That WWE Crown Jewel show was weird

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As I write this, I have just watched two bald old men defeat a balding old man and a bald old man (and mayor!) in a wig.

But D-X vs. Brothers of Destruction — and Shawn Michaels selling out his supposedly permanent retirement for that sweet Saudi cash — aside, those of us who tuned in were treated to one of the most bizarre events in memory.

Hulk Hogan returning from his racism-induced exile to host the event, Brock Lesnar winning the Universal Championship after losing it and transitioning to a return to his UFC career and Shane McMahon winning the title of “Best in the World” by winning a tournament in which he was not entered.

That we, as wrestling fans, are not shocked McMahon won the tournament says a lot about what we’ve seen in our days following “sports entertainment.”

The show took place after weeks of speculation when an already ugly deal to provide propaganda-filled events to the Saudi government was thrown into the spotlight following the Saudi-planned assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

WWE did not pull out of the deal or even this one event, but spent weeks of TV time hyping the event without anyone uttering the words “Saudi Arabia.”

Somehow, they continued this while in Saudi Arabia today.

There were shots of the flag and royalty, but no mentions of the country, and no grand tourist commercial as we saw at Greatest Royal Rumble.

While Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman had … something some might call a match, there was no chatter about “progressive cities” from the announce table.

It’s almost as though WWE sees some reason to not flaunt this deal. You know, the one senators were attempting to convince them to bail on?

Very little of what happened on the show will have a lasting impact. A trophy was won by the boss’ son, the universal title found its way back to Lesnar’s waist and Shawn Michaels returned to the ring for a “cheat meal.”

We can begin to look ahead to Survivor Series — as well as wonder what the next decade of shows in Saudi Arabia will look like.

Was the toned down rhetoric a product of the moment, or is it the way forward? How long before we hear Michael Cole brag about shows in such a progressive country — one that jails and executes activists — once again?

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