Michael Cole Puts Over Westernization Of Saudi Arabia

WWE recently produced their eighth premium live event in Saudi Arabia, Crown Jewel 2022, despite concerns over rumored threats from Iran. Despite the fact that Iran denied any such threat, the issue was certainly a concern going into Crown Jewel, as WWE worked with the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh to ensure the safety of everyone involved. When asked if he was worried about the situation at all, "WWE SmackDown" commentator Michael Cole was very clear during an appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show."


"Not at all," he said. "There was a threat, but we were in the capital city of Riyadh. We had assurance from a number of different places, including the State Department."

Ultimately, the event went on as planned without any interruptions, including both women's matches, a relatively recent development for WWE's Saudi shows, as Saudi Arabia has, charitably, a complicated relationship with the idea of women as full participants in society — only in recent years have women in the country even been allowed to drive.

"It's been a progression," Cole said. "2018 we had the first women's match ever in Saudi Arabia, which was Natalya and Lacey Evans. We moved on to a championship match a year later, and this year, to your point, we had two matches. They were both for championships. We had the Women's Tag Team Championship match, and for the first time ever, we had a women's stipulation match in Saudi Arabia, which is a Last Woman's Standing match with Bayley and Bianca. So we're gradually moving on. The country is starting to westernize a bit, and we're hoping to continue that trend."