One of the most controversial things that happened in the WWE this year had nothing to do with a storyline written by the company. Instead, the big issue came from the WWE’s decision to run events in Saudi Arabia.
The first event in 2018 was controversial mainly because the WWE wasn’t allowed to use any of its female performers on the card, but the negativity in regards to that stipulation was somewhat manageable.
However, when the WWE went back for a second time, it was shortly after the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This led to fans and critics calling for the company to pull out of the event. However, because of the substantial amount of money the WWE was receiving from the Saudi government to produce the event, McMahon and company decided to push through anyway.
Even though the WWE has had some time to think about the event, it appears that the company is getting ready to go back to Saudi Arabia again, in spite of the controversy that it will drum up. In the latest issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer said that the WWE is planning to go back twice in 2019.
The first event is currently scheduled for May, and the second is slotted in for November. According to Meltzer, the company won’t officially announce either of the events until the last minute — to avoid as much heat as possible. Of course, that is speculation on Meltzer’s part, and it’ll probably depend on the political climate as the events grow closer.
The last event WWE did in Saudi Arabia was called Crown Jewel, but you wouldn’t know it based on the way the WWE addressed the event after the fact.
Leading up to — and after — the show, fans may never have know that it was taking place in Saudi Arabia, as the company did everything it could to avoid mentioning the country in which the event was taking place. Even during the event itself, the company only mentioned where it was happening at the very start.
Further adding to the controversy of the Crown Jewel event was the WWE’s decision to bring back Hulk Hogan for it. Fans were already angry going in, and bringing back an extremely controversial figure may have spurred further controversy.
Since his return, the WWE hasn’t used him for anything — nor has the company mentioned that Hogan came back at all.