The wrestling universe is still buzzing about the recent decision WWE made to keep good on their contract with the country of Saudi Arabia, moving forward with their pay-per-view Crown Jewel. Raw commentator Renee Young finally spoke on her involvement with the controversial pay-per-view.
The second WWE event to take place in the country this year, Crown Jewel aired last Friday, and lived under heavy scrutiny, for several reasons. Hosting events in this country comes with the stipulation that women are not allowed to perform, due a lack of women’s rights. In addition to the women not being allowed to perform at events in Saudi Arabia, the WWE was also required to edit out the women superstars in any commercials for future events, including WrestleMania 35.
With the first-ever, all-women WWE event, Evolution, occurring the weekend before, discussion was sparked on how the company can go from celebrating women equality, to scheduling an event in a country with no women’s rights.
The problem started earlier this year, when The Greatest Royal Rumble took place in Saudi Arabia, in April. When WWE fell upon criticisms for not holding women at that event, Triple H had this to say in an interview with The Independent:
“I understand that people are questioning it, but you have to understand that every culture is different, and just because you don’t agree with a certain aspect of it, it doesn’t mean it’s not a relevant culture. You can’t dictate to a country or a religion about how they handle things but, having said that, WWE is at the forefront of a women’s evolution in the world and what you can’t do is effect change anywhere by staying away from it.
While, right now, women are not competing in the event, we have had discussions about that, and we believe and hope that, in the next few years, they will be. That is a significant cultural shift in Saudi Arabia. The country is in the middle of a shift in how it is dealing with that – the position is changing, and rights are changing, as are the way women are handled and treated in society.
We think that’s a great thing and we’re excited to be at the forefront of that change.”
Renee Young, the first ever Raw commentator to have a permanent spot in that role, was able to perform her job at Crown Jewel. Young and fellow commentator Michael Cole spoke on their thoughts regarding Crown Jewel.
In an interview with BBC and reported by Fightful, Cole had this to say:
“Renee Young was the commentator in Saudi Arabia for Crown Jewel as we continue to make progress there. Our hope one day, is that we will have women superstars battling it out as part of our events in Saudi Arabia,” said Cole.
Young added, “One thing I will say that was very cool about that is, being a woman welcomed into Saudi Arabia to step into the announce booth and be apart of the broadcast, how many men, women, children were coming up to me knowing that this was a big moment of change and that there is a demand and need for women to be performing in Saudi Arabia. They were asking for it, certainly.”
Other WWE superstars were also optimistic about Crown Jewel and WWE’s involvement in Saudi Arabia. Raw Women’s Champion, Ronda Rousey, told TMZ last month that she supports the decision for WWE to perform in Saudi Arabia, despite not being able to perform there herself.
Though several superstars are on board with Saudi Arabia hosting events, several other superstars took the other side of the debate. Two big names in the company, John Cena and Daniel Bryan, pulled out of the Crown Jewel event after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi government. At this time, no talent from the women’s locker room has come forward with a similar view as Cena and Bryan.
Many fans and critics hope WWE will not continue to host their events in Saudi Arabia. There doesn’t appear to be any plans in changing the contract with Saudi Arabia, anytime soon.
What do you think about Renee Young participating at Crown Jewel? Do you agree with WWE participating in Saudi Arabia? Do you think they will ever allow women superstars to perform?