10/15 Afternoon Update: Latest on WWE-Saudi Arabia “Crown Jewel” situaton, Cody/Bucks tease WWE, Rapper Open Eagle Mike wins title and celebrates with Foley and Mr. Anderson, plus Cobb, Strickland, Bandido

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

Cody Rhodes (art credit Matt Charlton & Sam Gardiner © PWTorch)

-WWE continues to list WWE Crown Jewel on the WWE.com events listing without a location, whereas the live events the next day in Madrid, Spain and Nottingham, England do have the location listed.

-Sports Illustrated has published an article today with the headline: “WWE Talent Is Uncomfortable With Saudi Arabia Show—And They Should Be.” The article says wrestlers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, have expressed discomfort with the idea of performing in Saudi Arabia.  Exceprts:

WWE needs transparency in its relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. If an exorbitant amount of money makes the deal worthwhile, then WWE should state the obvious and say so.

With female talent not allowed to perform in the country, the Saudi deal hurts WWE’s efforts to champion their women’s revolution.

Multiple members of the WWE talent roster have expressed discomfort with the idea of performing in Saudi Arabia, especially given the nation’s poor record with human rights

If the show takes place as planned, “Crown Jewel” on Nov. 2 will forever be stained. Unfortunately, that means that special moments—particularly the AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan dream match and the long-awaited return of Shawn Michaels—will always be associated with the controversial alliance with the Saudi Arabian government.

-PWTorch has reached out to a number of active WWE wrestlers regarding the Saudi Arabia situation, and they indicate in some circles the politics of the situation hasn’t been a conversation in their circles of the locker room yet. That could change tonight.

-As discussed on the PWTorch VIP Bruce Mitchell Audio Show yesterday, New Japan’s management changes this year and their attitude toward its top non-Japanese stars has shifted the likelihood of Cody Rhodes returning to WWE, joined by Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, and Adam Page, has increased dramatically. The Young Bucks have been touting that they are releasing their final Bullet Club t-shirts. Toma Tonga seems to indicate Cody & Co. are headed to WWE in a Tweet today. It’s also not unlike Cody to throw out red herrings. Hear my interview with Cody where he discusses his mindset headed into a pivotal time in his career, CLICK HERE.


-As noted in a separate article yesterday here at PWTorch, we detailed HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” addressing the Saudi Arabia controversy which for several minutes focused on WWE’s affiliation and live events in the country. The segment was highly critical of WWE’s financial windfall and, perhaps more so, the propaganda videos that were aired on their first “Greatest Royal Rumble” special earlier this year.

-The latest on this is that Saudi Arabia officials are ready to admit that Saudi journalist and U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi is dead. CNN reports: “One source says the report will likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and transparency and that those involved will be held responsible.” If the official story gains public acceptance that the leadership in Saudi Arabia were not behind the killing, it might give WWE and other corporations the “cover” they are looking for if their desire is to keep profiting off of doing business in the country. Host of Showtime’s “The Circus” John Heilemann said on today’s “Deadline: White House” program on MSNBC hosted by former President George W. Bush White House Communications Director Nicole Wallace: “This is about [President Trump] trying to find an excuse because he has too much skin in this game to go after MBS. That’s what this is. This is about the bottom line… This is a very, very important moment between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia’s place in the world and in Washington and other places. For the president to be behaving like this is cause for profound moral concern.” Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire said: “[President Trump] seems inclined to take [the Saudi’s] word for it, at least carry the water publicly for their cover story no matter how implausible it may be even though it flies in the face of what his own intelligence agencies are telling him.”

-WWE and Impact Wrestling present their women wrestlers differently in written p.r. statements. On WWE.com’s story on the NXT UK tapings, they mix the names of the top women and men and introduce the stars of the show this way: “The groundbreaking show will feature the greatest male, female and tag team competitors from the United Kingdom and Ireland including the likes of WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne, Mark Andrews, Rhea Ripley, Toni Storm, Tyler Bate, Trent Seven, and Wolfgang.” Impact Wrestling, on the other hand, lists the men and women separately, and describes the men as “great” and the women as “lovely and lethal.” Here’s their p.r. summary of their roster in press releases: “The roster features such greats as Austin Aries, Johnny Impact, Eli Drake, Moose, Eddie Edwards, Sami Callihan, Brian Cage, Pentagon Jr., Fenix, Matt Sydal, Rich Swann, the high-flying X-Division, plus the lovely and lethal Knockouts, including Tessa Blanchard, Su Yung, Allie, Rosemary, and Taya Valkyrie.” While it’s a “compliment” to be called lovely, and they’re playing off of the alteration of “lovely” and “lethal,” WWE’s mixing of men and women together and classifying them all as “great” seems more inclusive and (finally) lets the women’s looks speak for themselves rather than overtly prescribing looks as a key trait to the females but not the males, which feels more out of the “Mad Men” era where top executive males were “sharp and successful” and the women were “pretty and attentive.”

-Rapper Open Mike Eagle captured the OVW Title from Shiloh Jonze last week in Louisville, Ky. at OVW’s 1000th episode. Mick Foley was present to congratulate him afterward. Jonze tells PWTorch: “It was a very unique angle in that it started on social media, led to [Open Mike Eagle’s lead singer] coming here, and me interrupting his concerts in Los Angeles. It really blurred the lines of reality for a lot of his fans. Adult Swim got interested in it and started a mini-documentary of the whole thing that will air at a later date. It became one of the biggest angles on our show, where we got Mick Foley and Ken Anderson involved as well.” Read more and see some pictures from Twitter at Uproxx.com and Vice.com.

-DEFY Wrestling returns to Seattle, Wash. on Oct. 27 at Washington Hall featuring DEFY Champ Shane Strickland defending against SCHAFF, plus American Guns face Flamita & Bandido and Jeff Cobb facing Brody King. They also have an event scheduled for Nov. 24 in Portland, Ore. at the Hawthorne Teahter and then back to Seattle on Dec. 14. If you plan to attend any of these live events, as with any live pro wrestling events, please email results to pwtorch@pwtorch.com. More info at www.DefyWrestling.com.

NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS TORCH TODAY UPDATE: Afternoon Update: Trish comments on Becky’s heel turn, Madison Rayne talks about inspiration for career resurgence, WWE UK TV debut details, Australia writer grades Show-down’s Triple H-Taker match, PCO, Sami, ACH, Havoc, Jacobs

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