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Crown Jewel 2018 was a professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event and WWE Network event promoted by WWE for their Raw and SmackDown brands. The event took place on November 2, 2018 at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The event was WWE's second PPV held in Saudi Arabia and will featured the first-ever WWE World Cup tournament. It also marked the in-ring return of Shawn Michaels, who retired in 2010, as well as the return of Hulk Hogan, who has not appeared on WWE television since a 2015 scandal.

Production

Background

On March 5, 2018, WWE and the Saudi General Sports Authority announced the Greatest Royal Rumble, a live event to be held on April 27, 2018 at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. On September 17, 2018, WWE and the Saudi General Sports Authority announced the follow up to the Greatest Royal Rumble, Crown Jewel, a live event to be held on November 2, 2018 at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh. The event is a part of a 10-year strategic multiplatform partnership between WWE and the Saudi General Sports Authority in support of Saudi Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia's social and economic reform program.

Storylines

The card comprised of matches resulting from scripted storylines, with results predetermined by WWE on the Raw and SmackDown brands. Storylines are produced on WWE's weekly television shows, Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live.

On September 16, 2018, at Hell in a Cell, Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman fought to a no contest in the namesake match for the Universal Championship after former champion Brock Lesnar attacked both men. The following night on Raw, acting general manager Baron Corbin scheduled a triple threat match between Reigns, Strowman and Lesnar for the title at Crown Jewel.

On September 17, 2018, WWE announced that the event would host the first-ever WWE World Cup, a tournament to "determine the best in the world."

At Super Show-Down, AJ Styles defeated Samoa Joe by submission in a no countout, no disqualification match to retain the WWE Championship while Daniel Bryan defeated The Miz to earn a WWE Championship match. Following Bryan's win, it was announced by General Manager Paige that he would receive his WWE Championship match against Styles at Crown Jewel.

At Super Show-Down, Triple H defeated The Undertaker in a No Disqualification match. After the match, Undertaker and Kane attacked Triple H and Shawn Michaels. On the following Raw, Triple H and Michaels would formally rechristen themselves as D-Generation X, challenging The Brothers of Destruction to a tag team match at Crown Jewel, marking Michaels' first match since being retired by The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI in 2010.

On the SmackDown 1000 special on October 16, 2018, The Bar (Cesaro and Sheamus) defeated The New Day (represented by Big E and Xavier Woods) to win the SmackDown Tag Team Championship. A rematch for the titles was scheduled for Crown Jewel.

On November 1, it was announced that Shinsuke Nakamura will defend the WWE United States Championship against Rusev at the event's pre-show.

Controversy

As had already been the case with their previous show in Saudi Arabia, Greatest Royal Rumble, WWE came under scrutiny for catering to a state accused of severe human rights abuses, leading a war of attrition in Yemen and suppressing women's rights.

At the Greatest Royal Rumble only male performers were allowed, due to restrictions on female performers in Saudi Arabia. Prior to the announcement of Crown Jewel, WWE announced its first-ever all-women's pay-per-view event, WWE Evolution, which took place on October 28, 2018. Paul "Triple H" Levesque, WWE's executive vice president of Talent, Live Events and Creative, denied that Evolution was intended to be a counter-point for the all-male Saudi Arabia events, explaining that WWE's female performers "deserved the opportunity" for such a showcase, and that it "was simply the right time for this to happen." Crown Jewel however is scheduled to include Renee Young on commentary.

In wake of the Killing of Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents, WWE has faced calls to cancel the event, with prominent US Democratic and Republican politicians criticizing the company's endeavors in Saudi Arabia. Questions were raised whether because of the position of Administrator of the Small Business Administration Linda McMahon, who is the wife of WWE CEO Vince McMahon and a former WWE executive herself, WWE's endeavors in Saudi Arabia could still be viewed as a strictly private business enterprise. Due to this, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez urged the US government to pressure WWE into canceling the event, while Republican Lindsey Graham, among others, called for WWE to reconsider their business deal with the Saudi kingdom. English comedian and political commentator John Oliver also weighed in on the controversy on his show Last Week Tonight, criticizing WWE for what he saw as blatant pro-Saudi propaganda.

Knox County Mayor and professional wrestler Glenn "Kane" Jacobs, who is scheduled to compete in a tag team match, announced he will work at the event, contrasting reports that the majority of WWE's wrestlers felt uncomfortable working the show. Former WWE wrestler John "Bradshaw" Layfield spoke on Fox News in favor of the event in order to promote change, while current WWE wrestlers Randy Orton, Ronda Rousey and Mark Henry had similar remarks when speaking with TMZ. On the other hand, John Cena, who was scheduled to participate in the WWE World Cup and had called it "an honor and a privilege" to compete in Saudi-Arabia during the Greatest Royal Rumble, was replaced by Bobby Lashley, as he reportedly refused to work the show in wake of the Khashoggi incident. For similar reasons, Daniel Bryan, who was scheduled to face AJ Styles for the WWE Championship, had his title match bumped up to the October 30th episode of Smackdown, and was replaced on the Crown Jewel card by Samoa Joe.

WWE continues to promote the show, but has since erased all references to Saudi Arabia as the event's location. On October 19, the day tickets were to go on sale, the Saudi government confirmed the death of Khashoggi within the consulate and WWE.com removed ticket information from the event page. On October 25, WWE confirmed the event will go on as planned, citing contractual obligations to the General Sports Authority. Speaking with Sky Sports on pushing forward with the event despite the murder, WWE CBO Stephanie McMahon spoke of "an incredibly tough decision, given that heinous act", but said that in the end it was strictly to a business decision.

Event

Pre show

During the pre show, Shinsuke Nakamura defended the WWE United States Championship against Rusev. Following a low blow, Nakamura performed the Kinshasa on Rusev to retain the title.

Preliminary matches

The actual pay-per-view opened with host Hulk Hogan hyping up the crowd for the event.

In the first match, Rey Mysterio faced Randy Orton in a WWE World Cup qulaifier. During the match, Orton attempted to remove Mysterio's mask. Orton countered a 619 atttempt from Mysterio into a DDT. In the end, Mysterio countered an RKO attempt into a roll-up to win the match. After the match, an enraged Orton attacked Mysterio with an RKO and threw Mysterio on top of the Arabic announce table.

Next, The Miz faced Jeff Hardy in a WWE World Cup quaifier. Hardy performed a Whisper in the Wind on Miz for a nearfall. In the climax, Miz countered a Twist of Fate and performed a Skull Crushing Finale on Hardy to win the match.

After that, Seth Rollins faced Bobby Lashley (with Lio Rush) in a WWE World Cup qualifier. In the end, Rollins performed a Curb Stomp on Lashley to win the match.

In the fourth match, Kurt Angle faced Dolph Ziggler (with Drew McIntyre) in a WWE World Cup qualifier. Angle performed a trio of suplexes on Ziggler for a nearfall. Ziggler performed a DDT on Angle for a nearfall. Angle performed an Angle Slam on Ziggler for a nearfall. Ziggler performed a Famouser on Angle for a nearfall. Angle applied the ankle lock on Ziggler however, Ziggler countered. In the climax, Ziggler performed a Zig-Zag on Angle to win the match.

Next, The Bar (Cesaro and Sheamus) (with Big Show) defended the SmackDown Tag Team Championships against The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) (with Xavier Woods). In the end, Sheamus countered a Big Ending from Big E and shoved Big E into Big Show, who was standing on the ring apron. Whilst the referee was distracted, Show performed a Knockout Punch on Big E and Sheamus performed a Brogue Kick on Big E to retain the title.

After that, The Miz faced Rey Mysterio in a WWE World Cup Semi Final. Miz performed a Skull Crushimg Finale on Mysterio for a nearfall. Mysterio perfomed the 619 on Miz. In the end, Miz countered a splash from Mysterio into a roll-up for the win to earn a spot in the final.

Next, Seth Rollins faced Dolph Ziggler (with Drew McIntyre) in a WWE World Cup Semi Final. Rollins and Ziggler exchanged a number of roll-ups for a nearfall. Rollins performed a Rip Cord Knee on Zighler for a nearfall. Rollins performed a suicide dive on Ziggler. Ziggler performed a Famouser on Rollins for a nearfall. Ziggler countered a Falcon Arrow into a Zig-Zag on Rollins for a nearfall. In the end, as Rollins attempted a splash on Ziggler, McIntyre pushed Rollins and Ziggler performed a Superkick on Rollins to win the match to advance to the finals. After the match, Byron Saxton interviewed Ziggler where he vowed to win the World Cup.

In the ninth match, AJ Styles defended the WWE Championship against Samoa Joe. Joe dominated Styles early in the match and began to target Styles' knee. Joe performed a suicide dive on Styles outside the ring. In the end, Styles performed a Phenomenal Forearm on Joe to retain the title.

After that, Braun Strowman faced Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) for the vacant WWE Universal Championship. Baron Corbin came out to present the title to the winner. Before the match bean, Corbim attacked Strowman with the title. Lesnar attacked Strowman with three F5s, however, all three resulted in nearfalls. Lesnar performed an F5 on Strowman outside the ring. In the end, Lesnar performed a fifth F5 on Strowman to regain the title. With this win, Lesnar became the first two-time WWE Universal Champion.

In the penultimate match, The Miz was originally supposed to face Dolph Ziggler (with Drew McIntyre) in the finals of the WWE World Cup. McIntyre was ejected at ringside. Miz attacked Ziggler and threw him outside the ring. As Miz exited the ring, he tweaked his knee, which led to him unable to compete. This led to Shane McMahon taking Miz's place in the match. As the match officially began, McMahon attacked Ziggler, however, Corbin interfered only to get ejected at ringside. Ziggler performed a Zig-Zag on McMahon for a nearfall. In the end, McMahon performed a Coast to Coast on Ziggler to win the match and the WWE World Cup.

Main event

In the main event, D-Generation-X (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) faced The Brothers of Destruction (The Undertaker and Kane) in Michaels first match since 2010.

Match Preview

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. RusevPreview
Eight-Man WWE World Cup TournamentPreview
The Bar vs. The New DayPreview
AJ Styles vs. Samoa JoePreview
Brock Lesnar vs. Braun StrowmanPreview
D-Generation X vs. Brothers of DestructionPreview

Results

Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
(c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.

Tournament bracket

The WWE World Cup is an eight-man single elimination tournament to determine the "best in the world". Four participants come from Raw and four participants come from SmackDown. Participants from Raw and SmackDown face opponents of their own brand until one member of their brand is left, after which, the finalist from Raw faces the finalist from SmackDown. John Cena was originally announced as a direct participant on account of his previous achievements in WWE, but was replaced by Bobby Lashley after he legitimately refused to work the show in wake of the Khashoggi incident.

  Quarterfinals Semifinals Final
                           
  Raw  Seth Rollins Pin  
Raw  Bobby Lashley 5:30  
  Raw  Seth Rollins Pin  
  Raw  Dolph Ziggler 13:05  
Raw  Kurt Angle Pin
  Raw  Dolph Ziggler 8:10  
    Raw  Shane McMahon Pin
  SmackDown  Dolph Ziggler 2:30
  SmackDown  Jeff Hardy Pin  
SmackDown  The Miz 7:05  
  SmackDown  The Miz Pin
  SmackDown  Rey Mysterio 11:15  
SmackDown  Rey Mysterio Pin
  SmackDown  Randy Orton 5:30  

Other on-screen talent

Commentators
Pre-show
Interviewers
Ring announcer
Referees

See also

DVD release

  • Amazon [ WWE Crown Jewel 2018 on DVD]

External links

Crown Jewel 2018 previews

Shinsuke Nakamura v RusevBrock Lesnar v Braun StrowmanAJ Styles v Samoa JoeD-Generation X v Brothers of DestructionWorld Cup TournamentThe Bar vs. The New Day

2018 World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-views

NXT TakeOver: PhiladelphiaRoyal RumbleElimination ChamberFastlaneNXT TakeOver: New OrleansWrestleManiaGreatest Royal RumbleBacklashNXT TakeOver: Chicago IIMoney in the BankExtreme RulesNXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IVSummerSlamHell in a CellSuper Show-DownEvolutionCrown JewelNXT TakeOver: WarGames IISurvivor SeriesStarrcadeTLC: Tables, Ladders, & Chairs