The WWE's 'Greatest Royal Rumble' takes place next week but it's not something to be celebrated
The event represents a massive step backwards for the WWE.
Everyone loves a royal rumble. Even if you're not a die-hard WWE fan, what's not to like about the idea of 30 wrestlers in a wrestling ring, trying to fling each other out over the top rope? Sounds like great craic to us.
But next week's event, subtly named "The Greatest Royal Rumble Ever", will not just feature 30 men in a royal rumble, it will feature 50 men. Yep, 50. That almost sounds like too much. It's bound to be an amazing event to witness.
They stacked the card with some of the biggest names the WWE has to offer. The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Triple H and Roman Reigns are just a few of the huge names competing in the King Abdullah International Stadium.
But unfortunately, despite the historic element of the card, it is not an event that should be celebrated, after news emerged that no women would compete at the event. This is undeniably a huge step backwards for the WWE, and for wrestling as a whole.
The WWE have decided to have one of their biggest events of the year, in a country where women have to limit the amount of time they spend with men to whom they are not related. Women are not allowed wear clothes or make-up that "show-off their beauty". And most relevant for this event, women are not allowed to compete freely in sporting events.
Luckily, women and children will be allowed to attend, but they will not be able to see any female competitors. How exactly is a parent supposed to explain to his seven-year-old daughter when she asks him why her favourite wrestlers aren't on this card? They're on every other card. Why not this one?
Just two weeks ago at Wrestlemania, former UFC champion Ronda Rousey was hailed as the performer of the night and put on a debut performance that any seasoned veteran would be proud of. This was the same night that Charlotte Flair and Asuka had one of the matches of the event, following an intensely built storyline.
Clip via WWE
Sasha Banks, Bayley, Paige, Carmella, Natalya and our very own Becky Lynch are among some of the women who are responsible for what can only be seen as a women's revolution in the WWE, and this is a middle finger to the face of all of them and all the hard work that they have put in over the past few years.
The WWE had seemed to have taken giant steps forward when it comes to women in sports entertainment. They have certainly come a long way since the bra and panty matches and wet t-shirt contests of the '90s, but this event shows us that the powers that be will always be happy to throw progression out the window, so long as they can make some handy money.
Ireland's own Finn Bálor is set to appear on the card, which has sparked another conversation, as he has taken strides in recent times to promote equal rights for the LBGTQ community.
According to reports, he has pushed long and hard backstage to make being vocal about the gay community part of his character; surely he won't be happy to completely abandon this for one night only? For one filthy pay cheque? Will he still don his rainbow-coloured t-shirt? Because one would have to assume that, given its history, if Saudi Arabia has an issue with women competing on the card, they probably won't be too happy about endorsing gay rights.
— Finn Bálor (@FinnBalor) April 2, 2018
Top wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer had this to say about the entire saga:
"If WWE is even pretending to be revolutionary, or even somewhere nearly up to date, on treatment of women and that's one of their calling cards, and their biggest mainstream star is female, I don't expect them to stand up for that because they are wrestling people, but at that point they have no right to claim anything legitimately when it comes to backing women. Like I said, I don't expect anything, but if you're legit on a cause, sometimes you have to make unpleasant decisions to back that cause. In this case, they failed to do so."
Luckily, women and members of the LGBT community will be allowed attend the event. But if two gay men engage in any sort of homosexual activity, they may be punished by execution. Is this the message that the WWE want to send to their millions of young fans?
It's a pity, because if the WWE stuck to their guns and said "No. Our female performers are just as valuable to our company as the male ones are. We won't hold an event without them", then who knows what might have happened? Maybe they would have folded, and it could have been a huge step forward for women's rights in the Middle East. But instead, they took the coward's way out.
They could have done something special, but they would rather just take the money and run. The good guy was about to get a monumental win, but the bad guy kicked out at two.