Logan Paul is a bonafide WWE superstar. He and undisputed WWE universal champion Roman Reigns greatly exceeded expectations and put on an absolute barnburner at WWE Crown Jewel on Saturday. The efforts of both participants produced a match that will rank among the greatest celebrity crossovers in pro-wrestling history.
Reigns vs. Paul was very much seen as a cash grab booked for WWE’s ultra-profitable show in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Paul had certainly impressed in his first two WWE matches, but a title match against one of WWE’s most dominant champions was far-fetched and undeserved. Reigns and Paul hushed the noise with a surprisingly competitive match that should win over all but the most fickle fans.
Crown Jewel featured a solid card from top-to-bottom. The women’s and tag team divisions shined particularly bright. Bianca Belair and Bayley put their bodies on the line in a brutal Last Woman Standing match, The Usos and Brawling Brutes continued to elevate WWE’s tag teams and Damage CTRL displayed fantastic chemistry against Alexa Bliss and Asuka.
CBS Sports was with live throughout Crown Jewel with match results, grades and highlights as the action went down.
2022 WWE Crown Jewel results, grades
Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley: Lashley refused to give Lesnar a moment to settle in and attacked him ringside pre-match. Lesnar was visibly limping after being shoved into the steel ring steps. Lashley nailed his opponent with multiple spears inside and outside of the ring once the match officially started, including one through the ringside barricade. Lesnar turned the tide after kicking out of a pinfall, planting Lashley with numerous German suplexes and hitting an F-5 for the near count.
Lashley just barely linked his hands together to apply his patented Hurt Lock full nelson submission move. A nearly unconscious Lesnar mustered the strength to kick off the ring corner and launch them both to the mat. Lashley held onto the Hurt Lock but that was his undoing. Lashley’s shoulders were on the mat and with Lesnar on top of him, the referee counted three. Lesnar was your winner. Post-match, an irate Lashley snatched Lesnar in the Hurt Lock and released the hold only when Lesnar was unconscious.
The match was just OK. The physicality was nowhere near the masterclass of Gunther vs. Sheamus. Barely any strikes were thrown between the experienced MMA fighters and everything else was pretty standard for a Lesnar match. The best thing going for Lesnar vs. Lashley II was its competitive nature. Clearly, WWE is laying the groundwork for a rubber match. Hopefully, they crank up the intensity. Lesnar def. Lashley via pinfall — Grade: C+
Women’s tag team championships — Alexa Bliss and Asuka vs. Damage CTRL (Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky): Bliss toyed with Kai early, flustering her with snappy chain wrestling. The champions’ hot start came to an end when Kai and Sky successfully cut off Asuka from her corner. The duo repeatedly targeted Asuka’s right leg with submission holds, strikes and slams.
Asuka finally made the tag and let out her fury on the challengers. Bliss unloaded punches on both women, spiked Kai with a tornado DDT and planted Kai with a Code Red (a sunset flip-bomb). Small chants of “this is awesome” repeatedly broke out. Asuka, selling her leg injury, tagged in just as the numbers advantage started to overwhelm Bliss. A flurry of strikes laid out Sky, but Kai drove a boot into Asuka’s skull. Bliss was primed to put away Kai with Twisted Bliss, but she and the referee were distracted by a pull-apart brawl between Asuka and Sky. Nikki Cross, who was seen conferring with Damage CTRL on Monday Night Raw, laid out Bliss. Kai covered an unconscious Bliss for the three-count.
An absolutely fantastic effort from all involved that, unfortunately, lost a little steam on the back end. The moves were impactful, the exchanges crisp and the chemistry abundant. The ending was a touch disappointing. A match this good can often be marred by a screwy finish. Additionally, the women’s tag team titles have been passed around so much in recent months. It isn’t benefiting anyone. What should have been an easy A was weighed down by a couple of clunky moments in the final stretch and unnecessary overbooking. At least WWE set up Cross’ alliance with Damage CTRL on weekly television. Also, a supplemental up for the Bray Wyatt tease during Bliss’ pre-match interview. Damage CTRL def. Bliss and Asuka (c) to win the titles — Grade: B+
Drew McIntyre vs. Karrion Kross (Steel Cage Match): McIntyre and Kross got off to a fast, physical start on brand with their bad blood feud. Kross took pleasure in exorcising his demons through violence, but neither man could get a steady grip on momentum. Every time Kross punished his opponent with slow and methodical strikes, McIntyre answered with explosive impact. McIntyre showed off his stellar athleticism, crunching up while hanging upside down and tossing Kross to the mat, followed by a headstand.
A Future Shock DDT prepared McIntyre for a fight-finishing Claymore Kick, but he was distracted by Scarlett cage side. Kross took advantage and landed his signature elbow to the back of the head before climbing the cage. His decision was faulty and he was superplexed off the structure moments later. McIntyre attempted to escape through the cage door but was maced by Scarlett. Kross nearly capitalized by escaping through the same door, but McIntyre kept him at bay with an ankle lock. McIntyre found the mark with his Claymore and looked to escape. Scarlett locked the door, forcing McIntyre to scale the cage. Kross regained consciousness as Scarlett scrambled to unlock the door. A race ensued and concluded with McIntyre planting his feet ringside moments before Kross could exit through the door.
Another example of great wrestling undercut by odd creative direction. McIntyre and Kross are a good fit. Their performance was dead even with hard-hitting strikes and slams. Unfortunately, their characters were made to look stupid. Why was McIntyre so easily distracted by Scarlett? Why would he exit through the door when the entire purpose of the cage was to shield him from Scarlett? Why did neither go for pinfalls after hitting signature moves? Keep it simple, stupid, because the action was stupid good. McIntyre def. Kross via cage escape — Grade: B
The O.C. (AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows) vs. Judgement Day (Finn Balor, Damian Priest and Dominik Mysterio): The six-man tag team match gave fans a lot of different looks. Frequent tags were made for different combinations of one-on-one exchanges and team-based maneuvers. Mysterio’s alignment with Judgement Day continued to prove a smart creative direction as he worked well in tandem with Balor and Priest. Neither team could get a steady grip on the match as the pendulum swung in both directions. An even collision between Anderson and Mysterio opened the door for Styles and Balor to take center stage.
The team captains expertly exchanged dynamic strikes, submission holds and high-impact moves. The referee was unable to maintain order as all six men duked it out. The sextet delivered an interesting twist on the overdone Tower of Doom. Styles superplexed Balor while Gallows and Priest slammed Mysterio and Anderson, respectively, from their shoulders. The match ended with Rhea Ripley attacking Styles ringside, opening the door for Balor to land a shotgun dropkick and Coup de Grace for the victory.
That match was a fun, frantic rush. Neither team could get a hold for more than a few moments and fans were treated to basically every combination of the six superstars. Both teams were viable candidates for victory making for an unpredictable and believable outcome. The only head-scratcher involves Ripley. Styles and company had debated whether an equalizer was needed to deal with her. After all, Ripley is regularly the reason why Judgement Day wins matches. It seemed like a major oversight for The O.C. to enter the match without a contingency plan for Ripley. Judgement Day def. The O.C. via pinfall — Grade: B
Braun Strowman vs. Omos: The taller, heavier Omos overwhelmed Strowman in a classic show of strength to start the match. Strowman appeared to be out on his feet after a corner slam and ate a clean big boot to the jaw. Omos played with his food for the majority of the match, provoking and punishing Strowman in a way that no one had done before. Strowman found a brief moment of success by slamming Omos and setting up his trademark runaway freight train shoulder block on the outside. Strowman barrelled toward his opponent but ran into an enormous brick wall named Omos. The match came to a conclusion after Strowman ducked from a running slam to the corner. A stunned Omos stumbled into Strowman’s signature running power slam for the three-count.
This is by far the best Omos has looked in his accelerated WWE run. The two had clear chemistry and WWE was smart to book Strowman as the overmatched underdog, a position fans rarely see him in. After competitive match after competitive match, it was refreshing to see a primarily one-sided contest. Expectations appeared low for a match dubbed by some as an attempt to appease the Saudi Arabia crowd. This was a sleeper hit. Strowman def. Omos via pinfall — Grade: B+
Undisputed tag team championships — The Usos (Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso) (c) vs. Brawling Brutes (Butch and Ridge Holland): Butch frustrated Jimmy and Jey with his superior technical wrestling early into the bout. The Usos threatened to leave the match and take the count-out loss, a condition in which the titles cannot change hands. Butch cut them off but was soon overwhelmed by the champions. The Saudi fans broke into chants of “we want Sami” chants despite Zayn having never appeared on a WWE show in Saudi Arabia.
Brawling Brutes took over the middle portion of the match in a showcase performance. Holland exhibited his otherworldly power by lifting and slamming Jey and Jimmy simultaneously. Butch caught Jimmy midair in a triangle choke but his offense was interrupted by Jey’s superkick. The champions nearly retained their titles with a double splash off the top ropes but Holland made the save with a moment to spare. The temperamental Jey let the fans get into his head with chants of “Ucey,” allowing Butch and Holland to take advantage with a near-fall. The match ended with a tremendous top rope 1-D for the pinfall as The Usos extended their near-historic tag team title reign.
WWE’s once-maligned tag team division continues to thrive under the rule of The Usos. Great pacing, crowd interplay, a clean finish and an opportunity for each member to shine were among the match’s high points. Butch and Holland were elevated in defeat, a best-case scenario for any superstar who goes out on their back. The Usos (c) def. Brutes to retain their titles. Grade: A
Raw women’s championship — Bianca Belair (c) vs. Bayley (Last Woman Standing Match): Belair and Bayley were painfully aware of the match stipulation. Both women equipped themselves with hardware in an effort to shut down their opponent. A ladder, kendo stick, steel chair and steel steps were whipped out in the first several minutes of the match. Bayley sat down Belair in a steel chair ringside, ran across the ringside barricade and blasted the champion with a mid-air clothesline. Belair responded with a bone-crunching suplex on the rampway. Bayley tweaked her ankle falling off the ramp and the match appeared to be in jeopardy. It turned out to be a ruse that Bayley used to blindside Belair. Bayley’s tactical brilliance was showcased when she trapped Belair between the ring apron and steps. Bayley punished Belair with numerous kendo strikes that collapsed the champion.
Belair persevered and chased Bayley to the entranceway. Belair whipped Bayley with the bamboo sword until it tore to shreds. A counter Bayley-to-belly nearly dented the stage. Bayley cleverly trapped Belair in a rolling equipment box, but the powerful champion muscled her way to freedom. Bayley stayed on the offensive and locked in a crossface that nearly slept Belair. After breaking the hold and disappearing for a moment, Bayley suddenly reappeared and rolled through with a golf cart with hopes of running over Belair. Unfortunately, the thing was quite slow and Belair looked silly side-stepping it. After fighting atop the cart, Belair drove ringside with Bayley on the roof.
Belair tossed Bayley off the cart. The challenger overshot the landing and hit the end of the table before slamming onto the floor. Bayley appeared relatively unharmed as Belair powerbombed her through the table for a nine-count. Belair looked for a fight-ending 450 splash onto steel chairs, but Bayley rolled out of the way and came within a hair of losing. Belair absorbed repeated chair shots and struck Bayley with a nasty KOD. It was a brutal bump that saw Bayley land groin-first onto the edge of a chair. Belair cleverly trapped Bayley between the ladder and the ring ropes to secure the 10 count and retain her title.
Bayley and Belair deserve massive props for putting their bodies on the line. Bayley took some vicious bumps and Belair did not shy away from punishment. There are only two gripes: the golf cart was comically slow and Cross was nowhere to be found. It was reasonably expected that Cross would aid Bayley after helping Damage CTRL to victory. Still, the champion and challenger were clearly out to prove a point and put everything they had into a memorable match. Belair def. Bayley to retain the title. Grade: A-
Undisputed WWE universal championship — Roman Reigns (c) vs. Logan Paul: Reigns tried to bully his smaller opponent from the get-go, but Paul refused to be intimidated. The underdog surprised the champion with chain wrestling. Reigns quickly ducked out of the ring when Paul tried to land that one lucky punch he hyped up for weeks. Overall, Reigns was very much in control for the early portions of the match. Reigns toyed with the Internet star, slamming and mocking him. Paul continued to find brief openings, including a hip toss and clothesline to the outside, but the more experienced Reigns was quick to adjust. Paul caught Reigns showboating with a crossbody off the barricade and then emulated AEW star “Hangman” Adam Page with a supremely athletic Buckshot Lariat. Paul’s froginess got the better of him as he was intercepted mid-air after a sky-high springboard.
The champion took the reins for the middle portion of the match, stretching out Paul while calling out YouTubers KSI and MrBeast. Paul nearly did the impossible with a fantastic blockbuster off the corner ropes. Paul hit Reigns with a stunning Superman elbow, top rope crossbody and standing moonsault for another near count. The Internet sensation tuned up the band for Sweet Chin Music, a nod to his trainer Shawn Michaels. Reigns countered with a Uranage in another big momentum swing.
The closing stretch was all Paul. The novice superstar landed that lucky right punch and a follow-up Superman punch to come within a hair of doing the unthinkable. Paul laid out Reigns on the announcer’s table, grabbed a phone and filmed himself launching into Reigns with a splash. The Usos arrived to beat up Paul’s podcast co-hosts but soon after found themselves face-to-face with Jake Paul. Fresh off a win over UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, Paul dropped Jey and Jimmy with right hands. Another top rope splash nearly secured Paul the world title in just his third match. Paul ultimately got lost in the increasing chaos. Solo Sikoa’s music played as The Bloodline’s enforcer looked to aid his Tribal Chief. A staredown between Sikoa and Jake was interrupted by Logan launching over the ropes to lay out The Usos. Reigns capitalized and laid out Paul with a spear as the influencer returned to the ring.
Color the WWE universe impressed. It was hard to take Reigns vs. Paul seriously. The Saudi Arabia shows are a huge moneymaker for WWE despite the ethical dilemmas around them. Reigns vs. Paul felt very much like a cash grab and the build was average as a consequence. Everyone expected a good showing from the supremely athletic Paul, but this was eye-opening. Most would have scoffed at the level of belief necessary to enjoy a competitive match, but they pulled it off. Hearts skipped a beat for Paul’s near falls and he nailed every spot sublimely: from chain wrestling to springboards. It may not be a perfect match on the surface but you have to factor in the name value and how much it exceeded expectations. This is arguably the greatest celebrity crossover match in pro-wrestling history. Reigns def. Paul to retain the title — Grade: A+