While it’s not as discussed as it was when it was first announced, or when 2018’s Crown Jewel show occurred in the wake of the execution of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the state, WWE’s relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia remains controversial. The country has a poor human rights record, and restrictive laws on matters related to women’s and LGBTQ+ rights.
People inside and outside the industry have criticized WWE’s contract with Saudi Arabia, saying Vince McMahon’s company is helping to rehabilitate the KSA’s international image in exchange for millions and millions of dollars. Some members of the roster like Sami Zayn are allegedly unable to travel to the country. Others, such as Kevin Owens and John Cena, are said to choose not to work the show.
Yet, the shows go on. And seeing as the existing contract lasts until 2027, they will continue to for the foreseeable future. For various reasons, not everyone can opt out of participating. In the case of Mustafa Ali, he chooses not to to show that opportunities for Muslim wrestlers do exist on some of the business/artform’s biggest stages:
though i wish some of the circumstances were different, i’m still thankful that for the first time ever two muslims will have a singles match on a wwe ppv. i’m thankful that for one night, @KSAMANNY and i get to be what we wanted to see growing up. pic.twitter.com/9Ym22RCNap— Mustafa Ali / Adeel Alam (@AliWWE) October 17, 2021
As he’s done in the past, however, Ali will not pocket the money he makes for performing in Saudi Arabia. Though he hasn’t named a beneficiary yet, he is again donating his paycheck to a good cause (when he worked 2019’s Super ShowDown and Crown Jewel, that cause was Charity: Water).
Earnings from the 10/21 event will be donated to charity.— Mustafa Ali / Adeel Alam (@AliWWE) October 19, 2021
Ali’s a guy we can cheer for. Maybe someday someone will give us more kayfabe reasons to.