TMZ Sports caught up with WWE Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey to ask about the upcoming WWE Crown Jewel event on November 2. As noted, WWE confirmed in a statement yesterday that they will be holding the event in Saudi Arabia, despite the killing of Washington Post journalist and Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi, which has caused a PR storm against the WWE from mainstream media and U.S. Senators. With the negativity surrounding the event, John Cena has reportedly backed out of working Crown Jewel.
When asked about the upcoming show, Rousey gave some context to her answer by saying she's an "idealist" when it comes to sport and finding a common ground with other cultures.
"I'm a two-time Olympian, so I'm an idealist when it comes to sport," Rousey said. "One of my favorite memories from the 2004 Olympics was I was in the gym, cutting weight, and I was running. Right next to me was a boxer from Iraq, he was running next to me, and it was the beginning of the Iraq war. No where else in the world would a man from Iraq and a little girl from Venice Beach be respecting each other and sharing space. I think sports are where we find that common ground in each other."
Speaking more directly about Crown Jewel, Rousey thought it would be the the wrong move for WWE to not go to Saudi Arabia. The Raw Women's Champion said not going just further fuels an "us versus them" mentality.
"I think pulling out of Crown Jewel would be the wrong move because this is an opportunity to share our cultures and find what we have in common," Rousey responded. "Especially in times of adversity between two countries that's the absolute wrong time to be able to pull away. That's the time to find out what we have in common and be able to understand each other more. It seems almost frivolous—these WWE events and these big world issues, but in a world where we're always looking at it like 'us' and 'them,' I think those big events like Crown Jewel that bring everyone together just makes us realize it's 'us' all around."
Rousey elaborated that doing events like this could help future generations find a connection with each other.
"I think having these events and sharing our culture in Saudi Arabia is the first step for us to really be able to understand each other and find that common ground," Rousey continued. "I mean, this is a great opportunity for a bunch of kids in Saudi Arabia [who love] American culture—WWE is part of American culture [and] they are inviting [it] in and embracing it. You have these kids from Saudi Arabia who are idolizing these people from America and all these different countries. Then you'll see people from Saudi Arabia going into the WWE and kids from America idolizing those people. It's just a great way for us to be able to share something and understand each other. I think that should be the goal. An 'eye for and eye' leaves the whole world blind."
You can see Rousey's full comments in the video above.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit TMZ Sports with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.