WWE Announces It Will Not Cancel Saudi Arabia Event Despite Criticism


Although WWE’s Crown Jewel pay-per-view in Saudi Arabia promised a number of highly anticipated matches, many fans felt that showing a social conscience was far more important than providing quality sports entertainment at a time when the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi dominated headlines. Despite recent pressure from lawmakers to cancel the event, WWE announced on Thursday that it is pushing forward with Crown Jewel, even with the recent revelation from Saudi officials that Khashoggi died earlier this month.

The announcement was made through a press release posted on the WWE corporate website, which mostly detailed financial statistics from the three-month period from June to September of this year, but also included a passage explaining the company’s decision to hold Crown Jewel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on November 2. This news comes despite allegations that the country was behind Khashoggi’s murder.

“WWE has operated in the Middle East for nearly 20 years and has developed a sizable and dedicated fan base,” the company wrote.

“Considering the heinous crime committed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the Company faced a very difficult decision as it relates to its event scheduled for November 2 in Riyadh. Similar to other U.S.-based companies who plan to continue operations in Saudi Arabia, the Company has decided to uphold its contractual obligations to the General Sports Authority and stage the event.”

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, WWE was under pressure — not only from U.S. senators, but also from fans and its own employees — to cancel Crown Jewel in the days and weeks that preceded the confirmation of Jamal Khashoggi’s death. At that time, WWE reportedly removed Crown Jewel from its 2018 schedule, therefore preventing fans from purchasing tickets to the show. Speculation that the event might be “in trouble” further ramped up on Sunday, when Barstool Sports’ Robbie Fox took to Twitter to write that John Cena and Daniel Bryan, both of whom were scheduled to appear at Crown Jewel, were “refusing” to go to Saudi Arabia.

In the hours since WWE made the announcement, a number of fans have taken to Twitter to express their displeasure with the company’s move — using hashtags such as “#BoycottWWE” and “#CancelCrownJewel” — threatening to cancel their WWE Network subscriptions.

With WWE confirming that Crown Jewel is indeed good to go on November 2, a number of matches are scheduled to take place at the event. Reigning champion A.J. Styles will take on Daniel Bryan in a WWE Championship match, D-Generation X will face the Brothers of Destruction — which will mark Hall of Fame member Shawn Michaels’ first wrestling match in eight years — and the eight-man “World Cup” tournament, which features the likes of John Cena, Rey Mysterio, and Randy Orton, will be yet another fixture.

Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar are also scheduled to face off for the WWE Universal Championship, which was vacated by Roman Reigns on this week’s Monday Night Raw due to his battle with leukemia.