The Last Hour of WWE Crown Jewel Was A Damning Indictment of Their Problems

From the second that the Jamal Khashoggi story hit the mainstream news, Crown Jewel was basically a PR nightmare waiting to unfold. Despite the true nature of the circumstances surround his death, WWE still went ahead with the controversial event to the vehement displeasure of everyone.

http://uk.businessinsider.com/wwe-going-ahead-with-saudi-arabia-show-despite-khashoggi-killing-2018-10?r=US&IR=T

Even two of the WWE’s top stars, in John Cena and Daniel Bryan, abdicated the show in protest of the WWE’s immorality.

Report: John Cena, Daniel Bryan ‘Refusing’ To Appear At Crown Jewel

In effect, Crown Jewel was doomed no matter what happened during the course of the night, but it didn’t mean the show needed to be bad. It ended up being absolutely horrific; an unsalvageable train wreck of a PPV.

The show left the station, featured a brief tannoy announcement from a questionable conductor, before having a herd of rampaging wildebeests collide into the side of it with enough force to oust the carriages into the rubbish dump below.

WWECrownJewelHogan

What a great occasion to bring back an already tarnished personality in the wrestling world.

It’s heavily-promoted ‘World Cup’ (that featured seven Americans and one Mexican-American, go figure) was akin to the King of the Ring style shows of old. A format never worked. You get lots of short matches, with no time to develop, no time to tell a story or that generally entertain. Even the tag match was only good, but as formulaic as they come, which is not what you’d expect from The New Day and The Bar.

So to the last hour of the show. 3 matches and 3 reasons why the WWE is languishing in a ever-darkening sea of contaminated tripe.

Match #1 – Brock Lesnar vs Braun Strowman for the Vacant WWE Universal Championship

WWECrownJewelUniversalTitle

I feel like we turned back the clock a few months here. Either that or Vince got out his little scrapbook of ideas to see what he can re-use.

“Dammit Paul, Braun is over, he’s my greatest creation in years. Roman’s ill…I miss Roman…anyway, I think it’s time we finally give the fans what they want, we need to put the strap back on Brock because it’s best for business HAHAHAHA *sneezes* DAMMIT ALL TO HELL!

If you’re not well-versed in McMahonology, then a lot of that insanity above will have gone so far over your head that your neck is going to shrivel into a heap of cramp from cloud-gazing.

In short, Brock was champion for FAR TOO LONG. Since Wrestlemania 33, he held the Universal Title for 16 months. In that time, he competed a measly eight times, with only seven of those being for the title.

Despite the overwhelming distain towards Roman Reigns (get well dude <3), the general consensus was that relieving Lesnar of the title was good for the product. Reigns’ illness has forced him to relinquish it, and suddenly the stock of this match skyrocketed.

They had a big chance here to concoct something special. Instead, Brock effectively squashed WWE’s biggest monster. I don’t want to hear that Braun survived four F-5’s, that doesn’t make someone look good. Braun’s only offense in a 3-minute squash match was basically one kick.

Alternatives:

-Insert Drew McIntyre into the match and make it a triple threat, as he has been involved with Braun a lot lately. It could’ve helped to pad the match out a bit and also make Brock earn it a bit more.

-Have Drew interfere, cause a double DQ, end the match as a no-contest and have a tournament at Survivor Series to determine a champion. Simple. This way, you negate the problem of having anyone look weak, you open a new realm of possibility, create more intrigue for Survivor Series and most importantly, that crowd didn’t care what happened during this match or most of the night to be perfectly honest.

Basically, this was all bad.

BUT…if on RAW we maybe have Brock drop the title to someone, fantastic. Do it.

Sadly, he’s probably going to hold onto that ugly, tomato skin until Wrestlemania and further run that title in the grounds of obscurity and make it lose its last single, shred of credibility. The whole thing was another in a long list of examples of the company going into business for themselves, and not the fans.

Match #2 – Dolph Ziggler vs The Miz Shane McMahon to declare the winner of World Cup Tournament Final

WWECrownJewelShane

Shane, I’m as surprised as you are.

BEST. IN. THE. WORLD. That is practically engrained onto my brain now it’s been advertised enough. If specialists performed brain surgery on me, the whole procedure would suffer a brief hiatus due to the internal shock of seeing “best in the world” childishly scribbled across my cerebral cortex.

Such is the WWE’s loathsome tendency to brand everything.

A 48-year-old Shane McMahon is now officially ‘the best wrestler in the world’. According to the events of Crown Jewel whereby the Smackdown Commissioner inexplicably inserted himself into the match at the behest…of himself, replacing an ‘injured’ Miz.

Not only that, I can’t believe I’m typing all of this by the way, but he pinned Dolph Ziggler (clean) in about 2 minutes following a vintage Coast-To-Coast. The only move in the history of professional wrestling that has never beaten anybody.

You’ve got to laugh. The ever-imposing and authoritative nature of the McMahon regime reared its ugly head once again here. Not only did this completely undermine the pointless tournament they’d been promoting for weeks; but it was so absurd and ludicrously nonsensical that you just couldn’t help but laugh.

Who will forget that warm, endearing image of Shane O’ Mac running around the ring with that damn trophy like he’d just won a titanic, 60-minute slog with a bear.

For story purposes, my assumption is that The Miz faked his injury in order to save himself the risk of being fired; as per the stipulation imposed on any Smackdown superstar who got to the final and lost.

Similarly, like with the Universal Title, they had a chance to give someone a nice little push here. Instead, the bosses son stuck his nose in business that wasn’t his, and further solidified his growing legacy as the greatest wrestler that has ever lived. Eurgh.

Match #3 – DX vs The Brothers of Destruction

WWECrownJewelDXBOD

206

^^^^^^ See that figure above? That’s the combined age of all four participants in this match. The main event of the show consisted of four part-timers. Let me rephrase that, the main event of this PPV, consisted of a guy who’d been retired for eight years, one guy who is pretty pre-occupied with his real-life mayoral duties for Knox County, one guy that is very much on his last legs as the prince of darkness, and one guy who spends his time in a suit and tie being an Executive Vice President backstage.

It’s clear here that the lesson wasn’t learned from Super Show Down. HHH vs The Undertaker went nearly 30 minutes in the land down under. Due to the time difference or whatever, I feel like that match is still going on now.

To reiterate, this was a clear indicator that we shouldn’t have these veterans working a long, drawn out affair. The pace was slower than a care home, zimmer-frame, grand prix with the winner pocketing priority seating to the evening’s bingo.

The match was plodding, riddled with botches, Kane was accidentally unmasked for the millionth time and Shawn just barely escaped death performing a moonsault to the outside.

He was the shining beacon of light in the claustrophobic cavern of eternal darkness that was this match. Shawn Michaels is my favourite wrestler of all-time. I think he retired too early as he clearly still had IT. At Crown Jewel he did admittedly look a bit rusty, but he definitely still put on a show; and I believe he could still work a MOTY contender with the right guy *cough* AJ Styles.

I hate the fact he came out of retirement, for this of all shows. But if HBK is back, then maybe he can work a couple more matches before retiring at Wrestlemania once again.

As a whole however, this match was everything that is wrong with the WWE. The undying emphasis on the established guard, continually taking up slots that need to be filled by the younger guys.

The WWE makes enough money. It’s the biggest wrestling company in the world bar-none. They’re never going to be challenged no matter what anyone wants to believe.

One of these days, Vince needs to bite the bullet and start the integration of younger guys into main event slots without the need to panic and call upon his tried and tested soldiers.

Conclusion

  1. Putting the title on Lesnar was desperation and a way to return the status-quo in Vince’s head. A worrying thought is that he doesn’t trust ANYONE on the RAW brand that he feels can carry the company. But who’s fault is that?
  2. Shane winning the World Cup. Yeah. No.
  3. Out with the old, in with the new.  It doesn’t need to be any clearer than that.

The common factor in all of this? Over-reliance on part-timers who aren’t busting their arse on the road 300+ days a year. It needs to stop. But it won’t.

– Andy.H. –

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The Grap Report: Brock Lesnar

As a website that intends to pride itself on fresh ideas and giving you the content you didn’t know you wanted, we start here.

The Grap Report.

No professional wrestler is safe. Did you retire ten years ago? You’ve made The Grap Report. Have you only been wrestling for two years? You’ve made The Grap Report. It doesn’t matter if you’re inexperienced. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the difference between a face and a heel. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing it so long that you walk down the street, get withdrawal symptoms and suddenly have the urge to take a bump onto the hood of a car.

The Grap Report will examine all kinds of career trajectories.

For more experienced careers, we’ll see if perhaps they could’ve done more with their career. Maybe they overachieved? The Grap Report will look at someone who’s in their mid to late 30’s and see how they’ve fared thus far, whilst simultaneously looking at what they could do before they hit their twilight years. Then there’s the upstart, the prodigal son or daughter, who has all their best years ahead of them. The world is their oyster. But are they hungry enough? Maybe they hate seafood, like myself, in which case they’re screwed.

These are the opinions of one smarky, marky fan who loves wrestling. So let’s get cracking.

Today, we start with one of the most controversial wrestlers whom the Earth has had the privilege of hosting, Brock Lesnar. Aka Bork Laser aka that guy who I wouldn’t dare say a bad word to, even if there was 100ft of electrified fences separating us. He’d eat them, I’d bolt.

He’s genuinely one of the few larger than life athletes who walks amongst us and has all the credentials to be the baddest man on the planet. Have you not seen the main picture heading the article?

His name is synonymous with combat. It’s known outside of wrestling and one that strikes fear into most men.

He is a legitimate beast (incarnate). About 6″4. Anywhere between 270-290lbs. He wears his pride on his chest, along with a weird-ass sword tattoo…I take that back actually. If for god knows what reason he ever reads this then I’m dead. I love the tattoo. It’s a truly artistic symbol of war and is a representation of contemporary, minimalism in its simplicity. It also looks ridiculous!

BrockLesnarSwordTattoo

At least he’s got a badass one on the back, right?

BrockLesnarBacktattoo

That tattoo stuck with me when I was a kid. Here was this behemoth of a man, and he was rocking a huge, demonic skull on his spine that wouldn’t look out of place in DOOM. I can’t find any evidence as to why he got this satanic-looking piece of evil carved into his muscular back, but does it really matter? It’s the kind of visual that strikes fear and intimidation into an opponent before the match has even started.

Whereas the sword represented a major negative in his life: as it was post-WWE, he wasn’t allowed to compete anywhere else due to contractual disagreements with his former company, and he’d started to warm to an old-school, wrestler cocktail of drinking heavily and consuming painkillers with booze.

The skull was the beginning of his journey.

March 18th 2002, the night after Wrestlemania 18, he interfered in a hardcore match and absolutely dismantled Maven, Al Snow and tried to maim Spike Dudley. The shock and awe is palpable in the crowd, even in that moment they knew, ‘this guy looks like a monster’.

One of the saddest things is that the modern day wrestling fan is only familiar with Brock Lesnar circa 2012, when he made his return after eight years. It’s fair to say that in the last six years, the general consensus is that Lesnar has slowly declined, in both his wrestling ability and interest for the wrestling business.

I vehemently disagree with both of these statements.

Reason the first, Brock Lesnar has NEVER cared about the wrestling business, even going all the way back to his first run. He’s an entertainer. I’ve seen enough interviews and read enough transcripts to get the idea. He has about as much interest in the lineage of professional wrestling as I do in politics and royalty; absolutely none whatsoever.

He’s all about that dollar-dollar and overcoming new challenges in his life.

Reason the second, his wrestling ability is still very much there. He just unleashes it as and when he wants to. Now here’s where the point of contention rears its ugly head. Brock Lesnar is an absolutely outstanding professional wrestler. Like Kurt Angle, he picked up the business very quickly, due to his amateur wrestling background, and was the proverbial diamond in the rough.

If you’re even so much as a casual wrestling fan, they you’ll already know the legendary list of accomplishments this man has earned in his storied career. But, if you dig a little bit deeper into the rabbit hole, then you unearth some even more surprising statistics.

Note: PWI is Pro Wrestling Illustrated, an admittedly kayfabe magazine, but a publication that has ran for nearly 40 years and has some semblance of credibility.

Lesnar’s list of irrefutable awesomeness

  • Big Ten Conference Champion
  • NCAA Heavyweight Champion
  • UFC Heavyweight Champion
  • NJPW Heavyweight Champion
  • Multiple time WWE Champion
  • PWI Match of the Year in 2003
  • PWI Wrestler of the Year in 2002
  • PWI #1 Wrestler, out of 500, in 2003

See what I mean?

In his initial run between 2002-2004, Lesnar carried with him a no-nonsense aggression and technical ability that was equalled by nobody in the company; also, he actually spoke too.

It’s hard to believe it now, but he wasn’t always the mute brute. The man took part in his fair share of funny segments, most notably with Kurt Angle. However, once Paul Heyman vacated his side in November 2002, Brock would become an autonomous individual until he left in 2004. Sometimes he could hold his own, but he had a long way to go before he could topple the philosophical stylings of the human lexicon, Scott Steiner.

But after watching that clip, can you believe this is the same guy we’ve been seeing on our TV screens for the last few years?

Hard to believe I know, but I think it works better with Heyman acting as his volatile, well-spoken promoter that could tell you Brock Lesnar was going to fight a roll of selotape, and still make you wanna shell out the cash to see if Brock could get himself out of a…sticky…situation.

In his first run, he won the 2002 King of the Ring, the 2003 Royal Rumble and won the WWE Championship on three occasions. No other titles. Let’s face it, he didn’t need them. He could’ve been WWE Champion for his entire run and it would’ve been justified. He was booked as an unstoppable force with pretty much no immovable object to curtail his dominance.

He had some of the best wrestling matches ever seen: from his classic bout with Eddie Guerrero at No Way Out 2004, to his incredible bloodbath with The Undertaker at No Mercy 2002, to a genuine match of a lifetime with Kurt Angle in their 2003 Iron Match on Smackdown.

He had a wide array of moves. Nope, not just german suplexes; he was at the peak of physical fitness and he moved so spritely that he could easily be mistaken for a 100 metre runner.

Oh, and he was the sturdiest neck ever seen…

Nearly 300lbs, straight onto his head from 10ft in the air. He should’ve been dead. Instead? he got up, finished the match, and walked away with only a concussion. The man literally defied physics.

He was one of the best homegrown talents the WWE has ever produced…

But then he left.

Sick of the year-round schedule, sick of travelling well over 200 days a year and sick of having to do the one thing that Brock Lesnar despises more than anything; talking to people. It’s no secret that Brock is a self-appointed recluse who prefers to keep to himself, so when it dawns on you how much media he was having to do, as arguably the company’s top guy, it’s understandable that he wanted no further part in it.

Brock vs Goldberg WM 20

So off he went. He lost to Goldberg on the grandest stage of them all at Wrestlemania 20. A highly-anticipated bout with incredible hype surrounding it. Having two ferocious gladiators in one ring was so intriguing, more so when Stone Cold Steve Austin was added as a special guest referee.

They stunk the place out. It’s definitely gone down in the annals of Wrestlemania folkore as an all-time dud. Lesnar flipped off the crowd, ate a Stunner, and was presumed to never be seen again in a WWE ring. Bye-bye.

He infamously left to pursue an NFL career, performed a full pre-season with his hometown team, the Minnesota Vikings before being cut before the start of the season. After this, he fought WWE over wrestling elsewhere and he eventually got his own way due to a court ruling. He won New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Heavyweight Championship and enjoyed a good run there.

Then it was UFC. World champion after only four fights, beating some big names along the way. He became, arguably, the biggest box office draw in UFC history and became the king of combat sports.

Brock Lesnar Portrait Shoot

April 2nd, 2012. The night after Wrestlemania 28. Feels like we’ve come full-circle doesn’t it? Ten years after hitting Spike Dudley with a devastating triple powerbomb, he was back. This time, delivering an F-5 to a mid-card jobber by the name of John Cena.

Lesnar’s second run didn’t start all that well.

He lost to Cena immediately, a stupid decision that was representative of classic Cena booking. Then he beat HHH, lost to HHH and beat him one final time to regain his heat.

So over a year back, and he and Heyman were a big deal, but not a huge deal, thanks in part to two losses already.

But Summerslam 2013 would prove to be the catalyst for his revitalisation.

A one-on-one bout with CM Punk was a huge, star-studded match brimming with hype. It lived up to all of it and more. They delivered, in my opinion, a five-star classic and tore the house down with a brutal war in which Punk just came up short. This would be Brock’s last proper match for a few years.

With two big wins in-a-row, Lesnar now had some momentum.

He’d then return to an old flame by the name of The Big Show. Thanks to a pre-match assault, Lesnar squashed Big Show in just a few minutes at the Royal Rumble.

Next up? The Streak.

Now, I’m not going into too much detail here as it’s been covered to death, but there’s absolutely nothing that can be said to lessen and understate the importance of this night at Wrestlemania 30.

WM 30 The Streak

Still the most shocking moment I’ve ever seen in professional wrestling. 21-1.

Brock Lesnar, in the prime of his life, was the chosen one handed the prestigious honour of bringing the illustrious Wrestlemania undefeated streak to an end.

No one in the world had more steam and intrigue like Brock Lesnar has at that point. His previous losses are now undone and forgotten. The Beast is a proposition to be feared, once again boasting believability and has possession of a magical aura that few people could ever hope to achieve.

That loss to Cena, on Brock’s return match, proved to be inconsequential as Brock spent the better part of 20 minutes single-handedly dismantling John Cena in the main event of Summerslam 2014 for the WWE Title. It was a 20-minute squash of the superstar that WWE had paraded as the untouchable, golden boy for the better part of 10 years. This night also saw 16 german suplexes performed on John Cena; a foreshadowing of what Lesnar’s later career would become.

Brock Lesnar LaughingThis is the scariest GIF I have ever seen in my entire life.

Lesnar was once again at the top of the mountain.

We began an era that hadn’t been revisited since the Hulk Hogan days of being world champion, whereby the main title wasn’t being defended on TV and PPV on a regular basis. Needless to say it didn’t go down well with fans. Brock was earning a veritable war chest for doing very little.

He retained his title at Night of Champions, a month later, and then put in a Match of the Year candidate at the 2015 Royal Rumble. Who could beat him?

Step forward Roman Reigns. As I’ve said before, The Grap Report will be profiling the big dog down the line, don’t you worry.

A last-minute contract extension meant that the main event of Wrestlemania 31 was no longer the foregone conclusion it was presumed to be. Creating a welcome sense of unpredictability and the hope that the ‘golden boy in training’ wasn’t going to win.

Seth Rollins’ infamous Money in the Bank cash-in interrupted the barnstorming encounter and made history to take the title, but it was Roman who was pinned, not Brock.

The next year would see Brock take a bit more of a backseat after his long title run. His rematch to Seth was gate-crashed by a vengeful Undertaker. A controversial Summerslam finish saw Brock take only his second loss in over two years.

But then they fought in an astoundingly violent and underrated Hell in a Cell Match, that in many ways topped their first one. Seriously, go and watch it if you haven’t already.

His staying out of the limelight continued as he didn’t return until the 2016 Royal Rumble where he was eliminated by the Wyatt Family, although nothing truly came of it.

A huge let-down against Dean Ambrose at Wrestlemania 32 and an ugly, elbow-inspired win against Randy Orton at Summerslam seemed to have wrapped up 2016…

…until Goldberg.

Survivor Series 2016 Lesnar vs Goldberg

1 minute and 26 seconds. One of the most shocking Survivor Series moments in history. Lesnar laid down for Goldberg. Brock became mortal.

Eventually we had Brock vs Goldberg part II, at Wrestlemania 33. The chance to rewrite the wrongs of the Wrestlemania 20 horror show.

They did. It was the greatest sub-five-minute match you’ll ever see.

Once again, Brock was the champion.

Now it’s safe to say that by 2017, people were very tired of the formulaic ‘Suplex City’ match. WWE’s monstrous booking of Lesnar has conversely been one of WWE’s detriments over the last few years. But at the same time, by having Lesnar end The Streak, it was just an enviable inevitability that was always forthcoming. Who would said no to being booked like a unstoppable titan? I think Heath Slater would like a similar run.

It’s made Brock almost godlike. Unless you’re a 50-year-old man returning for his first match in 12 years, then no-one can beat you. Wrestling logic…flawless isn’t it?

2017 was also no exception.

Samoa Joe? Great Balls of Fire. Booked well. One F-5. Done.

Braun Strowman? No Mercy. Booked well. One F-5. Done.

Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns? Summerslam. Booked well. But still done.

AJ Styles? Survivor Series. An incredible performance. But done. Although this was his greatest ‘wrestling match’ since the CM Punk one waaaaaay back in 2013.


I’ll draw a line under 2017 as his 2018 action will be covered in the next Grap Report, which has already been hinted at. *Wink-wink.*


 

The Verdict

Whatever you may think about him, Brock Lesnar is a once-in-a-lifetime human being.

Despite having an 8-year hiatus, he’s had a storied career (so far) and has achieved some things that most will never even come close to. He will probably still have some matches over the next few years. If the money’s there, his UFC aspirations die-down; then Brock will have WWE matches.

Yes his style now isn’t that exciting, but he’s proved time and time again that he is; booking won’t let him be.

But whatever happens from this point, he’s been a resounding success. Intimidating tag-lines and monikers, one of the greatest finishing moves of all-time, accomplishments galore, his own style of match I guess? He’s even facilitated the unwanted trope of superhero booking; more so than SuperCena booking.

If you don’t agree with Brock being one of the true greats, then please…say it to his face.

Brock Lesnar 2002 scary