The WWE on Thursday held it’s now annual event named “Crown Jewel” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia which featured some interesting wrestling story lines along with a historical moment that included women wrestlers being allowed to compete, which was something that was previously not a topic for discussion.
One of those interesting story lines that was marketed as the co-main event, featured the Lineal Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury (29-0-1) who was scheduled to face Braun Strowman aka “The Monster among Men.”
Before we get into the match itself, let’s take a quick look back at the events that led up to this match in Riyadh.
On October 5th, WWE premiered “Friday Night Smackdown” on Fox as part of a deal the two companies signed months prior. The lead-up to the premiere was heavily promoted by Fox and to ensure it was a successful one, they featured one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, the former WWE wrestler Dewayne“The Rock” Johnson. With that type of star power, it guaranteed that the show would receive maximum viewership.
Shortly after “The Rock” did his skit, the camera then focused on Tyson Fury as a celebrity in attendance. Most were confused by this but later on, it all made sense as Braun Strowman sized up Fury on the outside of the ring while they both said a few taunting words to each other. Shortly after, Strowman shoved Dolph Ziggler into the barrier which “bumped” Fury, sending him into a rant and being “kicked out” of the arena. The show itself had 3.9 million viewers and most felt this was brilliant marketing by team Fury to get him those type of unique inquiries and further raise his profile.
The following Monday, Fury performed a “promo” which led to them announcing that he would face Braun Strowman at “Crown Jewel” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Coincidently, this is the same city that will hold the rematch between unified heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua in December.
Most people did not understand the relationship between Fury and the WWE, however in the weeks that followed, things started to make more sense. The Chairman of the WWE, Vince McMahon, will be re-launching the XFL next year and signed a deal for ESPN along with some of the other Disney related networks, to broadcast a select number of games.
Since Fury has the deal with ESPN, it made all of the sense in the world to cross promote as ESPN is looking to ensure they get their “return on investment” whether through boxing or other avenues that will benefit them in the future.
Now that we are all caught up, let’s get into the match itself.
Fury made a grand entrance with the song “It’s Your Thing” (a number one hit for The Isley Brothers in 1969, on the R n B chart)playing loudly throughout the arena with enough pyro and fireworks to light up any city. He walked in dressed in a thawb…
..with a keffiyeh on his head and receives a huge “pop” from those in attendance. Fury and Strowman got into a tangle right away and early, it was clear that Strowman is the ultimate professional as he was being aggressive but very careful with Fury.
After Strowman was in control, Fury showed some decent wrestling moves and made me realize that he took this match seriously. I’ve seen some celebrities do this in the past and it looked bad but Fury was a little bit of a natural in there. Fury took some “bumps,” showed good “facial” expressions and really worked the crowd. The end came when he “hit” Braun Strowman with a right hand, “knocking him out.” The loser could not get up and get back into the ring before the referee counted ten.
Tyson Fury won the match but afterwards got body slammed by Strowman to finish “selling” the match. Fury performed well in the ring and avoided any embarrassing moments.
This “match” served its purpose for all parties involved. The broadcast was streamed throughout the world, was trending #1 on social media worldwide and Fury performed in front of a sold out crowd of over 60 thousand people. If that isn’t great promotion, I don’t know what is.
The city of Riyadh which is wanting to be considered the “Hollywood” of Saudi Arabia, is certainly trying their best to bring the biggest events to this city and I would not be surprised if we see Tyson Fury have a fight there one day in the near future.
Now that this is all over, Fury will have to wait until November 23rd, to see if he indeed will be fighting Wilder in February as boxing is truly the theater of the unexpected where things aren’t always executed as planned.