Monday Night Raw announcer Renee Young will join the announce team at WWE’s Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia, reported Pro Wrestling Sheet late Tuesday.
Obviously having a woman announcer is significant given the ultra-conservative Saudi culture where women are treated as second class citizens – and also in light of WWE’s controversial decision not to cancel the event in the wake of the apparent murder of an American-based journalist by the regime.
“Sources tell us WWE began working to make this happen in September after the female announcer made history joining the Raw commentary desk,” reported Pro Wrestling Sheet’s Ryan Satin. “It’s unclear if Renee will have certain guidelines or rules to follow because of the country’s numerous restrictions for women.”
John Cena and Daniel Bryan Refused to Go
This also comes after the news that top WWE stars John Cena and Daniel Bryan refused to work the show. At the last WWE Saudi Arabia event – The Greatest Royal Rumble in April – the government’s General Sports Authority issued an apology after a WWE advertisement featuring women wrestler’s aired at the event.
The women in the brief clips that aired wore minimal clothing – similar to every male wrestler – and yet it caused a scandal.
This is why Renee Young taking part in the show is a big deal. It’s also why WWE is right to go to Saudi Arabia despite its critics.
— The Sportster (@WrestlingSheet) October 30, 2018
This was a point I made at length in my Tuesday column at the political magazine The American Conservative.
Ringside Intel, including my work at this site, is decidedly and intentionally non-political. But wrestling fans of any stripe – and the WWE’s many critics right now – should consider the following:
On Fox Business, Layfield noted that WWE had the first women’s wrestling match in the Middle East in 2017. Stars Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss made history in Abu Dhabi as the crowd chanted in English, “This is hope.” The wrestlers were moved to tears after the match.
Both ladies wrestled fully clothed (in the West, most wrestlers female and male are barely clothed), but women wrestling at all was a significant concession by UAE officials. When the WWE went to the United Arab Emirates, women were forbidden from performing.
The WWE in April went again to Saudi Arabia and helped usher in progress for women.
“Women and young girls, who for decades have been held back from making anything resembling social progress in Saudi Arabia, attended the Greatest Royal Rumble in droves—wearing WWE caps, carrying signs and generally having a great time at the sold-out, 62,000-plus-capacity King Abdullah Sports City Stadium,” reported ESPN in May. “Saudi women, who were given the right to attend stadium events in January for the first time—an act that previously would have led to arrest….”
Renee Young May Inspire Saudi Women
How many Saudi women might be inspired by Renee Young merely being included in this show?
“Some say holding a WWE event in Riyadh in November is an affront to human rights. The stronger argument is that canceling the event would do more to undermine human rights and cultural progress in the repressive theocracy,” I added in my column at The American Conservative. “As of this writing, Starbucks, McDonalds, Apple, AMC movie theaters, and the PGA Tour in Saudi Arabia have no plans of pulling out.”
“It’s almost as if pro wrestling is being uniquely singled out because it’s an easy target among political elites when compared to other sports and entertainment entities.”
Critics and fans can continue to debate whether or not WWE should still go to Saudi Arabia.
That Renee Young’s presence on the announce team for this event is a positive for the country and the region, should receive unanimous support.