WWE Crown Jewel 2019: Picks and Full Breakdown of Top Matches on the Card
WWE's next major event is the 2019 Crown Jewel on October 31. This will be the fourth show to be staged in Saudi Arabia as part of a 10-year deal with the country and the follow-up to the maligned Hell in a Cell pay-per-view on October 6.
Halloween will always have its scares and frights, but with a card featuring the likes of The Fiend against Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship in a Falls Count Anywhere match, more horrors may be on their way.
Crown Jewel will also see a UFC rematch between Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez, former unified world heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury against Braun Strowman, the largest Tag Team Turmoil match in WWE history and more.
It's a stacked card with the potential to be one of the most talked-about events of the year, if not just because there is a huge chance for controversy and WWE massively upsetting fans around the world.
Let's break down the card and toss out some predictions for what will happen a week on Thursday.
Mansoor vs. Cesaro
While not a major selling point to most of the WWE Universe, Mansoor vs. Cesaro will be a big deal for the fans in Saudi Arabia.
This match follows Mansoor's victory at Super ShowDown on June 7, when he overcame great odds to win the biggest Battle Royal in WWE history. And there is no reason to believe preferential treatment won't continue for the local competitor.
Cesaro is not a protected heel WWE would book to win and get immense heat. Rather, his role here is to put Mansoor over.
If Cesaro did win, it would be the most shocking outcome of this entire card.
Pick: Mansoor wins.
World Cup Tag Team Turmoil Match
Keeping in the tradition of each of these Saudi Arabia events having a "biggest" match, Crown Jewel will feature the largest Tag Team Turmoil bout in WWE history.
The World Cup returns from last year and will be awarded to the winner of this match as the best tag team in the world.
Conspicuous by their absence are AOP, who have been seen in vignettes over the past month hyping their return, as well as The Street Profits. WWE likely kept them out of the match to having them lose.
Several names can be ruled out immediately as having no chance. Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins, The B-Team, The Lucha House Party, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode and Heavy Machinery just don't have the clout to top the rest of the teams.
The O.C. could win this if AJ Styles is part of the match, but if it's just Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, they are the losers of that stable who regularly come up short.
The New Day will be down one member after Xavier Woods suffered an Achilles injury that should put him on the shelf for several months. While Kofi Kingston and Big E could get the job done and are arguably the top team, they've been beaten by The Revival in the past and can lose again.
Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder could be the stars of the match and have had a great run, but they'll ultimately hit a brick wall in The Viking Raiders, who have been protected far too much to lose.
Erik and Ivar have dominated nearly everyone they've faced since coming to Raw in April and as the current Raw tag team champions, there's no reason to believe they'll lose this.
Pick: The Viking Raiders win.
Team Hogan vs. Team Flair
Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair might be beyond their primes, but that isn't going to stop them from continuing their feud via proxy partners in this five-on-five tag team match.
Given how Seth Rollins was originally announced for Team Hogan, only to be replaced by Roman Reigns, it would be interesting to know if WWE had planned this lineup from the start.
Some of this makes sense, with Rusev and Bobby Lashley on opposing sides, as well as Shorty G and King Corbin going up against each other. Even Ali faced Randy Orton at Hell in a Cell, so there has been enough interaction to create some tension between the teams.
What really matters above all else, though, is that there is a moment when Hogan and Flair fight each other. That's ultimately what this is about more than anything someone like Shinsuke Nakamura or Ricochet will do in the match.
As Team Flair is made up of all heels, the easy pick is for Team Hogan to be victorious for the feel-good moment, particularly with a top Superstar like Reigns as the captain who can get the pinfall for his group.
Pick: Team Hogan wins.
Braun Strowman vs. Tyson Fury
It's not unheard of for a celebrity to lose a match in WWE, but it's extremely rare.
Sometimes, it's a crooked finish, like when Floyd Mayweather used brass knuckles to take out Big Show at WrestleMania 24. Other times, the Superstar is protected from a loss through a non-finish, like when Rowdy Roddy Piper was disqualified against Mr. T at WrestleMania 2.
Once in a while, WWE just gives the outsider a clean win, like Lawrence Taylor over Bam Bam Bigelow at WrestleMania 11.
With an undefeated boxer like Tyson Fury, it's doubtful he would have signed on to do a guest spot in WWE that he loses.
In contrast, WWE likely couldn't care less if Braun Strowman lost again, as he's failed to win virtually every single important match of his career. The Monster Among Men has come up short when fighting for the Universal Championship seven times and lost all four of his No. 1 Contender matches for that belt, too.
There's no use in hoping Strowman will win this match as the only thing WWE cares about is the publicity of having a mainstream athlete involved to gain more media coverage.
Fury winning keeps his clout, WWE gets the press out of it and Strowman will just have to grit his teeth and be happy he was chosen for such a big match.
Pick: Fury wins.
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez
History says Cain Velasquez was able to beat Brock Lesnar before and prove that he wasn't unstoppable, so there's no reason to think anything else will happen.
Of course, since this is scripted, the opposite could easily happen. They would then be 1-1 and WWE wouldn't be able to resist booking a rubber match further down the line.
But who's to say WWE won't just have these two face each other again even with The Beast Incarnate losing a second time? Repetition for the sake of repetition hasn't stopped WWE from dragging most feuds out between events in the past.
Velasquez can win by disqualification or count-out to save the title win for another time and protect both men from a true loss. Lesnar can be humiliated and lose in a few seconds, with the game plan being a rematch in which The Beast wins the title back.
Since Velasquez is the shiny new toy and there are ways for him to win without taking the championship, as well as the potential WWE wants to put the belt on him for the publicity it would generate, he has the advantage over Lesnar.
Pick: Velasquez wins.
Falls Count Anywhere Match: Universal Champion Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt
What happens in the Universal Championship match depends on the plan for Velasquez.
If he is meant to walk out of Crown Jewel as WWE champion and a member of the Raw roster alongside Rey Mysterio, Bray Wyatt will need to win the Universal Championship take that title to SmackDown.
Winning the belt on Halloween would fit his Fiend persona and undo some of the damage from the awful finish to Hell in a Cell, which left the WWE Universe stunned and booing what felt like a cop-out.
Seth Rollins' reputation has been tarnished because of that bad booking and WWE may want to get the belt off him to prove to fans this was all part of some elaborate plan.
However, if Lesnar remains champion at Crown Jewel, there is no way Wyatt can take the Universal Championship with him to SmackDown and leave Raw without a world title.
This Falls Count Anywhere match has been given a stipulation assuring fans it will not be stopped for any reason, but that doesn't rule out nonsense endings entirely or guarantee people won't be disappointed.
There is no certainty Rollins is losing the title.
With Survivor Series approaching on November 24, The Beastslayer against Lesnar is a much easier champion vs. champion match to book than Velasquez against Wyatt. Swapping the belts will be harder to pull off, as SmackDown shouldn't have a red-strapped title and it's doubtful Fox would want Lesnar not to be champion anymore.
Pick: Rollins wins.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.