FanPost

From Parts Unknown: WWE's Greatest PR Rumble

WWE.com

I'll just say it. The WWE's involvement in three events, Evolution, WWE Super Show-Down, and mostly, a rumored return trip to Saudi Arabia in November, leaves a bad taste in my mouth as a consumer of their product.

I chose to hold off about this before Greatest Royal Rumble, as I'm sure a lot of wrestling fans did. Many people bit their tongues and hoped to just grin and bear the hopefully only once-a-year show in Saudi Arabia, a notoriously oppressive culture. The collective thinking seemed to be "Fine, let them make their money, just this one time each year". And they did. But now, it feels as though this is going to be an even more frequent affair, and while it might not drastically advance story lines, and it would be fine to just tune out, part of me feels complacent by just doing that.

When it comes down to it, we all know this; the WWE has no actual moral compass.

As a business owner, I'm admittedly even just a little bit conflicted about it. I understand that World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., is a corporation with a brand known worldwide. Fine. There's a demand for their product in Saudi Arabia, and a very lucrative deal that's going to make them boatloads of money, and the company will look even better in the eyes of stockholders, many of whom are probably not tuning into Raw and SmackDown every week anyway. It's just supply and demand, right? Keep the numbers up as high as possible?

It all feels ugly to me. It feels like a cash-grab, and a blatant one at that. It feels like advocating a culture that treats women terribly, and then trying to justify it with the veil of being part of a project for the greater global good (Project 2030).

So then, why would I have a problem with Evolution and WWE Super Show-Down, might you ask? Because while, yes, those events have nothing to do with Saudi Arabia's policies towards women, both feel like an excuse for justification in the shadow of Greatest Royal Rumble and future Saudi events.

Oh, you didn't like that we held a show without women? No problem. We'll have a show featuring all women. We'll even talk up how historic it is. Yay, women.

Oh, you didn't like that we went out of our way to cobble together an extravaganza for the Saudi government? No problem. We'll have another giant spectacle event in another country, like this is something that we do all the time.

To be honest, much of the "Women's Revolution", while initially interesting, has failed to come off as anything but corporate and cold in recent months. Women are still getting only a fraction of the in-ring time as the men on screen weekly, and if you're not a commodity that the company can cross-sell the viewer on with a reality show, a relative of a wrestling legend, or Ronda Rousey, good luck getting out of the auxiliary role in tag matches or jobbing to the stars. Feels kinda cheap when you break it down, doesn't it? Then again, when the bar is set so low that all you have to do is not book women wrestling in gravy bowls in their underwear, just about anything comes out looking like a win.

Working PR for any wrestling company must be an exhausting process, especially in the WWE. It's a constant attempt to put a shimmer on a notoriously ugly industry, and in the case of the 'E, an attempt to make amends without ever actually genuinely doing anything to say that you're sorry. However, sometimes, it feels as though all of the PR in the world can't mask what is going on behind the scenes, or, on conference calls.

Then again, do we ever really expect the WWE (or any wrestling company) to take the moral high ground on something like this? I mean, this is the entertainment business, after all. Wrestling, as an entertainment option, should be a hard sell on paper in 2018. The premise of men and women dressing up in costumes and conducting choreographed fights that you can probably guess the winner of ahead of time doesn't sound very commercially viable in the current age, where everyone is a little more critical about what they watch and devote their fandom to. If you don't believe me, look at your average indie show with 50 or so fans, that doesn't have weekly television and the full marketing machine behind it to get you hyped up about their product. WWE places themselves in that mentality in some ways, looking to make as much money as possible, because, dammit that's what any business would do.

...But what's the cost of doing a show like this for the company in the long run?

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.