The Roman Reigns-Logan Paul main event at Crown Jewel from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia hit all of the expected notes and had the predictable finish.
And it was amazing start to finish—mostly due to Paul, who is closer to company-headlining star than gimmick at this point.
Pro wrestling fans have seen the social media star impress before in the face of skeptical expectations. He's put on jaw-dropping moments with an uncanny sense for the sport itself, something fans don't necessarily see from long-time veterans in locker rooms around the globe.
However, Saturday was something else. Paul expertly worked the crowd yet again, showed off some stunning athleticism (even hitting a buckshot lariat and the expected frog splash) and most importantly, told an epic tale of an underdog almost pulling off an upset.
It was a performance that resonated around the globe. Longtime fans, media and even some of the best pro wrestlers in the world not under WWE's employ took to social media to praise the encounter:
Make no mistake, Reigns played a big role in helping it be such a memorable encounter. Fans who wanted this to be a squash so Paul could run back to YouTube or whatever look utterly foolish. The Tribal Chief was the cocky veteran who hammed it up and wound up flirting with major danger, much to many viewers' glee.
But it's time to stop denying something about Paul: He's just built for this.
Saturday night wasn't just about a gimmick to generate the most interest possible on an international level. Those who watch it with a fine attention to detail can see just how protected both guys were and how strong they looked.
That's especially the case with Paul, because WWE would be foolish not to capitalize on him. He's got "future heel world champion" written all over him. Although we'll have to wait awhile, as Paul revealed he suffered a torn MCL, meniscus and potentially ACL during the match. If that is indeed the case, he's going to be on the shelf for awhile.
It's a huge bummer for Paul and fans alike. Most heels in WWE are cool, but the 27-year-old is a different, unique beast. He'd generate heel heat from onlookers who just straight-up don't like him and standard pro wrestling heat for his character and actions.
Make him a part-time champion heel and watch the heat flirt with nuclear levels.
Slap Paul as the leader of some sort of faction and away things go. He's already got brother Jake Paul as a wild card who was running around Saturday getting in fist fights with The Usos and having a standoff with Solo Sikoa.
The path to Paul consistently being a presence in the main event scene isn't hard, either. Look at the match against Reigns. He already looks believable in the ring with any WWE Superstar. Let a Brock Lesnar or somebody not take him seriously enough to the point of taking a loss and perhaps losing a belt and we'd be off.
This is no longer merely about Paul's reach. He's one of the biggest names on the planet and WWE couldn't have better advertising than the YouTuber walking around with WWE titles on his shoulders at all times. Certainly, nobody in the locker room comes close to his star and drawing power, and that's just an uncomfortable fact.
At this point, it's just about the potential with Paul. He's earned his way into the main event scene and a "full" role, should he want it. Detractors should keep in mind his age—a full 10 years younger than Reigns, who sits around the typical age of current main eventers.
Some fans might dislike Paul, but it's undeniable how much effort he's put into nailing the sport. There's a palpable passion for the product that, frankly, isn't always seen. The added benefits of age and drawing power are merely cherries on top.
If he were, say, a no-name working his way up through NXT or another promotion right now, fans would clamor for him to get "promoted" and used in a major spot. So, the same energy should apply to Paul given what he's already put into the business and entertaining fans.
Saturday night was just the best example...so far. There's nothing gimmicky about Paul. The numbers, performance and arguably one-of-a-kind upside just don't have equal.
He has the guy potential at a time most thought there would never be another Rock or John Cena. Scoffing at the idea, at this point, is merely grasping at straws to deny what's unfolding in real time during a golden era of pro wrestling.
Like nobody probably predicted, it's Paul who has a chance to step into the very center of this budding era once he recovers, and WWE and its fans who could benefit the most.