PWInsider - WWE News, Wrestling News, WWE



By Mike Johnson on 2018-10-12 10:00:00

I"ve seen that you said WWE should cancel the Crown Jewel show.  Do you think they will?

From a moral standpoint, as I said earlier this week on the We Don't Need No Name Show, I personally want to see the company cancel the show, but I don't know if that is a realistic hope for a publicly traded corporation.  I sincerely have no idea what damages WWE could open themselves up to financially, either from a breach of contract or from their stockholders, if they canceled the event.  We don't know the language of the agreement between the company and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  There is, however, strong evidence that a journalist was murdered at the behest of the Saudi Arabian government, inside their consulate, in Turkey and that, to me, trumps everything else. 

As a writer, how could it not?  To me, moving forward with the show feels ugly.   The second I heard about this story, I was saddened and disgusted by the fact that WWE, which holds itself up as being a progressive company with things like the women's evolution and does so many legitimately great things with their social outreach programs and relationships with outlets like GLADD, is in bed, even for massive amounts of money with that regime.  Their first responsibility is to make the most money for themselves, but right now (unless there is a major break in this story that we don't see coming) the fact the company is putting on shows for Saudi Arabia has to be seen as in direct, obvious conflict with all of the good the company does.   WWE now finds themselves in the middle of all of this, as does any company that is doing business with the Kingdom.  It's not an easy position to be in, but it's where they are and I hope they at least announce the "postponement" of the show.

I honestly don't know if it's realistic to expect WWE to pull out of the show, but I'd like to see them do it and I said that before the story became a much bigger politcal hot potato internationally.  In the last 24 hours, we have seen with a lot of people from the tech world, including Richard Branson and Steve Case, pulling out of planned conferences and backing off announced deals with Saudi Arabia, politically, because of the impression the connection to the country gives.  I'd really like to see WWE do the same, but I understand why they can't or won't do so.   

It's easy for me to say, no, they should cancel, but I don't know whether a entire corporation can put the brakes on something like this as quickly as Mike Johnson, the person, could.  WWE has said they are monitoring the situation and I hope they truly are.  I don't know if they will cancel, but without knowing the financial and contractual obligations that are in place, I wish they would.    We'll see if they do or not.

Shouldn't WWE stay out of this politically?  After all, the United States government just said they are still going to sell the country weapons.

In most cases yes, they should stay out of it politically. In my last response, I was speaking from a strictly moral standpoint.  All signs point to the fact that someone was murdered.  Putting smiles on people's faces for the country that is said to be responsible is, morally, wrong.  I get there are contracts and agreements.  Our government, thus far, has said they will move forward with agreements with the Saudis.  My gut feeling is that unless that changes, WWE will move forward with plans as well.  As a publicly traded company, they have responsibilities to their stockholders to make as much money as possible.  This was a massive, decade-long deal.  I don't expect the company to make any rash, immediate decisions, because this will change their bottom line.  If the United States government steps in, I expect that will lead to WWE backing off.

Couldn't they just move the show somewhere else?

They could, but make this clear - the show exists because the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is paying WWE millions and millions of dollars to put on a show.  If you take that money out of the equation, is it worth it to have a pretty heavy budgeted show and run it somewhere else, at your own expense, with a few weeks' lead time?  Is it going to drive Network buys and sell tickets without the Saudi backing? From a financial standpoint, probably not.  Of course they could move the show.  Whether WWE feels they should or whether it's worth it to keep the show, I don't know.  It's not a position I'd want to be in personally.

If the show is canceled, does Shawn Michaels still return to the ring?

This is the least important question you have asked in my mind.  I don't know if he'd still come back if they moved the show.  The expectations are that he's coming back for a huge seven figure payday specifically for that show and the backing for that show no longer exists, it's all up in the air in my mind.  

Why haven't we seen any WWE talents speak out about any of this?

They know contractually, they can't speak out about the company unless they want to find themselves out of the company or facing damages for breaching their deals.  They may have even been advised by the company not to give comment on it.  If speaking out about it is what you want to do, but it's going to cause you more problems at your job, I don't blame talents for keeping quiet.  They are soldiers who signed up to represent WWE and work for the company, not challenge it.

If you enjoy you can check out the AD-FREE PWInsider Elite section, which features exclusive audio updates, news, our critically acclaimed podcasts, interviews and more, right now for THREE DAYS free by clicking here!