Well, the semi-annual WWE Blood Money....er, Super Showdown event took place Friday.
Some within WWE chose not to go, including Kevin Owens (because of Sami Zayn being banned by the Saudis, and family wishes), John Cena, and Daniel Bryan.
Others were banned. Sami Zayn was banned for being Syrian (Syria and the Saudis are political enemies, plus the Saudi government views Zayn as having political opinions they don't like). Alistair Black was banned by the Saudis because of a tattoo they deemed sacrilegious. This, despite The Undertaker.... whose character has "sacrificed" talent on a cross being deemed acceptable, plus "Demon" Finn Balor being more than welcome. In a moment of delightful irony, Balor tweeted a picture of himself supporting Pride Month with the ring in the background from Jeddah.....in a Pride t-shirt. Wonder if Balor will be as welcome in November?
Besides the fact that it was blatantly obvious that the show was put on as a sold show for the Saudi regime's entertainment and PR cover, the notable botches in the feature Goldberg-Undertaker match due to Goldberg's concussion after hitting his head legit on a ring post, the supposed Money In The Bank cash-in by Brock Lesnar never happened (again), and one of the company's major names Roman Reigns put over Shane McMahon.....with all that, the show has been universally panned.
Worse still, the PR excuse WWE has attempted to use since the Saudi deal was signed... the company party line that WWE was doing this to somehow advance Saudi women's rights (especially since the controversy from the murder of Jamal Khashoggi) was blown straight to hell once and for all.
Nattie Neidhart and Alexa Bliss traveled to Saudi Arabia, because WWE and the Saudi General Sports Authority had been in involved talks on putting a women's match on the show. The talks had gotten to the point that there had been tweets early on Friday US time that implied approval had been given. The Saudi Arabian government then went back-and- forth, but in the end pulled the plug. Bliss and Neidhart weren't even permitted to do an interview segment as face saving for WWE. There have been stories that a rival within the Royal Family may have somehow gotten involved in a way that the match was cancelled at the last minute.
WWE has to finally admit to the public now that these shows are nothing but money, period, and cut the BS about helping Saudi women's rights...and deal with whatever PR fallout that may cause.
Yes, it's about money. Nothing but money. Blood money from a Saudi Arabian regime that murders journalists, has women's rights activists on trial who have been tortured physically and sexually for "undermining security and aiding enemies of the state" (read: campaigning for human rights) and who have suffered sexual harassment and torture during interrogation, including caning, electrocution and sexual assault.
In April, the Saudis executed 37 men, including those whose "confessions" had been coerced or outright fabricated. Three more Saudi scholars are to be executed within days, one for nothing more than praying for reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and neighboring Qatar. If that isn't bad enough for you, as WWE was on their way over to the Kingdom, it was reported that the Saudis want to execute a young man for the "crime" of campaigning for human rights...at age 10.
I understand as a fan, the last thing you want to read about is Saudi human rights and hear about executions of those who speak for basic rights. You'd rather hear me talk about the disaster that is WWE booking, or the AEW PPV or their TV this fall. But when WWE, the biggest company in the industry, enters into a major business relationship with a government that does what I've outlined above, such discussions can't be avoided...not when WWE is earning $45- 50 million per event (figures given in WWE 2018 financials show an increase of $48.7 million in a category noted as "Other" from the preceding year).
One of the few positive touches was that [Mustafa] Ali announced hes donating the money he made at Super ShowDown to the group Charity: Water, which works to "bring clean and safe drinking water to people in need around the world", along with Balor using the show to plug Pride Month on Twitter.
WWE will be back in Saudi Arabia in November. I'm going to love to see how the company justifies it in upcoming Quarterly calls. Coming flat out and admitting that it's because of the revenue it brings in....while truthful, won't exactly fly when Finn Balor is defending LGBT rights, and (in theory at least) the company is still pushing the Women's Revolution marketing campaign.
At some point, the contradiction is going to become too glaring even for WWE and those reporting about it to justify. This comes at a time when they have a new business competitor, All Elite Wrestling, a promotion who has chosen to openly embrace diversity, to the point that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has tweeted about it.