This report comes from Dan Gartland of Sports Illustrated’s website SI.com
WWE’s controversial upcoming “Crown Jewel” show in Saudi Arabia, scheduled for Nov. 2, is “very much in jeopardy,” preeminent wrestling reporter Dave Meltzer said Tuesday on Wrestling Observer Radio.
“The Saudi Arabia show is very much in jeopardy as far as what’s going to happen,” Meltzer said, as transcribed by Ringside News. “There has been, there’s only a few people who could get [WWE chairman] Vince [McMahon] — you know Vince was adamant about doing the show. I mean they’ll pull out if they have to pull out but it was going to take a lot to pull them out. I was told it would take [President Donald] Trump or government officials and there is something in that thing that’s out there.”
Meltzer added that WWE’s hesitancy was the reason why tickets for the show did not go on sale last week as orginally planned.
Crown Jewel has come under fire after the murder Oct. 2 of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the country’s government. The Saudi government is accused of ordering and carrying out the killing inside the country’s embassy in Turkey. The Saudis admit that Khashoggi was killed, but insist it was a “rogue operation.” “The decision has not been made but it’s a lot less [certain] than it was a week ago when they were pretty gung-ho in doing the show,” Meltzer continued. “It’s in jeopardy from outside forces that are pretty much, you know I don’t know the exact dialogue but there is absolutely pressure on [Vince] not to go now.”
The government has given conflicting accounts of how Khashoggi was killed. Turkish authorities believe Khashoggi was dismembered and CNN reports that the Saudi hit squad dressed a lookalike in Khashoggi’s clothes to give the appearance that the dead man had walked out of the embassy alive.
Meltzer also points out that the decision on whether to move forward with the show is complicated by several factors, many of them financial. The inordinately wealthy Saudi government is paying tens of millions of dollars for the show, including massive paydays for Brock Lesnar and Shawn Michaels to return to the ring. There is also the question of how pulling out of the November show would impact the rest of WWE’s 10-year contract with the Saudis.
What I am most interested in seeing is if this show does not happen in Saudi Arabia, how will WWE move forward? A ton of money and TV time went into building this up, almost too big to just scrap and say forget about the storylines that have been planted. Let us not forget the money allocated to get Shawn Michaels out of retirement, something the wrestling world had been clamoring for as soon as he was done as a performer.
Update #1: It seems as though John Cena has informed WWE he will not be performing if the event is still going to be held in Saudi Arabia. This as of right now has not been confirmed by a reputable source but rumor has it Daniel Bryan has also informed WWE he will be performing at WWE Crown Jewel. Cena was scheduled to take part in the eight-man tournament to crown “The Best in the World” while Bryan was set to face AJ Styles for the WWE Championship.
How do you feel about the whole situation? Do you think the show should go on despite the controversy? Let us know how you feel in the comments.