WWE began their partnership with the Saudi General Sports Authority by presenting the Greatest Royal Rumble on April 27. Although the event successfully filled the venue with 60,000 fans and displayed a very impressive presentation that both wrestlers and fans compared to WrestleMania, it was not without controversy.
The cultural restrictions set by Saudi Arabia raised the ire of many fans, which complained about the partnership, specifically during the present time where WWE is heavily emphasizing the equality between men and women. Just over the past couple of years, females have competed for the first time in Hell in a Cell, Elimination Chamber, Royal Rumble, and Money in the Bank matches, as well as main-evented pay-per-views. However, they were not allowed to travel with WWE to the Greatest Royal Rumble.
In addition to the females, Sami Zayn also did not appear at the event. The reason for the absence was because Zayn is of Syrian descent, and Saudi Arabia cut ties with Syria in 2012. Although Zayn had known for about a week prior to the event that he would not be appearing, he had no explanation from WWE as to why he would not be there. He was also told by WWE to keep his absence silent until the event was over.
Jim Cornette was recently interviewed by Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez of F4WOnline, and shared his thoughts on what WWE should have done to both Zayn and the women's roster for missing the event.
"If I was the [WWE], for tens of millions of dollars, okay, then I would say, in that case, in Saudi Arabia, I'd say, 'okay, Sami Zayn. They don't want you,'" said Cornette. "And you know I'm not the biggest personal fan of El Generico, but Sami Zayn, they don't want you, so I tell you what. I'm gonna give you 50 grand, go buy you a brand new SUV and you don't have to make that flight.
"And girls: here you go. Here's a brand new sports car for all of y'all and you don't have to make that flight and get beat up. We're gonna take these nut cases over there for their money."
Cornette's major emphasis was WWE taking advantage of the substantial amount of money received from the Saudi partnership to hold the event there. Moreover, Cornette stated that he would have not taken the money in the United States if the NRA came up to him and gave him a bunch of restrictions, but it was smart for WWE to take their money and bring it back to the United States for their benefit.
If any of these quotes are used, please be sure to credit the Wrestling Observer Radio with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.