Ronda Rousey tells TMZ Sports that pulling out of the WWE Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia would be the wrong move because there is so much good that can ultimately come from it.
In an interview with TMZ Sports, Ronda Rousey defended WWE’s decision to move forward with Crown Jewel taking place in Saudi Arabia.
In her defense of the decision, Rousey spoke about the positive impacts she thinks the event could have. She discussed being an Olympian and how she believes sports can bring people from different cultures together. She wasn’t asked about and didn’t mention the promotion WWE did for Saudi Arabia on the Greatest Royal Rumble broadcast or the specifics of WWE’s 10-year deal with the Saudi General Sports Authority.
“I’m a two-time Olympian, so I’m an idealist when it comes to sport. And one of my favorite memories from the 2004 Olympics was — I was in the gym and I was on the treadmill and I was cutting weight and I was running and right next to me was a boxer from Iraq and he was running next to me. And it was the beginning of the Iraq war, and nowhere else in the world would some man from Iraq and a little girl from Venice Beach be respecting each other and sharing space,” Rousey said.
“I think that sports is where we really find that common ground with each other, and I think that pulling out of the Crown Jewel would be the wrong move — because I think that this is an opportunity to be able to share our cultures and define what we have in common. And in times, especially when — times of adversity between two countries, that’s the absolute wrong time to be able to pull away. I think that’s the time for us to be able to find what we have in common and be able to understand each other more.”
Rousey expressed optimism that despite her and the rest of the women’s division not being able to wrestle at Crown Jewel, women will be able to wrestle in Saudi Arabia in the future.
“I think if we have WWE become big in Saudi Arabia, and WWE is the company that is having all-women’s pay-per-views — I mean, if you have the WWE Network, you can see Evolution and you can see Crown Jewel, you know. So if you’re going to buy the all-men’s pay-per-view, you’re going to have access to the all-women’s pay-per-view. And so it’s just exposing people to all the different things that our culture has to offer,” Rousey said.
“And I think that those are just the baby steps of how you get people to start demanding those kinds of things. They’ll be like, ‘Yeah, the women can’t compete in Saudi Arabia right now.’ But if the Crown Jewel is a huge success and WWE really takes off in Saudi Arabia, they are going to be demanding to see the women soon.”
While noting that they faced a “very difficult decision” after Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Turkey, WWE confirmed Thursday that Crown Jewel would go on as scheduled in Riyadh on November 2.