In the midst of growing controversy surrounding the United States’ relationship with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, WWE has pulled almost all reference to the country from their website and social media over the last few days.
According to the latest reports from PWInsider.com’s Mike Johnson and Dave Scherer, among other sources, the internal plan is still full steam ahead to WWE Crown Jewel on Nov. 2nd. In fact, management from King Saud University will be meeting with the ticket company on Monday to start making plans and laying out the event.
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WWE released a statement earlier in the week stating that they were “monitoring” the situation, after news broke that the Saudi government was allegedly responsible for the brutal assassination and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and legal United States resident.
Khashoggi had been critical of his government’s policies for years, and was at one point considered one of the most influential political pundits in the Middle East. He fled to the United States in 2017.
The reason this entire situation ties to WWE is not just because they are simply running an event in Saudi Arabia this November. If it were like any other international event where they were coming in, making money off the live gate and moving on, there may still be a minor amount of pushback from some individuals, but not nearly on the current level where members of the U.S. government are now putting pressure on the company to reconsider the event.
The real controversy is that WWE has a contract with the Saudi Arabian government and is being paid upwards of $50 million to run shows in conjunction with the kingdom’s requests, which at this year’s Greatest Royal Rumble event included running several propaganda pieces praising the forward-thinking and liberal ambitions of the Saudi crown prince.
So now WWE is caught in a situation where they’re essentially being paid millions by the Saudi government to talk up how amazing and progressive their culture is, while at the same time the rest of the world is in outrage because that same “culture” just murdered a journalist because he advocated for things like democracy and equal rights for women.