FILE - In this March 29, 2015, file photo, Brock Lesnar makes his entrance at Wrestlemania XXXI in Santa Clara, Calif. WWE is set to hold its Crown Jewel event Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The lucrative deal with Saudi Arabia has prompted fans and politicians to criticize WWE's decision to continue with the event. (AP Photo/Don Feria, File)

WWE sticks with Saudi Arabia deal despite backlash from fans

October 30, 2018 - 2:01 pm

WWE has downplayed its upcoming Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia as public backlash spreads against its lucrative long-term deal with the kingdom.

Criticism from fans and politicians started because women were excluded from competition in an April event, then shifted and spread after writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul .

The financials are murky but WWE is expected to make between $20 million and $40 million per event from two Saudi Arabian shows this year under a 10-year deal.

WWE fans have booed each time Crown Jewel is mentioned when a wrestler cuts a promo. The video feed hyping the event was abruptly shut off to the crowd at its first all-female event Sunday to squash unfavorable reaction.

WWE has tried to distance itself from the international outcry over the killing and downplayed its ties to Riyadh.

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