The unofficial company line in WWE is that Crown Jewel should take place in Saudi Arabia because going is the only way to promote change in the country.
One person who is not toeing the company line is Sam Roberts. Roberts often appears on WWE pay-per-view pre-show panels and is a former host of Talking Smack. Along with appearing on WWE television, Roberts hosts a wrestling podcast that frequently features interviews with WWE superstars. On the latest episode of the Notsam Wrestling Podcast, Roberts shared his thoughts on WWE going to Saudi Arabia.
"I don't have an issue with the argument that WWE is looking to be a part of the modernization of Saudi Arabia. I don't have an issue that WWE is looking to change the culture so that because of what they do now, eventually they will have women's matches in Saudi Arabia. I'm ok with the deal in general," said Roberts. "I personally believe. I have not talked to anybody about this. I don't know anything about stories that WWE superstars are uncomfortable going over there. I think if WWE superstars were really uncomfortable going over there they would say, 'Hey man, I'm uncomfortable going over there' and that would be okay. The WWE is not firing anybody because they're not going. They're not indentured servants."
Sports Illustrated reported that some talent within WWE are uncomfortable with going to Saudi Arabia given the situation. WWE has stated they "maintain an open line of communication with our performers as we continue to monitor the situation." JBL also mentioned that no one would be forced to go to Saudi Arabia if they didn't want to.
While Roberts doesn't have an issue with the message WWE is trying to send, he believes this is the wrong time to send the message.
"Because of this story, and because the US is trying to figure out whether they're going to have to retaliate against Saudi Arabia...I don't think Crown Jewel should take place in Saudi Arabia," said Roberts. "The show should go on. The show must go on. A big investment has been made into this show. It's gonna cost WWE. It's gonna cost them money. The show is booked around the fact that Saudi Arabia has put a lot of money into it. It's why you have Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Triple H. Big pay days for all these guys, I'm sure. But I think WWE has got to eat this one."
On Friday, Saudi Arabia confirmed the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. CNN reports that Saudi officials claim Khashoggi got into an argument with individuals who met him upon arriving to Istanbul. The argument became psychical and at some point Khashoggi was killed.
With the death of Khashoggi being a hot topic and WWE facing blow back from Senators and mainstream media, the company delayed the release of tickets for Crown Jewel. Tickets were scheduled to go on sale on Oct. 20. Instead, the on sale date is listed as Nov. 2, which is the day of the event.