WWE Crown Jewel 2018: Triple H Turning On Shawn Michaels And 5 Potentially Huge Surprises

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WWE Crown Jewel 2018 is the company’s second event as part of its 10-year deal with Saudi Arabia, a loaded show headlined by Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman for the vacant Universal title, AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe for the WWE Championship and a tag team encounter pitting the un-retiring Shawn Michaels and Triple H against The Undertaker and Kane.

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

Despite all of the controversy surrounding Crown Jewel, WWE has moved forward with the event as planned and is looking to turn things around after Raw recently descended to record viewership lows while SmackDown hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire. Even though WWE has relied heavily on a slew of part-time names ranging from “The Deadman” to “The Beast,” a combination of poor programming and competition from both the NFL and MLB has fans tuning out in record numbers during what has been a very difficult stretch for the company.

Even blockbuster surprises like the announced in-ring return of Michaels, Lesnar’s surprise return at Hell in a Cell and the historic Evolution pay-per-view haven’t been enough to keep fans locked in to Raw or SmackDown, so it stands to reason that the creative team will look to pull off some more shockers at Crown Jewel, the last stop before Survivor Series and one of the final pay-per-views before we get to The Royal Rumble and WrestleMania season.

Thus, look for WWE to dig deep into its bag of tracks for some true conversation stoppers in Saudi Arabia. Here are five potentially huge surprises we could see at Crown Jewel.

The Miz Wins The WWE World Cup

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

With a slew of strongly pushed wrestlers and major legends in the WWE World Cup tournament, The Miz would shock the world if outlasted stars like Rey Mysterio, Kurt Angle or even Seth Rollins to win it all.

Given that the star-studded tournament features the recently Rey Mysterio and marquee names like Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton, it would be nothing short of a massive upset if The Miz was able to win three matches in one night and do so by defeating some of the most accomplished stars in company history. However, WWE has pushed The Miz as one of its most featured acts over the past few years, and with his hit reality show Miz and Mrs. recently being renewed for a second season, WWE will likely continue to book him well as on SmackDown heading into WrestleMania season.

The Miz has shocked the word in the past with a Money in the Bank and WWE Championship win (not to mention a SummerSlam victory over Daniel Bryan), and he’s finally viewed to be on the level of a perennial world title contender. With many fans believing that The Miz could be involved in the WWE title picture come Royal Rumble or WrestleMania, it would be a wise creative decision to have him win one of the most star-studded tournaments in WWE history.

Especially if The Miz can win the tourney using cheap heel tactics here and there, his star power could grow exponentially, and WWE could ignite an even bigger push for him using a tournament that doesn’t have a clear favorite and will ultimately be meaningless if it isn’t used to elevate at least one star.

Drew McIntyre Leaves The PPV As Universal Champion

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

With Reigns expected to be sidelined for the foreseeable future as he battles leukemia, WWE’s creative plans, especially in regards to the Universal Championship, appear to be up in the air.

One thing is clear, however: Drew McIntyre is the next big thing on Raw. “The Scottish Terminator” is reportedly in line for a massive push and is viewed backstage by both Vince McMahon and Triple H as the future of the company. While it remains to be seen how long it will take for McIntyre’s seemingly inevitable ascension to world championship status, all of the recent creative shakeups on Raw have paved the way for McIntyre to become Universal Champion in the near future, perhaps as soon as at Crown Jewel.

McIntyre is now embroiled in a huge rivalry with Strowman, who is firmly entrenched as a full-fledged babyface again, so it would make sense for him to be a surprise late addition the match between Strowman and Lesnar at Crown Jewel. In fact, that was reportedly the plan at one point earlier this week. Not only would that hide the limitations of Strowman and Lesnar (who don’t have great chemistry with one another and had a very lackluster match at No Mercy 2017), but it would set the stage for some intriguing storyline developments and potentially even result in McIntyre being crowned Universal Champion in Saudi Arabia.

Knowing full well that its creative plans are now “out the window,” WWE has the opportunity to pull off a surprise win for the ages at Crown Jewel, which would be a logical move given McIntyre’s beef with Strowman and Raw’s need for a titleholder who isn’t Lesnar.

Brock Lesnar Regains The Universal Title

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

Braun Strowman is the overwhelming betting favorite to win the vacant Universal Championship at Crown Jewel amidst uncertainty regarding how much Lesnar will be around following the special event.

But when it comes to the seemingly never-ending push of Lesnar, you can’t put anything past WWE. There are now serious doubts that Lesnar’s expected UFC return match against Daniel Cormier for the UFC Heavyweight Championship will take place, and especially if that’s the case, then it’s certainly not out of the question that Lesnar regains the Universal title in time for Royal Rumble season. The Rock is rumored to be coming back for WrestleMania 35, and WWE could finally give fans The Rock vs. Lesnar match it once planned on doing at WrestleMania 30 before those plans fell through, especially now that Reigns’ unfortunate leukemia diagnosis has sidelined him for an undetermined amount of time.

WWE has, of course, shown a tendency to put the Universal Championship on part-timers, giving Goldberg a run with the belt and previously keeping the title on Lesnar for more than 500 days, and WrestleMania season tends to be Part-Timer-Mania. Given the recent influx of part-timers and the potential for a number of blockbuster part-timer vs. part-timer bouts at WWE’s flagship pay-per-view, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for Lesnar to get another run with the title now that it must resort to a backup plan due to Reigns’ absence.

For better or worse, WWE views “The Beast” as a major draw, and if that means his massive “seven figure” deal derails the pushes of Braun Strowman, then so be it. Because even though logic says that Strowman can and should win the Universal title at Crown Jewel, it would surprise next to no one if Lesnar won instead, especially amidst reports that his upcoming UFC return won’t prevent him from winning the title.

The Return Of Batista

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

According to Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com (h/t Ringside News), it’s “possible” that Batista returns to in-ring action in the near future, and WWE planted the seeds for that in-ring return at SmackDown 1000 when “The Animal” appeared as part of Evolution and took a shot at Triple H’s inability to beat him.

Barnburner’s Fired Up podcast (h/t WrestleTalk) also noted last month that “Batista may be signing a short-term deal with WWE at SmackDown [1000] to possibly appear at Survivor Series, Royal Rumble and WrestleMania,” and though his signing has not been confirmed by Batista or WWE, he let it be known last year that he wanted one last full-time run with the company, complete with a house show schedule and all.

Given that Saudi Arabian officials have a well-known desire to see legends from the past on its events, Batista certainly fits the bill as a household name who could be added to the mix for a surprise appearance that sets the wheels in motion for one last long-term run with the company, which could potentially culminate at WrestleMania 35. Especially given Batista’s recent reunion with Triple H on SmackDown and his longing to have a final feud with “The Game,” perhaps we’re just an appearance away from that truly feud beginning to come together.

And now that Batista is rumored to headline the 2019 Hall of Fame class, there is more fuel being added to the fire here, with Batista currently a 6/1 betting favorite to defeat Triple H at WrestleMania 35.

Triple H Turning On Shawn Michaels

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

WWE has recently made a habit out of pulling off major heels turn, including much needed ones for the Bella Twins and Bobby Lashley, and even though next to no one is exactly pining for Triple H to betray Michaels, that’s one swerve that would be a, well, very WWE thing to do.

Consider that Michaels avoided coming out of retirement even with an offer to face AJ Styles at WrestleMania 33, and it’s clear that he’s back for a very specific reason. The belief is that, in addition to collecting a nice paycheck, Michaels is returning to the ring because of the story being told and the fact that it involves Triple H and The Undertaker, who he has long and storied histories with. That certainly suggests that the 53-year-old Michaels only wants to work a certain style of match upon his return, and in fact, Michaels himself told Inside The Ropes (h/t Comic Book) earlier this year that he’d want to work a tag team match, saying “Something like that I would consider but nobody ever talks about that. It’s always me and somebody half my age.”

Obviously, Michaels is coming back for a tag team match at Crown Jewel, with money as the biggest motivating factor, but he essentially has said that he does not want to get in the ring with a star like AJ Styles, Seth Rollins or Daniel Bryan, perhaps out of fear that he doesn’t have enough gas left in the tank to be “The Showstopper” again. What’s that mean? That, with Michaels expected to wrestle again after Crown Jewel, he probably has a short list of opponents he’d be willing to work with in singles matches.

That list likely consists exclusively of stars he’s comfortable with and knows how to work with, meaning that a feud with Triple H, facilitated by a betrayal by “The Game” at Crown Jewel, is probably at the top of it no matter how little fan interest there may be in that feud.

Blake Oestriecher is an elementary school teacher by day and a sports writer by night. He’s a contributor to @ForbesSports, where he primarily covers WWE. You can follow him on Twitter @BOestriecher.

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakeoestriecher/2018/11/02/wwe-crown-jewel-2018-triple-h-turning-on-shawn-michaels-and-5-potentially-huge-surprises/