WWE hosted its biggest show ever in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, and Crown Jewel 2023 looked like a game-changer.
Roman Reigns stopped LA Knight’s fairytale rise with another successful title defense, but The Megastar challenged the Tribal Chief much more than he expected.
Logan Paul captured the United States Championship, cheating with an inadvertent assist from Santos Escobar.
Kairi Sane made a surprise return to WWE to help Iyo Sky retain the WWE Women’s Championship. She dropped Bianca Belair and surprised Bayley at ringside.
Sikoa alone was a bigger threat to John Cena than the veteran was willing to admit. Bloodline’s enforcer defeated The GOAT and he may have sent him into retirement.
Rhea Ripley kept The Judgment Day’s momentum going by defeating Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Raquel Rodriguez and Zoey Stark in a Fatal Five-Way Match, but other members of the group were not as successful.
Sami Zayn earned his first singles victory over the group, when he eliminated unofficial member JD McDonagh.
The Ultimate Underdog also escaped with Damian Priest’s Money in the Bank briefcase, leaving him vulnerable to Cody Rhodes, who defeated the Archer of Infamy cleanly.
The following were the clearest winners and losers of Crown Jewel 2023.
WWE made a star out of Sami Zayn over the last year, and few environments are more welcoming to him than the Mohammed Abdu Arena.
He was the company’s biggest star at Night of Champions, defeating Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa in the main event. It was a star-making moment that should have solidified Zayn.
Instead, he barely managed to get a spot on Saturday’s card, working the Kickoff Show against JD McDonagh. While they had a solid match, it felt like an attractive Raw match with a hotter crowd.
At least Zayn won, but he should have been more prominent at Crown Jewel. He should have been fighting Finn Bálor or Dominik Mysterio on the main show.
Hopefully, the future will be better for The Ultimate Underdog, who can defeat The Judgment Day one man at a time and return to the world title scene.
He had a funny moment later that night when he stole Damian Priest’s Money in the Bank briefcase, which likely cost him the World Heavyweight Championship, but he was still on the sidelines of other wrestlers on an important night.
In the growing pantheon of WWE shows in Saudi Arabia, Seth Rollins has been a constant figure. He raises his game every time and had arguably the best match in Crown Jewel history with Edge in 2021.
His feud with Drew McIntyre rivaled that outing and has set a new standard for The Visionary’s title defenses. This was an incredible opener that sold both men’s value.
The Scottish warrior is one of the best in the business. Her chemistry with Rollins is obvious and WWE should lean on her more in the coming months.
McIntyre worked this match cleanly, avoiding the expected heel turn. However, the provocation to join The Judgment Day continues.
The next time Rollins and McIntyre collide, the Scotsman must be a heel. He is ready to show the dark side of him.
This fatal five-way match revolved around Rhea Ripley. She gained special entry and eliminated each of her competitors one by one until she became the “baddest woman” left.
In this match, she wasn’t Mommy; she was The Eradicator. This was one of her best matches since she won the Women’s World Championship at WrestleMania 39.
It’s hard to imagine anyone beating Ripley anytime soon. While she still has fun singles matches, she could also have matches with Shayna Baszler or Zoey Stark, but they both seemed overmatched against the Australian here.
Until Becky Lynch gets in her way or Jade Cargill is ready, it’s hard to see anyone taking her down. Ripley has developed an aura that makes her one of WWE’s biggest stars, period.
A Fatal 5-Way Match can protect certain talents, and that’s precisely what it did with Nia Jax, who was primarily a supporting part of this feud. However, one woman who was not protected was Shayna Baszler.
The Queen of Spades took a Riptide and then felt another when Rhea RIpley sent Zoey Stark into her and Raquel Rodriguez off the second rope. This led to Baszler earning the pin.
Ripley vs. Baszler is the most interesting fight that could have come from this fight. She showed her courage and resourcefulness when she put three women at once in a submissive position.
However, with this result, Baszler is completely out of the title picture, while Jax is the woman most likely to challenge Ripley next in a match that almost no one is looking forward to.
John Cena’s fight in 2023 is a unique and unpredictable journey.
He had one of the worst matches of his career with Austin Theory at WrestleMania 39. His tag team match alongside LA Knight at Fastlane 2023 was okay, but it was mainly fueled by The Megastar’s charisma.
Saturday’s fight with Solo Sikoa is likely Cena’s last in 2023, but he saved his best work for last. He showed off some unusual limb work and even performed a chokeslam.
While Cena may never be able to deliver his best, this was as good as it had been in years, and it all went to The Enforcer.
He outperformed Sikoa much better than anyone expected. The Bloodline member destroyed Cena down the stretch, hitting a series of Samoan Spikes to seal it.
In his singles debut at a premium live event, Sikoa looked great. While he has been protected until now, this was the first time he stepped out of Roman Reigns’ shadow and delivered on his own merits.
Cena will likely disappear from WWE television for a while, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he returns for WrestleMania 40 for a rematch that will be much more anticipated after this.
Logan Paul carried Rey Mysterio in the ring during their Crown Jewel match. That would have been a ridiculous statement a few years ago, but everyone knows how good The Maverick has become.
The Master of 619 is slowing down. His age is catching up with him much more slowly than anyone could have expected, but it was inevitable.
At one point, Paul even saved Mysterio from a serious moonsault mistake that could have left him seriously injured. It was a display of his fantastic instincts in the ring.
As the new United States Champion, the YouTuber has the opportunity to work with a variety of great young fighters who can challenge him in a new way.
Throughout his title reign, he should find out where he can slow down the pace in the ring and become one of WWE’s best. It will be exciting to watch every time he appears.
Iyo Sky vs. Bianca Belair was supposed to focus on those two women, but it was two others who stole the show.
Bayley was constantly involved as she tried to help the Sky Genie, but she didn’t always succeed. But Kairi Sane’s return was a much more positive force for Sky, setting her up to win.
It looks like Sky made a call and brought in a new ally she trusts, and that could spell disaster for Bayley. While Damage CTRL was The Role Model’s group to begin with, Sky took over.
It seems that Bayley could be replaced by The Pirate Princess, who is a valuable ally of The Genius of the Sky and has often been an enemy of The Role Model.
It’s time for Damage CTRL to evolve, but hopefully Bayley will find a way to land on her feet without the group behind her.
Damian Priest entered the biggest test of his career, battling Cody Rhodes one-on-one. He needed to prove that he could measure up to the best in the business.
Instead, this focused on The Judgment Day repeatedly interfering to prevent his teammate from losing early.
Once Jey Uso saved The American Nightmare, it was all Rhodes. He made it seem like the two men were not on the same level.
While there is still plenty of time to crown Priest with the World Heavyweight Championship, this was a huge setback on a night where he almost won the title in the first match.
LA Knight’s rise has been impressive. Before long, he became Roman Reigns’ main challenger and found his own magic as a unique opponent for The Tribal Chief.
While Cody Rhodes and Sami Zayn were veterans who earned their spots against Reigns through consistent work, most of Knight’s veteran work came before he came to WWE.
When he reached the main roster, he built himself through his charisma, selling his confidence to the crowd.
In his match with Reigns, he put up a fight. He shook a dominant champion. As time went on, Knight was challenged to work at a main event level, and that’s what he did.
This was the best match WWE fans have ever seen from The Megastar. WWE gave him a visual victory over Reigns, saved only by Jimmy Uso. It was an important moment for Knight.
While the win didn’t come at Crown Jewel, it showed why this shouldn’t be his last main event in WWE. The crowd is far from done supporting him.