The wrestling federation is to host a fight between WWE Superstars Natalya and Lacey Evans at pay-per-view event Crown Jewel tomorrow night (October 31).
The match is part of its Riyadh Season, which includes more than 100 events over two-months. It is part of a line-up that also includes the undefeated lineal heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury, WWE Champion Brock Lesnar and Universal Champion Seth Rollins.
WWE has faced controversy for its decision to hold events in Saudi Arabia, particularly following the death of journalist Jama Khashoggi. Stars including John Cena and Kevin Owens have refused to attend matches in Saudi Arabia, which has also prevented Sami Zyan, a Canadian born to Syrian parents, performing due to his nationality.
Last year, WWE’s Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque addressed the fact that women were previously banned from taking part. He said, “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. 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.”
However, he added that the country was going through a “significant cultural shift”. “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,” he added.