The Rock and Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins during Wrestlemania XL Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field. Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia General Entertainment Authority chairman Turki Alalshikh announced the extension of the partnership between Riyadh Season and the UFC.

But while the new agreement reportedly includes plans for Saudi Arabia to host a major UFC event in late-2024 or early-2025, the country also has plans for UFC’s sister company, WWE.

According to ESPN’s Mike Coppinger, Alalshikh said that an enhancement to Saudi Arabia’s current partnership with WWE is expected to be announced later this month. Alalshikh specifically mentioned that Saudi Arabia is looking to host one of WWE’s top two events: January’s Royal Rumble or WrestleMania.

“We will do big things with the UFC and TKO,” Alalshikh said, the latter being the parent company formed by the merger between WWE and UFC.

WWE’s pre-existing relationship with Saudi Arabia dates back to 2018, with the country typically hosting multiple Premium Live Event shows each year. Saudi Arabia reportedly pays WWE $50 million for each show, with the next installment being the King and Queen of the Ring event in Jeddah on May 25.

While WWE initially received backlash for the partnership — which saw Saudi Arabia host a WWE show weeks after the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 — such criticism has since seemingly died down. If anything, when it comes to sports and entertainment, it appears that WWE was ahead of the curve in overlooking Saudi Arabia’s human rights record in favor of a payday.

Still, there’s a big difference — at least for wrestling fans — between allowing Saudi Arabia to host new or lesser known events and giving the country one of WWE’s most storied shows, such as Royal Rumble or (especially) WrestleMania. But WWE is seeking out site fees for its Premium Live Events and it’s no secret that Saudi Arabia is willing to pay up. In other words, it might not be a matter of “if” but rather “when” the country will be hosting one of WWE’s highest profile events.


About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.