A controversy has started over the past week or so regarding the WWE not bring their women’s division to the Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia on April 27th. Some are calling the WWE’s actions as hypocritical due to their boasting of the “Women’s Revolution” and criticizing the WWE’s decision to do business with a country that is so backwards in their views towards women.
Now, pretty much anyone reading this article is aware that Saudi Arabia is not exactly a haven for women’s rights. They have a very different culture than most of us experience on a daily basis. Some important things to know about the WWE’s upcoming event is that the Greatest Royal Rumble is sponsored by the Saudi General Sports Authority, which is part of the Saudi Arabian government. This means that the card is entirely funded by the Saudi government.
Ok, now that I have some of the relevant details out of the way, time for what I think of this whole situation. As The Miz would say, really? Apparently this is the topic of the week for people to bitch about on Twitter. Now, I’m pretty much as liberal as they come, and fully support women’s rights, with that said, this is not about women’s rights, it’s about a difference of cultures.
Right now the WWE is opening up a door. The WWE, as every business should do, is looking to expand their reach and tap in to a new market. Think about it like this, if you start a new job are you going to demand a corner office on your first day? Probably not. The Greatest Royal Rumble is the first date between the WWE and Saudi Arabia. If it goes well, more events are likely to come with the possibility of getting women on the card.
Triple H recently addressed the criticism the WWE has received by no women participating at the Greatest Royal Rumble, and had the following to say :
I understand that people are questioning it, but you have to understand that every culture is different and just because you don’t agree with a certain aspect of it, it doesn’t mean it’s not a relevant culture,” Triple H said, according to The Independent. “You can’t dictate to a country or a religion about how they handle things but, having said that, WWE is at the forefront of a women’s evolution in the world and what you can’t do is affect change anywhere by staying away from it.”
He is 100% right. Look, it’s terrible that women in Saudi Arabia are not treated as equals, but does that mean the WWE should boycott the country and neglect their fans there? I don’t think so. Also, if this event, and others in the future, do good business, that will give the WWE more negotiating power to have women participate in upcoming events in Saudi Arabia. Hell, Triple H even admitted they have had talks about women participating in the future. Triple H said :
“While, right now, women are not competing in the event, we have had discussions about that and we believe and hope that, in the next few years they will be. That is a significant cultural shift in Saudi Arabia. The country is in the middle of a shift in how it is dealing with that—the position is changing, and rights are changing, as are the way women are handled and treated in society. We think that’s a great thing and we’re excited to be at the forefront of that change.”
Clearly Triple H and the WWE want their Women’s Division to compete at events like this, but it takes time. The cultures between the United States and Saudi Arabia are dramatically different, but Saudi Arabia is slowly becoming less conservative. Hell, the WWE could even play a role in helping change their views on women, but that takes time.
Voice of Wrestling’s Chris Cash and Nick Paglino recently discussed the topic of no women participating at the Greatest Royal Rumble with former Impact Wrestling talent SoCal Val. Here is a clip of SoCal Val sharing her thoughts on the WWE’s decision.
She is 100% correct. You can’t knock the WWE for accepting an invitation to expand their business. This event, and any events after it, will give the WWE the opportunity to get women on these events, but it will take time. SoCal Val also makes a great point, while we may disagree, we have to be respectful of another culture’s views. That does not mean accept them, but you must be respectful of them. In time the WWE can make a difference here, and showcase their talented women, but they have to penetrate the market first.
The WWE has shown in recent years their commitment to elevating women’s wrestling. They have already broken barriers in the Middle East last year when Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks had the first WWE women’s match in the United Arab Emirates.
The WWE has shown they can break barriers for women in that part of the world, and they can do it again. Now is not the time to judge the WWE. Things like this take time. Cultures don’t change overnight, and it’s unfair to expect the WWE to do so. Women’s wrestling is the most popular it has ever been because of the WWE. Triple H, especially, has shown a commitment to the women of the WWE like we have never seen before.
Five years ago could you have imagined that women would have Hell in a Cell matches? Could you picture them having their own Royal Rumble or Money in the Bank match? I sure as hell can’t. The WWE has only recently cared about women’s wrestling. For a long time it was all about sex appeal, and little else. If you want to be critical of the WWE, their portrayal of women on television for an extended period of time is fair game, but not the Greatest Royal Rumble.
If five years from now the WWE is still not letting women on their events in Saudi Arabia, then that is absolutely fair to criticize them. Triple H has openly discussed that he wants women to compete in Saudi Arabia, but huge culture shifts like that take time. The WWE’s recent history with women shows they can, and are willing, to break barriers, and it is up to us to give them time to do so, not bitch on Twitter when their first event has not even taken place.
You can follow Bryant Burns on Twitter at @wrestlingopins.