Crown Jewel is going full steam ahead in Saudi Arabia this Friday, despite huge controversy and rebellion from fans and the media. Yet again this week HBO’s award winning Last Week Tonight with John Oliver let out a tirade against WWE for their propaganda campaign, womens attendance and continued support of SA.
I wonder if this is the kind of Mainstream press #WWE has always been craving #CrownJewel
There have been rumours swirling for the last two weeks concerning John Cena and Daniel Bryan refusing to travel to Saudi Arabia.
John Cena had been previously booked to be a part of the World Cup tournament as part of the show and had been a part of WWE advertising for the event. This week on Raw Cena was replaced on-screen in the tournament by Bobby Lashley.
Similarly, Bryan was scheduled to go up against AJ Styles for the WWE Championship. This match however went ahead last night on Smackdown instead, with AJ Styles picking up the win.
AJ Styles is now expected to face Samoa Joe for the WWE Title at Crown Jewel this Friday as a replacement match.
Renee Young at Crown Jewel?
It has been reported by Pro Wrestling Sheet that Renee Young is set to travel with WWE to Saudi Arabia to act as part of the Raw commentary team.
At this time it is unclear how her role will be handled as women in Saudi Arabia are subject to a number of onerous state controls. At the Greatest Royal Rumble event back in April women were not allowed on the show and the Saudi General Sports Authority had to even release an apology after a promotional video was showing including women.
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Saudi Arabia & Crown Jewel
This week has been dominated by the continuing drama surrounding WWE’s persistence in holding their Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia in two weeks time. The latest development within Saudi Arabia is that the country is now accepting responsibility for the death of Jamal Khashoggi within their Turkish consulate. WWE shows no signs of relenting on holding the event, although it has been reported that they have delayed the release of tickets for the event, which were due to be released on October 19th. However, photos seem to have been released showing the early stage of the Stadium preparations over in Saudi Arabia.
Only time will tell the outcome of this decision, however two issues of note must still be addressed. Firstly, the financial argument, which I covered here is no longer an issue – should these figures be correct – as Wall Street analyst Eric Handler says they are. Secondly, the argument from JBL and Randy Orton this week that WWE needs to hold this event to be able to effect change is completely fallacious. WWE held an event in the country 6 months ago, yet they’re still executing journalists. It is not for the WWE to act as the United Nations and nor have they tried. The Greatest Royal Rumble event was covered with false propaganda concerning the Saudi regime and the Crown Prince, a fact highlighted by HBO’s John Oliver last week.
With the WWE not standing to make too large a loss financially, but definitely taking a huge PR hit, it is surprising they are insisting on moving forward with the event. One would hope that sense would prevail in the end.
NXT UK Thoughts and Reactions
NXT UK Episode 1 is in the bag and I was pleasantly surprised, the small-time, intimate feel of the venue added quite a lot to making this feel like a different show to NXT.
Pete Dunne and Noam Dar were the clear show stealers of the night, putting on a great main event match for the NXT UK Title. The painful-looking joint manipulations and electric pacing was a great way to end this show.
A star is also waiting to be born in the form of Dave Mastiff, the behemoth that WWE snagged from the clutches of WOS Wrestling this year. A far-cry from everything else on offer on the card, Mastiff made short work of Sid Scala and asserted himself as a dominant force on the UK roster.
Hopefully more work is done on character development and storylines in the coming week, rather than simply matches for the sake of matches, but for a debut show I was very impressed.
In other UK Wrestling news, Rev Pro debuted their TV show, World of Pro Wrestling, on FreeSports this Friday which has received some praise from not just wrestling media but the mainstream press also. This is not the first time FreeSports has gone into the world of Pro Wrestling as they also aired the now defunct 5 Star Wrestling earlier this year.
Rev Pro is, however, a very popular brand in the UK with a fiercely loyal fan base. This shone through on this debut show and established a very good opening show with some famous faces such a Jushin Liger, Zack Sabre Jr and Kushida.
This week the rumour mill has been churning out names of numerous legends who are slated to appear on the WWE all-female Evolution PPV on October 28th. This list includes Madusa, Molly Holly, Ivory, Torrie Wilson, Michelle McCool .
It was also reported by Wrestling Inc. that WWE had reached out to Sable, one of the most popular female stars in WWE history, to try and get her to appear at the PPV in some capacity. However, it is said that an agreement could not be reached this time.
This weeks Straight Edge Weekly Roundup, September 16th edition, covers news in the build up to Hell in a Cell 2018, comments from Batista, Stephanie McMahon, Matt Hardy, WOS Ratings and more…
A New Hell in A Cell?
WWE released a live stream of the Hell in a Cell structure being built last night at the AT&T Centre in Texas and it would appear that the new cell is red.
Why exactly this change has been made is unknown at the moment, as is what the cage will look like on screen tonight.
Matt Hardy Retirement?
Speculation has been rife over the past few months concerning Matt Hardy’s health and whether or not his in-ring days were coming to an end. It was reported that Hardy had been suffering after it was found that his back was fusing with his pelvis. Last night Matt Tweeted out a video saying he was heading home and that it was likely that he had wrestled his last match, see the video below:
[EXCLUSIVE VIDEO] It's time for me to go home.. To be a father and a husband. I did so much more than I ever imagined I would do in this industry. Thanks for making this incredible journey with me, ladies and gentlemen. I love you all. https://t.co/xGbm8bKSQD
Whatever happens to Matt from here he was undoubtedly one of the most influential performers of all time. His mind for the business has given us some of the most interesting and popular moments in wrestling history over the past two decades. He proved time and again that he was able to change with the times, moving from the ever-popular Hardy Boys into the bizarre Broken Matt in recent years. I have no doubt that a backstage position is awaiting him no matter what he chooses, and he is wished all the best of luck.
The 1000th episode of Smackdown is around the corner on October 16th and is being held in Washington DC, the hometown of Batista, who had something to say this week on twitter about his lack of invitation to the event:
Surprise surprise!! I wasn’t invited! And it’s in my hometown.! 😳.. guess by now I shouldn’t be shocked anymore. https://t.co/r1NwUNlRnf
It just goes to add on to what I was saying last week that the WWE have always mistreated Batista. Here’s hoping this is all a work and that Batista will be on our screens at the 1000th episode in a few weeks time.
Yet again the ratings for World of Sport Wrestling are in for the 15th September edition and they are at an all time low. At a different start time of 4pm WOS garnered just 0.3 million viewers. This is the third change in time slot for the struggling ITV revival in just as many weeks. Once again, this week episode did not have any major competition on at the same time, with the premier league football games having finished an hour previously.
The inconsistency of air times, coupled with the lacklustre production and storylines of the product have to give ITV cause for concern. Only time will tell if this 10 episode run is the last we see of the WOS.
Stephanie McMahon speaking at the SBJ Game Changers conference this wee was quoted as saying:
“We’re successful for one reason only: We listened to our audience.”
Perhaps in 1999 this statement was true, today however… well I’ll let you make your own minds up.