Six days ago, WWE was in an uncomfortable position regarding the upcoming Crown Jewel event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the second card in a 10-year deal with the kingdom, the $ Worth $ 20- $ 50 million per show. Saudi Arabia's brutal war of attrition in Yemen and, more recently, Turkey's assertion that the Saudis killed and dismembered dissident journalist and American Jamal Khashoggi at their Istanbul consulate have either made this deal ethically questionable or completely unscrupulous, you feel. It has never been anything else, but the recent events have made WWE look even worse.
The Saudis are pushing for a "hearing history" on Khashoggi's death, but the Turkish government claims that a recording has a different endorsement. There is still a great deal of unknown about the case, but what is known is so bad that more and more companies are breaking ties with Saudi Arabia; Lawmakers are pushing laws for the US government to do the same. Even Endeavor, the Hollywood talent agency that owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship, has withdrawn from a deal to sell a minority stake to the Saudi government. This happened after Endeavor made a nearly identical statement on WWE's "monitoring" of the situation.
While the Khashoggi story still raves and WWE is still, um, watching over things, numerous major media have handled both the WWE's and WWE's behavior of the increasing backlash that the promotion has received. HBO's Last week Tonight with John Oliver built up his report on the human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and the "liberal" facade on Sunday, and linked them with a few bitter parts about the WWE deal including a waving highlight role from the more blatant propaganda at Greatest Rumble Event in Jeddah in April. According to the Nielsen ratings, 919,000 viewers were counted in the first show this week, and another 3.7 million saw the official YouTube upload of the Saudi segment; even the WWE centric snippets I tweeted got 76,000 views. These numbers do not include HBO playback viewers, either on the linear channels or through any of their three on-demand services or views for unofficial YouTube uploads.
While the Last Week Tonight segment was undoubtedly the first that many viewers heard of the deal, the harder one seems Through the coverage of Oliver and others, Kernbase has gained a new understanding of the Saudi issue. When Undertaker mentioned "Crown Jewel" in the special issue of [SmackDown] of of the previous night, he was [aloud] . A surprising performance by Vince McMahon, however, drew massive ovations.
The WWE must hope that the cognitive dissonance will continue, because despite increasing public pressure, the funding has not really changed. Watch their weekly TV shows and you'll find that as of Monday, there is no plug for Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia. You will also notice that this is about it. WWE has tacitly confirmed that the show will continue while telling each news center that "we are currently monitoring the situation."
WWE has done a lot of surveillance in recent months. Recently, the WWE claimed to investigate "her" doctor, who testified under oath that he had a sexual relationship with at least one wrestler patient and resurfaced allegations that Randy Orton was exposing himself to writers. Since then, there has been no public disclosure in either case, and WWE has not requested comment on the status of these "investigations". It can be assumed that their "monitoring" of the Khashoggi situation means about as much as their "investigations". That means not much.
While WWE, as a firm, sticks to its "surveillance" building block, its surrogates have set forth the argument of promotion in favor of staying with the kingdom , TMZ was at an airport in Orton on Wednesday morning, where, instead of revealing his penis, he defended the promotion's decision to continue with Crown Jewel. "I think we should go," he began. "I think the only way to help with the change there is to go and not cancel the trip – our girls have performed in Abu Dhabi not so long ago, and I think we will eventually come to Saudi Arabia [19459051That'sthegoalofmakingthingsbettereverywhereandIthinkwe are not going no further, walking helps. "
As contradictory as that may be, there is no reason to believe that it was spontaneous. The WWE has a number of topics to talk about in its Saudi deal, and a Change Agent was central to the narrative; Distracting from the persistent and flagrant human rights violations both at home and abroad to focus on the absence of women wrestlers from the Saudi shows is also part of this story. As usual, it's hard to know how sincere everyone is or should be – Orton also liked a vaguely worded, but apparently pro-union and anti-Saudi deal by Cody Rhodes on Monday, eg. (The usually talkative Rhodes did not respond to a request for clarification.) Beyond the long history of obviously staged WWE / TMZ interactions, there was another reason why Orton's statement sounded stagey and unconvincing, that it was practically note-by-note
This replacement was John "Bradshaw" Layfield, a retired wrestler / announcer who became an investor who does not even work for WWE. In less than a minute of broadcasting time, Layfield unleashed a dizzying amount of pro-WWE propaganda to stumble upon the Saudi deal, which virtually rhymed with Orton's case at TMZ. In short, Layfield said:
- WWE should go to Saudi Arabia because he believes that the US trade embargo against Cuba did not work and thus proves that only engagement works.
- The WWE "had the first women's match that had" That's not in the least true: Female wrestlers performed in the mid-'80s WWE tours in the more liberal countries of the region.
- That crowd during Alexa Bliss-Sasha Banks chanted "that's change" match in Abu Dhabi, which was wrong because the vocals were "that's hope" and because WWE had exaggerated what apparently only a few fans did chant.
- That "These Senators Come and Beat the WWE" The three Democrats and Republican Lindsay Graham, who all speak with IJR, are just "hiding [ing] behind their patriotism and showing flag waving to improve their abysmal approval rates," a point he struck down with the finding of WWE run shows for troops and ran the first are na-size event after 9/11. Layfield also noticed that he was visiting Ground Zero.
"WWE was at the forefront of change," he concluded, "and [if] you want to change Saudi Arabia, you're sending something like WWE."
While media coverage was large and largely negative, there were exceptions, all under WWE-friendly publications. A Google site search reveals that Rolling Stone has become a regular point of sale for WWE announcements that have not addressed WWE / Saudi controversy at all. Her more than 600-word summary of the section Last Week Tonight completely eliminates the WWE parts, though many did business with them. ESPN seems to have recently moved back to WWE content. While May was about marginal propaganda running, it probably means little that they were waiting until Tuesday evening to release a solid WWE / Saudi piece by editor Tim Fiorvanti WWE site of the network
Am Most disturbing, however, was an article on the Sports Illustrated website by Justin Barasso, which was released on Monday. SI has dealt well with the Saudi Arabian issue, and her article on Last Weeek Tonight cites Oliver's observation that Greatest Rumble is "wall-to-wall propaganda," but Barasso's piece stands out out in a bad way. The story features WWE talents who "express disagreement over the idea of performing in Saudi Arabia, especially given the nation's poor human rights record," and Barasso, who agrees that the show should not take place. (WWE: "As always, we maintain an open line of communication with our performers as we continue to watch the situation.") In the version of the article that is currently on the site, this section will be updated after publication to include the WWE statement 203 words-169 without the statement
The remaining 399 words are uncut and strikingly naive WWE apology. "Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sold them to the vision of a progressive nation," and "appeared serious in his quest for Western entertainment," writes Barasso, and the WWE believed him seriously. He suggests that until the killing of Khashoggi, there are no signs of human rights issues that could upset the WWE, which is not true. He also writes that the deal can be justified in the light of other Western business dealing with the Kingdom, which omits the salient point that WWE served as propagandists for the Kingdom as part of the agreement. WWE now has the opportunity to "give a statement on human rights and equality" by withdrawing, he concludes. This is controversial, and such a statement would be difficult to appreciate at this point. Of course, WWE is not withdrawing from Saudi Arabia, at least not yet. This means that the statement they are making is one of what the PhD really values and how much.
David Bixenspan is a freelance writer from Brooklyn, NY, who hosts the Between The Sheets podcast every Monday at BetweenTheSheetsPod .com and wherever podcasts are available. You can follow him on Twitter at @davidbix and see his portfolio at http://clippings.me/davidbix.