A few months ago, investors were cheering the WWE’s long term deal to put on pay-per-views in Saudi Arabia. Today, that deal is giving them a bit of heartburn.
While several major companies have pulled out of state sponsored events in the Arab nation, WWE is, for now at least, proceeding with plans for its “Crown Jewel” pay-per-view event, which is scheduled for Nov. 2.
The company says it is “monitoring the situation” in the country after the mysterious disappearance and possible murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi government critic and Washington Post columnist.
Executives from Uber, Viacom, HP and the LA Times, as well as venture capitalist Steve Case, have all withdrawn from the Future Investment Initiative, otherwise known as ‘Davos in the Desert,’ citing concerns about the situation in the country.
WWE and Saudi Arabia teamed up earlier this year for the “Greatest Royal Rumble,” selling out the 60,000 seat King Abdullah International Stadium. “Crown Jewel” is set to be the second in a long-term partnership between the company and the kingdom. The company has booked several matches to draw in not only current fans, but those from eight to 10 years ago, with legendary stars like Shawn Michaels, Kane and the Undertaker.
Not everyone has been a fan of the WWE’s relationship with the Kingdom, though. Some fans have pointed out the inconsistency of the company’s promotion of women’s wrestling (and its own self promotion for doing so) and putting on major pay-per-view events where female wrestlers could not participate (and share in the payday).