The WWE returned to Saudi Arabia with a loaded night of matches for the 2021 edition of Crown Jewel.
And the event certainly didn’t disappoint as most of the matches delivered with Edge and Seth Rollins turning in a Match of the Year performance inside Hell in a Cell. It set the bar high but each of the singles championship matches delivered with a main event that left more questions than answers as the Roman Reigns-Paul Heyman-Brock Lesnar triangle continues to be one of the more intriguing stories the WWE has told in years.
MORE: WWE Crown Jewel 2021 date, start time, matches, PPV cost, location & more
Here’s a recap of each match along with grades.
Edge def. Seth Rollins (Hell In A Cell)
Outside of Reigns-Lesnar, this match has had the best build and was assumed to be nothing short of fantastic. Surprisingly, it kicked off Crown Jewel, which meant that it could set a high bar for the rest of the show.
That’s exactly what it did as these two turned in a phenomenal combination of professional wrestling and brutality.
As expected, the two started off fast and exchanged offense. With each moment that passed, the violence increased.
Everything changed once Rollins escaped a crossface submission by jamming a piece of a steel chair into Edge’s eye. Rollins went so far as to use Edge’s best friend’s move against him when he nailed him with Christian’s Unprettier. But when Rollins attempted to climb the turnbuckle for a phoenix splash, Edge shoved him like a pinball into the cell and through a table that was set up beneath him.
Steel stairs were introduced to the match and Edge clobbered Rollins with an Edge-O-Matic and smashed him with a chair off the turnbuckle for a near fall. A parade of their greatest hits continued with a Pedigree by Rollins and a buckle bomb and spear by Edge. Running out of ways to get rid of his opponent, Edge introduced a ladder to the match so now we unofficially have both a Hell in a Cell and a TLC match at the same time.
A superplex off the ladder was reversed by Rollins into a powerbomb through the table for yet another near fall. A trio of superkicks from Rollins led to him wrapping a chain around his boot and landing yet another superkick on Edge. A curb stomp attempt was countered by Edge shoving a chair into Rollins groin. Rollins would use both a chain and wrench to apply a crossface but wasn’t satisfied with getting a submission. Instead, he let the hold go and curb stomped Rollins into a chair for the pin.
A fitting conclusion to one of the better rivalries of 2021. If there was a downside, it would be how high the bar was set for the rest of the show. But Edge and Rollins are fantastic rivals and delivered a match that exceeded expectations.
Mansoor def. Mustafa Ali
If there was a sure thing on this show, it’s Mansoor winning in Saudi Arabia. Anywhere else, this is just a really good match. But in Saudi? It’s Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan. The perfect match to follow that fantastic Hell in a Cell match because there is literally nothing else that could keep this crowd engaged like a Mansoor match. It’s also worth noting that Mustafa Ali is criminally underrated as a pro wrestler.
This match was pretty good and had its moments where Mansoor was in peril. But the ending was never truly in doubt.
Ali missed a 450 splash gave Mansoor the opportunity to hit a slingshot neck breaker for the win.
Afterward, Ali attacked Mansoor but a mysterious figure made his way down to the ring for the save. Who could it be? None other than Tarek Hamdi, Saudi Arabia’s Olympic silver medalist in men’s karate from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Hamdi landed a high kick that put Ali out and drew a massive pop from the Saudi crowd. This is how you play to your fans.
RK-Bro def. AJ Styles and Omos to retain Raw Tag Team Championships
The entrances alone for both were extraordinary. Styles and Omos had pyro that certainly cost more than your average UFC card while Riddle rode in on a camel. Other than that, it was just a match.
Orton and Riddle dominated Styles early until Omos was tagged in. To date, Omos’ offense has been limited and he’s treated more like a special attraction than a pro wrestler. Of course, he worked over Riddle and Orton before tagging Styles back in. It often makes you wonder why Omos ever tags out since he’s so dominant and never takes a bump. Nevertheless, with Styles back in, Orton and Riddle eventually got the upper hand. Omos attempted to interfere but was neutralized. Styles had a Phenomenal Forearm countered by an Orton RKO and then a Floating Bro from Riddle for the pin as RK-Bro retain.
It wasn’t much of a match and got Riddle and Orton over with the crowd. Definitely wasn’t offensive but existed simply for the fans enjoyment.
Zelina Vega def. Doudrop to win Queens Crown
Well, at least it went longer than the rest of the tournament. The entire match felt like it was happening in slow motion. Some things happened, Vega got in some offense and Doudrop got a near fall with a sidewalk slam. Another near fall from Doudrop from a running senton bomb. Doudrop missed a running splash and Vega hit the Code Red to become the Queen.
Honestly, this entire tournament was a travesty. Outside of the finals, no match went longer than three minutes and the winner is someone who hadn’t won a single match since she returned to the WWE earlier this year.
Goldberg def. Bobby Lashley (No Holds Barred)
The Goldberg and Lashley feud started back at SummerSlam when Lashley put Goldberg’s son Gage in a Hurt Lock. For whatever reason, they’ve decided to revisit this feud two months later in Saudi Arabia, where it’s obvious that Goldberg is here for the check.
Lashley inexplicably wrapped his hand in a chain and attacked Goldberg. Goldberg started bleeding immediately. At least it wasn’t from him smashing his head into a door, right? Lashley continued to rough up Goldberg and attacked the same leg he injured at SummerSlam with a steel chair. But a Lashley spear misfire sent him through a table. Goldberg speared Lashley and hit him with a clean Jackhammer. Instead of going for the pin, Goldberg tossed Lashley outside and speared him through a barricade. Goldberg tried to smash Lashley’s head with steel steps but missed.
The Hurt Business came to Lashley’s aid but, of course, Goldberg took them out. Goldberg beat Lashley with a kendo stick and speared him off the entrance ramp into a table. Goldberg with the pin and the win.
Thank goodness this is over. But where does Lashley go from here? We know where Goldberg goes and that’s home to cash his check.
Xavier Woods def. Finn Balor to become King of the Ring
This has been a long time coming for Xavier Woods. For years he has lobbied for the WWE to bring back King of the Ring and they decided to have the tournament this year. Woods is the only member of the New Day to hold singles gold but this is the next best thing.
Woods is also one of the more underrated wrestlers on the roster and has shown glimpses of his prowess as a singles competitor in recent matches against Riddle, Jinder Mahal and Ricochet. Against Finn Balor, he would see his dream realized.
The match started off with two technically sound competitors looking to one up each other. The action heated up when Woods superplexed Balor for a near fall. Balor countered Woods flying elbow with a knee. He then went into his finishing sequence with a shotgun dropkick but missed his coup de grax. Woods escaped, hit a suplex gutbuster and landed the Limitbreaker Elbow to pick up the pin and fulfill his destiny as King of the Ring.
It was a solid match between two babyfaces. It may have lacked fire down the stretch but it didn’t wear out its welcome. The end justified the means.
Big E def. Drew McIntyre to retain WWE Championship
With Drew McIntyre moving to SmackDown and Big E recently winning the championship, there was little doubt that the champion wouldn’t retain. This served more as a match that validates the champion than anything else. And who better to do this against than McIntyre, who had a fantastic reign as WWE champion last year.
This was a hoss match as the two powerhouses sought to outmuscle each other throughout with ring rattling slams. It was odd to have back-to-back babyface matches but this one worked well because of the respect factor between the two. And it was an impressive effort by both sides with a great final stretch that cemented Big E’s reign and made it clear that he will not be a transitional champion.
The action picked up when E countered a Claymore Kick with a powerbomb and beautifully transitioned into a Stretched Muffler submission. McIntyre would escape but found himself hoisted up into the Big Ending. McIntyre kicked out and Big E sought to hit an avalanche Big Ending that was used against Bobby Lashley to win the championship. McIntyre countered and landed a super bulldog that surprisingly drew a “holy sh-t” chant from the Saudi crowd. McIntyre missed his first Claymore Kick but landed it when he countered a running spear for a near fall. McIntyre aimed for another but was snatched up by Big E for a tilt a whirl Big Ending for the finish.
Great match that keeps McIntyre strong as he heads to SmackDown, where he’ll almost certainly find himself back in the title picture. As for Big E, it will be interesting to see who he’s paired with for his next defense.
Becky Lynch def. Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair to retain SmackDown Women’s Championship
A one-handed gorilla press slam.
As great as this match was, it’ll be remembered for Bianca Belair’s incredible display of strength that left everyone in awe and served as a reminder as to why she was recently recognized as the #1 women’s wrestler in the world according to PWI.
The rise of Bianca Belair has been absolutely incredible to witness as she possesses a natural physical ability and athleticism that few can come close to. Although the WWE women’s division has been mostly dominated by the Four Horsewomen (Charlotte Flair, Bayley, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch), Belair is clearly the one who can ascend to the top of the mountain. She’s a unique talent with unrivaled charisma. But it wouldn’t be her night.
If there was anything wrong with this match it was that they tried to pack almost too much into it, which led to a few sloppy moments that were added to showcase the talent of the women.
All three worked hard and there were some fantastic sequences that showcased the women. Too often they tried sequences to spotlight Belair’s strength but it was fine considering how well most of the match came off.
Some of the highlights included Lynch and Banks slapping their submission finishers simultaneously on Belair, a Bank Statement broken up by Belair’s standing moonsault and a double Dis-Arm-Her by Lynch on her opponents that was powered out by Belair in yet another incredible feat of strength. The end came when Belair hit the KOD but Banks and Belair battled over who would get the pin. Banks would eventually toss Belair aside but was small packaged by Lynch, who held on to the ropes to retain.
It was a sensible finish as it’s far too early to take the title off of Lynch, who will almost certainly continue her feud with Belair on Raw.
Roman Reigns def. Brock Lesnar to retain WWE Universal Championship
We’ve seen this match quite a few times but with the heel and face roles reversed, it’s been incredibly refreshing. And with a screwy finish that left the door open for this feud to continue, it was the right way to close the show.
The build to this match has been excellent with the mystery of whose side Paul Heyman would be on has been brilliantly played by Heyman.
And after the match, the answer remains unclear.
After some tussling, Lesnar took Reigns to Suplex City with the first German Suplex of the night. But Reigns would get the upper hand with a Superman Punch that sent Lesnar to the outside and followed by a dive by the champion. A spear by Reigns led to the first near fall. Reigns would land a series of Superman Punches but Lesnar leapfrogged a spear attempt that saw the champion crash into the corner.
And then Suplex City really began.
Lesnar landed a trio of German Suplexes but couldn’t keep Reigns down after an F-5. Another F-5 attempt from Lesnar was countered by a Reigns guillotine choke. Lesnar powered out with a spine buster. Lesnar would go for another F-5 but took out the referee by accident. Reigns then took Lesnar out with a spear.
With both men down, Heyman would throw the title into the ring right between them and shout “you know what to do with it!”
But who was it meant for?
Lesnar wrangled away the title from Reigns but was met with a double superkick by The Usos. Reigns followed with a shot to the head of Lesnar with the title to pick up the pinfall and retain his title.
All the while, Heyman’s face told the story of a man torn between two men.
They figured out a way out of the match that wouldn’t hurt either man and set the stage for a rematch down the line. When will that rematch be? Who knows. But this has been one of the best stories the WWE has told in quite some time.
WWE Crown Jewel 2021 Results
- Roman Reigns (c) def. Brock Lesnar to retain the WWE Universal Championship
- Big E (c) def. Drew McIntyre to retain the WWE Championship (13:25)
- Goldberg def. Bobby Lashley (No Holds Barred) (11:25)
- Edge def. Seth Rollins (Hell in a Cell) (27:40)
- Becky Lynch (c) def. Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship (19:25)
- Randy Orton and Riddle (c) def. AJ Styles and Omos to retain the Raw Tag Team Championship (8:40)
- Xavier Woods def. Finn Balor (King of the Ring finals) (9:40)
- Zelina Vega def. Doudrop (Queens Crown finals) (5:50)
- Mansoor def. Mustafa Ali (10:00)