WWE’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is very lucrative for the company — but it comes at a price. While the 10-year agreement will see Vince McMahon’s corporation rake in hundreds of millions of dollars, the nation’s government’s strict laws effectively mean that the company’s talented women won’t wrestle at any of the events.
The company’s next event in the Middle East is currently scheduled for November 1, and it’s unlikely the country will introduce improved equality laws by then. However, WWE might counteract the inevitable backlash by dedicating an episode of SmackDown Live entirely to the company’s female performers, according to the ever-reliable Dave Meltzer.
Citing the Wrestling Observer Newsletter as the source, Ringside News wrote that the prominent journalist believes the company could host a historic women’s show in a bid to avoid a scheduling dilemma. As a result of having to cancel some European dates due to the Saudi Arabian officials’ supposed indecisiveness, using the available female roster will ensure the subsequent episode of SmackDown Live runs smoothly.
In addition to getting past the booking issue, Meltzer also believes that WWE could put on a women-centric show to boost its public perception, as it’s guaranteed their visit to Saudi Arabia will generate negative press.
“One way they could manage is promote the Friday show in Newark as an all-women’s SmackDown show. That would at least take the place of the Evolution PPV that for whatever reason isn’t on the schedule this year. They could heavily promote it as an all-women’s SmackDown, the first time ever and could use that to offset the obvious criticism of them running if Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow the women to come.”
Meltzer also mentioned the all-women’s Evolution pay-per-view, which took place last October, a few days prior to WWE’s second Saudi Arabian show, Crown Jewel.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 29, 2018
The women’s event just so happened to come about amid criticism pertaining to the company’s Middle Eastern commitments, suggesting that event was used to distract from the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Should WWE decide to press ahead with an all-female SmackDown Live, the event risks being overshadowed by controversial circumstances elsewhere? At the same time, the concept is potentially appealing because it will allow more women wrestlers to showcase their skills.
The company has a lot of great talent that doesn’t get a lot of airtime each week, along with superstars in the developmental brand that could be promoted for the night to create fresh matchups.