WWE is set to return to Saudi Arabia this summer. Fightful.com broke the news earlier today. Reportedly, the third venture in Saudi Arabia, following the Greatest Royal Rumble and Crown Jewel, will take place on Friday, May 3rd.
This lines up with a report from the Wrestling Observer. Back in December, Dave Meltzer suggested WWE would return in May and November of 2019.
Last year, WWE signed a 10-year partnership with the Saudi General Sports Authority to bring annual WWE events to Saudi Arabia as a part of Saudi Vision 2030 – an initiative that purports to diversify the country’s economy, create social reform, and develop their public sector.
The partnership with Saudi Arabia has been highly controversial from the beginning. Notably, the first event, Greatest Royal Rumble, forced the promotion to exclude the women’s roster as a show of “respect for the local culture”. In addition, WWE received some backlash for Sami Zayn’s undisclosed absence and playing up Saudi-Iranian tensions for heat.
In the following months, outrage surrounding the second event escalated in response to suspicions that the Saudi government was involved in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The company eventually removed any mention of the location from their website and promotional material. However, Crown Jewel went ahead as scheduled amid criticism from mainstream media and fans, as well as WWE superstars like Lita.
The whole thing turned into a complete public relations nightmare. Coupled with the exclusion of female wrestlers and reports
John Cena and Daniel Bryan refused to work Crown Jewel, it’s hard to understand why they would continue the partnership. It’s unclear how they even plan to promote the event now that they’ve received so much negative media attention.
The date hasn’t been officially announced yet, but what do you think about WWE continuing to plan events in Saudi Arabia? Drop a comment below.