad in a few spots, but otherwise this was harmless and not really much of note.
After the match, Strowman was unhappy and laid out Fury with his powerslam finish. Fury got up immediately after and no sold it. Oops.
They aired a WWE 2K20 commercial. I wrote about that here.
All the 24/7 geeks are running around backstage. R-Truth avoids them, but runs into both Bollywood Boyz. R-Truth said he had an escape plan. His escape plan was running into the door he came out of. Ha ha ha. Samir Singh covered him and won the title again.
AJ Styles defeated Humberto Carrillo to retain the United States title
Styles immediately jumped Carrillo at the bell and got the heat on him pretty quickly. Carrillo came back with a handspring elbow, but AJ plants him and hits a big brainbuster for a two count.
Carrillo came back with a cool springboard armdrag and a moonsault. Styles cut him off with the pele kick. Both men wind up on the apron. Humberto hit a kick and a palm strike and followed with a dropkick. Big corkscrew moonsault to the floor by Carrillo. Carrillo went for a hurricane but Styles went for the Styles Clash, but Carrillo escaped.
Styles went for the Styles Clash again but Carrillo made it to the ropes. Carrillo tweaked his knee and Styles immediately honed in on it, landing the calf crusher. Carrillo escapes and takes down Styles with a kick. He went for a moonsault, but Styles avoids it. Carrillo lands on his feet, but tweaks his leg. This gives Styles the opportunity to get the advantage and lay out Carrillo with the phenomenal forearm for the win. Pretty fun match. Carrillo is great, but so are many others who have been put in this position.
Hulk Hogan says that after 35 years he’s going to put this thing with Ric Flair to rest. He says he made his team train and drink sand when they were thirsty. That’s not very healthy.
Natalya defeated Lacey Evans
Both women were covered head to toe, including wearing t-shirts over their gear.
The crowd was into this from the start. Lots of camera shots to women in the crowd. They chain wrestled for a bit. Natalya went for a sharpshooter but Evans escaped. Nattie threw Lacey to the outside but Lacey clipped her leg. She landed a springboard elbow for a two count.
Lacey hits a springboard moonsault, then posed on the top rope, but Nattie suddenly sprung to life, took her down and started a comeback. She went for the sharpshooter and sure enough that was it. Perfectly fine.
Nattie and Lacey shook hands after the match and posed with women in the crowd. Both were emotional in a moment that clearly was important to them.
Michael Cole and Corey Graves pushed hard how special this moment was, with Cole saying “if you push and push and push enough, change is going to happen”. Maybe the Saudi government will be so moved by this they’ll free the women they’ve imprisoned for protesting the right to drive.
Team Hogan (Roman Reigns, Shorty G, Ali, Rusev and Ricochet) defeated Team Flair (Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley, Shinskue Nakamura, Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre)
Nakamura and Shorty G start things off. They start what was a pretty fun exchange before Nakamura tags in Corbin. Ali and Corbin exchange some stuff before Bobby Lashley and Rusev are tagged in. Lashley quickly tags out to McIntyre.
Corbin shoved Ali, who was going to the top rope, all the way to the floor and into the barricade. All of Team Flair got the heat on Ali for a very long period of time until he hit a DDT on McIntyre. He finally tags out to Ricochet, wearing new Liger-esque attire, who made a comeback. Corbin distracted Ricochet long enough for McIntyre to cut him off. He tagged in Orton, who continued to work him over.
After also being worked on for a long time, Ricochet cuts off Orton and tags in Reigns, who makes the hot comeback. Everyone came in the ring to do their thing. Ricochet got backen out by the claymore kick. Rusev cleared everyone and cornered Lashley. The two went to blows.
Lashley dumped Rusev to the floor but walked into a superman punch by Reigns. He sent Lashley to the outside and did a big flying splash, taking out all of Team Flair. Reigns went to finish Orton but walked into an RKO for a two count. Orton motions for the punt kick, but Shorty G and Ali distracted him. Ricochet and Gable took out a lot of Team Flair and Reigns hit the spear on Orton for the win. This felt like an okay Raw match but it wasn't anything you needed to go out of your way to see.
The Fiend Bray Wyatt defeated Seth Rollins to win the WWE Universal title
The red lighting is still here. Talk about not getting it.
They start off with some back and forth. Seth already goes for the stomp but the fiend avoids it. Wyatt threw Rollins into the crowd and they both wind up on top of equipment boxes. I can barely see what anything is because of this stupid lighting.
They went back outside of the ring where Rollins stomped on Wyatt, who proceeded to no sell it and laid out Rollins on the apron. Wyatt tried to do a running charge into the barricade but Seth dodged, sending Wyatt into the barricade himself. Seth took out a table and attacked Wyatt with the cowl of the announce table.
Rollins sets up multiple tables on the outside as he pelted Wyatt with steel chair shots. He then took out the sledgehammer. He set up Wyatt on the chair and was about to hit Wyatt with the sledgehammer but Wyatt came back to life and attacked him, throwing Rollins over the Arabic announce table.
Rollins set up the Fiend on the announce table, but once again Wyatt came back to life and pushed Rollins off the turnbuckle into the tables that Rollins had set up earlier. Wyatt removed the ring mats on the outside and went to plant Rollins with the Sister Abigail but Rollins cut him off with an enziguri. He hit a stomp on the concrete, but Wyatt kicked out.
Using a chair, Rollins took Wyatt back into the crowd on top of what I guess was a platform but Wyatt planted him with a STO. Wyatt dragged Rollins to the entrance and yet again. Seth stomped him, only for Wyatt to no sell it. This is so dead as a finish. Another stomp. Another. More. Again. One more time.
Seth superkicked Wyatt, causing him to fall into an electrical area. A bunch of pyro exploded. Officials came out with fire extinguishers. Seth made his way to the area and tried to clear it. But suddenly, Wyatt emerged and latched onto the mandible claw on Seth, taking him to the floor. He then wiped out Rollins with the Sister Abigail and pinned him to win the title.
This was way better than their match last month, but that’s low praise as aside from a few cool bumps, there wasn’t much here. The lighting is a huge distraction and hurt the match as well.
The lights went out. The fiend then appeared on stage with the Universal title, then disappeared. The show ended with a big fireworks display.
This was marginally better than previous shows in the country, with Mansoor vs. Cesaro being a real good match. But other than that and Styles/Carrillo, there wasn’t much here.