United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura def. Rusev (Kickoff Match)
This match was announced a day before the event and they aren't feuding at the moment, so despite it being fairly random, Nakamura and Rusev ended up contesting a solid match. They've proven in the past that they have nice chemistry together, so I actually liked this for what it was and the final few minutes were fun. It was also announced that Nakamura will be battling Seth Rollins at Survivor Series in a champion vs. champion matchup, assuming Rollins is still Intercontinental Champion by then.
Hulk Hogan Returned
Well, this was anticlimactic. Regardless of what your personal feelings are toward Hogan, I think most people expected him to be brought back to TV in grander fashion given how notable of a name he is. Yes, he was announced here as the "host" of Crown Jewel, but he was never seen again, nor was it advertised in advance. Reportedly, that's because WWE wanted to keep his return low-key, but then why bother having him return at all? This was a total waste of a segment, especially if this was the only reason he was flown in for the event.
Rey Mysterio def. Randy Orton in a WWE World Cup Quarterfinal Match
It's been many years since these two last went one-on-one, so I was looking forward to their match. Unfortunately, they were victims of time constraints, which hindered the quality of the match significantly. Don't get me wrong, it was well-wrestled while it lasted, but it was hardly memorable. Following his loss, Orton attacked Mysterio, giving The Master of the 619 an out for losing later on in the night.
The Miz def. Jeff Hardy in a WWE World Cup Quarterfinal Match
Miz and Hardy have worked well together in the past and they once again produced an enjoyable encounter here, but similar to Mysterio and Orton, their match wasn't nearly as lengthy as it could or should have been. On the bright side, it had a nice pace and energy, and I liked the finishing sequence as well. After this outing, it became apparent that none of the quarterfinal matches were going to last long.
Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins def. Bobby Lashley in a WWE World Cup Quarterfinal Match (Non-title)
Lashley hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire in the ring since turning heel last month (despite competing against Finn Balor on a few occasions), but this was one of his better performances in recent memory. Of course, most of that can be credited to Rollins, who carried him to a competent contest. They, too, were short on time, but did well what they had to work with. Rollins advancing was obviously the right choice.
Dolph Ziggler def. Kurt Angle in a WWE World Cup Quarterfinal Match
This had plenty of potential on paper to be an absolute barn-burner of a bout given their respective backgrounds in wrestling, but I knew going in that it wasn't going to be nearly as great as it could have been due to the abridged format of the WWE World Cup. Sure enough, it was a brief match, but at least they made the most of the time they had. It was essentially Angle hitting his signature spots for a few minutes, but he didn't embarrass him and he held his own. That said, Angle losing to one Zig-Zag (let alone losing at all) was a massive disappointment. Angle's first singles match in over a decade in WWE was made out to be a big deal beforehand, yet he was eliminated in the first round in underwhelming fashion.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bar def. The New Day
The Bar and New Day have had so many matches against each other in recent months that this wasn't anything out of the ordinary for them, but it was a good outing, nonetheless. On any other show, I would have been fine with the amount of time they received, but the WWE World Cup quarterfinals suffered because of it. Big Show costing Big E the win would seem to indicate that there are plans to have them feud going forward.
The Miz def. Rey Mysterio in a WWE World Cup Semifinal Match
Thankfully, the semifinals of the WWE World Cup were given a bit more room to breath than the quarterfinals, making the matches more competitive and entertaining in the process. Miz and Mysterio had an excellent mach on SmackDown Live a few weeks back, so it was hardly surprising that they once again delivered here. This was among of my favorite bouts of the night, and now that they are tied one win apiece, it'd be cool to see them officially feud in the future.
Dolph Ziggler def. Intercontinental Champion and Raw Tag Team Champion Seth Rollins in a WWE World Cup Semifinal Match (Non-title)
Rollins vs. Ziggler is the rivalry that will just never end, apparently. They have been battling over the Intercontinental Championship since June, and they still find themselves trading wins back and forth. Repetitive booking aside, this was a quality contest from them. Granted, it was far from their strongest matchup together, but it wasn't difficult for it to be better than everything else on this show up to this point. However, Ziggler beating Rollins was highly questionable. It was definitely better for Ziggler to take the loss against Shane McMahon as opposed to Rollins, but I wonder whether this means Ziggler is owed another shot at the title, and if Rollins and Drew McIntyre (since he interfered) still have unfinished business. By the way, where was Dean Ambrose?
WWE Champion AJ Styles def. Samoa Joe
I had hope that after all the times Joe was unsuccessful in taking the title from Styles this year, he would finally reign supreme and become champion on this show. Boy, was I wrong. The match itself was actually above-average and easily the best thing on this parody of a pay-per-view, though it paled in comparison to their previous encounters. And then came the finish that saw Styles beat Joe abruptly and decisively. So much for Joe ever getting a run with the WWE Championship. I'm curious who Styles' next challenger will be given he beat both Joe and Bryan clean in the past week and now neither of those two have a claim to championship.
Brock Lesnar def. Braun Strowman to Win the Universal Championship
Considering their No Mercy match last year ended up being a complete dud, I had zero expectations for this, yet they somehow managed to have an even worse match than I thought they would. I realize Lesnar settled into his "squash" formula years ago where he'll hit countless F5s and suplexes and not much else, but this was a whole new level of lazy. The entire matchup consisted of Corbin hitting Strowman with the Universal title belt, Lesnar laying out Strowman with four or five F5s, and Lesnar going over clean to capture the championship. I'm honestly at a loss for words. Sure, we get Lesnar vs. Styles II at Survivor Series, but that's the only upside of this. Lesnar's first reign as Universal Champion long overstayed its welcome and was a colossal failure. Meanwhile, Strowman has virtually been cemented as the ultimate loser. I guess they could put him in chase mode in the months ahead, but I truly do not care to see that happen at this point.
SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon def. Dolph Ziggler to Win the WWE World Cup
Oh man, where do I even begin with this? Ziggler vs. Miz was a dumb choice to have as the final match in the WWE World Cup, but it all done by design in order to have Shane replace Miz so he could come out on top in the tournament and take home the trophy and title as "the best in the world." What a joke. Anything Ziggler gained from defeating Angle and Rollins back-to-back was promptly erased with this loss. I assume this will play into the build for Raw vs. SmackDown at Survivor Series somehow, but that doesn't make this any less mind-boggling. Besides, another heel authority figure is the last thing we need in this company right now.
D-Generation X def. The Brothers of Destruction
I had no desire to see Shawn Michaels return to the ring given how perfect his sendoff was at WrestleMania 26, but admittedly, he had a hell of a performance here. I'd definitely be open to him having more matches down the road, preferably with the talent of today and not The Undertaker (even though that's the direction I'm sure we're headed in). Unfortunately, the rest was a disaster. Triple H was hurt early on, so he was barely a factor in this match. That combined with Kane's masking falling off and Undertaker having an awful showing solidified this a drawn-out mess. The crowd ate up everything they did, but I personally couldn't get into it. That final Pedigree from Triple H was pretty abysmal-looking Pedigree was a fitting way to close out this abomination of a bout/show.
As soon as the controversy surrounding Crown Jewel emanating from Saudi Arabia (two words that were never once muttered on this show might I mention) broke out, WWE probably had the mindset that they'd get through this show simply so they could move on without putting forth much of an effort. The first half felt like a glorified house show (a la Greatest Royal Rumble and Super Show-Down), but it was all downhill with the final three "matches." All things considered, this was an atrocious event with a handful of bad booking decisions and forgettable wrestling. It would not be a stretch to say that this leads the list of WWE's worst pay-per-views in 2018, which is insane coming off such an awesome Evolution event last Sunday. All of the company's current problems were exposed and amplified with this show, causing more fan outrage than I've seen in some time. Hey, at least we have NXT TakeOver: War Games II and possibly Survivor Series to look forward to later this month!