Friday, June 14, 2024

2023 WWE Crown Jewel predictions, card, matches, PPV preview, start time, expert picks, date, location

WWE returns to Saudi Arabia on Saturday for the 2023 edition of Crown Jewel. As usual, the promotion is bringing plenty of big matches to the event, including five championship bouts.

Roman Reigns will defend the undisputed WWE universal championship in the night’s main event, putting his belt on the line against LA Knight. The other top men’s title will also be on the line when Seth Rollins defends the world heavyweight championship against Drew McIntyre.

Both women’s championships will also be on the line, with Rhea Ripley defending the women’s world championship in a fatal five-way and Iyo Sky defending her WWE women’s championship against former champion Bianca Belair.

Let’s take a look at who the CBS Sports experts are picking to win each match at WWE Crown Jewel, which streams live on Peacock at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday with a kickoff show beginning one hour before.

2023 WWE Crown Jewel card, predictions

Undisputed WWE Universal Championship — Roman Reigns (c) vs. LA Knight

It’s great to see Knight get the opportunity to main event a pay-per-view, with WWE finally stepping on the gas and taking advantage of him getting over huge with the fans. Still, Knight doesn’t really fit in the “bigger story” of Reigns and The Bloodline to where it feels this would be where WWE would take the title off of him. It’s also worth noting that Reigns’ lengthy run with the belt is starting to approach Hulk Hogan’s longest title reign of 1,474 days. With how much focus has been put on the historic nature of Reigns’ title reign, and with him currently not set for another match until the Royal Rumble, it feels like it’s a bit too obvious that he’s going to come out on top here. Pick: Roman Reigns retains the title — Brent Brookhouse (also Shakiel Mahjouri)

World Heavyweight Championship — Seth Rollins (c) vs. Drew McIntyre

The world heavyweight championship needs a facelift. Rollins has done a solid job as the first champion since WWE revived the title. The stories had effort, superstars were spotlighted and great matches were produced. But the plots had holes, elevations didn’t stick and Gunther is putting on a better workhorse championship reign with the intercontinental title. McIntyre is overdue for a world title and is one of the more compelling characters on Raw as a tweener bordering on villain. A McIntyre title run could produce fresh feuds with guys like Sami Zayn and Cody Rhodes, who are eternally trapped in a stale feud with the Judgement Day, culminating with Jey Uso winning the title at WrestleMania. Pick: Drew McIntyre wins the title — Mahjouri

There’s plenty of logic in McIntyre winning the belt and presenting a fresh face as champion. However, the shadow of Money in the Bank contract holder Damian Priest looms over this match. WWE has gotten into something of a rut with Judgment Day “running Raw” and the only real step to freshen things up for the group is to break them up or to have Priest cash in and take the big belt. Priest could cash in after Rollins retains and is left broken down after a brutal match, but put me down for Priest cashing in mid-match to add a bit of drama before winning the belt to give Crown Jewel its usual “big moment.” Pick: Damian Priest cashes in and wins the title — Brookhouse

Women’s World Championship — Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Nia Jax vs. Zoey Stark vs. Shayna Baszler vs. Raquel Rodriguez

WWE did an interesting thing with this match, tossing five women in the ring all gunning for both the title and the status of “baddest woman in WWE.” Jax has been a wrecking ball since making her return and would make the most sense as the victor should any of the challengers take the belt. Stark’s momentum was basically dead once she split from Trish Stratus, which was a misstep in that it wasted months of effort to establish her. Rodriguez still doesn’t feel like she has clicked with the crowd. And Baszler is fantastic but WWE hasn’t felt very committed to her place at the top of the card outside of her feud with Ronda Rousey. Given Ripley’s momentum and how much she’s getting out of being champion, it doesn’t feel like Crown Jewel marks the end of her reign. Pick: Rhea Ripley retains the title — Brookhouse (also Mahjouri)

United States Championship — Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Logan Paul

Against all odds, Paul has proven himself a natural in the ring. He’s athletic and his personality just “works” as a natural heel. He also used the stage of his real boxing match with Dillon Danis to promote a match with Mysterio. The luchador is a legend and it’s been nice to see him get another run with a belt but this is WWE’s chance to put a belt on Paul, which everyone knows they want to do. It will be a bit rough for SmackDown if their two top men’s titles are held by part-time talents, but Paul could put in a bit more time on TV ahead of major events like Survivor Series, Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. Pick: Logan Paul wins the title — Brookhouse (also Mahjouri)

Cody Rhodes vs. Damian Priest

With the exception of Ripley, WWE continues to flip-flop between booking Judgement Day as a dominant force and feeders to Raw’s top faces. Rhodes is an A+ player on Raw but could use a strong victory. Priest’s status as Money in the Bank winner and undisputed tag team champion is likely padding enough in the company’s eyes to have him take a loss. Pick: Cody Rhodes wins — Mahjouri (also Brookhouse)

John Cena vs. Solo Sikoa

Cena has been very generous during his recent stint with the company and it seems Crown Jewel might be the last we see of him for a while. The ongoing story revolves around Cena’s self-doubt having not won a singles match in five years. I doubt WWE extends this story for an indefinite period of time. These Saudi Arabia events generally don’t feature a ton of development and are more of a shiny showcase than a cornerstone event. Giving Cena the win is the simple play. Pick: John Cena wins — Mahjouri (also Brookhouse)

WWE Women’s Championship — Iyo Sky (c) vs. Bianca Belair

Sky’s reign has been fine but unspectacular. It’s entirely possible that WWE puts the belt back on the reliable Belair, but I think her newfound edge would benefit from her getting screwed out of the title again. Belair is trending in a similar direction to McIntyre’s character and she’ll need all the bitter motivation she can muster to fully embrace her character tweak. Pick: Iyo Sky retains the title — Mahjouri (also Brookhouse)

Sami Zayn vs. JD McDonagh (Kickoff Match)

McDonagh is continuing to struggle to gain acceptance from Judgment Day while Zayn lost his tag partner and best friend Kevin Owens to SmackDown. Both men need a win in storyline, but Zayn needs a win in reality because he’s the bigger player of the two. The first match on a Saudi show usually is very by-the-numbers to warm the crowd up. That means putting Zayn over in a very straightforward way. Pick: Sami Zayn wins — Brookhouse (also Mahjouri)

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