Poor Titus O’Neil. Here he is representing his beloved WWE in its first televised Saudi Arabia appearance at its ‘Greatest Royal Rumble’ and he goes and falls under the ring.
This is no stunt. Well, it doesn’t look like it. If it is then O’Neil needs to be applauded on authenticity.
For the time being though, we’re taking this at face value and confidently saying O’Neil did not mean to trip up while running towards the ring and embarrass himself in front of a packed Jeddah crowd.
The wrestler, 40, was on en route to the squared circle at the King Abdullah International Stadium when he lost his footing and slid straight underneath the apron, much to the amusement of everyone – not least announcer Michael Cole.
— ggp (@ggpthemick) April 27, 2018
— Joe Baiamonte (@JoeBaia) April 27, 2018
Amazing. It’s one of those things you think about watching wrestling. How do running entrances never go awry? How hasn’t anyone ever completely mistimed or misjudged the actual ‘slide’?
If O’Neil achieved anything it’s taking the limelight away from the general controversy surrounding the company’s trip to the Middle Eastern country.
It was AT THIS MOMENT….???
— Titus O'Neil (@TitusONeilWWE) April 27, 2018
Defending the move as a ‘great thing’, WWE executive vice president of Talent, Live Events and Creative, Paul Levesque, told The Independent:
I understand that people are questioning it, but you have to understand that every culture is different and just because you don’t agree with a certain aspect of it, it doesn’t mean it’s not a relevant culture.
You can’t dictate to a country or a religion about how they handle things, but having said that, 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.
While, right now, women are not competing in the event, we have had discussions about that and we believe and hope that, in the next few years they will be. That is a significant cultural shift in Saudi Arabia.
The country is in the middle of a shift in how it is dealing with that – the position is changing, and rights are changing, as are the way women are handled and treated in society. We think that’s a great thing and we’re excited to be at the forefront of that change.
— $asha Banks (@SashaBanksWWE) April 27, 2018
It never ceases to amaze me that you come to any place in the world and walk down the street, and people know who you are. There’s nowhere you can go in the world without being recognised as a WWE superstar.
You talk about the cultural shift in the world, and just a few months ago we were in Abu Dhabi and had the first ever match with women competing, with a crowd of women, men and little boys in the audience with tears in their eyes.
The audience were chanting ‘This is Hope’ – that is cultural change.
Here’s hoping that change does come and the WWE Universe truly can expand to areas of the world it previously hasn’t.
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