The WWE is under mounting pressure to postpone its lucrative “WWE Crown Jewel” event, scheduled for Nov. 2 at King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as the furor over the kingdom’s alleged involvement in the disappearance of a U.S. resident continues to grow.
Saudi-born Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and frequent critic of the kingdom, was last seen entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish officials are maintaining that Khashoggi was killed within the consulate – a charge that Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied, saying that it believes Khashoggi left the consulate through a rear entrance.
Several U.S lawmakers, including U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, have urged Stamford-based WWE to postpone the event while the Khashoggi investigation continues.
“All major private interests should review and relook their relationship with the Saudi Kingdom in light of its continuing pattern of abuse of civil rights and civil liberties, contempt for the rule of law, and bombing in Yemen using the United States military equipment and possible intelligence,” Blumenthal told WCBS News Radio 880.
“I would hope that WWE will recognize on its own a conscience and conviction if there is proof that Saudi officials approved and ordered this kind of killing,” he continued, “and I would lean first on the United States government to do its duty so that it can lead private interests like WWE, and the first place to look is to the United States of America.”
A WWE spokesperson said the company was monitoring the situation.
“Crown Jewel” would be the WWE’s second event in Saudi Arabia, following the signing of a 10-year agreement to hold events in the kingdom. The “Greatest Royal Rumble,” which took place in April, sold out the 60,000-capacity King Abdullah International Stadium in Jeddah. Controversy also surrounded that event, as women were not allowed to compete and a pair of “villain” wrestlers, Ariya and Shawn Daivari, waved Iranian flags and made insulting remarks about Saudi Arabia.
WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon is married to Linda McMahon, the administrator of the Small Business Administration.