Over the past couple of years, most – if not all – of Roman Reigns’ challengers for the WWE Universal Championship had  a pretty similar story: become amazingly popular with the WWE Universe, build up enough momentum that it seems like the only logical story would be for them to beat Roman for the title, but instead  get screwed over during the title match thanks to interference by the Bloodline.

At Saturday’s Crown Jewel event, challenger LA Knight joined the club.

Despite the incredible response from the Saudi Arabian audience, who chanted for Knight throughout the match, with many of them holding up signs with his name on them, that wasn’t enough to dethrone Reigns, who was saved from a loss several times during the match by Paul Heyman, Solo Sikoa, and Jimmy Uso.

The match itself was good, as were most of them on the show. But on an event that featured several of the earlier matches similarly marred with outside interference, by the end, it got a bit repetitive, coating the Crown Jewel with a bit too much dust.


Pre-show Match: Sami Zayn vs. JD McDonagh

The crowd was wild for Sami like this one, and the announcers compared their reaction to one Sami would normally get in his hometown of Montreal. Or the reaction I give to a smoked meat sammich in Montreal.

Sami was in clear control early on, including hitting a modified Monkey Flip that saw McDonagh eat the ring ropes the hard way and with a huge red welt on his midsection that only looked worse as the match went on. JD snapped Sami’s throat over the top rope to take control, and he blasted Sami with some ground-and-pound and various strikes.

Sami tried to fight back several times, but JD kept up the attack, including thwarting a top rope attack with a Lung Blower that looked like it should have been the end but for a hanging 3-count by the ref.

Sami was finally able to turn things around with a huge Clothesline that stunned JD, but then JD hit a Standing Spanish Fly for another close fall. Sami caught JD in a Moonsault attempt, and then hit a Corner Suplex, a Helluva Kick, and a Blue Thunder Bomb that earned him the three-count and the hard-fought win.

This was a good opener, with simple storytelling and classic psychology. Which the crowd ate up. If they don’t get tired out, the energy in the building alone should help make this one a fun night – er, afternoon.

Winner: Sami Zayn



A good opening video narrated by John Cena kicked off the show, and then the announcers Michael Cole and Wade Barrett welcomed the crowd to the sold-out event.


Match 1: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Drew McIntyre – for the World Championship

The crowd seemed to be divided here, with lots of cheers when Drew was using his power to take the early advantage. Seth tried for some hit-and-move offense, but got caught doing a Flying Dive to the floor and Drew hit a great-looking Overhead Belly-to-Belly Suplex on the floor.

McIntyre took control and targeted Seth with some powerful smashes, leading to a loud “McIntyre” chant from the crowd for a bit. Seth fired back with a series of kicks and a Running Knee to the head followed by a Springboard Senton and a Springboard Moonsault in a very smooth sequence.

Seth hit a Superplex and tried to roll it over into a Falcon Arrow, but Drew blocked it and hit a surprise Suplex/BrainBuster of his own for a very close fall. Drew tried for a Buckle Bomb, but his back gave out, and Drew was able to turn things around and hit a Future Shock DDT for 2.99.

After the kickout, Seth played possum and Drew nearly got rolled up as a result. Frustrated by that, he took it out on Rollins, taking things to the floor where he dropped Seth back-first hard onto the ring steps and then onto the ring apron, which looked really good.

In the ring, Seth reversed a Short-Arm Clothesline attempt and surprised Drew with a Pedigree for two. Seth followed that up with a series of Forearms that knocked Drew down, but Drew caught Seth in the subsequent Stomp attempt and then threw him around the ring several times.


Drew went for the Claymore, but Seth stopped him with a Superkick and a Stomp for the 1, 2, NO! Drew kicked out! Seth went for the Phoenix Splash, but Drew moved, and Drew hit the Claymore – and this time it was Seth who shocked everyone by kicking out, when everyone thought it was over.

Drew missed another Claymore hit the mat hard. Rollins picked him up, hit a Pedigree and a Stomp and that was finally enough to put Drew down for good.

This was really good, as there was always some question as to who was going to win this one. The last few minutes with the various near-falls were particularly exciting.

Winner, and still World Champion: Seth Rollins

After the match, Seth Rollins was sitting in the ring, feeling the effects of the match. Suddenly, Judgement Day’s music hit, and Damian Priest came to the ring with his Money in the Bank briefcase and a referee in tow. He told the ref he was going to cash in the briefcase and challenge Seth for the title.

But before he could enter the ring, Priest was attacked by a hooded figure who threw him into the ring-post. The mystery attacker pulled down his hood to reveal it was Sami Zayn, which got a huge response from the crowd. Zayn stole the Money in the Bank briefcase and hightailed it out of the arena, much to Priest’s frustration.

In the back, Drew was sitting alone contemplating his loss and was approached by Rhea Ripley, who looked at him, shrugged as if to say “I told you so”, and walked away wordlessly.


Match 2: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Nia Jax vs. Shayna Baszler vs. Racquel Rodriguez vs. Zoey Stark – Fatal Five-Way Match for the Women’s World Championship

They did a special entrance for Rhea, having a number of men dressed up in traditional Saudi garb line up at the top of the entrance ramp before she came out. As is customary for Saudi Arabia, the women were fully-covered from the neck down, other than their hands. Man, living in Saudi Arabia must suck.

Jax rolled out of the ring as soon as the bell rang, leaving the other four women to fight each other and try to get an early win. Nia came in when she thought she might have the advantage, but then the other four teamed up temporarily to dispatch her yet again and continue their four-way fight.

Rhea and Nia finally got some 1-on-1 time, and Nia got the edge, when Rhea couldn’t fully pick her up, leading to a Legdrop by Nia that forced the other women to break up the pin. Later, Shayna had Rhea, Racquel, and Nia tied up simultaneously in submission holds, but had to break all of them when Zoey gave her Boot to the Head.

They did a Tower of Doom spot that Zoey got the worst of, and with the ring mainly cleared, Rhea and Racquel had a nice slap-fight before hitting Running Kicks on each other. Before they could continue duking it out on the apron, Stark kicked them both to the floor and then hit them both with a Flying Dive off the top rope – the camera shot from underneath Stark made this look stellar.



With most of the others down, Nia took over for a bit, until Racquel caught her on the turnbuckle and hit an elevated Choke Bomb, forcing Nia to roll out of the ring to recover.

Meanwhile, Rhea hit Shayna with a Riptide, but Zoey broke up the pin. Rhea took Zoey up top to hit a Super Riptide. As she did, Racquel crawled over to pin Shayna, who was still down. As the referee counted, Rhea simply hit the Super Riptide on Zoey on top of Racquel and Shayna – ouch! This broke up the pin, and effectively took out Zoey and Racquel. Shayna was pretty much dead after having all of that crash onto her, so she was easy pickings for Rhea to cover for the 1-2-3.

This was a bit messy at times, which is always going to be a problem with so many people involved. It didn’t help matters that Nia remains pretty terrible, to the point that the match was much better every time she was not involved in the action. There was no doubt Rhea would get the win here. The question now is whether they have any of these four women challenge her next, or someone else. After this, none of them seem like viable contenders.

Winner, and still WWE Women’s Champion: Rhea Ripley

A video package aired with various Superstars promoting what a great country Saudi Arabia is and how much they love it. Not shown was (I presume) the armed security guards pointing weapons at them off-camera as they read their forced hostage statements.

It was announced that WarGames will be taking place at Survivor Series on November 25th in Chicago.


Match 3: John Cena vs. Solo Sikoa

It was noted that Cena’s last singles victory was over five years ago, and it happened in Saudi Arabia. His quest to break that streak started with him controlling Solo and working over Solo’s taped up arm, presumably to impair the arm Solo uses to deliver the Samoan Spike.

Solo changed up the pace with his strike-based offense, though, and soon Cena was in trouble. Solo continued his attack, hitting a modified Banzai Drop, and a Thrust Kick after Cena ducked a Samoan Spike attempt.

Cena eventually Hulked Up and hit several of his Five Spots of Doom, including the Five Knuckle Shuffle. But when he went for the Attitude Adjustment, Solo countered and hit Cena with a big Samoan Drop, and followed that up with a Running Hip Attack in the corner.

Solo took some time gloating and Cena recovered enough to hit a High Cross Body for a two-count. Cena tried again for an AA, but Solo escaped and went for another Samoan Spike, but Cena ducked that and hit a Chokeslam, but that wasn’t enough to keep Solo down.


They duked it out in the middle of the ring, and after Cena tried the AA once more, Solo escaped and hit a high Uranage for two. Cena blocked a Spike attempt, and took Solo down into the STF. Solo fought his way to grab the rope to break the hold, and when they got up, he surprised Cena with a Samoan Spike. Cena slowly got up to his feet and Solo hit a second one. And then a third. Lather, rinse and repeat, with Solo hitting multiple Samoan Spikes on Cena until Cena was unresponsive, at which point, Solo covered him for the pin.

This wasn’t a squash, but no question this was a dominant win for Solo. Not sure if this is Cena’s last appearance for a while, but this would be an effective way to write him off TV. And to do it in a way that really helps elevate a younger star in Solo. The way Cena has given back to the business whenever he comes back by putting over the new talent, maybe he should instead be called the Greatest Loser of All Time, aka the GLOAT.

Winner: Solo Sikoa

After the match, the crowd gave Cena a standing ovation, as he recovered and got back to his feet. He gave them a grateful wave before leaving the ring to “Thank you, Cena” chants and an effusive tribute by Michael Cole.

They announced the debut of something called the WWE Experience, which takes place in January 2024 in Saudi Arabia. It looks like it could be a traveling Hall of Fame / Museum, like they do at WrestleMania Fan Axxess events.

The announcers noted that the Saudi Arabian national bird is a Falcon. It would have been better if it was Koko B. Ware’s bird Frankie.


Miz TV segment

Miz came out for an episode of Miz TV, and introduced his guest, Saudi Arabian actor Ibrahim Al-Hajjaj, who kind of looked like really short Top Dolla with a full head of hair and more wrestling talent (though that’s a low bar). Miz barely got started with his interview – though he did get in a plug of Al-Hajjaj’s new movie in which he wants to be a WWE Superstar – when he was interrupted by Grayson Waller. Waller demanded that the Miz TV set be replaced with the Grayson Waller Experience set, and a bunch of ring attendants obliged.

Miz and Waller exchanged barbs, and then Al-Hajjaj sided with Miz, saying that the hottest talk show in WWE is Miz TV. Waller took offense at that and demanded that Al-Hajjaj get out of his ring. Al-Hajjaj postured up like he was going to fight Waller, but Waller gave him a boot to the ample gut. Miz hit Waller, he and Al-Hajjaj double-teamed to beat up Waller, and Miz ended things by hitting Waller with the Skull-Crushing Finale. Actually, Al-Hajjaj added a further ending by hitting Waller with the People’s Elbow.


Match 4: Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Logan Paul – for the United States Championship

A video package aired of Logan Paul driving around in a modified Funny Car that he drove right into the building and onto the entrance stage.

Paul started off by mocking Rey’s height and using his size advantage to bully Rey, with Rey using his speed to avoid taking any major spots. Rey hit a High Cross Body, but Paul caught him on his shoulders and hit a Rolling Slam and a Springboard Moonsault for an early cover.

After hitting a series of body shots, Logan whipped Rey from pillar to post, hurting the champ, and then locked on a Body Clamp to continue hurting Rey’s midsection. He continued the assault for several minutes, using various moves and holds targeting Rey’s torso.

But Rey dodged a running attack, leading to Paul crashing shoulder-first into the ring post, and prone for Rey’s aerial offense, including a Flying Dive, and a big Seated Senton Splash for two. Sensing trouble, Logan threw Rey face-first into the ropes, and followed that up with a Buckshot Lariat that didn’t land 100%, but still landed better than Adam Page, for two.

Rey kicked into a higher gear and dazzled Logan with a spinning move that led to a Crossface, forcing Logan to grab the ropes to force a break.

Paul caught Rey in a Springboard Moonsault attempt and Powerslammed him for a close fall. Not sure if Rey was short on the jump or Logan was too far back, but Logan had to really scramble to catch Rey – and he did so in a way that just protected Rey who was about to land directly on his own head and neck, which could have been a disaster – that was scary.

They took the battle to the turnbuckles and Paul landed a Moonsault Fallaway Slam, which looked great. Paul went for a Powerbomb, but Rey turned it into a Hurancarana that sent Paul into the ropes. Rey went for the 619, but Paul blocked it. Paul tried for a move of the top, but Rey escaped and hit a Sunset Bomb and a Code Red for a very close count.

The referee didn’t see one of Logan Paul’s stooges come ringside and slip a pair of brass knuckles to Logan. Rey blasted him before he could slip them on, and the knucks went sailing to the floor. The stooge went to retrieve them, but he was blocked by Rey’s LWO partner Santos Escobar who jumped out of the crowd and chased away the stooge, who was able to drop the knucks onto the apron.

Logan grabbed the knucks and put them on, but as he did so, Rey hit him with the 619. Rey went for a follow-up springboard move, but as he came down, Logan swung and knocked him cold right out of the air with a Brass Knuckle Punch. Rey was KOd and the pin by Paul was academic.


After the match, Logan celebrated his win. He went up to Rey in the corner and gloated, calling Rey a legend, but saying he did what he had to do. Rey called hm out on cheating, but Logan denied knowing anything about it. Great heelish move.

This was a really good match, even with the screwjob finish. Logan really is a natural at this, and is one of the top performers. Him winning the title should mean he’s sticking around, and nothing wrong with that.

Winer, and new United States Champion: Logan Paul

They plugged the Elimination Chamber taking place in Perth, Australia on February 24th. Tickets will be available starting on Friday.

Backstage, Jackie Redmond interviewed Bianca Belair, who said she will beat Iyo Sky and regain her WWE Women’s Championship. Bianca said that after she beat Bayley last night, Iyo will have to face her alone with no backup. Which pretty much foreshadows that someone will come out and help Iyo win, right?


Match 5: Bianca Belair vs. Iyo Sky (c) – for the WWE Women’s Championship

Bianca out-muscled Sky early on, hitting her with a battery of power moves. But Sky avoided a running charge, and then went after Bianca’s leg to try to take away Bianca’s power base. Iyo focused on the legs for several minutes, locking on some painful submission attempts, punishing Bianca.

But Sky crashed and burned on a Flying Senton Splash attempt and Bianca was able to recover, hitting Iyo with several slams and a Stomach Breaker – though the latter move also tweaked Bianca’s hurting leg.

The pain impeded her ability to scale the turnbuckles, and Bianca got caught by Sky, who locked her up in the Tree of Woe, adding further pain to the legs. Still, Bianca kept scrapping, and she hit a Release German Suplex that sent Sky flying head over heels.

Sky went for a Hurancarana, but got caught and dumped face-first for a near fall. Belair was able to use her ponytail to help whip Sky into the ring post. But when Belair tried to follow up, she was distracted by the presence of Bayley, who ran to the ring to support Sky, and Bianca crashed hard on a missed Somersault Splash attempt. As an aside, Bayley’s outfit was something Sir Mix-A-Lot would totally approve of.

Bianca got Sky up for a KOD, but Sky turned the tables and dumped Bianca to the floor, where she was prone for a Moonsault by Sky off the top turnbuckle to the floor. A Springboard Dropkick earned Sky a two-count, but a big Spinebuster earned Bianca one of her own.

Bianca got fed up with Bayley’s interference, and took her out with a Springboard Dive, and the two battled it out on the floor. Sky tried to take advantage with a sneak attack on Bianca, but ended up accidentally clocking Bayley instead. Bianca looked to finish off Bayley with a KOD on the announce table, but she was stopped by a returning Kairi Sane – who blasted Bianca with a Spinning Back-Fist and then a Jumping Knee Attack on the floor, all of which the referee missed because she was dealing with Sky in the ring.


Reeling and groggy from the surprise attack, Bianca was nearly counted out of the ring. But she rolled in at the count of 9, only to get immediately hit by a Moonsault from Sky, and that was all she wrote.

After the match, Sane joined Sky in the ring and the two of them beat down Belair some more. Sky hit her InSane Elbow on Bianca to end things. The two of them celebrated while Bayley looked on in surprise and possibly some concern, as it was noted that when Sane left the company originally, it was because of a beatdown by Bayley and the two still may have some bad blood between them.

This was a lot, and may have been too busy. Even before all the interference, this wasn’t as good as their match from Puerto Rico earlier this year. It didn’t help that the crowd seemed pretty dead throughout, and Sane’s reaction didn’t really garner much of a reaction.

Winner, and still WWE Women’s Champion: Iyo Sky


Match 6: Damian Priest vs. Cody Rhodes

Priest attacked Cody before the bell, but Cody fired back and the bell rang with the action going fast and furious. Priest powdered out of the ring to slow things down as Cody was on fire, and that tactic worked, as he was able to throw Cody hard into the ringside barrier.

Back in the ring, Cody tweaked his knee, which Priest had injured a couple of weeks ago, and that let Priest take over. Only temporarily, though, and the match started going back and forth, with both men hitting each other with big moves.

Cody looked to throw Priest through the announce table, but Priest thwarted that with a big Clothesline that sent Cody head over heels. Priest went to put Cody through the announce table with a Razor’s Edge, but Cody stopped him. But Priest was still able to add insult to injury by hitting Cody with the Reckoning – aka Cody’s own Cross Rhodes finisher – on the table, which didn’t break.

Back in the ring, Priest went for another Reckoning, but Cody reversed it and hit the Cross Rhodes, but Cody was in too much pain to attempt a cover.

At this point Finn Balor walked down to the ring and jumped up on the apron to try to get involved. The ref dealt with him so missed seeing JD McDonagh sneak in on the other side to try to blind-side Cody. Cody saw JD, though, and dispatched him. But that left him open for a South of Heaven by Priest – but Cody kicked out!

Balor called out for more assistance, leading to Dominik Mysterio to come down the ramp with a steel chair in hand. But as soon as he got to the ring, he was hit with a Superkick by Jey Uso who appeared out of nowhere. Uso took out the other JD members and they skedaddled when he picked up the chair, and he chased them all to the back.


This all gave Cody a chance to recover, and he hit Priest with a series of big moves, including a Springboard Cutter, a Bionic Elbow, and – after a bit of a struggle, a trio of Cross Rhodes for the pin.

This was another pretty good match, though with all the interference – following the women’s match which also had a lot of interference – it seemed a bit repetitive. If they are ultimately going with Cody beating Roman at Mania, this was a good way to keep him looking strong. Otherwise, maybe it was a bit too Supermannish?

Winner: Cody Rhodes

Another video aired with WWE superstars gushing over how good Saudi Arabia is, despite the corrupt government and atrocious human rights record. This ad brought to you by blood money.


Match 7: LA Knight vs. Roman Reigns (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) – for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship

Knight started off on fire, but Reigns kept dousing the flame with a well-placed kick or punch before Knight could go for the death blow. At one point, Knight had Reigns in some trouble, so Paul Heyman felt compelled to distract him, though all of the shenanigans seemed only to fire up Knight even more.

But that intensity also made him vulnerable to a mistake, and when they fought on the floor, Reigns whipped Knight hard into the ring steps, stopping Knight’s juggernaut offense.

The pace slower now, Reigns went on a methodical attack, whipping Knight into the corners and hitting him with various power moves and wearing him down with neck cranks.

The crowd, solidly behind Knight, tried to cheer Knight back into contention, but Reigns acknowledged them by continuing the beatdown and mocking the crowd whenever he put Knight back on the mat.

Eventually, Knight did mount a comeback, surprising the champ with some well-placed kicks, including a Double Thrust Kick that stunned Reigns, giving Kinight time to recover and regroup.

They slugged it out in the middle of the ring, to “Yay-Boo” chants, a skirmish that Knight won. He then continued to go after Reigns, including stomping a mudhole into him in the corner, and following that up with a Running Shin Attack. But Reigns absorbed it all and shut it down with a Rock Bottom for a two-count.

Knight dodged a Superman Punch and hit a Neckbreaker, but instead of going for a cover, he tried to follow up with a Big Elbow – he paid for that, though, when Roman scrambled to his feet and hit a Superman Punch that thwarted Knight’s charge.

A confident Reigns then taunted the crowd before going for a Spear. Knight leapfrogged the attempt and Reigns crashed into the corner, where he was in prime position to be Superplexed by Knight. Again, Knight didn’t go for the pin, but instead hit the Big Elbow, but Reigns kicked out.

Seeing Reigns in trouble, the Bloodline decided to get involved. Solo Sikoa coming down the entrance ramp got the referee’s attention, so he didn’t notice Jimmy Uso come to the ring from behind and pull his Tribal Chief out to the floor. Knight went after Uso but got sucker-punched by Reigns who then quickly rolled back into the ring where he hit Knight with the Spear for the 1, 2, NO!  Knight kicked out at the very last split-second, to the delight of the crowd.


A frustrated Reigns glared at Knight, who was trying to get back to his feet. Roman trash-talked Knight as the crowd told Roman in no uncertain terms that he sucked.

Roman tried to prove them wrong by locking on the Guillotine, but Knight would not quit. He postured up and hit Roman with a Stun Gun, and then his finishing move, the Blunt Force Trauma. It would have been all over, but Jimmy Uso reached into the ring and put Roman’s foot on the bottom rope just before the ref’s hand hit the mat for the third time, and the count was broken up.

Knight went outside and made Jimmy pay, slamming his head against the announce table repeatedly – and then did the same to Reigns who went out there to save his cousin. Knight smashed Jimmy through the table – but then walked right into the path of Reigns who Speared him through the ringside barrier.

Reigns threw Knight back into the ring and hit the Spear, and that was enough to keep LA Knight down for the pin.

This was, as Michael Cole put it, “the same old story” as it relates to Roman’s reign. The challenger, a majorly-popular babyface, should have won but got screwed by the Bloodline. It’s been seen before, it will undoubtedly be seen again. And hopefully LA Knight doesn’t get treated like an afterthought moving forward.

This was also the third major match in a row that had too much interference, which somewhat dulled the impact. Less is more, as the saying goes – and that certainly rang true on this day.

Winner, and still Undisputed WWE Universal Champion: Roman Reigns

WWE Crown Jewel - November 4th, 2023

Muhammed Abdu Arena - Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

While all the matches were pretty good, the multiple instances of matches full of outside interference got a bit tiresome. Same could be said about Roman Reigns’ match and his overall title reign. If there’s not a “most electrifying” way to end his reign, there’s a real danger in the way he’s been booked.

Overall, though, a decent show with some definite highlights and no duds.