I do not know nor have I spoken with Vincent Kennedy McMahon, so I cannot say with any certainty whether or not this was done intentionally. What I can say is it sure feels like there was, at the very least, some strategic planning regarding the best way to handle the next Saudi Arabia show.
WWE officially announced it last night: It will be called “Crown Jewel” and will take place on Fri., Nov. 2, 2018, to be headlined by a triple threat Universal championship match pitting Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman. That is the very same week as Evolution, the all women’s pay-per-view (PPV) that still does not have an announced main event and, so far, has been treated like a specialty show that may not have much of anything to do with current storylines.
This means, just days after the women on the roster get a show all to themselves, which already felt like a make good for the first Saudi show back in April, there will be yet another event they will not be permitted to work. Presumably, that includes new full time Raw color commentator Renee Young.
What’s more, and even worse, is that we saw at Greatest Royal Rumble that WWE is willing to run propaganda pushing a message that Saudi Arabia is making great progress in human rights, even with news stories popping up everywhere to the contrary, like this one about how Saudi Arabia is calling for the beheading of a female human rights activist because she participated in peaceful protests against the government. This is the same company who made a documentary all about the empowerment of women and positions itself as, according to Triple H himself, “at the forefront of a women’s evolution in the world...”
Saudi Arabia is paying for that company to come to its country to run shows that feature incredibly well produced videos talking about how much change is happening while the entirety of its female roster is left back in the States because that very change is still needed. This time around, at least, they’ll be able to say “well, they just had their own PPV a few days ago.”
That just feels gross.
Look, I get it. WWE reportedly made $45 million on Greatest Royal Rumble alone, a shocking amount of money I can hardly fathom ever having access to. I’m not here to play morality police and claim they’re monsters for taking it. For that kind of coin, there isn’t much I can imagine any human would say “no” to.
But that doesn’t make it feel any less gross for WWE to be such a willing participant in all this, and it doesn’t make them any less hypocritical for doing so. It’s great that Evolution is happening, and we’ll watch and enjoy it and hope for more. It just sucks that it’s happening like this.