WWE event in Riyadh proves no ‘sleeper hold’ for fans

Match action from the first day between Jack Swagger (on top) and Baron Corbin.
Updated 05 November 2016

WWE event in Riyadh proves no ‘sleeper hold’ for fans

RIYADH: Friday marked the closure of WWE Live in Riyadh. The two-day tour concluded and left an everlasting impression to Saudi fans.

The event kicked off with a six-man tag team match pitting Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper of the Wyatt family along with the Viper Randy Orton against the big red machine Kane and the young team of Jason Jordan and Chad Gable known as American Alpha.
The second match featured Jack Swagger defeating Curt Hawkins via submission.
The Tag team titles were on the line in a triple threat match as champions Rhyno and Heath Slater retained their titles against Konnor and Viktor the Ascension and Jimmy and Jay Uso. 
Badr Al Saleh, a late night TV show host for MBC television and youtube personality, was the special guest ring announcer for the Intercontinental title match that saw the Miz lose to champion Dolph Ziggler for a second straight night. The Miz and Al Saleh exchanged words before the match.
The event was a family affair as the crowds makeup can visibly be noticed as a lot fathers can be seen enjoying the live entertainment with their children from match to match.
“This is the second time we came to see the WWE in Riyadh, the first being in 2014. It is great to have the WWE here in Saudi and it provides a different form of entertainment,” said Abdulelah a father who came to see the show with his two sons and daughter. “My kids have been driving me mad since they heard that the WWE is coming to Riyadh,” Abdulelah added.
“I came from Jeddah to Riyadh to enjoy the WWE with my son. We waited a long time to get into the venue due to the heavy traffic but it was worth it,” said Faisal, another parent who was attending with his two sons.
Hector Alegre, CEO of Time Entertainment, told Arab News that they are happy to bring back the WWE for the second time to Riyadh and a third time in the Kingdom. “We are very proud to be pioneers in this form of entertainment and we are looking to bring the WWE back to Jeddah and for the first time to the Eastern Province,” Alegre added.
A spokesman from the General Authority for Entertainment of Saudi Arabia told Arab News that this is the third event supported by them and that these alternative style events will be supported by them in the future as well to ensure that the entertainment industry thrives in sustainability and that the entertainment revenue stays within the Kingdom. The Authority aims to support these events to create a variety of programs for residents and citizens alike in Kingdom to be entertained.

Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

Updated 13 min 42 sec ago

Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

  • Former Saudi Arabia coach wants to guide the Whites to their first World Cup since 1990.
  • "If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here," Dutchman says of his new job.

LONDON: Bert van Marwijk has told the UAE he only has one thing on his mind: Getting the side to the 2022 World Cup. 

The former Saudi Arabia boss was unveiled as the new coach of the Whites before watching his new team beat his former team 2-1 in a friendly in Dubai (see right). While he was in the stand rather than the dugout — interim boss Saleem Abdelrahman took charge — he would have liked what he saw as he set himself the challenge of leading the UAE to their first showpiece since 1990. 

“I’m here for only one thing, and that’s to qualify for the World Cup,” the Dutchman said.  

“It takes a long time and the first thing we have to deal with is the first qualification round. That’s why I’m here.”

Van Marwijk was celebrated after he led the Green Falcons to last year's World Cup before calling it quits. (AFP) 

Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia to last year’s World Cup — the Green Falcons’ first appearance at the showpiece for 12 years — during a two-year stint which ended in September 2017.

That was one of the key reasons the UAE fought hard for the 66-year-old and while it is never easy getting through Asian qualifying — 46 teams going for just four direct slots at Qatar 2022 — the Dutchman claimed his experience, combined with his knowledge of the UAE, will stand him in good stead. 

“The Saudis and the UAE are about the same level. With the Saudis we qualified for Russia, so we will do really everything to go to Qatar in 2022,” Van Marwijk said. 

While he is fondly remembered in the Kingdom — only a contractual dispute regarding backroom staff meant he did not stay on as Green Falcons coach for the Russia tournament — it is his time as the Netherlands coach that really stands out on his managerial resume. Van Marwijk coached the Oranje to within minutes of the World Cup trophy, with only an Andres Iniesta extra-time winner preventing him from tasting ultimate glory against Spain in 2010. 

So why did he return to the Gulf for another crack at World Cup qualification in a tough, crowded race? 

“One of the reasons is the feeling. I have to have the right feeling when I sign a contract,” Van Marwijk said. “We analyzed the UAE, we played four times against each other with Saudi, so I can see the potential.

“I have had the experience to go to the World Cup twice. The first time we were second in the world, the second time was with Australia (which he coached last summer) and we were a little bit unlucky — we played very well. 

“So to go to the World Cup for the third time is the goal.”

Van Marwijk is all too aware his task will be difficult. The “Golden Generation” of Emirati footballers, spearheaded by Omar Abdulrahman, tried and failed to make it to football’s biggest tournament, and a lot of the next three years’ work will likely depend on a new generation.

“I heard there were some young talents, so I’m anxious to know how good they are,” the Dutchman said. “I know the team has a few very good players — the UAE has a few weapons. 

“That’s the most important thing. If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here.”