Roman Reigns capped a night at WWE Crown Jewel that was good for incumbent champions by defeating Brock Lesnar, courtesy of a referee bump, assistance from The Usos and a move of questionable motivation from Paul Heyman.
In their first meeting in over three years, Reigns and Lesnar put on an intense, highly physical match that came down to one key moment Thursday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. After both men had each hit their finishing moves to no avail -- with spears, German suplexes, Superman punches and F-5s flying around -- a second F-5 from Lesnar saw him accidentally swing Reigns' legs into the head of referee Charles Robinson, rendering him incapable of counting the pinfall.
In the confusion, Lesnar attempted to revive Robinson, and with that moment to recover, Reigns scrambled up and speared Lesnar. With both men down and prone on the ground, Paul Heyman -- the current advocate for Reigns and former advocate for Lesnar whose allegiances have been called into question -- slid the Universal title belt into the middle of the ring and said, "You know what to do with it," without specifying whom he was talking to.
As Reigns and Lesnar had a tug of war for the belt, Reigns' cousins, The Usos, double-superkicked Lesnar. Reigns, who was left holding the belt, smashed Lesnar in the face and then, as a new referee ran to the ring, covered Lesnar to successfully retain his title.
The look on Heyman's face was one of shock, but it was masterfully unclear which way that feeling swung. It seems that the conflict between Reigns and Lesnar is far from over, and whether tensions resume immediately or months down the line, a rematch remains one of the most anticipated matches WWE can put on right now.
Triple-threat match for the SmackDown women's championship: Becky Lynch (c) def. Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks
Belair, Banks and Lynch walked into Crown Jewel and put on a tremendous performance. The only element that weighed down their triple threat for the SmackDown women's championship was the balance of power and titles in the women's division and the state of the rosters post-draft, leaving the conclusion for this match fairly predictable, barring a major curveball.
Belair once again proved her unbelievable growth as a performer, as she has in individual matches with each of the "Four Horsewomen." Her one-armed press slam of Banks was a moment that captured the attention of the audience, and from there on out, the three women performing in this match had the crowd in the palms of their hands.
It was an impressively creative match that allowed for Belair, Lynch and Banks to get their moments in the spotlight, while offering occasional lighthearted moments, like when Lynch went for a double dropkick on Banks and Belair and got caught in midair. After a brief, funny pause during which time Lynch bargained for her well-being, Belair and Banks double-slammed her into the corner.
Despite brief moments of one-on-one action, this triple threat had well-planned and well-executed spots that often utilized all three women at the same time, which is impressive in its own right. Belair had the first serious push toward a win with a KOD attempt, during which she swung Lynch's legs to attack Banks and knock her off the apron.
Belair starred again with a stalled vertical suplex, and while she held Lynch up in the air, she stomped Banks on the ground. A simultaneous Banks Statement and Dis-Arm-Her on Belair soon followed, but neither woman could get Belair to tap out.
Banks locked Lynch up in a Banks Statement, but Belair broke it up with a back handspring flip. Near falls, a pinfall and submission breakups abounded from there. Lynch's Dis-Arm-Her on Belair was brief, and when Banks interjected, Lynch locked them both in a double Dis-Arm-Her. Belair stood up with the weight of both women on her back to break it up.
Belair finally connected on her signature KOD to Lynch, and Belair and Banks scrambled briefly to the outside to fight each other out of the ring. Banks got back into the ring first, but Lynch rolled her up, and using the bottom rope for leverage, she secured the win and a successful title defense.
What's next: If precedent is any indication, the Raw-bound Lynch will swap titles with the SmackDown-bound Charlotte Flair, potentially as early as Friday night on SmackDown. It's an unsatisfying transaction, as we saw a year ago when The New Day and The Street Profits swapped their respective tag team titles. But unless something dramatic happens, it seems to be the likeliest solution. Belair, who is also Raw bound, seems to have unfinished business to resolve with Lynch.
WWE championship: Big E (c) def. Drew McIntyre
The outcome of the WWE championship match between Big E and Drew McIntyre was likely the most predictable on the Crown Jewel card. Also incredibly predictable was the overall quality of the match.
The pace of the match rarely slowed from bell to bell, and it was hard to separate the two men for the majority of the first half of the match. Big E had the first big swing with a Stretch Muffler submission attempt on McIntyre, and a scramble after McIntyre fought his way out led to Big E connecting on a Big Ending -- but it only got him a two count.
McIntyre fought his way back, and he connected on a top rope Bulldog. Big E ducked a Claymore attempt, but McIntyre's second kick connected flush. But that, too, was good only for a two count.
McIntyre teased a Big Ending of his own, but Big E shook him off, displayed incredible strength spinning the gigantic McIntyre around his body, and set himself up for a second Big Ending, which earned him the pinfall victory.
What's next: With McIntyre heading to SmackDown, renewing tensions with Roman Reigns that have occasionally bubbled up over the past couple of years makes sense. As for Big E, a new challenger will have to step forth on Monday. It could very well be one of the new additions to the Raw roster.
King of the Ring final: Xavier Woods def. Finn Balor
The New Day has reached levels of success that few could have predicted, even at the height of their power as tag team champions. Kofi Kingston went to WrestleMania and defeated Daniel Bryan and became WWE champion. Big E became WWE champion after cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase. And after trying to speak his childhood dream into existence for years, Xavier Woods is now King of the Ring.
Woods defeated Finn Balor in the finals of the tournament at Crown Jewel, showing off skills as a singles wrestler that he hasn't had the opportunity to show very often in his WWE tenure, which had almost exclusively been spent as a tag team performer.
The match itself was entertaining. After some extended mat exchanges, a Slingblade by Balor was met immediately by a superkick from Woods. There would be four near falls for Woods over the course of the match, each inching closer to the needed three count.
Balor snatched the momentum several times and was plenty believable as a winner of this match. But Balor's efforts to play spoiler, which culminated when he got his knees up on a Woods flying elbow attempt, were in vain.
A Slingblade and a basement dropkick for Balor set up the Coup de Grace, but Woods got out of the way. An offensive flurry set Woods up for another shot at a flying elbow. This time he connected, and covered Balor for the three count.
What's next: It's hard to say. Woods and Kingston were unceremoniously split from Big E in the WWE Draft, again, and it seems as though revisiting their old rivalry with The Usos is likely to be in the cards. Hopefully, we get to see more of Woods as a solo star moving forward, and this King of the Ring is more than just a brief, quickly forgotten notch on his belt.
Hell in a Cell match: Edge def. Seth Rollins
The rubber match of the long-running rivalry between Edge and Seth Rollins somehow raised the bar following two other tremendous matches. And while Edge's hand was raised at the end of a 27-minute spectacle, both men proved why they are considered among the greatest in-ring performers in the history of the wrestling business.
"This is awesome" chants rang out in Riyadh before the match even began, as the crowd anticipated what was to come. But even the most optimistic of those in the crowd couldn't have foreseen just how beautifully violent the match would be.
From the moment Rollins' suicide dive attempt missed, sending him headfirst into the side of the cage, the level of dedication and sacrifice that he and Edge were willing to put in to their match was clear. Chairs, tables, chains and the Hell in a Cell cage itself each became vital pieces of the story Edge and Rollins told in the ring.
The innovation throughout was incredible, including a moment in which Edge pushed Rollins off the top rope, bounced him headfirst into the cage halfway up, and then Rollins fell helplessly through the table below. Rollins hit a sunset flip powerbomb while falling off a ladder, sending Edge through a table below.
Both men tried to use each other's signature offense, to varying levels of success. Rollins went so far as to wrap a steel chain around his foot to enhance his attacks.
But as Rollins laid Edge's head on top of a chair on the ground, his hubris became his downfall. "This is how your fairy tale ends," shouted Rollins. Rollins went for a stomp to Edge's head while it hovered over a steel chair, but Edge grabbed the chair and stood it up vertically at the last second for a low blow on his opponent.
Edge set himself up for a variety of chokes, using the same chain, as well as a broken chair brace for aid. But he pushed beyond that point, set Rollins up in the same precarious position he had been in moments before, and then stomped Rollins' head down into a steel chair to win.
What's next: Edge and Rollins both moved from SmackDown to Monday Night Raw in the 2021 WWE Draft, but this match had an air of finality to it. Only time will tell.
Queen's crown final: Zelina Vega def. Doudrop
The first-ever WWE Queen's Crown belongs to Zelina Vega, who defeated Doudrop in the final of the inaugural tournament to capture the title.
Doudrop had the advantage for most of the match, but two key moments swung Vega's way -- an impressive tornado DDT and the Code Red flipping powerbomb that ultimately won her the match.
What's next: The title of "queen" will likely benefit Vega a great deal. After an initially fruitful partnership with Andrade early in her WWE career, Vega struggled to step forward in a talent-rich women's division and was even released from WWE. But of the participants in this tournament, she will likely benefit the most from this accomplishment.
Hopefully, the women's division outside of a select few title matches in WWE can get the time they deserve. The Queen's Crown tournament final clocked in at just shy of six minutes, and that's twice as long as any of the six tournament matches that preceded it. It's going to be difficult to make stars beyond the "Four Horsewomen" and Bianca Belair without giving other women enough time to prove themselves in the ring.
Raw tag team championship: Riddle & Randy Orton (c) def. AJ Styles & Omos
Orton and Riddle, collectively known as RK-Bro, successfully retained their Raw tag team title at Crown Jewel against AJ Styles and Omos. From the moment Riddle made his ring entrance on the back of a camel to the befuddlement of both his tag team partner and their opponents, it felt as though it was their match to win.
Styles got rag-dolled by Orton and Riddle early, but from the moment Omos tagged in, he took over the match and became the focal point for the majority of the action. He quickly took out both men, as Styles occasionally tagged in to get a few licks in for himself.
Riddle eventually mounted a comeback on Styles, and Orton used Styles as a battering ram to knock Omos off the apron to balance things out. Riddle interrupted a chokeslam attempt from Omos on Orton by grabbing Omos' leg, and while Omos was taken out in the confusion, Orton was left dazed. Styles lined up for the phenomenal forearm but instead flew directly into an RKO from Orton. They added a floating bro from Riddle for good measure, and the champions retained their title.
What's next: The balance of power shifted somewhat in the WWE Draft, with the Mysterios, The Street Profits and the Dirty Dawgs moving to Raw. Hopefully that can breathe some new life into the tag team division on Monday nights.
No Holds Barred: Goldberg def. Bobby Lashley
Goldberg was set to win this match from the outset, after Bobby Lashley attacked his son at SummerSlam following their WWE championship match. But the unsurprising nature of his win does little to take the sting out of him stopping the momentum of yet another top active superstar on a show in Saudi Arabia and then disappearing for the next few months.
Lashley had the early edge, as he wrapped a chain around his hand and rained down punches on Goldberg. Then Lashley attacked Goldberg's left knee that was injured at SummerSlam, connecting on a chop block and then trapping Goldberg's leg in a chair, which he then stomped on from the middle rope.
Lashley charged toward Goldberg, trying to spear him through a table set up in the corner, but Goldberg moved and Lashley ate the full impact of the table. Goldberg hit a spear and then a jackhammer. But he didn't go for the cover and took his gloves off. Goldberg sent Lashey outside of the ring and speared him through a ringside barrier for good measure.
Lashley essentially gave up, and he walked to the top of the ramp where he was met by Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander. His Hurt Business stablemates joined Lashley at the top of the ramp with kendo sticks, but Benjamin and Alexander were quickly dispatched, leaving it one on one with kendo sticks. Goldberg again got the better of the exchange and then speared Lashley off the stage.
The "no-holds-barred" match apparently carried "falls count anywhere" rules, as Goldberg covered Lashley where they lay, and that was the end of the match.
What's next: It hasn't been a great stretch for Lashley, who lost the WWE championship to a Big E Money in the Bank cash-in and subsequently failed to regain that title. Hopefully, his future plays out better than "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt, who lost the Universal title to Goldberg at Super ShowDown 2020 and never really recovered.
Mansoor def. Mustafa Ali
Mansoor's winning streak in Saudi Arabia stretched to four with his victory over Mustafa Ali at Crown Jewel 2021. After winning a 50-man battle royal at Super ShowDown 2019, and one-on-one wins over Cesaro (Crown Jewel 2019) and Dolph Ziggler (Super ShowDown 2020), Mansoor once again recorded a victory intended to appeal directly to the local crowd.
Mansoor weathered a long choke-out attempt, and when Ali missed the second of two 450 splash attempts, Mansoor springboarded from the apron to the inside, landed a neckbreaker and secured the win.
Ali attacked Mansoor post-match, only for a masked man to slowly walk down to the ring. He eventually revealed himself as Tarek Hamdi, a 2020 Olympic silver medalist in karate who represented Saudi Arabia in Tokyo. With a kick to Ali's head, the crowd got an extra dose of hometown happiness.
What's next: Both Mansoor and Ali were drafted from Raw to SmackDown, so it might not be the last chapter between the rivals-turned-tag team partners-turned rivals.
With the newly reformed Hurt Business staying on Raw, and The Usos remaining on SmackDown, this non-title match carried little in the way of stakes. It wasn't surprising to see The Usos, the SmackDown tag team champions, win. Hopefully Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin will be able to rebuild some momentum as part of a reunited unit beyond being a storytelling device.
What's next: In the immediate future, Benjamin and Alexander could very well play a role in the No Holds Barred match between Bobby Lashley and Goldberg. The Usos will almost certainly factor into the Universal championship match between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar, if history is any indication.