In a surprising move, WWE announced that Natalya and Lacey Evans will compete in Thursday’s Crown Jewel pay-per-view, the first-ever women’s match in Saudi Arabia.
The announcement came during the Crown Jewel press conference in Riyadh, which ran down the matches scheduled for the show including the latest addition.
WWE’s announcement of the bout between Natalya and Lacey Evans comes just months after it was reported a women’s match was supposed to take place on June’s Super Showdown event in Jeddah. The Saudi Arabian government did not approve the match between Natayla and Alexa Bliss, who both made the trip to Saudi Arabia.
The Greatest Royal Rumble event in April 2018, the promotion’s first in Saudia Arabia, was criticized for not having women representation on the show, among other issues. The outcry would eventually lead to the all-women’s pay-per-view, Evolution last October.
In a 2018 interview with Matty Paddock of The Independent, WWE Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative Triple H expressed hope that women would be able to wrestle in Saudi Arabia in the near future:
“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.”
In November of 2018, Renee Young joined the commentary team for WWE’s second Saudi Arabia show, the 2018 Crown Jewel pay-per-view.
Natalya and Lacey Evans’ match is added to the 2019 Crown Jewel card that includes:
- Braun Strowman vs Cain Velasquez for the Universal Championship
- Seth Rollins vs “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt for the WWE Championship
- Braun Strowman vs Tyson Fury
- Team Hogan vs Team Flair
- A Tag Team Turmoil Match
- Mansoor vs Cesaro
- A 20-man Battle Royal to determine AJ Styles’ opponent for the US Championship
- AJ Styles vs the winner of the 20-man Battle Royal
At one point, last year’s Crown Jewel event was in jeopardy following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. While WWE released a statement they would monitor the situation, the promotion eventually decided to “uphold its contractual obligations to the General Sports Authority.”
WWE Crown Jewel will stream live Thursday, October 31 at 1 p.m. EDT.
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