A new report has shed light on the ongoing relationship between WWE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and when the company plans on running shows there once again.
WWE began running shows in Saudi Arabia in 2014. These shows were regular live events that the company take all over the United States and the world. In 2014 WWE held three shows in the country’s capital, Riyadh before returning in 2015 and this time running events in Jeddah. In November 2016, SmackDown returned to Riyadh to hold shows that were headlined by AJ Styles defending his WWE Championship against Dean Ambrose.
The relationship between WWE and Saudi Arabia made headlines in 2018 when it was announced both sides had agreed to a “ten-year strategic multi-platform partnership.” This involved WWE holding huge supershows in stadiums in the Kingdom and being paid millions of dollars for the privilege.
The partnership was not without its critics as the first shows in Saudi Arabia did not allow female stars to compete. Many were critical of the company for dealing so closely with a country that had such a suspect human rights record as well as the treatment of women in the country in general.
Nevertheless, shows were booked on a much grander scale and broadcast on the WWE Network beginning in April 2018. The Greatest Royal Rumble event took place in April of that year at the King Abdullah International Stadium in Jeddah. A reported 60,000 fans filled that stadium to see John Cena defeat Triple H, Brock Lesnar defeat Roman Reigns, and Braun Strowman win a gargantuan fifty-man Royal Rumble match.
Later in 2018, the Crown Jewel event took place in November in Riyadh. The timing of the show caused a stir as Saudi Arabia received a global backlash after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents in Turkey. Despite the negative attention, the show went ahead and in the main event, Shawn Michaels competed for the first time since WrestleMania 26, teaming with Triple H to defeat The Brothers Of Destruction.
Now Mike Johnson of PWInsider has reported that there has been an update on when WWE might consider running shows in Saudi Arabia once again as the world begins to emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson reports that according to WWE sources the expectation is the company will return to the Kingdom in the autumn of 2021, with one show expected to be held there before the end of the year but no date has been given.