WWE will be heading back to Saudi Arabia on Friday for the first time since the Greatest Royal Rumble event back in April. This venture to the middle east brings us the Crown Jewel event, which is set to feature two world title matches, the in-ring return of Shawn Michaels after eight years and a unique eight-man World Cup tournament that has been touted to eventually crown the “best in the world.
Crown Jewel, which has been drowned in controversy for weeks, will be taking place inside King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Given the location, Crown Jewel will begin at noon ET on Friday with the show expected to last anywhere from 3.5-4 hours, not counting the kickoff show, which starts one hour prior to the main card at 11 a.m.
CBS Sports will be with you the entire way on Friday with live results, highlights and analysis. For now, let’s take a look at how our experts believe the Crown Jewel action will play out.
2018 WWE Crown Jewel predictions
SmackDown Tag Team Championship — The Bar (c) vs. New Day
Brian Campbell: The puzzling addition of the Big Show hasn’t done much to add to this rivalry, outside of the obvious storyline hook that it diminishes the built-in advantage New Day has always had with three members. Not only does Big Show seem to have nothing in common with Sheamus & Cesaro to make sense of this arrangement, but it’s hard to imagine he’s long for this storyline. Look for the New Day to add to their lineage. Pick: New Day regains the titles
Adam Silverstein, Jack Jorgensen: This one could really go either way because, as Mr. Campbell stated, there’s not a lot going on here that makes a ton of sense. With the Raw tag team championship in limbo and Survivor Series looming, it even makes it hard to peer into the future to decipher a prediction. But I’ll stick with The Bar retaining here over New Day with help from Big Show once again, and then hopefully we could be provided with some sort of explanation regarding this alliance. Pick: The Bar retains the titles
WWE World Cup tournament
BC, JJ: This tournament will ultimately mean about as much as the green title Braun Strowman captured with his Greatest Royal Rumble win back in April, but it is a pretty stacked field, so credit there where it’s due. But out of all the big names in the fold, they really have been pushing the narrative in recent weeks that Kurt Angle still has enough left in the tank to win this thing despite a bevy of odds being stacked against him. It’s odd to imagine him navigating through this gauntlet, but the story has been heavily suggesting the Olympic gold medalist defeats some of the biggest names in the industry to earn the moniker of “best in the world.” Pick: Kurt Angle wins the WWE World Cup
AS: Considering the ultimatum provided by SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon on Tuesday, and the superstars competing in the field, Mysterio taking the entire tournament makes the most sense to me. I don’t see WWE trying to put over Kurt Angle — draped in an American flag — in Saudi Arabia, and there’s really no one else on the SmackDown side with the exception of Jeff Hardy who fits in this role. With Mysterio trying to get over this awful G.M.O.A.T. — “Greatest Mask of All Time” — gimmick, perhaps this adds some fuel to that fire. This “World Cup” consists of eight Americans, many of whom should not really be in such a contest. And while Seth Rollins is the best current active performer of the group, it would be hard for him to done an “all time” moniker. Pick: Rey Mysterio wins the WWE World Cup
WWE Championship — AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe
BC, AS, JJ: The reported refusal of Daniel Bryan to take part in the event forced a change in the Crown Jewel WWE title match just three days prior, and we got a very familiar replacement for the champion Styles. Samoa Joe has proven most recently to be an incredible opponent for Styles both in the ring and out of it, though he’s continually failed to capture the top title — and that will be the result here yet again. Joe, in my opinion, was simply slotted as the emergency stand-in to put on a solid match for the fans. Styles will retain as he likely would have over Bryan to begin with — to move on to Survivor Series and a showdown with either Brock Lesnar or Braun Strowman. Pick: AJ Styles retains the title
Universal Championship — Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman
BC, AS, JJ: If there’s one positive from the sad news involving Roman Reigns’ indefinite hiatus following his diagnosis of leukemia, it’s the opportunity for another wrestler to inherit his almost impeccable babyface booking. Reigns was WWE chairman Vince McMahon’s heir to the throne of previous poster boy John Cena, and if there’s any current superstar who is most deserving of a chance to test their potential marketing strength as the top guy, it’s Strowman. Getting a clean win over Lesnar is just about the best way to launch him into that kind of role, especially since that was the original plan for how WWE was going to do the same to Reigns. Strowman is far too over for WWE not to give him a run as top babyface champion, and the company has waited long enough to pull the trigger after initially fast-tracking him that delaying any longer might ruin it. Let the Monster Era begin. Pick: Braun Strowman wins the title
DeGeneration X vs. Brothers of Destruction
BC, JJ: It’s hard to get excited about a feud with no true storyline that is scheduled to produce a forced and bastardized return to the ring after eight years for a legend like Shawn Michaels. If you’re a superfan of any of the four participants in this tag team match, the push it has been given may be enough to satisfy nostalgic yearnings. For everyone else, it’s overkill, especially due to the fact that the match is likely only happening to please the powers that be in Saudi Arabia who paid top dollar for WWE to return for the second time in six months. Given the recent negative headlines surrounding WWE’s involvement in this card, this match in many ways serves as a physical embodiment of fan disappointment. Pick: DX wins
AS: If Undertaker and Kane are not getting a win back coming out of Super Show-Down, what was the point of that booking in the first place? Despite the Brothers of Destruction playing the heel side here, the only way to make sense of the storyline is for them to get a win over DX in this venue. It would also not make sense for Shawn Michaels to come back and get a win when one would assume he will not be wrestling another match while Taker will surely be at WrestleMania 35 this year. Honestly, I don’t care about this match nor this card. I just hope it goes by quickly. Pick: Brothers of Destruction win
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