Wrestlers Stuck Between a Rock and an Oil Barrel, but Show is a Go

Dusty Streets

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 1:43 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018 1:43 PM UTC

The World Wrestling Entertainment's controversial Crown Jewel event will be held Friday in Saudi Arabia despite pressure on the organization to cancel it. Here are our picks for the key matches.

WWE Crown JewelFriday, noon ET (PPV); at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The lines between reality and fantasy are often blurred in professional wrestling. That's not the case for Friday's Crown Jewel pay-per-view extravaganza. This is as much about life and death -- literally -- as it is about sports entertainment.

Several wrestlers originally scheduled to participate will not, for reasons ranging from health to politics. Roman Reigns recently relinquished his WWE Universal Championship to fight leukemia. Superstars John Cena and Daniel Bryan opted out of Crown Jewel after the alleged murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Other wrestlers said they will honor their commitments to participate in an effort to promote change in the Middle East nation.

This will be WWE's second trip to Saudi Arabia this year under a new 10-year agreement the company has with the Saudi General Sports Authority. Let's check out some of the biggest matchups (odds from SkyBet).

D-Generation X vs. Brothers of Destruction

Triple H and Shawn Michaels are turning back the clock two days before most Americans do, reincarnating the D-X team that defined WWE's Attitude Era starting in the late 1990s. This will be the in-ring return of Michaels, who retired in 2010, and he and his best friend aren't exactly easing their way back in. Nothing says "welcome back" like a match against The Undertaker and Kane. Triple H and Undertaker had a one-on-one clash at Super Show-Down on Oct. 6 in Australia, with Michaels in Triple H's corner and Kane in Undertaker's corner. After Triple H's victory, all four men stood in the ring, seemingly united in respect, when the Brothers of Destruction attacked Triple H and Michaels. DX (8/11 favorites) is seeking payback. The Brothers of Destruction (1/1) will do plenty of damage, but it won't be enough. Pick: D-Generation X.

Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar

The WWE Universal Championship is on the line in what originally was scheduled to be a triple-threat match, but it was changed to a one-on-one clash after Reigns' withdrawal. Two of the most intimidating forces in the sport will vie for the gold, the "Beast" (Lesnar) against the "Monster" (Strowman) to determine the main man of the "Raw" brand. Strowman was made a 2/5 favorite, with Lesnar the underdog at 7/4. Strowman (6-foot-8, 385 pounds) has the size advantage -- doesn't he always? -- but Lesnar (6-3, 286) is basically one of the meanest dudes in the sport's history, having WWE and UFC titles to his credit. Strowman has less than four years of pro experience, whereas Lesnar is in his 18th year in the business and is still going strong. All indications seem to favor Lesnar. Strowman has come close to winning this title, and he'll finally figure out how to get over the hump. Pick: Strowman.


A.J. Styles vs. Samoa Joe

We've seen this matchup before, but we didn't expect to see it again in this spot. On Tuesday night's "SmackDown," Styles and Bryan were discussing their scheduled Crown Jewel title match when things got heated, and commissioner Shane McMahon ordered their Crown Jewel match to take place immediately. After Styles' victory, as he and Bryan embraced in a display of respect, they were blind-sided and annihilated by Samoa Joe. Later in the show, Styles was so outraged he demanded a match against Joe at the actual Crown Jewel event. Styles vs. Joe is a rematch from Super Show-Down, which was a rematch from Hell In A Cell, which was a rematch from SummerSlam. Styles (huge 1/8 chalk to Joe at 9/2) has retained his WWE Championship each time. Fourth verse, same as the first, second, and third. Pick: Styles.

[/]{"component":"video", "type":"youtube", "url":"https://www.youtube.com/embed/n2P53rvvu8g", "videoSize":"Large" }[/]

World Cup Tournament

This debut tournament features four stars from "Raw" and four from "SmackDown" to determine "the best in the world." Twenty years ago this pick would have been a lock, with Kurt Angle then two years removed from winning the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Instead, it's a little more difficult. Here are the odds on each participant winning the tournament:

Seth Rollins 9/4
The Miz 11/4
Rey Mysterio 7/2
Randy Orton 6/1
Kurt Angle 7/1
Bobby Lashley 8/1
Dolph Ziggler 20/1
Jeff Hardy 25/1

The bracket was announced Monday, with Lashley replacing Cena on the card. On the "Raw" side, first-round matchups are Angle-Ziggler and Rollins-Lashley; on the "SmackDown" side, it's Miz-Hardy and Mysterio-Orton. Let's look for Ziggler and Rollins to advance to the semifinals; likewise for Hardy and Orton. That sets up a couple of grudge matches: Ziggler-Rollins and Hardy-Orton. Rollins and Orton then advance to the championship match. Pick: Rollins.

comment here