Over the weekend, Dave Meltzer suggested that, unless the State Department or POTUS Donald Trump himself intervenes, WWE will press on with plans to present Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia. We can infer from this that, as of a mere 48 hours ago, the company was under no pressure from corporate sponsors to cancel the controversial show.
The narrative, however, is mutating by the minute. A precedent has now been set, the likes of which typically causes dominos to fall.
UFC's parent company Endeavour is, per Variety, "exploring the possibility" of backing out of a $400M deal with the Saudi Public Investment Fund, as the disappearance of dissident journalist Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi reaches its grim, inevitable discovery. Per CNN, the Kingdom is "preparing" to admit that Khashoggi was killed (and somehow dismembered) in an interrogation gone awry, defying the original narrative(s) that Khashoggi simply left the consulate of his own volition.
This is big.
UFC is considered by the mainstream a competitor of or at least synonymous with WWE. Using actor Kevin Spacey as an example, both Ridley Scott and Netflix removed him from All The Money In The World and, appropriately, House of Cards respectively. To preserve the pretence of integrity, when one entity keeps up appearances, others typically fall in line.
WWE and Vince McMahon are more brazen - and under less scrutiny - than most entertainment entities, but, in the meantime, several legitimate mainstream outlets that ordinarily pay the company no mind are latching on to WWE's involvement with the regime. Sports Illustrated yesterday covered the locker room's discontent; John Oliver panned golden goose John Cena on his late night show; Yahoo Finance has also questioned WWE's continued involvement with Saudi following the sensational international incident.
WWE continues to "monitor the situation". In WWE, in 2018, it's all about keeping up appearances, to a hypocritical and often repellent extent.
Trump seems happy enough to buy the Saudi's "rogue killers" line - but with a restored public image to protect, for how much longer can WWE no sell the PR aspect of a legitimised game they are so otherwise desperate to join in on?