In the midst of global controversy surrounding the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the alleged assassination of U.S. resident journalist Jamal Khasoggi, WWE will continue full steam ahead into the nation next week for its Crown Jewel pay-per-view event.
Despite widespread criticism from mainstream media and disapproval from U.S. government officials, Vince McMahon is reportedly steadfast in his commitment to make the show happen as planned.
WWE released the following statement in their third quarter earnings report on Thursday morning:
“WWE has operated in the Middle East for nearly 20 years and has developed a sizable and dedicated fan base. Considering the heinous crime committed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the Company faced a very difficult decision as it relates to its event scheduled for November 2 in Riyadh. 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.”
It is perhaps important to note that WWE has a 10-year contact with the General Sports Authority, a division of the Saudi government responsible for managing all aspects of sports and sporting events for the kingdom. Should international relations with Saudi Arabia continue to worsen over the next few months, WWE could very likely find themselves in the exact same position in 2019.
While Vince McMahon would appear unconcerned with the mountain of negative publicity surrounding Crown Jewel, the real story to watch heading into the new year will be the reaction by WWE investors, as well as the overall stock price, which has dropped nearly 18% since the start of October.
Earlier this week it was reported and validated by several sources that 16-time world champion John Cena is “refusing” to compete at Crown Jewel, where he is advertised to compete in an 8-man WWE World Cup tournament (to determine the best in the world). Daniel Bryan was also said to be refusing to make the trip. We’re still waiting on official word of their status for next Friday, but we will keep you updated as more information becomes available.