Sunday Sermon: Another WWE Trip To Saudi

Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow, Brian Damage and Benjamin Trecroci

The WWE has made a huge deal about their women’s revolution. A women’s Rumble, a stand-alone female PPV and Renee Young as a full-time commentator. But how does that sit with another trip to Saudi Arabia, where the WWE women won’t be able to compete? That’s today’s Sunday Sermon topic.

Craig: It does seem like these are quite contradictory positions, doesn’t it. We are fully behind our women until we get large sums of cash tossed at us then we turn a blind eye.

Should a company like the WWE take a stronger stance? Does this trip, and last one, undo any of the good work the company has undertaken? Does it seem like it is just lip service they are paying their female competitors?

Jamie: Morally, I personally cannot see a case for the defence of another Saudi Arabia show. Financially, I’m sure there are millions of reasons why it’s a good move for WWE, but it’s just not a good look in my eyes. They are clearly trying to have their cake and eat it by taking the money from this show but distracting our attention away from women being banned from performing on it by featuring a woman’s only pay per view instead. It doesn’t wash with me. Just because they can run this Saudi show, does it mean that they should? In my opinion, no.

I get that WWE is a worldwide brand and they want to take their shows all around the globe and into different cultures where they have fans. Problem is, they’re not taking THEIR show to Saudi Arabia. Almost every WWE show these days features women wrestling each other, so a show with just men on it does not represent the WWE product in 2018, it’s just not a WWE show. I’ll argue the same for Evolution too, that show is a reaction to the Saudi show – albeit a positive one. Neither of these shows fully represent what WWE is about in this day and age. WWE are compromising their brand identity for another big payday. It’s a ‘fool me once’ situation i.e. by continuing to return to markets where scores of their performers are banned from working purely based on their gender, WWE loses more and more credibility.

Brian: I’ll try to look at this from every aspect. Business-wise, it makes perfect sense to take the Saudi’s truckload of money and from what I have read…it was indeed millions and millions of dollars they received. I think any company would take that kind of money, so I do not begrudge WWE for doing so. Is it morally wrong to do a Saudi Arabia show? Perhaps, but the women of WWE are being taken care of getting their own show and own payday. It may be facetious on WWE’s part, but again, I understand when there is that kind of money at stake. Would the blow have been less if they did not air it on the WWE Network?

I think so. Instead of advertising and promoting this show, they could have treated it like a glorified house show and not promote it to the western world. I could be way off base, but WWE is a business and is openly owned. If the stockholders don’t have a problem with it, then why should WWE? I get the moral aspect of it and I am sure some of the women are not happy about the Saudi trips, but as long as they get paid…what’s really the big deal?

Jamie: I suppose the logical counter-argument to that would be, what are the guys on the Saudi show getting paid and what are the women at Evolution getting paid? It may be a flat rate for appearing on any PPV/Network special in line with their specific contracts. However, if WWE is receiving boatloads of cash for the Saudi show it would be a fair assumption to think that the performers on it might be in line for a bit of a bonus, which the women will never see because they are women. I don’t know this for sure, but it’s possibly a fair assumption to make.

I do get what Brian is saying though. If WWE’s shareholders see no problem with it – and why would they? – then why should WWE have a problem with it? It’s sad, but that’s life, unfortunately. Money always comes first, rightly or wrongly.

Here’s a hypothetical situation though. I don’t know what the law is like in America, but in the UK gender is classified as a ‘protected characteristic’ along with things like race, disability, age, sexuality etc. Therefore, the laws that govern racism can also be applied to gender inequality because they are the same laws. In other words, sexism and racism are treated equally in the eyes of the law, if not in some people’s heads. So, what if WWE were offered loads of money to stage a show only they were not allowed to feature black or mixed race performers? I can’t imagine WWE ever doing that, for any sum of money, but a show with no women…

Brian: Jamie you definitely make valid points. I think the wrestlers that are getting paid the most out of this Saudi show are All the big name guys ie Brock Lesnar, Undertaker etc. Everybody else gets paid their flat rate. It seems unfair, but that’s just the way WWE has always seemed to operate.

As I said, morally WWE may take a hit for these Middle East excursions, but the stocks are currently closing in at $100 a share. That is the bottom line, unfortunately.

Jamie: Brian is right. WWE might receive a certain amount of fan backlash, but when has that ever stopped them from making money regardless? For anything to change regarding these shows in the future it would require a bigger voice to point out the contradiction. It will require more than a few fans pointing out the inequality. Some WWE performers have alluded to it, with ‘alluded’ being the keyword. These people have jobs to protect. WWE’s shareholders – and thus WWE – will only truly listen when someone with a voice that can be heard speaks out in no uncertain terms to the point that the mainstream media pays attention. Chances of that happening any time soon though?

Brian: The answer to your last question is no. Not when WWE stocks are seemingly at an all-time high. Money is money and morals be damned when there is a profit to be made. The wrestlers are put in a pretty bad spot because what can they really do? Complain on social media and risk being punished somehow. It’ll have to take the big players like Undertaker, John Cena, Roman Reigns and etc to take a stand and say if the women don’t go, we don’t go. That will never happen though…not with all that money flying around.

Benjamin: This seems like a cash grab, plain and simple. WWE really seems hypocritical here. While they do a number of great things when it comes to women, cancer, etc. This just really seems like it goes against everything they promote.

Now from a storyline point of view, between The Crown Jewel and The Super Showdown these PPV house shows are basically in the way of the ongoing stories. Seems like every feud ends with “I”ll see you Down Under or in Saudi.”

The first Saudi show took away from Mania and now this is going to likely take away from Survivor Series in a time when fans are looking for continuity and intrigue with stories, these shows do the exact opposite.


You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.


4 thoughts on “Sunday Sermon: Another WWE Trip To Saudi

  1. This is far from the first time WWE has been completely tone deaf in their PR work. Remember when they ran the anti bully campaigns earlier this decade? and yet they had people like John Cena and Jerry Lawler bully Vicki on her weight. The years of bullying Steve and Rock did to people like Cole (which was different because they were anti heroes/tweeners) and still do promote bullying in their faces actions (pretty much everything Braun did to Kevin this summer).

    Or remember all those anti drugs campaigns they rena when we were younger while Vince promoted Steroids, drugs among his wrestlers? It’s a constant pattern that Vince and WWE always choose the money over ethics. Contradict themselves in every way. Hell look at Stephanie’s tweets to see how photo op with the dog her tactics are.

    Really, the only reason WWE doesn’t have people protesting or calling them out on these actions is because they aren’t considered to be worth it or having any credibility in the first place.

    This won’t be the last time WWE do stuff like this. It’s in their nature to.

    Liked by 3 people

    • There’s nothing that the WWE does that surprises me. They are so full of contradictions yet they choose to deny it. I will bet if North Korea offers them the same amount of money that Saudi Arabia is giving them. They will do it.

      Like

  2. There is definitely a problem with going to Saudi Arabia, but this time it is different. At least they did have a women’s PPV before the event (and I’d be likely to assume a women’s event before each Saudi show from now on.)

    If WWE does something more by, for instance, saying “we promise we will spend at least 1 million per Saudi Arabia show to increase the salaries of the main roster women’s wrestlers, plus hire new women to the Performance Center”, then it’d also help things.

    Liked by 1 person

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