Saudi Arabia to Admit to Journalists Death – WWE Still Pushing Crown Jewel

WWE is scheduled to run the Crown Jewel PPV out of the King Saud University Stadium in Saudi Arabia on November 2nd live on the WWE Network – despite intense scrutiny the past week. You can see my earlier piece, detailing the long-list of human rights abuse allegations levelled at Saudi Arabia here.

Last week a journalist critical of the Saudi regime, Jamal Khashoggi, disappeared after having entered the Saudi embassy in Turkey. It is reported that Khashoggi had been lured to the embassy to pick up his divorce papers. He was seen on CCTV entering te compound, but never having left. Until today the Saudi government has claimed to know nothing about his disappearance.

Today, however, Reuters and CNN are reporting that the Saudi government are preparing to issue a report which will state that Khashoggi died as a result of an interrogation that went wrong.

As of now, the only response from WWE concerning this international issue, which has dominated the press over the last week has been to say they are “monitoring” the situation.

Many other reporters, such as Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter are stating that WWE have no intention of pulling their event unless they are ordered to by the State Department or the President.

This story has received negative attention around the world, including an attack by HBO’s John Oliver last night on his award-winning HBO show who criticised WWE’s use of Saudi propaganda during their Greatest Royal Rumble event earlier this year.

 

 

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1999 Meets 2018 In This Smackdown 1000 Mashup Video

WWE have released an updated take on their classic 1999 Smackdown intro video containing modern day WWE Superstars in celebration of their 1000th episode which airs tomorrow night, 15/10. 

 

… and here is the original version in all it’s glory:

 

Smackdown 1000 comes live tomorrow night and promises a number of surprises as well as including an Evolution reunion, appearances from The Undertaker, Edge and the return of the legendary Rey Mysterio.

I will be tweeting along live which you can follow by clicking here.

Will Ospreay Injured at Global Wars

Last night, October 14th, at Rev Pro’s Global Wars show in London, UK it is believed that Will Ospreay was injured in some way during his match with Chris Ridgeway. Initially reports were saying it appeared to be a neck injury, however this is not the case. Wrestling Store on Twitter has said that Will felt something wrong with his ribs and was taken backstage and examined after the match.

Will has since tweeted out to say that he is okay but in need of rest and thanking all of those involved. He further emphasised that blame was not on Chris Ridgeway and put him over as being “one hell of a talent in the ring & all round complete gentlemen.

https://twitter.com/WillOspreay/status/1051742913842044928

All the best wishes to Will in his recovery from his injury, he has been growing exponentially in popularity in the last few years and lets hope this isn’t too serious as to slow his momentum down.

Update: Will posted a further update a short while ago showing his admittance to King’s College Hospital in London, he seems in good spirits so it is hopefully not too serious.

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NXT UK Tag Titles Unveiled Tonight

Tonight at the NXT UK tapings in Plymouth Triple H and GM Johnny Saint unveiled the brand new NXT UK Tag Team Titles which you can see below in the official WWE release:

NXT UK is set to debut on the WWE Network this Wednesday at 8pm GMT / 3pm ET.

WWE and Saudi Arabia – A look at this problematic relationship

In March 2018, WWE and the Saudi General Sports Authority announced the start of a 10 -year partnership as part of Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ program, a project to boost and reform Saudi’s social and economic output. The Greatest Royal Rumble event, held in April 2018, marked the start of this relationship; Vince McMahon said of the deal that “Our partnership with the Saudi General Authority reflects a long-term commitment to present WWE’s world-class entertainment to a global audience on a grander scale than ever before”.

It has been reported by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that WWE stands to earn $45 million a year from this deal – meaning a staggering $450 million from the Saudi government. With the second event of this partnership, Crown Jewel, coming up in only a few weeks it would seem as though it is a good time to take a brief look at why this partnership is much more sinister and disappointing than WWE are portraying it to be.

This deal has been made under the watchful eye of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been said to be somewhat of a moderniser in Saudi, whilst this may well be true when help in comparison to his predecessors he is far removed from any western notion of civility.

The new Crown Prince who took office in 2017 has been praised by some in the West for allowing women to drive, for opening his country up to foreign forms of entertainment and for fighting back against decades of failures to modernise. However, throughout 2017 and 2018 there has been a sustained reporting of human rights abuses by the nation which WWE now wishes to cosy up to. Human Rights Watch reports that in 2017 Saudi Arabia carried out 146 executions, of which 59 were for non-violent drug offences; they further report that there is a continued repression and discrimination against women and minorities.

The decision by the Crown Prince in 2017 to lift the ban on women driving was met with Global applause – making headline news around the world. Despite this, Saudi Arabia is still the most gender-segregated nation in the world and women still face an uphill battle in the country. They have an inability to make major decisions without permission from their male Guardian, the Saudi dress code is also of strict Islamic interpretation and reportedly leads to harassment from the religious police if not followed to the strictest degree.

It is not just women who are subject to high levels of discrimination, under sharia as interpreted in Saudi, consensual homosexual sex remains punishable by death. Between 2011 and 2012 the government is said to have arrested over 260 people for the crime of homosexuality. In 2014 a 24-year old Saudi man was given 450 lashes for using Twitter to arrange dates with men. The US State Department in its yearly review lists a number of serious human rights abuses including unlawful killings, torture, arbitrary arrest, human trafficking, restrictions on speech and political activity and the inability to choose their government.

In just the past few days, only a matter of weeks before WWE holds the Crown Jewel event, Saudi Arabia is embroiled in a serious diplomatic incident with the disappearance of a journalist critical of the Saudi regime. The Saudi government is accused of luring journalist Jamal Khashoggi from his home in Virginia to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul which he entered on October 2nd and never left, according to US intelligence. The Saudi government refute these allegations, however, this story has made international news and has attracted intervention from the US president.

With this kind of allegation looming over the Saudi government, it is hard to see how WWE can in good conscience continue with the Crown Jewel PPV without seeming cruel, callous and uncaring. However, this is the WWE – they will simply gloss over all of these facts, as they have done for the past year, and move on as if nothing has happened. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the home state of WWE, has said that these allegations against the Saudi government “should represent a fundamental break in our relationship with Saudi Arabia”.

In recent days numerous businesses have announced a withdrawal of investments or business with Saudi Arabia, including $1 billion from the Virgin Group and CNBC no longer participating in the Future Investment Initiative later this month.

Only time will tell if this will reverberate down to WWE itself. One can only hope that at the very least WWE resists running further propaganda videos, highlighting how “reformist” the Crown Prince is – it would simply be a slap in the face to all those who continue to be oppressed and to the life of Jamal Khashoggi.

UFC’s parent company Endeavour have further announced their intention to withdraw $400 million of investments from Saudi Arabia. They are just one of a long-list of companies continuing to pull-out of the nation in recent days.

WWE NXT UK DEBUTING NEXT WEEK

WWE have announced that their NXT UK brand will debut this Wednesday October 17th on the WWE Network at 8pm UK Time.

Below is the official release from WWE:

 

LONDON, England and STAMFORD, Conn. — WWE today announced that NXT UK, a new weekly episodic series featuring the greatest male and female competitors from the U.K., will stream on WWE Network on Wednesdays, beginning Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. BT/3 p.m. ET.

The one-hour episodes will feature the biggest names from NXT UK, including Pete Dunne, Mark Andrews, Rhea Ripley, Toni Storm, Tyler Bate, Trent Seven and Wolfgang. Joining the NXT UK broadcasting team as backstage interviewer is British broadcasting personality Radzi Chinyanganya, best known for hosting ITV game show “Cannonball,” and in his ongoing role as a presenter of the world’s longest-running children’s TV show, the BBC’s “Blue Peter.” Calling the action are commentators Nigel McGuinness and Vic Joseph, joined by ring announcer Andy Shepherd and NXT UK General Manager, the legendary Johnny Saint.

“NXT UK is the next step in our global localization strategy, and we are proud to do this in a place where WWE has had a special relationship for more than 30 years,” said Paul “Triple H” Levesque, WWE Executive Vice President, Talent, Live Events & Creative.”

Former WWE star Neville Returns to In-Ring Action

The former Neville, now once again PAC, has returned to in-ring action in Japan for the Dragon Gate promotion in Tokyo. After walking away from WWE and officially parting ways with the company a couple of months ago Pac had been laying low from the wrestling scene; Wrestling Observer even reported just last month that he had gone radio silent on indie promoters.

However, Pac made his return this evening, revealing himself as ‘X’, who has been touted for some time and joining the faction R.E.D. Pac has a history with the promotion, having held their Open the Brave Gate Championship for over 400 days in 2010, before joining NXT.

He didn’t appear to show any signs of slowing down, that’s for sure: