WWE’s Crown Jewel 2021 pay-per-view is set to kick off in less than an hour from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. WWE is in the midst of a 10 year deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (that began in 2018) to host two stadium level wrestling shows per year.
Judging these events strictly as wrestling shows, every single one of them has been awful up to this point. A few examples to illustrate that point include Shane McMahon becoming the Best in the World at Crown Jewel 2018, Shawn Michaels’ awful comeback match at Crown Jewel 2018, the dreadful main event match between Goldberg and Undertaker at Super ShowDown 2019, Cain Velasquez and Brock Lesnar in a snoozer at Crown Jewel 2019, and Goldberg easily defeating The Fiend for the Universal championship at Super ShowDown 2020. The list of low points can go much longer than that even though we are only talking about five total events.
The point is, we have come to expect WWE’s Saudi Arabia events to be among the worst PPVs of the year. But today’s Crown Jewel 2021 appears to be very different from those other cards. The lineup is stacked and is very similar to what WWE would deliver at a typical WrestleMania. Hell, even The Undertaker might make an appearance.
That’s why it’s a good time to remind everyone that WWE’s relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is disgusting and hugely problematic. The Saudi Arabian government is using events like this as a form of “sportswashing.” The goal is to soften or improve the public’s perception of the government by distracting everyone from their extreme human rights abuses, severe restrictions on women’s rights, oppression against LGBTQ people, and so forth.
When some of the wrestlers and fans point out that every little bit of progress helps, such as women now being allowed to wrestle for WWE at these events, that talking point plays right into the Saudi government’s goal with this propaganda event. Meaningful change will not come as a result of a very minor thing like that. All it does is help the Saudi government achieve their goal of getting more people to look the other way while they continue to perpetuate their atrocities.
And WWE is helping them do that by willingly taking 50 million dollars of Saudi money twice per year to spread Saudi government propaganda. It’s moral bankruptcy at its finest.