While Saudi Arabia continues to deny any wrongdoing concerning the sudden absence of Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post and a vocal detractor of the Saudi government, despite an intensifying and inquisitive gaze by Western governments, John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” decided to tackle the country’s politics from the perspective of someone familiar with the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the “WWE.”
Oliver mentioned that the wrestling organization known as World Wrestling Entertainment had recently established a 10-year partnership with the Saudi General Sports Authority with the intention of having the WWE host wrestling events within venues across Saudi Arabia. The first such event of this agreement was in April with the “Greatest Royal Rumble” and the second, the “Crown Jewel,” will fall on Friday, November 2. Riyadh’s King Saud University Stadium will serve as the venue for this second event and the tournament is intended to serve as the beginning of the WWE World Cup tournament. Said tournament is intended to determine who the best wrestler is from among the many stables of wrestlers from across the globe.
Oliver commented on Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s, sometimes known by the initials “MBS,” and the man’s interest in the WWE. Oliver claimed that the push to promote Saudi Arabia is not only about drawing in the dollars of businesses but also to change what the world thinks when people hear “Saudi Arabia.” MBS sees the 10-year deal with World Wrestling Entertainment as an opportunity to drown people in propaganda of a new, modern Saudi Arabia filled with female drivers, dancing men, tourist destination points and lots of excited compliments.
Oliver supported his claims by showcasing multiple clips taken from WWE events that occurred with the Middle Eastern country and noted how often the commentators would speak positively of the host country. Another featured clip showed John Cena personally thanking the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for allowing him to perform.
With the increasing pressure and skepticism of Saudi Arabia’s motives as a nation, WWE released a statement on Friday, October 12 which indicated that the company was “monitoring the situation.” Oliver countered the WWE’s press release by remarking that even while the WWE monitors things, the massive Crown Jewel tournament remains scheduled to happen in the first week of November, allowing John Cena another chance to praise the Saudi crown for courting the WWE.