WWE's decision to remain in Saudi Arabia has been met with predictable backlash.
Prior to Thursday's announcement, mainstream media was starting to take aim at WWE keeping the show in Saudi Arabia after it was revealed that the Saudi government may have been part of the plot to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi. On a recent episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver took the company to task for their decision to return to Saudi Arabia following April's Greatest Royal Rumble event. Oliver said, “Wow, it seems that WWE is as advertently pro Saudi Arabia as it is lately homoerotic which is to say, intently.”
WWE remained mum on the status of the show as more news came out about Saudi Arabia and their alleged involvement in Khashkoggi's death. References to Saudi Arabia were removed from their website and superstars and announcers never mentioned the location of Crown Jewel on television broadcasts.
In the end, the company decided to keep Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia despite numerous red flag and reports that talent were "refusing" to go.
Following the announcement, ESPN's Dan Le Batard called out the company for accepting "blood money" from Saudi Arabia.
"Did you see that WWE is still going to Saudi Arabia? What a bad decision that is. But, it's the sewer and the sewer is going to behave like the sewer. There's a lot of money in Saudi Arabia, so much money, so wrestling is going back to Saudi Arabia as we wonder whether Saudi Arabia kills journalists with bone saws," said Le Batard. "It's not a hard statement to make. You're usually not this overt about 'We'll take your money even though you're being investigated for killing a journalist with a bone saw.' We're usually not quite that overt like, 'Yeah, we'll take your money, your blood money, no matter what.'"
The ESPN radio personality asked, "Don't they people who are refusing to partake even though Vince McMahon runs something of a dictatorship?"
Le Batard's co-host Mike Ryan informed Le Batard that WWE was waiting for government officials to tell them not to go. Le Batard called the act "cowardice."
WWE's official statement is that the company has "decided to uphold its contractual obligations to the General Sports Authority and stage the event."
WWE Crown Jewel is scheduled to take place on Nov. 2.