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Mayor Kane’s statement on working Crown Jewel may be a preview of WWE’s position

WWE’s relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always been a reminder of how difficult it is to separate wrestling from politics. The international crisis which is brewing around the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi just weeks from the planned Crown Jewel event in Riyadh is proving it’s impossible.

One element that’s floated under the radar as United States Senators weigh in on whether or not a wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) should go forward is that the recently elected mayor of a large metropolitan area is set to main event the show. It looked like a public relations win for all involved when WWE donated $100,000 to a charity which supports first-responders in Mayor Glen Jacobs’ Knox County, Tennessee in exchange for his services as Kane on Oct. 6 at Super Show-Down in Melbourne and the Nov. 2 Saudi Arabia shows. Now it’s a bit of a political hot potato, even among the republican mayor’s “Trump Country” constituency.

Knox News reached out to the mayor’s office, and was told he’s still planning on working Crown Jewel. That in and of itself could be an indication the show will go on, despite pressure to at least “pause” it while WWE continues “monitoring the situation”. But it’s possible that Jacobs’ spokesman Rob Link’s comment to Knox News could be a preview of the line the company takes when responding to further inquiry:

“Mayor Jacobs won’t speculate on Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance. However, he and his family are in the mayor’s thoughts and prayers.”

Emphasizing empathy toward the missing Saudi national and U.S. resident and his loved ones while leaving the investigation into his alleged state-ordered murder in Turkey to the approriate authorities is probably a safe course for Jacobs to take. Will it work for a publicly traded corporation with customers, partners and sponsors all over the globe?

That will likely depend on if concrete evidence, such as the audio and video Turkish officials claim they have of Khashoggi being interrogated and killed inside the Saudi consulate, comes out in the days and weeks to come. If they don’t comment before then, WWE officials will have to be prepared to answer questions about Crown Jewel when they speak to investors after releasing third quarter financial results on Thurs., Oct. 25 - especially considering that canceling or postponing the lucrative event would impact their fourth quarter numbers.

In wrestling and in global affairs, a lot can happen in two weeks. We’ll keep you posted.

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