WWE Crown Jewel aired its biannual morning pay-per-view (on the best coast) as Brock Lesnar emphatically retained his WWE Championship over Cain Velasquez while Tyson Fury defeated Braun Strowman via countout.
The event also saw The Fiend capture his first Universal Championship in what felt like a make-good coming off Hell in a Cell.
With WWE now setting its sights on Survivor Series, certain winners and losers emerged coming out of the promotion’s Saudi showcase with surprising names in both categories.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar may have achieved permanent knighthood in the WWE winner’s circle as he is the only Superstar who is afforded the amount of squash victories over top-tier competition that he has under his belt.
John Cena, Kofi Kingston and now Cain Velasquez—to name a few—have all suffered quick, one-sided losses at the hands of Lesnar, who avenged his real-life loss to Velasquez at UFC 121. In Cain’s case, however, it is worth noting he was in a dominant position over Lesnar before getting caught in a Kimura Lock.
A potentially mouthwatering feud against Rey Mysterio could lie in Lesnar’s immediate future, and given Brock’s track record against much smaller opponents—not to mention Rey Mysterio’s peak performance as babyface in recent weeks—it should be one for the ages.
Loser: Cain Velasquez
Cain Velasquez couldn’t have had a worse WWE debut considering the star power and novelty he brought to the squared circle as a former UFC heavyweight champion. Velasquez suffered a quick submission loss to Brock Lesnar inside of three minutes and proceeded to take a brutal steel chair beating.
This is not how WWE books a wrestler whom they have any long-term plans for, especially in his debut match. If Velasquez does have plans to resume his WWE career, it may be tough sledding.
Winners: The O.C.
Who would have thought, but The O.C. emerged as “the Best Tag Team in the World” after winning the Tag Team Turmoil match with a surprising upset over The Viking Raiders. Now in line for a Raw Tag Team Championship match, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson have come back from the dead in 2019 after rumors earlier this year that the duo would not be re-signing with WWE.
A superstar (not branded. Like, a legit superstar without a capital “S”) through and through, Mansoor is lightyears better than the token, biannual booking he receives in his home country of Saudi Arabia. Working like a young Eddie Guerrero and selling alike an old pro, Mansoor is the type of natural babyface that Universal champion Seth Rollins will never be.
Cesaro certainly deserves an assist for helping the hometown favorite shine, but Mansoor has something special beyond a partisan victory lap twice a year.
Even if WWE did take an interest in giving Mansoor any sort of push, this promotion has proven to be painfully inept at booking babyfaces for at least the past decade.
Mansoor could theoretically achieve his destiny as one of the more complete workers in the world, but as a minority in a wrestling promotion with aging, single-minded leadership and zero innovation, he’s in the wrong company to do so.
He needs to get out of WWE. Fast.
Loser: Braun Strowman
After another big-match loss for Braun Strowman, this time against an outsider in Tyson Fury who presumably is one-and-done, Strowman’s journey of one step forward, two steps back continues. It’s tough to imagine Braun winning a world championship anytime soon as he seems to have hit a decidedly lower ceiling as a giant who still can’t win the big one.
Winners: Natalya, Lacey Evans and Women’s Wrestling
There will be a lot of cynicism surrounding this match, some deserved, but this was a truly beautiful moment. Save for a water bottle being thrown Natalya’s way by one rotten apple during her entrance, fans responded positively to a historic match that will hopefully lead to not only future women’s matches, but future progress in governmental policies pertaining to women in Saudi Arabia.
Of course, WWE will have little to no hand in these big-picture political goals, but it was certainly encouraging to see Saudi Arabia finally embrace women’s wrestling from the worldwide leader.
Winner: The Fiend
The Fiend needed a big victory and he got it at WWE Crown Jewel. The Fiend’s Saudi win wasn’t nearly enough to wipe the bad taste out of the mouths of pro wrestling fans coming out of an ugly finish to Hell in a Cell. But it was the right move to put WWE’s hottest character back on track to will this promotion out of its current slump.
As long as WWE continues to do right by The Fiend, the sky is the limit.