At WWE’s first ever show in Saudi Arabia in April 2018, Roman Reigns was unsuccessful in his attempt to wrestle the Universal Championship away from Brock Lesnar at Greatest Royal Rumble inside a Steel Cage.
Six months later, Reigns was set to defend his title against Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar in a triple threat match at Crown Jewel, but unfortunately had to relinquish the title just before the show after being diagnosed with leukaemia.
Top stars such as John Cena and Daniel Bryan refused to compete in the November 2018 show, and it was reported that Reigns had also told Vince McMahon prior to the event that he didn’t want to compete.
Roman Reigns who will face Shane McMahon at Super ShowDown on Friday June 7, told Newsweek why WWE perform in the country despite its controversy:
“It gets a lot of mixed and negative reactions. The bottom line for me is, if we’re going to help promote change, if we’re going to set out to make an impact than I have to be a part of it. I’m not going to sit on the sideline and talk about how we can get there. I want to be a part of the action. I look at it as being a part of the solution while still respecting cultures, but it’s a big world and I want to experience all of it. So if we can help make a positive impact that’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to put smiles on everyone’s faces. We don’t discriminate, that’s our goal to help and promote positivity and take that to every inch of the world.”
While I’m sure “promoting change” is the line that WWE talent are told to say to the media, I am certain that the fact Saudi Arabia pay WWE a tonne of money to put on their shows has something to do with it.
Thanks to Fightful for the transcription.