WWE unsure whether to hold Saudi Arabian event

Ben Hercik

Senior Journalism Major

The WWE has been around for a long time and has been no stranger to being involved in controversy. Look at the Steroid Scandal, the Muhammad Hassan pro-terrorist character, The Montreal Screwjob and so many more.

Yet, through a lot of these controversies, us fans stood beside the WWE and we trusted the company to right the ship, and they have. The most recent controversy is one that may be around for a long time. WWE signed a 10-year deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in either late February or early March. The first event of the deal took place on April 27 and was called The Greatest Royal Rumble.

The event taking place in Saudi Arabia, and given the country’s limited rights for women, meant that the entire women’s roster couldn’t take part on the show.

This was a big complaint, as WWE is pushing something called the Women’s Revolution, giving female performers the same respect they have given the men in the past. These include women participating in more dangerous match stipulations, like the famous Hell in a Cell match, main eventing special events and so many more things.

After holding The Greatest Royal Rumble, WWE responded with the decision to hold the first ever all women’s pay per view, titled Evolution, on Oct. 28. This seemed like a great way to fix the situation, as now women got a chance to show that they are just as good as the men.

Then it was announced that WWE was going back to Saudi Arabia for Crown Jewel, on Nov. 2. This was a bad move with a lot of negative press coming from the first event, and the second one coming so soon after it, but then things took a turn in real world politics.

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who worked for the Washington Post, went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get documents to confirm that he was divorced from his preplanned marriage. It was there that he was declared missing and later announced dead.

The Saudi government had repeatedly stated that they had no information about the incident. Many people accused the royal family of being involved in the death, as Khashoggi was a former key insider for the Saudi Embassy in the United States and a trusted journalist, but after 25 years of service, Khashoggi decided to escape to the United States due to differing political views with the Saudi government.

But I’m not here to get political, this is about why the WWE should pull the event out of Saudi Arabia. The negative reception from the deal being done with Saudi Arabia, the issue of hurting its female revolution and now the whole issue of Khashoggi’s death are all reasons that they should either cancel the show or at least move the event.

While it makes sense for Vince McMahon, the Chairman and CEO of the WWE, to do business with Saudi Arabia from a financial standpoint, from the standpoint of that fans and some performers being uncomfortable with going to that country, holding the event in Saudi Arabia makes very little sense.

You add on the fact that at the first event, any break between matches was filled with Saudi propaganda, fans were very unhappy with that. The line of people doesn’t stop with just us fans, but politicians like New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez voicing their displeasure with the event taking place. Menendez even went as far as to say that the US Government, Vince McMahon and the WWE’s legacy has been built on controversy, but this was one that should’ve been avoided.