WWE Crown Jewel 2023 was a big night for the company’s biggest stars, with Logan Paul, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes all leaving Saudi Arabia with signature wins.
On the flip side, Crown Jewel marked a difficult event for LA Knight, who lost his Undisputed Universal title match to Reigns, and Damian Priest, who not only lost to Rhodes but also had his Money in the Bank briefcase stolen by Sami Zayn. All of the major developments at Crown Jewel should play a sizable role in the build toward the Reigns-less Survivor Series in just a few weeks.
WWE’s overall product remains red hot, and WrestleMania storylines are already beginning to take shape. Still, there were some questionable booking made decisions in Saudi Arabia, mixed in, of course, with some breakthrough moments for established and rising stars.
Here are the best and worst moments of WWE Crown Jewel 2023.
Best: Kairi Sane Returns And Attacks Bianca Belair
WWE continues to revamp its women’s division, this time with the returning Kairi Sane. Recent reports indicated that Sane was returning to WWE soon, and she did exactly that, showing up at Crown Jewel to cost Bianca Belair her shot at winning gold.
SmackDown badly needed someone to breathe new life into its women’s division, and Sane is the perfect choice for that spot. Sane, who helped Iyo Sky pick up the win over Belair, has a lot of history with Sane’s stablemate Bayley, and now, she has an instant beef with Belair.
Sky has done a great job as women’s champion and should hold onto the title a little longer. Now, her title reign should be extended for the foreseeable future, with WWE instead building to Belair vs. Sane and potential problems within Damage Control. It’s just a shame that, given the rather quiet crowd, Sane’s return didn’t get the pop it would have elsewhere.
Worst: What’s Next For Rhea Ripley?’
The finish of the Women’s World Championship match fell flat, with Raquel Rodriguez’s awkward positioning badly telegraphing the outcome. The convoluted ending to what had been a good match also leads to a bigger problem: Where does Rhea Ripley go from here?
Ripley, the clear top star in Raw’s women’s division, is obviously headed toward a clash with Becky Lynch, likely at WrestleMania 40. But she essentially just toppled the rest of the top portion of the Raw roster. She’s now beaten Rodriguez and Shayna Baszler, with only Nia Jax standing in her way.
This, of course, leads to the bigger issue of giving Ripley, a red hot star, something substantial to do for the next few months. She should have retained, of course, but a weak ending and an unclear future leaves a lot to be desired, especially if this is all leading to an immediate feud with the mundane Jax.
Best: Logan Paul Wins The United States Championship
Logan Paul further solidified himself as one of WWE’s best heels at Crown Jewel, where he used a pair of brass knuckles to defeat Rey Mysterio and win the United States Championship.
Paul’s title win, his first victory in WWE, was the latest memorable moment in what has been an incredible run for the social media star. Every single time Paul steps in a WWE ring, he delivers. Crown Jewel was no different.
Though Paul vs. Mysterio wasn’t as good as some of Paul’s other matches, it ended with a dastardly heel victory that perfectly fits Paul’s persona and puts the US title on one of the most recognizable stars in WWE.
Best: Jey Uso Helps Cody Rhodes
All indications are that Cody Rhodes and Jey Uso will be on the same team at Survivor Series, where the expected WarGames main event should pit the popular stars against a heel team led by Judgment Day.
That made Jey’s assist to an outnumbered Rhodes a welcome sight at Crown Jewel. Though the beef between Raw’s top babyfaces and Judgment Day is on its last legs, the budding friendship between Jey and Rhodes has been a breath of fresh air that has helped reinvigorate this overly lengthy storyline.
Rhodes needed to win, and given the interference from Finn Balor and JD McDonagh, it was only fitting that Jey was the man who came to help him.
Worst: John Cena Vs. Solo Sikoa Underwhelms
If John Cena isn’t wrestling any more matches in his current WWE run, it’s understandable that he lost to Solo Sikoa at Crown Jewel. The match itself, however, was incredibly underwhelming, a lopsided affair that made Cena look like a shell of himself. Maybe that’s what WWE is going for, but it wasn’t exactly riveting TV.
What’s more, Cena hasn’t won a singles match since 2018, when he was still putting on classic matches. Sikoa vs. Cena, however, was far from that, instead serving as a way to further cement Sikoa as one of WWE’s most dominant stars. That goal was achieved, but it came with the unfortunate side effect of a rather boring match that ultimately deflated the crowd, too.
Cena is playing up the “does he still have it?” Rocky style veteran role just a tad too much, and though the live crowd gave him a standing ovation because it may be one of his last singles matches ever, that doesn’t change the reality of the match itself being a dud.
Best And Worst: LA Knight Proves He Belongs, But Roman Reigns’ Matches Remain Formulaic
LA Knight vs. Roman Reigns was a main event-caliber match, one that demonstrated that Knight is right where he belongs at the top of the card. The problem is, Reigns’ oft-relied upon match finish formula—built around constant interference from The Bloodline—stuck once again.
The fast-rising Knight had the Saudi Arabian crowd in the palm of his hand, but the ending of the bout—with Jey trying to attack Knight on multiple occasions with the referee looking directly at it—was a tough logic pill to swallow. This, of course, has become the norm in title defenses for Reigns.
He usually wins thanks to Jey, Jimmy or The Bloodline as a whole, and Crown Jewel was more of the same. But it left a sour taste after what was the best in-ring performance in the brief WWE career of Knight, who should be OK after a loss but was the latest to fall victim to an overbooked, illogical Reigns match ending.
Best: Drew McIntyre And Seth Rollins Tear The House Down
Drew McIntyre—whose WWE contract expires soon—made sure to leave his mark on WWE at Crown Jewel.
The Scottish superstar, treated like the more beloved babyface in Saudi Arabia, tore the house down with Seth Rollins, who retained his World Heavyweight title with a Pedigree and a Stomp. The incredible match quality was no surprise, given that Rollins and McIntyre have long been established as two of WWE’s top overall performers.
While McIntyre fell short in his quest to win a third world title, he did take one giant step toward a potential heel turn and also proved why WWE should make every effort to re-sign him. A classic back-and-forth battle of two fan favorites, Rollins vs. McIntyre was a tremendous way to kick off Crown Jewel, a great moment in McIntyre’s slow-burn heel turn storyline and a big win for Rollins.