Beyond occassionally working panel shows and guest appearances, it’s not transparently clear what former WWE champ John “JBL” Layfield’s role with WWE is in 2018. One would assume he’s on a “Legends contract” and still connected with the company in that way. His appearing on Fox Business’ Varney & Co on Tues., Oct. 16 when they’re covering the business community’s relationship with Saudi Arabia in the wake of the allegedly state-ordered disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi from the Kingdom’s consulate in Turkey certainly gives the impression he’s a WWE spokesman as much as the “Fox News contributor” he’s billed as.
Layfield’s statement when asked if WWE will still hold their planned Nov. 2 pay-per-view (PPV) stadium show in Riyadh definitely parrots the same talking points Triple H and others used to defend against criticisms of the company’s overall partnership with the Saudis and April’s Greatest Royal Rumble event in Jeddah. It doesn’t seem to be specifically tailored to the arguments raised by those asking for a “pause” in light of the Khashoggi incident, other than to attack the motives of those asking for a postponement or cancellation from WWE:
“From what I understand, yes [Crown Jewel is going to take place in Saudi Arabia as planned]. The idea is WWE is gonna go there. Right now the official line is that they’re monitoring the situation.
My personal opinion is that they should go. I think the only way you promote change, like we did with Cuba - you isolate a country, all you do is impoverish that country. You want to promote change? WWE went to Abu Dhabi, did the first women’s match that had ever happened in the middle east, the crowd chanting in English ‘this is change’.
And for these senators to come out and bash the WWE on this? I have spent seven Christmases in Iraq and Afganistan with the WWE. I was with WWE, the first group that went down to visit the twin towers while they were still burning and bodies were pulling out. We were the first group, on 9/13 to have a mass gathering, right after 9/11. People didn’t know what was gonna happen. For these guys to hide behind their patriotism and their flag-waving to me is - to try to improve their abysmal approval ratings to me is wrong.
WWE has been at the forefront of change, and you want to change Saudi Arabia, you send something like WWE there.”
The company was careful to never mention Saudi Arabia or specify any information about where Crown Jewel will be held when promoting it on Raw last night (Oct. 14). But all reports indicate the company is planning to go to Riyadh as previously announced despite the international crisis.
Serving as an unofficial ambassador for Vince McMahon and WWE on Stuart Varney’s morning show (which aired a separate segment titled “Why the US shouldn’t destroy its relationship with Saudi Arabia” on their Tuesday edition), JBL’s likely given us a look at how the company plans to answer critics going forward, including on their scheduled Thurs., Oct. 25 investor conference call.