WWE still plans to hold Crown Jewel pay-per-view event in Saudi Arabia despite the outcry over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi

  • World Wrestling Entertainment continues to say it is "monitoring" the growing scandal surrounding murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but it has announced no plans to cancel or change its upcoming "Crown Jewel" pay-per-view event in Saudi Arabia.
  • "We are currently monitoring the situation," the WWE said at the time. That Oct. 11 statement came less than a week after Turkish officials first alleged that Khashoggi, a self-exiled critic of the royal family, had been killed by a Saudi-backed hit team inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.
  • Eleven days later, WWE spokesman Brad Klein told CNBC: "Yes, that statement still stands." The event is scheduled to take place Nov. 2 in Riyadh.
WWE Wrestlers participating in the Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia. 
Source: WWE
WWE Wrestlers participating in the Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia. 

World Wrestling Entertainment continues to say it is "monitoring" the growing scandal surrounding murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but has announced no plans to cancel or change its upcoming "Crown Jewel" pay-per-view event in Saudi Arabia.

"We are currently monitoring the situation," the WWE said at the time. That Oct. 11 statement came less than a week after Turkish officials first alleged that Khashoggi, a self-exiled critic of the royal family, had been killed by a Saudi-backed hit team inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

Eleven days later, WWE spokesman Brad Klein told CNBC: "Yes, that statement still stands."

Between those two statements, Saudi Arabia, which had claimed that Khashoggi voluntarily left the consulate, reversed course and said the journalist had died in a fight. Reports also revealed security camera footage appearing to show a Saudi "body double" wearing Khashoggi's clothes out of the consulate. And politicians around the world, including President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, have warned of "severe consequences" if Khashoggi was indeed murdered.

As the revelations unfolded — including the gruesome allegation by Turkish officials that Khashoggi was not only killed but tortured and dismembered — dozens of prominent people and companies, including CNBC, changed their plans to attend another upcoming Saudi-based event: the Future Investment Initiative, a conference scheduled to start a few days before the Crown Jewel.

But the WWE's pay-per-view event is still scheduled to take place in less than two weeks in Riyadh.

The organization has close ties to the White House. Linda McMahon, a WWE executive, serves as the administrator of the Small Business Administration.

U.K. tabloid The Sun reported earlier in October that WWE's website had scrubbed some references to the event, fueling speculation that it could soon be canceled.

Wrestling site Pro Wrestling Sheet reported that the on-sale ticket date for the Crown Jewel event has been pushed forward on the organization's website, from Oct. 19 to Nov. 2, the day of the event.

The WWE has weathered increasing criticism as it pushes forward to hold its second show of the year in the oil-rich kingdom, most recently receiving a sharp backlash after a Instagram photo promoting the event was trashed as insensitive by fans.

That photo, posted Sunday from the organization's official account, depicts the iconic urn of wrestling veteran The Undertaker above the caption "Are. You. Ready? #WWECrownJewel."

Wrestlingnews.co reported that the original caption, before being changed, read: "Respect is out the window at #WWECrownJewel."

Klein did not respond to CNBC's inquiry about the Instagram photo.

The wrestling news site further reported that WWE was taking care to avoid mentioning Saudi Arabia in order to circumvent the mounting ire from the international community.

The earlier event this year, called the "Greatest Royal Rumble" and held in Jeddah in April, drew criticism of its own for reportedly barring women, and Syrian wrestler Sami Zayn, from competing at the event, Newsweek reported.

"WWE is committed to embracing individuals from all backgrounds while respecting local customs and cultural differences around the world," WWE said in a statement at the time.