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Triple H defends WWE's partnership with Saudi Arabia


While speaking with The Independent ahead of Friday's Greatest Royal Rumble, Paul "Triple H" Levesque offered a defense of WWE's partnership with Saudi Arabia.

"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," Levesque said. "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."

WWE has received criticism for entering into a 10-year business agreement with the Saudi General Sports Authority given how women are treated in the country and women's wrestlers not being allowed to perform there.

But Levesque expressed optimism that women will be allowed to wrestle in Saudi Arabia in the 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," he said.

"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.”

The relationship with WWE is part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 economic and social reform program.

In addition to there being no women's matches on the card, Byron Saxton will be hosting the Greatest Royal Rumble pre-show instead of Renee Young. Women are only allowed to attend the event if they're accompanied by male family members, and even that is a recent development. The Saudi General Sports Authority announced late last year that they would be accommodating families and easing restrictions on women attending sporting events at stadiums in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam.