As if WWE’s lucrative 10-year partnership with the government of Saudi Arabia weren’t questionable enough already, the company is getting heat worse than Roman Reigns in a smarky city following the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, with the Saudi government allegedly behind the killing. Criticism of WWE’s involvement with the Saudi’s has included the country’s civil rights record and particularly their record on women’s rights. None of WWE’s female performers were allowed to wrestle at The Greatest Royal Rumble, WWE’s first big Saudi event. However, the company has avoided controversy so bad it wasn’t worth the enormous sums of money they were getting.
That may have changed in the wake of Khashoggi’s murder, with even U.S. Senators now calling on WWE to pause or otherwise reconsider the event, which is set to take place on November 2nd. A report from IJR.com received comments from four U.S. Senators, one Republican and three Democrats, making the criticism a bipartisan effort.
Said Democratic Senator Chris Murphy:
This is a brazen assault on the freedom of the press and a slap in the face to the United States, if this murder occurred as it seems it did, I’d hope that they would be rethinking their relationship with the kingdom especially with respect to events coming up in the next weeks like [WWE Crown Jewel].
And Bob Menendez, Democratic Senator from New Jersey, where 2019’s WrestleMania will take place:
Private enterprise is private enterprise, different than a governmental entity, but because [Linda McMahon] is part of the president’s cabinet, it falls into the grey area where the administration really should give it some thought and maybe even prevail upon them not doing it.
Democratic Senator Chris Coons said WWE “should be taking a hard look” at the relationship, while Republican Senator Lindsay Graham said “There should be a pause … I want a complete rethinking of our relationship.”
WWE, for it’s part, has said it’s “monitoring the situation.” Thanks to the big money from the Saudi Government, WWE has managed to stock the (all-male) cards with returning legends, including retired Hall-of-Famer Shawn Michaels and Knox County Mayor Kane, as well as The Undertaker, Triple H, John Cena, and others, as well as many top stars of today. Michaels has repeatedly refused to return to the ring since his retirement, but as The Million Dollar Man always said: “everybody’s got a price.”
The question is, will the price end up being too high for WWE?