As part of WWE’s third quarter 2018 financial reports, released today (Oct. 25), the company has confirmed they plan to hold the Nov. 2 Crown Jewel pay-per-view (PPV) event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
There’s been significant controversy surrounding the show and the company’s ten year agreement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Recently it’s been focused on the international crisis caused by the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the country’s Turkish consulate, but there’s been ongoing criticism related to human rights issues within the Kingdom. In confirming their plans to produce and promote Crown Jewel next Friday at King Saud University Stadium, WWE addressed the current situation. But using cover provided by other United States-based companies not severing ties with Saudi Arabia, it reads as not only will this show go on - but that they plan to continue on with the reportedly ten year agreement with the KSA’s General Sports Authority to produce events in the country.
Here’s the applicable bullet point from the press release which accompanied today’s financial reports:
“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.”
Not addressed is how much pro-Saudi propoganda will air during Crown Jewel’s broadcast. Videos and commentary from April’s Greatest Royal Rumble event in Jeddah touted the Kingdom as becoming more progressive, and were a lightning rod of criticism, especially as the Khashoggi story unfolded.
WWE officials, usually including chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, participate in an investor conference call later today where this issue will surely be raised. We’ll provide an update with management’s answers.