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Natalya defeated Lacey Evans King at the Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, both dressed in conservative outfits that covered their arms and legs in keeping with cultural traditions of the region, similar to fellow WWE Superstars Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss during the first-ever women’s match which was held in the United Arab Emirates back in Dec. 2017.
“We are a global brand in 180 countries and 28 different languages,” WWE’s chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon said on Wednesday while announcing the match, according to the New York Post. “It’s incredibly important that we are respectful of the cultures where we perform.”
The “Crown Jewel” event, aired on pay-per-view, is the fourth time the WWE has taken their brand of sports entertainment to Saudi Arabia following a 10-year deal the organization made with the Saudi General Sports Authority last year.
The WWE has actually been promoting events in Saudi Arabia since 2014, however female wrestlers were banned from participating until 2019.
The Stamford, Ct.-based company’s deal requires the WWE to hold major events in the Arab country for around $80 million a year, according to reports. The company faced international pressure to cancel its last event in the country following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in October of last year.
The WWE ultimately held the event, however superstars John Cena and Daniel Bryan both protested the company’s decision and refused to take part in it.
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Last year, former WWE wrestler and current executive vice president Paul “Triple H” Levesque commented on Saudi Arabia’s ban on women from appearing in or even attending events held there, saying “WWE is at the forefront of a women’s evolution in the world, and what you can’t do is affect change anywhere by staying away from it.”
Since then, women have been allowed to attend WWE events held in the country.