This Friday, WWE presents The Greatest Royal Rumble live from Saudi Arabia at King Abdullah Sports City stadium. It’s scheduled to be an absolutely stacked show, including an historic 50-man Royal Rumble match, seven championship matches and in-ring appearances from The Undertaker, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho and many more.
The Greatest Royal Rumble is the first event as part of a new long-term partnership between WWE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Amidst all the hype, controversy has been brewing: despite WWE championing a women’s empowerment movement in recent years, women have been excluded from the event due to societal norms in the region.
WWE Executive VP of Talent, Live Events and Creative, Triple H, spoke with The Independent about the show and addressed the issue. Ahead of his match against John Cena on the card, Triple H explained explained that different cultures around the world have different customs and said you can’t affect change by avoiding a situation entirely.
“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. You can’t dictate to a country or a religion about how they handle things but, having said that, WWE is at the forefront of a women’s evolution in the world and what you can’t do is affect change anywhere by staying away from it.”
Although WWE agreed to keep the women back home for this overseas show – the issue has been discussed with local officials and Triple H says WWE hopes to be at the forefront as the gender equality landscape evolves in the Middle East.
While, right now, women are not competing in the event, we have had discussions about that and we believe and hope that, in the next few years they will be. That is a significant cultural shift in Saudi Arabia. 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.”
Visit Independent.co.uk to read the full interview.
Discussion: What do you think about WWE visiting Saudi Arabia, despite it’s controversial societal norms? What do you think about Triple H’s point that WWE is working to be at the forefront of changing those norms?