Recently, former WWE Champion JBL, also known as John 'Bradshaw' Layfield, appeared on Busted Open Radio with host Dave LaGreca and WWE Hall Of Famer Bubba Ray Dudley, also known as Bully Ray. Among many other things, JBL shared explained his position that WWE should return to Saudi Arabia for WWE Crown Jewel as planned despite the allegedly planned murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. JBL went on to say that he does not anticipate repercussions for any WWE Superstars who do not want to make the trip to the Middle East.
According to JBL, WWE should go to Saudi Arabia for the Crown Jewel pay-per-view to promote change.
"You look at something like Russia or you look at something like China where you actually allow free markets to go in. And you haven't seen the change that we, in the western world, would probably like. You still have a bit of a dictatorship, some people would say more than a bit of a dictatorship, in Russia and in China. But you're seeing change come there and Saudi Arabia." JBL continued, "I think staying away from Saudi Arabia, there [are] macroeconomic reasons to not stay away from Saudi Arabia, huge macroeconomic reasons right now in the world. But to me, as far as if you want to do something to promote change, you allow business and free markets to go in there."
After pointing to Russia and China as examples of how doing business with the rest of the world has improved conditions in those countries, JBL suggested that there is hypocrisy in people criticizing WWE for returning to Saudi Arabia and not voicing concerns over the World Cup being held in Russia or the Olympics emanating from China.
"I think it's horribly unfair [for WWE to receive criticism for continuing with Crown Jewel]. I mean, you look at what's going on in the world right now. Russia has this Novichok poison. They're the only ones to have ever manufactured it. They obviously killed this guy in the UK. They've poisoned another. Several guys have been poisoned. It's obviously Russia. You still have the World Cup there and people are not boycotting the World Cup.
"Look at what's going on in China. And, by the way, 65 reporters last year were killed globally, around the globe right now. Not to diminish what happened, [but] this is a direct violation of the Magnitsky Act. It says that the USA is going to have to put some type of sanctions upon Saudi Arabia, which they should. They should deal with this issue, but you think about what's going on with the Uyghurs in the Xingjiang province in China, what's going on with the Tibetans in China, the human rights violations, yet you go to the Olympics there and people say, 'oh, this is so great!' Everybody's going to China. There [are] human rights violations everywhere and I'm not diminishing that. I'm not diminishing the fact that you should deal with it.
"Look at the United States! We have incarceration [rates]… this isn't whataboutism, but this is a one-for-one correlation. We have a mass incarceration among minorities that is disproportionate to our population. It's a travesty what's going on with our mass incarceration specifically of minorities. Yet, we still do business in the United States. You can't change certain things just by not going there. WWE, from what I understand, has a contract with Saudi Arabia. WWE, to me, if you want to promote change, you let these guys go." JBL explained, "no one else is treated like this. You didn't do this with the World Cup. You didn't do it with the Olympics. But all-of-a-sudden, you're going after WWE. I think it's easy fodder. It's hard going after the World Cup. It's hard going after the Olympics."
In JBL's view, sport has the ability to bridge social divides and this is part of the reason WWE should go to Saudi Arabia.
"You want to get something changed, you send sport. Look what happened when Pee Wee Reese puts his arm around Jackie Robinson. That did more for racial relations in the United States through sport." JBL professed, "that's one of the reasons I would take WWE away from Saudi Arabia. And people say, 'ah, they're just trying to make money.' They're a business. They should try to make money. But, to me, the greater good is you go over there and you show people that it's okay to be from different backgrounds. It's okay to be a woman and compete. They're not competing in Saudi Arabia yet. I think they will and I think it's a right step forward. And I think that's why it's so important that sport… sport changes the world, man. Once you line up beside somebody in sport, you don't care what color they are, what ethnicity they are, what orientation they are. It doesn't matter."
Additionally, JBL explained that WWE Superstars being independent contractors have the ability to turn down the Crown Jewel gig. Moreover, given JBL's experience with WWE in Iraqi, he is confident that there will be no repercussions for performers who refuse to make the trip to Saudi Arabia.
"Look, if you're one of the performers, I can see not wanting to go [to Saudi Arabia] for travel reasons. I can't speak to any of their motives as far as what they believe happened to Mr. Khashoggi in the Turkish Embassy." JBL opined, "absolutely, you have a right not to go [to Saudia Arabia] and I feel very confident that WWE will not insist that anybody go. Certain people didn't want to go to Iraq. Now, it's for different reasons. They felt like their safety may be in jeopardy. But certain people didn't want to go to Iraq for so many years in a row. But there were certain people that didn't agree with the 9/13 show, two days after 9/11 in Houston [Texas]. And Vince [McMahon] made it very clear: 'if you don't want to be here, [it is] not an issue - there [are] no repercussions; there's not going to be any fallback from this - that is simply your choice.' I think that would be the same with Saudi Arabia."
Check out the interview in the video above. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit Busted Open Radio with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: Busted Open Radio