The WWE Crown Jewel event is set to take place this Friday at 12pm ET/9am PT in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (it’s a 8pm start time locally) and the show will air live on WWE Network. There were rumors of WWE possibly canceling the event, and then last week WWE announced that they are moving forward with airing the show. The reason for the controversy surrounding Crown Jewel is because Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered at a Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey when he was there to just pick up a marriage license. It’s been in the news all month and a lot of WWE fans are angry that WWE is still running Crown Jewel. Last week, WWE issued this statement noting they had a deal with the Saudi Arabian General Sports Authority that they intend to honor.
“WWE has operated in the Middle East for nearly 20 years and has developed a sizable and dedicated fan base. Considering the heinous crime committed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the Company faced a very difficult decision as it relates to its event scheduled for November 2 in Riyadh. Similar to other U.S.-based companies who plan to continue operations in Saudi Arabia, the Company has decided to uphold its contractual obligations to the General Sports Authority and stage the event. Full year 2018 guidance is predicated on the staging of the Riyadh event as scheduled.”
In other words, WWE really likes that money. I don’t blame WWE for honoring the deal and I’m not going to protest the show. However, the Khashoggi murder was brutal, it’s been all over the news and a lot of WWE fans are upset that the company is still running the Crown Jewel event. There are also other American businesses that have pulled out of their deals with Saudi Arabia, so that’s a factor too.
There were also rumors that two big names wanted no part of Crown Jewel: John Cena and Daniel Bryan. That ended up being true.
Cena was removed from Crown Jewel on Monday’s Raw with acting Raw General Manager Baron Corbin replacing him with Bobby Lashley since Corbin noted that Cena didn’t actually win a match to make the WWE World Cup tournament. There have been no comments from Cena or WWE about Cena refusing to participate in the event, nor do I expect them to comment on Cena refusing to go. It’s possible that Cena is unable to go due to filming a movie with Jackie Chan in China for the last five months, but WWE continued to advertise Cena, so he likely was free and chose not to appear.
As for Daniel Bryan, on last night’s edition of Smackdown, he was officially removed from Crown Jewel. Bryan had an in-ring confrontation with WWE Champion AJ Styles. After a bit of a verbal battle, they agreed to have a match right there on Smackdown in the first match. Shane McMahon, Smackdown’s Commissioner, announced that the match would go on. Styles and Bryan had an outstanding WWE Title match that went just over 20 minutes with Styles winning clean via submission with the Calf Crusher after he worked over Bryan’s left knee for most of the match. After the match was over, Samoa Joe attacked Styles and Bryan while putting Styles in the Coquina Clutch submission. That led to Styles telling Smackdown GM Paige that he wanted to face Samoa Joe at Crown Jewel, so she made the match for the WWE Title this Friday.
In other Crown Jewel news, we reported on the story last night that Renee Young will join the commentary team for the event, which is a bit of a surprise since there are no WWE women wrestlers allowed on the show.
Hulk Hogan also appears on WWE.com’s listing of superstars appearing at the event, but perhaps that will be removed since they likely don’t want fans to know he’ll be there. It’s not a surprise since Hogan was interviewed last week and mentioned going to Saudi Arabia for WWE as well.
That means the complete lineup for Crown Jewel looks like this.
Universal Championship Match for the Vacant Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman
Triple H and Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker and Kane
WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe
WWE World Cup to crown the “Best in the World”
Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Lashley (Raw)
Kurt Angle vs. Dolph Ziggler (Raw)
Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz (Smackdown)
Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio (Smackdown)
The winners face off in the semifinals and then the winners of that face off in the finals, so it’s a Raw vs. Smackdown match in the finals.
Smackdown Tag Team Titles: The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) (c) vs. The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods)
That’s likely the full card. I don’t expect anything to be added while WWE isn’t going to fly more people to the show that aren’t a part of it.
The Raw and Smackdown European tours start this Saturday, so it’s going to be a grueling couple of weeks of travel for WWE superstars starting this weekend.
I plan on writing a preview of Crown Jewel that will be posted by Thursday morning and I will also write a live review right here on TJRWrestling.net on Friday afternoon as well.