It was announced by WWE yesterday that they will move forward with plans to run the Crown Jewel event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia next Friday, November 2. The decision is controversial because some other companies have refused to do business in Saudi Arabia recently due to the murder of a Washington Post journalist named Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey.
Several US politicians thought that WWE shouldn’t go, but according to WWE’s statement yesterday, they plan on running the show. WWE said this in their statement: “Similar to other U.S.-based companies who plan to continue operations in Saudi Arabia, the Company has decided to uphold its contractual obligations to the General Sports Authority and stage the event. Full year 2018 guidance is predicated on the staging of the Riyadh event as scheduled.”
Ronda Rousey, who is the current WWE Raw Women’s Champion, is in New York City doing media appearances and preparing for her title match against Nikki Bella at Evolution on Sunday. The Wrestling Observer reported that Rousey and Nikki are likely going to practice their match leading up to Sunday, which is not a surprise.
Rousey talked to the TMZ cameras for an interview that lasted about seven minutes and during the interview, she opened up about why she thinks WWE was right to continue to run the Crown Jewel event even though there will be no women’s wrestlers on that show. Thanks to Prowrestling.com for the transcription.
“I’m a two-time Olympian, so I’m an idealist when it comes to sport. One of my favorite memories from the 2004 Olympics was – I was in the gym, on the treadmill and cutting weight. Right next to me was a boxer from Iraq, running next to me. It was the beginning of the Iraq War, and nowhere else in the world would some man from Iraq and a little girl from Venice Beach be respecting each other and sharing space.”
“I think sports is where we find that common ground with each other. I think pulling out of Crown Jewel would be the wrong move. This is an opportunity to share our cultures and to find what we have in common. Especially in times of adversity between two countries – that’s the absolute wrong time to pull away. That’s the time for us to find what we have in common and understand each other more.”
“It seems almost frivolous; a WWE event [compared to] these huge world issues, but in a world where we’re always trying to look at it as ‘Us and Them’, I think those big events like Crown Jewel makes us realize it’s an “Us” all around. I think that having these events and sharing our culture in Saudi Arabia is the first step to understanding each other, and finding that common ground.”
Rousey further explained her point about bringing American culture to Saudi Arabia and other countries around the world.
“This is a great opportunity to have people from Saudi Arabia loving a part of American culture. WWE is a part of that American culture that they are inviting in and embracing. You have these kids from Saudi Arabia that are idolizing people from America and all these different countries. Maybe you’ll see people from Saudi Arabia going into the WWE, and then kids from America idolizing those people.”
“I think it’s just a great way for us to share something and understand each other. That should be the goal. ‘An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.’ We need to be able to send out – I just believe that sports and sports entertainment is something we all have in common. We love to compete, we love to have fun, we love to laugh and watch shows. I wouldn’t want to pull our culture away from theirs at a time where it’s very difficult for people to understand each other. The more we can share the better.”
Rousey also believes that maybe down the road, the women wrestlers will be able to compete in Saudi Arabia.
“If WWE becomes big in Saudi Arabia, and WWE is a company that’s having all-women’s PPVs – if you have the WWE Network you can see Evolution and Crown Jewel. If you have the all-men’s PPV you have access to the all-women’s PPV. It’s exposing people to all the different things that our culture has to offer.”
“Yeah, the women can’t compete in Saudi Arabia right now, but if Crown Jewel is a huge success, and WWE really takes off in Saudi Arabia, I really think they are going to be demanding to see women soon.”
“It’s a touchy subject. My sister is a journalist. I’m trying my best, and everybody is trying their best. The best WWE can do is trying to be the change that you want to see in the world, and to share this piece of American culture with everyone.”
Rousey talked about the women’s only Evolution pay-per-view event and how it’s only just the beginning.
“WWE is social commentary for the whole world. I think that the women’s evolution in WWE is a reflection of the revolution happening around the world. This is a really pivotal time for culture in general. Fingers crossed that [WWE Evolution] is a huge success.”
“This is a great way for the women to prove that we’re not a charity case. We’re a huge part of the company. We’re a huge pull in all sports in general. It’s so great to live in a time where women are headlining PPVs. People forgot how recently it was so different. Hopefully this is just the beginning, and we’ll be remembering this event forever as a first.”
You can watch the seven minute interview with Rousey below.
TJR Thoughts: I know a lot of people will only think of this as Rousey sucking up to WWE because they pay her a lot of money and they told her to say this. I think she brings up some good points because she is a former Olympic athlete, so she knows about how sports can bring fans together. I certainly have some issues with Crown Jewel taking place, but I can understand the other side of it too.