WWE

WWE Crown Jewel: An emotional night of firsts in Riyadh

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Natalya and Lacey Evans embrace at the conclusion of their match.

As another visit to Saudi Arabia draws to a close, we can look back on Crown Jewel as the biggest statement made by a WWE event in the Kingdom.

This is the fourth show of a long-term deal and while those in the past have pulled in headline matches and results, this one feels to have topped the lot.

Here’s why…

A first women’s match

Since the first venture to Saudi Arabia talk has inevitably migrated to when a first women’s match would occur. In the two previous shows we had seen progress from the female-free opener.

Renee Young took to the commentary booth last year, while in Jeddah earlier this year, Natalya and Alexa Bliss were in town and carried out some work in the community. Baby steps.

It was thought maybe 2020 may be the year for women to appear in the ring but from the moment Michael Cole announced the breaking news to a packed press conference on Wednesday it has been the talk of the town.

In the King Fahd International Stadium all the talk was about Lacey Evans taking on Natalya. Young women talked about progress, their excitement and that of their friends. How they wanted to capture this moment for posterity. For those on the other side of the world it can be easy to sneer, but this was seismic in the eyes of those attending.

When Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks took to the ring in Abu Dhabi the crowed chanted ‘this is hope’ – this time around it felt ‘progress’ was the overwhelming feeling.

As for who won or lost between the ropes, it’s irrelevant.

The cheers of the crowd, the look on young girl’s faces, the inspiration etched in their eyes, the embrace of accomplishment from the two combatants in the ring. That’s what matters.

Tonight, everyone won.

Mansoor’s hometown heroics

Fresh off his biggest-ever Battle Royal win in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s very own Mansoor took on Cesaro at Crown Jewel.

It is one thing wading your way through 49 other superstars, it’s another having the spotlight entirely on you.

In Cesaro, he had the perfect dance partner. A man who sees himself as something of a gatekeeper for emerging talent, and on the basis of Crown Jewel, Mansoor will certainly be allowed in by the Swiss Superman.

The pair put on a show with the local hero taking the win – to another Jeddah-style pop from his adoring fans.

He says his focus is now NXT and seeing how he can progress through those ranks. There will  be more bright lights ahead.

The Fiend takes home the gold

It’s often said you won’t see a major title change outside the US.

However in Riyadh, The Fiend Bray Wyatt captured the WWE Universal Title in a match that had a bit of everything – including an alluring red hue from the stadium lighting.

Chair shots, table spots, stomps on the concrete and stage, sledgehammers, exploding electrics, and eventually a mandible claw, Sister Abigail on the floor and a new champ, and Seth Rollins going home empty-handed.

It was some way to wrap up the night.

Best of the rest

It seems almost an insult to rattle the following things off as almost an afterthought, but this shows just how big the aforementioned things are.

Cast your mind back to the start of the show and we had Brock Lesnar tapping out Cain Velasquez, before being sent scuttling into the night by Rey Mysterio  – we’ve not seen the last of this one.

The OC were crowned the best tag team in the world.

Tyson Fury, arguably the best heavyweight boxer on the planet, made his WWE in-ring debut – and his entrance alone was worth the ticket price.

Oh, and two of the game’s biggest legends in Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair captained star-studded teams in a five on five battle.

It was a night to live long in the memory. ‘Making history’ is a term bandied about far too often. Crown Jewel, however, did just that.

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