WWE announced this morning that Crown Jewel will be held as scheduled on Nov. 2 in Saudi Arabia. The company didn’t send out a statement, but rather included it in their third quarter financial results, which were posted to their corporate website on Thursday morning.
WWE had been pressured to change the location of the after the Saudi government was implicated in the murder of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi kingdom at first denied knowledge of Khashoggi’s whereabouts, only to later admit that he was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Turkey as part of a “rogue operation.”
Minutes after WWE announced the show would go on as scheduled in Saudi Arabia, a Saudi public prosecutor said that Khashoggi’s murder was premeditated. The evidence reportedly came from a join Saudi-Turkish task force looking into Khashoggi’s case.
“WWE has operated in the Middle East for nearly 20 years and has developed a sizable and dedicated fan base,” the statement read. “Considering the heinous crime committed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the Company faced a very difficult decision as it relates to its event scheduled for November 2 in Riyadh. Similar to other U.S.-based companies who plan to continue operations in Saudi Arabia, the Company has decided to uphold its contractual obligations to the General Sports Authority and stage the event. Full year 2018 guidance is predicated on the staging of the Riyadh event as scheduled.”
“Full-year 2018 guidance,” which WWE references in its last sentence, is the earnings expectation which is communicated to stockholders. That line could also be read as, “Our projected earnings for 2018 is predicated on the staging of the Riyadh event as scheduled.”
WWE has scrubbed references to Saudi Arabia from its television shows and website over the past two weeks. Interestingly, WWE didn’t even mention Saudi Arabia in its statement announcing that the show would go on as scheduled. Instead, the company only referenced the city, “Riyadh.”
Tickets have not gone on sale for the event, according to multiple reports, despite the show being held next Friday. There are also reportedly several WWE stars who are upset about going to Saudi Arabia for the show. John Cena, who is scheduled to take part in the WWE World Cup, reportedly has told the company that he will refuse to work the show. Daniel Bryan also reportedly told management he was unwilling to go to Saudi Arabia, and he is scheduled to face AJ Styles in a WWE Championship match.