While WWE presented an incredible card yesterday at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for the Greatest Royal Rumble, there is a lot a controversy surrounding the event with not women wrestlers being allowed to perform.
That rule was apparently also in place for any promotional material that WWE aired during the WWE Network event as the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority (which is the governing body responsible for sporting events in Saudi Arabia) tweeted out an apology today about WWE showing women wrestlers during the broadcast.
— الهيئة العامة للرياضة (@gsaksa) April 28, 2018
A Reddit user provided a translation of the apology:
“The General Sport Authority would like to apologize to the viewers and attendees of last night’s WWE event that took place in Jeddah, over the indecent scene involving women that appeared as an ad before a segment. It would like to confirm it’s total disapproval of this, in the shadow of its commitment to eliminate anything that goes against the communities values.
“The authority has made sure to ban showing of any segment that involves women wrestling or any scenes related to it, and stipulated that to the company (WWE). The authority also disapproved any promotional stuff with pictures or videos showing women in an indecent way, and emphasized on commitment of this rule. And it’s a commitment that the authority would still commit to forever in all of it’s events and programs.”
The ad in question was WWE’s “Best of Both Worlds” commercial about the company’s move to all dual-brand pay-per-view events on the WWE Network. It features men and women from Raw and SmackDown LIVE in wrestling attire while lip-syncing about the pay-per-view change. Of the women wrestlers in the ad, it features Sasha Banks and Bayley in their bikini wrestling attire, as well as Carmella in her “bathing suit” singlet. Naomi, Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch also appear in the ad but are mostly covered.
A few days before the show, Triple H said that WWE was right to go ahead with the Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia despite the event drawing criticism for its omission of female talent (this includes female announcers like Renee Young and Charly Caruso).
“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,” Levesque said in an interview with The Independent.
“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.”
WWE has received criticism for entering into a 10-year business agreement with the Saudi General Sports Authority given how women are treated in the country and women’s wrestlers not being allowed to perform there. But Levesque expressed optimism that women will be allowed to wrestle in Saudi Arabia in the future.
“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,” he said.