WWE COO Paul Levesque, known to most fans as Triple H, spoke about the controversy of the exclusion of female wrestlers at the upcoming Greatest Royal Rumble being held at the King Abdullah International Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. While many fans seem thrilled with the event, there has been some backlash from the media and by some fans since female wrestlers are not allowed to compete at the Greatest Royal Rumble.
A very traditional country, Saudi Arabia is considered the birthplace of Islam where Sunni Islam is the official state religion. Because of their strict conservative rules, only male WWE superstars are allowed to compete at the event. In addition, only women who are accompanied by men will be allowed to attend the event. With the WWE catapulting female superstars with the “women’s revolution” as of late, including signing former UFC champion Ronda Rousey, many fans feel the company is being hypocritical by holding an event in Saudi Arabia.
In an interview with the Independent, Triple H commented on the controversy surrounding the Greatest Royal Rumble. He said that he understands why people are questioning the decision to hold an event in Saudi Arabia, but that every culture is different. He remarked that every culture is dissimilar, and just because they don’t agree with certain facets of it, “it doesn’t mean it’s not a relevant culture.”
He commented that you can’t dictate to a country how they handle certain situations and that you can’t “affect change” by avoiding it. He spoke of the women’s revolution of being at the forefront of the WWE right now, and how this won’t affect it. He also shared words on how he’s hopeful that one day female WWE superstars will be able to wrestle in the country in the future.
“While, right now, women are not competing in the event, we have had discussions about that and we believe and hope that, in the next few years they will be. The country is in the middle of a shift in how it is dealing with that – the position is changing, and rights are changing, as are the way women are handled and treated in society. We think that’s a great thing and we’re excited to be at the forefront of that change.”
Though it may seem brazen to some that Triple H claims that the WWE can one day help make a cultural shift, that’s exactly what the company did recently in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Last December, Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks competed while wearing special bodysuits in the first-ever women’s wrestling match in the UAE. The crowd chanted “this is hope” and many audience members were in tears.
Triple H is hopeful that the Greatest Royal Rumble will lead to other WWE events in Saudi Arabia, and that one day women will be included.