Question of the Day: Which show are you looking forward to more, Crown Jewel or Evolution?
With Super Showdown behind us, the WWE is in the midst of promoting two major shows at the same time – Crown Jewel & Evolution.
There has been much angst over the projected card for each, and I can’t figure out why. I think both look like great shows and tremendous steps forward for the company.
In today’s column, I’ll attack a few specific topics in relationship to each show. Without further ado:
The Eternal Optimist Presents: Why Crown Jewel is the right show for A.J. v Bryan, Why Evolution Strikes the Right Balance & Why Chris Jericho Should Return at Crown Jewel.
A.J. Styles v Daniel Bryan at Crown Jewel – a GREAT Idea.
Many were surprised to see Daniel Bryan defeat The Miz in their #1 contender’s match at Super Showdown. The expectation was that The Miz would once again defeat Bryan and go on to take the title off Styles. From there, Daniel Bryan’s revenge story against the Miz would include his chase to become WWE champion again, potentially even concluding at Wrestlemania 35.
It was an even bigger surprise when Styles v Bryan was announced for Crown Jewel, the WWE’s second foray into Saudi Arabia. Backlash was swift and fierce. No one seemed to believe that such a diehard fan’s dream match should be taking place in front of arguably the least diehard crowd in wrestling history.
I like it.
Sure, the first Saudi Arabia show was filled with non-wrestling fans who seemed to only care about the superstars of yesteryear. Sure, there have been rumors that the powers that be not only wanted to see the likes of Hulk Hogan on Crown Jewel, but deceased wrestlers such as The Ultimate Warrior and Yokozuna. Sure, it is without question that neither Daniel Bryan nor A.J. Styles fit the mold of what a superstar looks like to that particular audience.
But here’s the thing. What exactly is the WWE trying to accomplish? Are they trying for a few quick cash grabs before the unsustainability of the old timer model catches up to them, or are they trying to build an audience in a brand new red-hot market for the future?
I believe that the answer is the latter, as well it should be. Saudi Arabia has proven itself to be an extremely passionate yet uneducated market for wrestling. It is only through exposure that said fans will see the type of wrestling that the WWE is REALLY all about.
There’s an element of education that is needed here. Daniel Bryan v A.J. Styles is the exact type of match that the WWE NEEDS to expose that audience to. Sure, it takes Brock Lesnar and a returning HBK to draw them in TODAY. However, matches like A.J. Styles v Daniel Bryan are what the WWE is built upon, and the type of match that they can provide for every card going forward until the end of time.
I have no doubt that Styles v Bryan would have a much hotter crowd to it should it take place at this year’s Royal Rumble in Phoenix, but holding it in Saudi Arabia is ESSENTIAL for the WWE to start building an audience for a sustainable brand of wrestling in their number one most lucrative market. I’m on board.
Evolution Strikes the Balance Between Old and New.
I have to admit, I was skeptical about the proposed card for Evolution prior to this past Monday. It seemed that the WWE was using the show as an excuse to showcase the women of the past instead of the women of today and tomorrow.
The consolidation of the matches between Trish/Alexa and Lita/Mickie into a single tag team encounter makes all the sense in the world. Lita and Trish are the two most important female wrestlers from the past, and it was inevitable that they were both going to be involved in a major match on the show. However, there wasn’t any reason to soak up a tremendous amount of time by putting them in separate singles matches that due to their age and inactivity, were unlikely to live up to expectations.
Instead, their flaws can be hidden within the confines of a tag team match. Neither wrestler will be expected to do all that much, and the match will likely serve its purpose. More important than that, this consolidation frees up a tremendous amount of space on the card for current superstars. After this past Monday, here’s what I expect the card to look like:
Ronda Rousey v Nikki Bella
Trish/Lita v Alexa/James
Becky Lynch v Charlotte – Last Woman Standing
NXT UK Women’s Title Match – Rhea Rhipley v Dakota Kai
Finals of The Mae Young Classic (Spoiler Free Prediction: Toni Storm v Io Shirai)
Nia Jax v Ember Moon
That’s a heck of a top six, and four of those matches don’t involve ANYONE from the past. Additionally, I suspect that Bayley v Sasha will be added to the card should Banks be healthy enough to compete. I also think that the WWE will limit the remainder of the old timer involvement to a multi-woman battle royal type match that serves as filler.
All in all, I think the WWE did a great job in balancing the need to showcase stars of the present and future with honoring the women who were stars of the past.
Chris Jericho Should Return At Crown Jewel.
Am I the only one that feels like Jericho is a no-brainer for this show? The WWE has made it clear that they have no interest in putting on an “international competition” for their World Cup tournament, but rather use it as a vehicle to showcase as many stars from the past as they can.
John Cena, Kurt Angle, Randy Orton, Jeff Hardy & Rey Mysterio all have one thing in common – they were tremendous stars from over ten years ago. Since the WWE is 5 for 5 on choosing wrestlers from the past for the tournament, it will come as no surprise to me when they choose three more wrestlers that were past stars.
When I look at who is around that fits the mold, Chris Jericho jumps off the page at me. He maintains an excellent relationship with the WWE even though he wrestles for other promotions. He has the freedom to come and go as he pleases. He wrestled at the first event in Saudi Arabia so there’s already recognition from that fan base. I can’t think of a single reason why the WWE wouldn’t be looking for Jericho to participate.
As for the tournament itself, I think it will be good fun. I don’t take tournaments of this nature all that seriously, nor am I offended by the lack of current superstars involved. In fact, I’m actually looking forward to seeing some matches from the past that I never thought I’d see again. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, what can I say?
That’s a wrap kids. Agree or disagree? Sound off below!