With rumors WWE might cancel the Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia, then others saying the show is still a go, there are reasons to wonder what WWE has planned. Moreover, based on the amount of negative press this event has started to receive, if WWE hasn't completely decided their course of action, they should simply walk away.
Perhaps doing so opens up the WWE to a lawsuit or it costs them millions of dollars in revenue they would have made from this relationship with the Saudi Arabian Royal Family but an argument can be made that the many cons that come along with continuing to do business in this region far outweigh the pros.
Here are just a few reasons WWE should ditch this show (or at least this particular location) before it's too late.
Why This Is Getting Ugly
Several United States senators have called on WWE to rethink their plans for the November 2nd show in light of the news that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was tortured and killed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey. WWE then issued a statement saying they would keep an eye on the situation and on Sunday, it was revealed WWE had removed the event from its scheduled listings. That led to speculation the event was being canceled, only for other rumors to come out that WWE was indeed still going ahead with the show as planned.
There has been no official word or announcement from WWE that they are considering canceling the event nor that they are committed to still going (at least not that we could find at the time this article was written) but the press being directed toward WWE about their involvement is not good.
It was already controversial WWE was involved with Saudi Arabia considering the governments views on certain American freedoms and topics on gender and equality but that was if things went completely right as the relationship unfolded. Only two events into a 10-year commitment, things are getting iffy.
Problem No. 1: Public Perception
Here are the sections about WWE from the feature story about Saudi Arabia on the new “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” that premiered earlier tonight on HBO. pic.twitter.com/NNOVgzVftW— David Bixenspan (@davidbix) October 15, 2018
The above video post from John Oliver is just one example of how WWE is being taken to task for their partnership with Saudi Arabia. And, it's not even so much that the company is doing shows there, it's how much of a shill WWE has become for the Saudi marketing agenda that their government is trying to send. Saudi Arabia wants people to believe they are being progressive, things are changing and this is a huge step for the country. Maybe they and maybe they aren't but WWE is actively trying to help send that message — whether it's accurate or inaccurate.
WWE released videos during their Greatest Royal Rumble broadcast touting how great the people were, how gracious a host the country was and how progressive the region has become, all while not allowing women on the show and keeping certain stars at home because of their ethnicity. It wasn't a good look and with murder now being indirectly connected to the relationship (or least the company seems willing to ignore the political outcry), it makes them look even more like the company is only about the money.
The Roster Doesn't Want To Go Anyways
It's not a particularly good sign when you're giving huge financial bonuses to your roster to be a part of a show that they still don't want to go to. That's the speculation right now.
On Wrestling Observer Live, Bryan Alvarez said the majority of the talent in WWE doesn’t want to go to Saudi Arabia for the Crown Jewel show and it could be because of the intense travel, the political backlash or the fact that women not being included means some of the men are unhappy for their fellow wrestlers.
Yes, these are paid contractors and an argument can be made they should go where the company is telling them to, but there is a risk that while the wrestlers are unhappy, it could lead to talent looking to leave WWE or at other options knowing they're less happy every time WWE sends them to do one of these events.
In the end, WWE sees a huge financial windfall from traveling to the show and if the event doesn't take place there will be questions about whether or not Shawn Michaels would still wrestle or how it would affect the contract between WWE and the Saudi people. But, stockholders won't be happy to learn that the short-term money gained hurts long-term earnings if WWE is tagged with a label they can't shake.