You have probably noticed this by now, but the WWE’s Greatest Royal Rumble won’t feature a single female superstar. The reason, obviously, is that the event is taking place in Saudi Arabia, where women’s rights and equality are far behind other, “more modern” countries. The WWE has taken quite a bit of heat for their lucrative business deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, especially since they have spent the last few years patting themselves on the back at every chance for pushing the “Women’s Revolution” of professional wrestling.
On Wednesday, Triple H finally gave a statement on the issue while speaking with The Independent.
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.
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.
That response may be frustrating, but there is also some truth to it. Saudi Arabia is slowly changing, opening itself up to more global entertainment by hosting various sporting events and recently allowing women to drive. Prince Mohammad bin Salam, the current President of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs and next in line for the throne, has been gradually moving the country into modernism. He has restricted the power of religious police, allowed concerts by female singers, and helped to increase the number of women in the workforce. There is still a long way to go, obviously, but these things rarely change overnight.
The WWE and the Saudi Arabia tourism department have reportedly signed a ten-year deal for the sports entertainment company to run annual (at least) shows. It’s possible that the WWE will eventually be able to add female superstars to their events, which would be a terrific achievement for both the population of Saudi Arabia and for the WWE itself.
However, if the ten years goes by and female superstars never end up appearing at any event in the country, it will be much more obvious that the WWE only cares about the millions of dollars in oil money they will be receiving for these events, and not about the actual Women’s Revolution like they so proudly proclaim.