Senators who are urging the WWE to scrap its ‘Crown Jewel’ event in Saudi Arabia set for November, following the disappearance and alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent journalist and outspoken critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, are off base says world wrestling champion John Layfield.
“For these guys to hide behind their patriotism and their show-flag waving, to me, I think is to try to improve their abysmal approval ratings, is wrong,” Layfield said on Tuesday during an interview with FOX Business’ Stuart Varney.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is among those lawmakers, telling FOX & Friends this morning that MBS, short for the Crown Prince, is on a “bad track” and “he has got to go.”
“This is a brazen assault on the freedom of the press and a slap in the face to the United States, if this murder occurred as it seems it did,” Murphy said. The senator sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and also represents Connecticut, where WWE is headquartered.
The upcoming event follows the Greatest Royal Rumble match, which took in April. The WWE and the Saudi General Sports Authority partnered together for the event, as part of the long-term, strategic plan, known as Vision 2030, which details how Saudi Arabia can undergo a modernization process by becoming a foreign investment powerhouse.
But since Khashoggi, 59, disappeared on Oct. 2, after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the World Wrestling Entertainment has faced mounting backlash over its deal with the Kingdom. Surveillance footage captured him entering through the consulate's main entrance, but he was never seen leaving, according to Fox News.
In a statement to FOX Business, the WWE said it was currently "monitoring the situation." It’s unclear if WWE officials are considering canceling the upcoming event.
Layfield, who performed under the name “John Bradshaw Layfield”, also stressed that the WWE is helping to promote change in the oil-rich country. (The organization has also faced mounting criticism for its decision to not feature any women in its show).
“WWE is at the forefront of change,” he said. “You want to change Saudi Arabia? You send something like WWE.”
Shares of WWE have rallied 177-percent this year.