With ratings down in recent months, it’s fair to ask – is the Saudi Arabia WWE 2019 relationship good or bad?
Some have blamed the rash of injuries that hit WWE for the decline in ratings. Others point the finger at Vince McMahon, the man who built the WWE but is now 74 years old and perceived as out of touch with the wants of the fans. While there could be some validation to both of these claims one major question that has been rarely explored with the decline of the ratings is: has the Saudi Arabia WWE 2019 relationship been good or bad? Not only for the ratings but for the sport.
While Saudi Arabia is a country that has a polarizing impact due to what some believe are outdated laws and the mistreatment of specific groups of the population by the Saudi government. The relationship with the WWE started in 2013 when the WWE and Saudi Arabian government made an agreement where the WWE would do house shows in Saudi Arabia. The relationship continued to grow as WWE programming was aired in Saudi Arabia in 2017. What elevated the relationship between the WWE and Saudi Arabia was the Greatest Royal Rumble which occurred on April 27, 2018, which was the first event in Saudi Arabia to air on the WWE network. This event did receive criticism because of the fact that there were no women’s matches on the card and critics stated how the WWE looked hypocritical for pushing a women’s revolution yet still bowing to the wants and desires of Saudi money.
The second show on the WWE network Crown Jewel severely damaged the reputation of the WWE in the United States. There was a political reason and booking reasons that hurt the WWE. The major political reason involves Jamal Khashoggi who was a journalist who criticized the actions of the Saudi Arabian government to the point where Khashoggi went on a self-imposed exile from Saudi Arabia. On October 2, 2018, Khashoggi was recorded on camera entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey but there is no footage of Khashoggi leaving. According to reports Khashoggi was brutally murdered on the orders of the Saudi government.
The problem for WWE was that Crown Jewel was supposed to happen on November 2, 2018. There were calls from members within the United States government for WWE to cancel the show and their agreement with Saudi Arabia. The decision was made that the WWE would honor their agreement with Saudi Arabia and still hold the Crown Jewel event. Two notable superstars who were scheduled to appear at Crown Jewel but were replaced were John Cena and Daniel Bryan.
The second issue with the Saudi and WWE relationship was how the events in Saudi Arabia are promoted. For example one of the highly promoted matches at Crown Jewel was Shawn Michaels and HHH ,DX, going against the Brothers of Destruction, Kane and the Undertaker. While Undertaker had another highly promoted match against Bill Goldberg at Super Showdown. Now there are three reasons these matches getting so much television time leading up to the event hurt the WWE. One issue is that these matches are for nostalgia and there was no motivation or reason for these matches to occur years after these members have been active in WWE on a daily basis. The second issue is that all of the aforementioned performers made their impact on wrestling in a positive way yet most are not in their prime and are placed in a key spot on a heavily promoted show for what would just be a one off. Many fans will not get excited about these matches. Third: fans in the United States are insulted because WWE is valuing the desire of the Saudi fans over the WWE fans everywhere else. The base that has put there hard earn dollars into the WWE if by subscribing to the WWE network, buying WWE merchandise, or attend live WWE events are being determined as the second class audience to the Saudi dollars. Also by promoting the events in Saudi Arabia as superior shows it minimizes other major WWE events such as Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, and Summerslam.
While many businesses would take the big payday the relationship with Saudi Arabia is hurting WWE. They are depicted as hypocritical for favoring Saudi Arabia instead of women rights and the rights of LGBT. WWE made the choice to do business with the murders of journalist Jamal Khashoggi which does not help public relations. The Saudi influenced also created and hyped a card that did not draw the interest of the majority of WWE fans. While there are issues with WWE correcting the problems with Saudi Arabia will help the WWE grow as a business and improve the product that is presented to a worldwide audience.