WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon spoke to members of the media after her Q&A at Orlando Health’s 2019 Celebrating Women in Sports Luncheon earlier today in Florida, and was asked about WWE’s working relationship with Saudi Arabia and the correlation to women.
Stephanie said she believes there will be a WWE women’s division match that takes place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia soon. She said WWE has been promised, presumably by the Saudis, that the company will be at the forefront of change that has been, and continues to come, to the Kingdom.
Stephanie once again pointed to the December 2017 match between Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss in Abu Dhabi.
“In terms of women, I’m going to hearken to an example in Abu Dhabi,” she said. “It took us six years to have our women be allowed to perform in Abu Dhabi, but just over a year ago they were allowed, and not only that, but a chant broke out in the arena with both men and women chanting, ‘This is hope!’ This is hope, which is not your typical WWE chant. And there were tears in the eyes of little girls in the front row because again, they saw what they could possibly be.
“And we’ve been promised that we will be a part of the forefront of change that’s coming in Saudi, and I believe we will have a women’s match in the near future.”
As noted, there was talk of doing Bliss vs. Natalya at last Friday’s WWE Super ShowDown event in the Kingdom. The two female Superstars made the trip over and even visited a children’s hospital with some of the male Superstars, while wearing local attire that kept them covered.
It was reported that WWE started talks for a women’s match at Super ShowDown several months ago. There was originally talk of doing Nia Jax vs. Nataya until Jax went down for double knee surgery. Reports even indicated that a women’s match was part of WWE’s 10-year contract with the Saudi government and their General Sports Authority (GSA). Word on Friday was that Bliss and Natalya had visited a local hospital to get cleared for their match, and that Triple H was still waiting on approval from the GSA just hours before the show began. The Saudi government eventually denied the request for approval, and the match never happened.
There was no official reason on why the women’s match didn’t happen, but the Saudis reportedly indicated to WWE at one point that the match would be able to take place at Super ShowDown. It’s been noted that there’s really no reason why the women’s division couldn’t be allowed to work the Saudi shows due to recent changes in the Kingdom as there have been female entertainers, athletes and circus performers that have worked in the country during the last year or two. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud vowed to return the Kingdom to a more “moderate Islam” when he came into more power a while back. Those moderate changes are often met by backlash from others in the royal family, and some citizens.
These new comments from Stephanie indicate that there is some truth to what the Saudis have promised WWE. WWE is expected to run their fourth Saudi show this coming November, and it will be interesting to see if the female Superstars are allowed to work there. There was some speculation on Bliss and Natalya appearing at Super ShowDown to announce the November match, but that also did not happen. Renee Young did commentary for this event and for Crown Jewel back in November, while covered with local attire.
Below is video of Stephanie’s comments from the luncheon earlier today:
.@WWE's @StephMcMahon is speaking at the Celebrating Women in Sports Luncheon. @DespinaBarton asked about #WWE's dealings in Saudi Arabia and the correlation to women. McMahon believes there will be a women's match "in the near future." More from her tonight on @SpecSports360. pic.twitter.com/29C38r0WP6
— Jon Alba (@JonAlba) June 12, 2019