WWE’s Greatest Royal Rumble was certainly an event that happened. While the WrestleMania of house shows had almost no effect on any storylines moving forward for Raw, Smackdown, or Backlash, as there were zero title changes and it was, in essence, a chance to tread water and make tons of money.
While it was, in general, a forgettable event for what happened in the ring, one WWE superstar spent his weekend dealing with real-life ramifications from his kayfabe actions in Saudi Arabia. Ariya Daivari and his brother Daivari Classic made an appearance to heel it up by waving the Iranian flag and proclaim the greatness of Iran in the face of WWE’s new Saudi Arabian prospects, who promptly beat him up.
It was the sort of lazy nationalism for the sake of a cheap pop that WWE has relied on for decades, but the problem was this was WWE entering into a very real, very tense situation with the sort of tact one expects from a wrestling company that regularly thinks about one-level deep. Unfortunately for Daivari, this did not go over especially well in Saudi Arabia or in Iran and he was the one that had to deal with the backlash, which included death threats. Daivari posted to Twitter in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday to apologize to anyone offended and explain that it was simply a storyline for his in-ring character and not his personal beliefs.
This seems like the sort of thing WWE should have considered as a possibility and figured out a better way to incorporate the new Saudi prospects and let them have a moment rather in a way that didn’t tread into problematic waters. Hopefully this will all get smoothed over, but it’s a reminder that while WWE continues to evolve and handle having a diverse roster better than it did in the past, it still has a ways to go in learning not to always go for the lowest hanging fruit.