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Wednesday, November 14th 2018.
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WWE Crown Jewel 2018

by Scrooge McSuck

WWE Crown Jewel

- Presented on the WWE Network from Parts Unknown (I think it's somewhere between Ogdenville and North Haver-Brook), it's yet another unnecessary PPV/Network Special, except this one was criticized for reasons that go beyond a professional wrestling spectacle. Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young are calling the action. PROGRESSIVE! Whoops, sorry, didn't intend to let that slip in there.

- HULK HOGAN makes his WWE return (number 12 or so at this point) as the "Host" of Crown Jewel. He says a few lines, drops a brother or two, and thanks the WWE Universe before disappearing for the rest of the night. Jesus, Vince McMahon might as well have come to the ring at the end of the promo and handed him a bag of cash. We're in for a long afternoon (because it was on at Noon ET, silly). Vince could've saved some money and put Curtis Axel out there doing his Hogan impression from 2015, considering the fake Yokozuna he used at Greatest Royal Rumble.

- World Cup Tournament 1st-Round Matches...

Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton:

In a pre-taped promo, Mysterio says "this tournament is one of the reasons he came back to WWE." That right there is the place-holder for most laughable moment of the show but let's see how long it can hold onto the crown (pun intended). It's 2018, yet this match screams 2006 to me. Age of the participants: Mysterio 43, Orton 38. We'll keep track for poops and giggles. Orton easily over-powers Mysterio on the lockup, so Mysterio targets the leg with kicks. Orton nails Mysterio in mid-air with a dropkick and casually covers for two. Orton drops him across the top rope with a gourd buster and puts the boots to the midsection. He sets Mysterio across the turnbuckle and goes for the mask, but Mysterio fights him down. Mysterio blocks a super-plex attempt and comes off the top with a seated senton. Springboard into a wheel-barrow bulldog gets two. Orton counters the 6-1-9 with the draping DDT. He sets up for the RKO, but Mysterio counters with an intricate sunset flip into a jackknife cover... for three at 5:27? Post-match, Orton with an RKO (out of nowhere) and a ringside beating to make sure Mysterio is the ultimate underdog. This was a few decent spots with padding, and yes, I'm aware it was only 5-minutes. *1/2

Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz:

You know, for a "World Cup", not much of the "World" is represented (Mysterio is technically from CA, so all 8 participants are American born). Jeff Hardy is 41, The Miz is 38. Again, it's 2018, but this feels like it doesn't belong in this decade. Lockup, Miz with a side headlock and shoulder tackle. They do it again, with the roles reversed. Hardy counters a Skull Crushing Finale with a victory roll for two. He quickly follows with a jaw-breaker and introduces Miz into the turnbuckles 10-times. Miz counters the wrecking ball dropkick with a double boot to the chest and grabs a chin-lock. 2-minutes in, and a rest-hold? What is this, the WrestleMania IV Tournament? Hardy escapes, only to get nailed with a combination back and neck breaker for two. Miz with running dropkicks into the corner. Hardy counters a third with a clothesline but is too exhausted from 3-minutes of mild action to follow-up. Whip to the ropes and Hardy makes his comeback with the double leg across the midsection and a basement dropkick for two. Miz counters a Twist of Fate but falls victim to a Whisper in the Wind for a near-fall. Miz starts targeting the leg but gets cradled going for a Figure-Four. Hardy dumps him out and follows by doing a slow-motion running of the barricade before hitting a clothesline. Back inside, Miz rolls away before Hardy can come off the top with the Swanton Bomb. Miz with a roll-up with his feet on the ropes, but the referee catches him. Hardy with a roll-up of his own for two. Twist of Fate is countered with the Skull Crushing Finale, giving Miz the win at 6:59. Hey, this was surprisingly decent. It won't make a highlight reel of a "good" show, but perfectly fine. **3/4

Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Lashley (w/ Lio Rush):

Lashley is subbing in for John Cena, who came down with a case of PR-itis. It's not like he qualified, since he was handed a spot in the tournament. Age of the participants: Lashey 42, Rollins 32, making the latter the youngest (so far) by a considerable margin). Rollins is also the reigning Intercontinental and Raw Tag Team Champion (along with estranged partner, Dean Ambrose). Lashley shows off his strength-advantage, tossing Rollins to the canvas. Rollins with a series of strikes that Lashley no-sells until an enzuigiri sends him to the floor. Rollins goes for the suicide dive but Lashley rushes back in and plants him with a spine-buster for two. Lashley sends Rollins into the buckle and charges into the corner with a shoulder to the midsection. Swinging neck breaker gets two. Rollins escapes the delayed suplex with the knee strike you only see in video games. He sends Lashley to the floor and hits the suicide dive in the second try. He might as well have blown on him, it had about the same effect. Rollins hits it again, selling his own neck. Lashley catches Rollins climbing the ropes as Young and Cole squeal over how impressive Lashley has been tonight. Lashley avoids the Buckle Bomb, Seth escapes the Dominator, and the (No Longer Curb) Stomp finishes at 5:27. This was another match with a couple of spots with padding. At least the right people are going over to make for an interesting Semi-Finals. *1/2

Kurt Angle vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/ Drew McIntyre):

Yes, Angle's 1st one-on-one match in WWE since 2006 is on a show that will never be mentioned again by name after this week. Kurt Angle is 49, Dolph Ziggler is 38 (add in the 33-year old Drew McIntyre, I guess, but he's not an official participant). Thank goodness Angle didn't compare this crap-tournament to winning an Olympic Gold Medal. BUT WAIT, Renee Young DOES compare it, and not just compare it, but says he considers this more important than any other accolade, INCLUDING WINNING THE GOLD MEDAL IN 1996. OK, Rey's off the hook, Renee's stupidity is now King of the Mountain. They do some wannabe grappling, because Dolph's collegiate success is comparable to Angle's Gold Medal winning caliber. At least Angle gets the better of things. Crisscross and Angle with a release belly-to-belly suplex, followed by a pair of release Germans. Someone should tell Kurt that he's stealing Brock's gimmick. Angle teases the German Suplex off the apron, but Ziggler hangs on for dear life. Ziggler takes control, sending Angle into the steps. Back inside, Dolph with a neck breaker for two. An intense 3-minutes means we get a long chin-lock spot. Angle escapes with elbows but gets caught in a "conventional" sleeper, whatever the hell that means. Angle escapes and hits the rolling German suplex trio for two. Ziggler blocks the Angle Slam and connects with a DDT for two. Angle avoids the Famouser and hits the Angle Slam for two. HA. The straps come down but Dolph avoids the Ankle Lock. Famouser connects for two. Zig-Zag is blocked and Angle hooks the Ankle Lock. Dolph escapes, sends Angle into the post, and finishes with the Zig-Zag at 8:16. Angle DID A CLEAN JOB TO DOLPH ZIGGLER IN 2018. They were trying, but this felt like stuff happening without much purpose. I don't get NOT pushing Angle as the grizzled veteran looking for another shot at glory, but I guess Mysterio is doing the same gimmick on the other side of the brackets. **1/4

WWE [Smackdown] Tag Team Championship Match:
The Bar (c) (w/ Big Show) vs. The New Day (w/ Xavier Woods):

The Bar (Sheamus 40, Cesaro 37) won the Tag Titles on the 1,000th episode of Smackdown when the Big Show (age 46!) turned heel to cost the New Day (Big E and Woods 32, Kofi 37) the Tag Titles. What, BIG SHOW, TURNING HEEL FOR NO REASON? Yeah, I'm surprised, too. What's the big solution to freshening up "The Bar?" Give them Big Show. Maybe Prince Sorriasshat thinks it's Andre the Giant. The New Day ride a magic carpet to the ring, flinging pancakes to the crowd. Still not a stupid as Renee's comment in the last match. Sheamus and Big E start. Big E gets the better of a shoulder block and gyrates to celebrate. Crisscross, both men block hip throw attempts and Big E lays Sheamus out with a clothesline. Cesaro and Kofi have a go, with Kofi dancing after landing on his feet on a monkey flip. Cesaro doesn't take kindly to the showboating and runs into a dropkick. Kofi with a head-scissors and twisting flying body press for two. The Bar capture Kofi in their corner and work him over with Show cheerleading. Whip and a double clothesline for two. Kofi fights back with chest slaps but Sheamus cuts off the tag attempt. Cesaro with the dead-lift gut-wrench suplex for two. While we sit through a rest hold, I feel almost all of Renee's lines are the dumb, generic lines you'd hear in video games that sound even more scripted than usual that almost feel out of place. Big E gets knocked off the apron to prevent the tag for a second time. Cesaro with an uppercut and assisted suplex into a cover for two. Kofi sends Sheamus to the post and finally makes it to the corner. Big E runs wild, tossing Cesaro with three belly-to-belly suplexes. Cesaro gets the knees up to counter a splash. Was Big E's hip swivel too erotic for these people, because they cut to the crowd damn quickly. Big E meets a knee going for the spear between the ropes. Kofi blind tags and hits Sheamus with a double stomp for two. Big E assists in launching Kofi onto Cesaro at ringside. Big E avoids the Brogue Kick and rolls Sheamus up for two. Sheamus escapes the Big Ending, tosses him into a right hand from Big Show, and the Brogue Kick finishes at 10:33. Renee quips "that wasn't even fair." Outstanding input. Standard house show quality. **1/2

World Cup Semi-Finals Match #1:
Rey Mysterio vs. The Miz:

Mysterio is still selling the post-match attack from Randy Orton, likely setting up the big underdog story for him to advance to the Finals. Miz rushes at the bell, but Mysterio side-steps and kicks the hamstring. Mysterio rolls through a sunset flip, misses a kick, and Miz rolls him up for two. They do it again, with Mysterio hitting the kick this time for a two-count. Graves points out Cole being a former Miz fanboy. Mysterio gets thrown out of the ring, but he lands on his feet, hits Miz with a wrecking ball dropkick, and slides under the bottom rope to hit Miz with a splash. How am I supposed to know Rey's ribs hurt when he's not wearing 10 pounds of bandages?! Back inside, Mysterio with mounted right hands. Miz counters a hurricanrana by slamming Mysterio over-head and face-first. Miz with shoulders to the injured ribs and a running boot for two. Miz busts out a bow-and-arrow that looks as bad as his Figure-Four. Mysterio easily escapes into a cover for two. Miz slows Rey down with a knee to the midsection and hooks a body-scissors. Is this crowd chanting for CM Punk, or am I going crazy? Miz sends Rey face-first to the floor, follows him out, and rams his ribs into the side of the ring. Back inside, things slow down with an abdominal stretch. Rey counters a pump-handle with a Tornado DDT. They trade blows, with Mysterio getting the better of it. Springboard body press for two. Mysterio sends Miz into the corner with a head-scissors and positions him for the 6-1-9. Miz counters, sending Mysterio into the corner, but the Skull Crushing Finale only gets two. Miz with the It-Kicks. Mysterio ducks the roundhouse and tries pinning Miz like he did Orton, but it only gets two. Mysterio finally hits the 6-1-9. He comes off the top with a Frog Splash, but Miz brings the knees up and cradles him for three at 11:10. Best match of the night, so far. I would've put Mysterio into the finals, but that's my own fantasy booking. ***

World Cup Semi-Finals Match #2:
Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/ Drew McIntyre):

Like we haven't seen enough of these two fighting each other all Summer and Fall. I guess we should expect Rollins to advance for our Heel vs. Face dynamic, setting up Rollins winning and adding another accolade to his current hot streak. I would've preferred a "Dream" Match like Seth vs. Angle, but whatever. This crowd deserves the sh*t booking we're getting. They feel each other out cautiously. Rollins goes for the ankle, but Ziggler escapes. Slow-motion crisscross ends with Rollins planting Miz with a slam and sending him over the top rope with a clothesline. Rollins follows, sending Dolph into the barricade. McIntyre and Rollins have a non-physical confrontation, buying Dolph time to recover and plant Seth with a DDT. Ziggler with a Russian leg sweep and cradle for two. Rollins escapes a chin-lock but misses a dive into the corner. Whip to the ropes and Ziggler with a diving elbow for two. Neck breaker for two. Dolph wraps Rollins up like an Octopus, hooking every part of the body he can for one submission. Rollins escapes a second neck breaker and back-slides Ziggler for two. They trade roll-ups for a series of two-counts. Ziggler counters the Buckle Bomb with a sunset flip for two. Rollins with a rip-cord knee for two. He must not have gotten all of it. Rollins calls for the (Don't Call It a Curb) Stomp. McIntyre's distraction doesn't do much, as Rollins sends Ziggler to the outside. He follows with a tope suicida, selling his neck. Back inside, Ziggler hits Rollins with the Famouser for two. Rollins with a Super-Plex, but the Falcon Arrow is countered with a Zig-Zag for two. Rollins with a Super-Kick, then a suicide dive to McIntyre. McIntyre pays him back, shoving him off the top, and Ziggler finishes with the Super-Kick at 13:06. Wait... we're SERIOUSLY getting a Miz vs. Dolph Finals? I MIGHT buy that in 2016 when they were stealing the show on Smackdown, but now, this feels random and out of place. It's not as if this crowd is cheering either man, either. We're getting truly the worst-case scenario of booking for the finals. Oh, the match was perfectly fine, slightly better than the last. ***1/4

WWE Championship Match:
A.J. Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe:

This was originally advertised as Styles defending against Daniel Bryan, but Bryan caught whatever Cena has, so cooled off Joe gets to be the lame-duck challenger here despite losing the feud blow-off at the last PPV. I mean, the last PPV with men, since they didn't work Evolution. I don't know why I wasted my time with that, it's not like this show will be canon once we get to Survivor Series. Age of the participants: Styles 41, Joe 39. Joe rushes in at the bell but Styles is ready, unloading with right hands and low-kicks. Joe tries to match him and gets the knee clipped for it. Joe rolls to the outside for a breather but Styles follows him out. He misses a moonsault rom the apron and gets slammed across the barricade. Joe with a suicide dive, knocking Styles hard into the commentator's table. Back inside, Joe covers for two and hooks a chin-lock. Whip to the corner and Joe with the spinning enzuigiri for two. Styles fights back with the Phenomenal Blitz. Joe cuts him off with strikes of his own, but Styles interrupts him with his own enzuigiri. Styles backs Joe into the corner and hits him with a big forearm. Joe fights off a Styles Clash but is caught with the springboard reverse DDT for a near-fall. The crowd gets behind Styles, probably knowing his views on a certain lifestyle matches their own. Styles follows Joe to the outside with another forearm. Back inside, Joe plants Styles with a snap power-slam for two. Styles gets turned inside-out with a lariat for another near-fall. Styles rolls Joe out of the corner into the Calf-Crusher, but Joe makes it to the ropes. Joe counters a roll-up with the Coquina Clutch, but Styles finds the power of Hulkamania and twists the ankle, sending Joe scurrying for the ropes. Styles with the Pele Kick and Phenomenal Forearm...for three at 11:11. Wow, anti-climactic finish. Another house show quality match. It's almost laughable that at the FIVE-MINUTE MARK they're selling like it's been 20, and that included a chin-lock! **1/2

WWE Universal Championship Match:
Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman):

In case everyone has been living under a rock, Roman Reigns relinquished the title, taking a leave of absence for medical reasons that we all hope goes well for him, and hope he one day returns to the ring. Cole has guaranteed a new Champion tonight, even though there's no stipulation that dictates the match cannot end in a Double DQ or Count-Out. Reigns' unfortunate illness meant some last-minute booking decisions, like pulling a Big Show with Strowman, turning him babyface only about 6-8 weeks after turning him heel to combat the reunited Shield. Lesnar seems to be aging at a rapid pace lately. That reminds me, age of participants: Strowman 35, Lesnar 41. Constable Corbin (34) makes his presence felt, attacking Strowman from behind with the Universal Title! THE FIX IS IN! Lesnar immediately hits an F-5 for two. A second F-5 gets two. A THIRD F-5 gets two. A FOURTH F-5 SENDS STROWMAN OVER THE TOP ROPE, TO THE FLOOR. Back inside, Strowman manages to get one boot in before a 5th F-5 finishes at 3:16, making Lesnar the 1st 2-time Universal Champion. What. A. JOKE. Lesnar is Champion, again, and Strowman's fed through the wood-chipper again when they gave him a clean-slate. I don't care if they gave him an out by being attacked beforehand, or that he kicked out of multiple F-5's. Why not just put the title on him here instead of the tired, beaten horse that is Lesnar? DUD

World Cup Finals:
The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/ Drew McIntyre):

I haven't seen such a sad representation for the finals since the 1995 King of the Ring as far as an interesting match-up is concerned. At least in 1999, Billy Gunn vs. X-Pac had SOME D-X blow-up intrigue. Shane McMahon and Baron Corbin at ringside, representing the powers that be of Smackdown and Raw, respectively. Shane threatened his Smackdown Superstars that if there's failure in the Finals, there won't be a home on Smackdown to return to. The referee refuses starting the match until McIntyre LEAVES RINGSIDE. Why now, why not two matches ago? Miz attacks from behind, stomping Ziggler down in the corner. Miz follows him to the floor and lands wrong, twisting his knee. I should note the bell hasn't rung yet. One-legged Miz has enough in him to send Ziggler into the steps, but the referee won't let him compete ("I've never been injured, leave me alone!"). It'll be a forfeit, BUT WAIT, Shane McMahon has a suitable replacement for the Miz to represent Smackdown Live...

Alternate World Cup Finals:
Shane McMahon vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/ Drew McIntyre):

I can't believe this is happening. Did the locals request a Vince Russo return, too? In what logical world does this happen? If the Finalist of the U.S. Open goes down, they don't bus in an unranked competitor to fill-in for them. Shane potatoes Ziggler with rights and lefts, because in 19-years, HE STILL HASN'T LEARNED TO THROW WORKED PUNCHES. Whip and Shane with a diving elbow. Corey's "I don't even know how this is happening" seems too accurate. Corbin trips Shane up and gets ejected. Cole screams conspiracy theory. Ziggler with the Zig-Zag for two. Why not, everyone else kicks out of it (except Angle, because he's broken). Shane fights back from his knees looking blown-up. He hits Ziggler with a DDT, slingshots him into the turnbuckle, and hits the Coast-to-Coast for the three-count at 2:29. Ahem... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA... HAHAHAHAHAHA! Age of the "Best in the World" and Crown Jewel World Cup Winner: 48. What can I say, this was beyond stupid, and no rationalization will justify the absurdity of it. If the storyline reasoning was to ruin the tournament, then congratulations, the tournament was already a farce, using it to fuel a Shane heel-turn only makes it even more of a waste of time. This show ran officially off the rails. -*

The Undertaker & Kane vs. Triple H & Shawn Michaels:

Finally, our Main Event. Undertaker and Shawn Michaels are both 53, Kane 51, and Triple H 49. When Hogan and Piper fought in the infamous "Age in a Cage" Match, they were 44 and 43, respectively. Take that in, sit back, and enjoy the spectacular wreck we're going to bear witness. Shawn Michaels hasn't wrestled since losing the retirement match to Undertaker at WrestleMania 26. Unfortunately, his big return is on this disaster. Kane and Hunter start. I'm sure this audience would approve of their infamous 2002 angle, too. After a solid minute of standing around, Kane no-sells a sucker punch and tosses Hunter into the corner. Kane interrupts a crotch-chop with an uppercut and charges into the opposite corner with a clothesline. Shawn tags in, coming off the top with a double axe-handle. Kane easily escapes a wrist-lock but is caught with a swinging neck breaker. He sits-up and goozles Shawn, but Shawn escapes and unwisely goes for a sunset flip. Shawn slips out of a Tombstone and teases Sweet Chin Music but holds back. Undertaker doesn't appreciate the lack of respect and has Shawn job to his wife. Whoops, I forgot it's not 2001 anymore. They trade taunts like it's a video game. Taker no-sells a pair of chops and lays Shawn out with a big boot. Have I mentioned bald Shawn looks out of place? Taker works the arm and goes for Old School, but Hunter saves. Heck breaks loose, including Hunter taking the Harley Race bump to the floor, tearing a pectoral muscle in the process.

Meanwhile, Taker with the double choke-lift on Shawn before tossing him over the top rope. Back inside, Shawn and Hunter knock them over the top with clotheslines. The Brothers of Destruction pull them out for some weak brawling. Back inside, Taker hits Old School on the second try, barely able to get two short steps in. This is becoming sad to watch. Taker misses a charge into the corner, which shouldn't be much of a surprise since it took him three hours to get there. Hunter comes in and they botch something so bad I have no idea what they were going for. Kane with a slam, but the elbow drop missed. Hunter keeps up with Kane on a slug-fest before planting him with a DDT. Michaels with chops and the diving forearm. NIP UP! He hits Kane with a pair of inverted atomic drops and Hunter joins in to take him over with a double suplex. Shawn with the flying elbow, setting up Sweet Chin Music. Kane catches the boot and counters with a Choke-Slam. Taker in with corner strikes, Snake Eyes, running boot, and a leg drop for two. Hunter with a distraction, allowing Shawn to hit Taker with Sweet Chin Music.

Taker is up first, looking like a pissed off biker at a dive bar in the middle of Bumphuck, Nowhere. He undresses the Saudi commentator's table and teases a Tombstone. Hunter saves and sends Kane to the steps. Then Taker and he do THE ABSOLUTE WORST WHIP INTO THE BARRICADE I'VE EVER SEEN. Kane recovers and choke-slams Hunter through the fully-dressed English commentator's table. I must give Hunter credit, taking a bump like that with the injury he sustained. Taker with the guillotine leg drop on Shawn while Hunter plays (?) dead. Shawn gets worked over 2-on-1 as the plucky babyface despite DX being presented as the heels in the scenario for weeks leading into this event. I can't help but be amused at a kid in floor seats so bored he's using his DX glowsticks to drum his lap. Kane with a side slam for two. Shawn straddles him across the top rope, no doubt taking advantage of how slow the climb was. NEWS UPDATE: Hunter is STILL DEAD. Kane's mask falls off as the farce continues. Mask-less Kane rolls to the floor, where Shawn hits him and Taker with a top rope moonsault (that mostly misses them, because catching a 53-year old doing a big spot like that isn't a high priority). NEWS UPDATE: KANE HAS THE MASK BACK ON AND HUNTER IS ALIVE IN THE CORNER. Hunter with the hot tag (to little pop), hitting Kane with knees. Taker walks into a spine-buster from time traveling 2030 Tomaso Ciampa. Pedigree to Undertaker but selling is out of style and he hooks the Hells Gate. Shawn hits Kane with Sweet Chin Music, knocking him onto Taker to break the hold. DX escape Tombstone attempts. Shawn KO's Taker with sweet Chin Music, and the Sweet Chin Music/Pedigree combo finishes Kane at 27:50. I guess it was worth Vince cutting a $100,000 check to Knox County. For someone in their mid-50's and retired for nearly a decade, Shawn looked good. I can't say the same for anyone else. Hunter has been slow moving for several years, but the pec tear didn't help, and we've known Taker and Kane's bodies are broken for years now. At times, I felt like I was watching the match in slow motion. There's absolutely no need this match had to go nearly half-an-hour bell-to-bell. *

Final Thoughts: I can't be bothered to explain the booking decisions, almost to the levels of WCW absurdity. The first two hours, while uneventful, were a decent waste of time. Then we got the questionable booking of 1.) Putting Brock over, again, and in 3-minutes over Strowman, 2.) Shane McMahon inserting himself in the World Cup Finals and WINNING, and 3.) The Main Event circle jerk where all four men combined for an age over 200 and three of them moved like it. This was a bad show, but was it an all-time bad show? If this wasn't taking place in Saudi Arabia, it'll be lost in time by 2020, but I think it might remain on people's radars a little longer due to the location more so than the poor quality of the booking.

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