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WWE Betting Odds: Will WWE Cancel Crown Jewel Amid Saudi Tensions?

Donald Trump poses with Vince and Linda McMahon at the White House

Pressure is mounting on WWE to cancel its upcoming event in Saudi Arabia. The United States and Saudi Arabia appear headed for a diplomatic conflict while one of America’s largest entertainment companies has a date in Riyadh on November 2, the one-month anniversary of the disappearance of a Saudi-born, American resident journalist. Despite the pending chaos, oddsmakers think the event will go ahead. 

On October 2, Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist for the Washington Post, entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey and never emerged. He is presumed dead and the international community is accusing Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, of orchestrating the entire thing.

The word last week from the Saudi royal family is that Khashoggi was killed in “an interrogation gone wrong.”

Khashoggi, a known critic of the Saudi monarchy, has been on the radar of the king and prince for some time. U.S. intelligence alleges that there was a plan underway to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from Virginia. Khashoggi believed he was at the consulate to obtain a marriage license. 

Senators on both sides of the aisle are speaking out against the United States continuing a business relationship with Saudi Arabia, no matter what the financial fallout. Senators have also urged WWE to pause its participation in Saudi Arabia, with Republican Lindsay Graham and Democrat Chris Coons among them.

In August, Saudi Arabia was condemned by Canada’s Foreign Ministry for its handling of dissenters and activists. In response, Saudi Arabia removed all investment from Canada and is in the process of removing students who have been in the country studying.

Kushner-Trump-McMahon Connection

The implications for WWE run deeper than the international scrutiny that will undoubtedly lead to public relations issues and customer backlash. Remember, WWE is a publicly traded entertainment company, not privately held as it was for so many of its growth years. It will be nearly impossible to avoid financial loss whether or not they proceed with the November 2 event dubbed Crown Jewel.

By canceling the event, WWE stands to lose future payments from the Saudis plus money already invested in the event. The two sides reportedly signed a 10-year contract worth $40 million to $50 million earlier this year.

By proceeding with the event, WWE stands to upset performers, fans and shareholders alike. Sports Illustrated reported last week that there was unrest among WWE talent about performing in Saudi Arabia under current conditions.

The previously mentioned Mohammed bin Salman is one of the perceived progressive individuals inside Saudi Arabia and enjoys western entertainment, such as movie theaters and WWE – an affinity that has been condemned by conservative Muslims in the region, including al-Qaida.

WWE majority owner and CEO Vince McMahon is married to Linda McMahon, who serves as the administrator of the Small Business Administration within Donald Trump’s White House. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is reported to be an ally and friend of bin Salman. The connections are uncanny.

Second WWE Show for Saudi Arabia in 2018

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hosted the WWE in April of this year for the Greatest Royal Rumble, an event that offered a glimpse into the current culture of Saudi Arabia and the global appeal of WWE.

Notably, there were no women on the card for the Jeddah show, even though the female wrestlers are among the most popular on the roster. Also, Syrian-Canadian performer Sami Zayn was restricted from participating.

When questioned on the reasoning, WWE executive Paul “Triple H” Levesque was quoted saying, “I understand that people are questioning it, but you have to understand that every culture is different and just because you don’t agree with a certain aspect of it, it doesn’t mean it’s not a relevant culture.

“The country is in the middle of a shift in how it is dealing with that – the position is changing, and rights are changing, as are the way women are handled and treated in society. We think that’s a great thing and we’re excited to be at the forefront of that change.”

No Women On the Card

That change has not been implemented as of yet as there are no women on the card, once again. Also, as the world saw during the Greatest Royal Rumble, the royals and their guests had the majority of the floor seats, and they weren’t seated on the normal ringside folding chairs. Luxurious chaises and couches awaited the privileged few at ringside.  

Will WWE Pull Out of Crown Jewel Event in Saudi Arabia? 
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Odds as of October 22 at BetOnline