WWE star Samoa Joe getting ready to rumble in Saudi Arabia

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This file photo shows Seth and Bray Samoa Joe (R) battle during a WWE show at Zenith Arena in May, 2017 in Lille, France (Philippe Huguen / AFP)
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Samoa Joe says he's fighting fit for the Royal Rumble
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Samoa Joe - he's a winner
Updated 17 April 2018
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WWE star Samoa Joe getting ready to rumble in Saudi Arabia

  • The event marks the start of a 10-year partnership between WWE and the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia
  • WWE's Samoa Joe says he can't wait to get back into the ring

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia: While inside the WWE ring Samoa Joe, also known as The Destroyer, prefers to let his wrestling do the talking. Outside it he has plenty to say about the upcoming "Greatest Royal Rumble" in Saudi Arabia.

“I’m beyond excited. First and foremost, we get to go and experience new cultures, see them first-hand and up close and coming to Saudi Arabia is a big opportunity for me. I’m very interested to be there, to meet the fans and to see how strong the WWE Universe is there,” said the 127.9kg athlete.

The event marks the start of a 10-year partnership between WWE and the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia. Samoa Joe will compete in an Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match against Seth Rollins, Finn Bálor and The Miz in one of an incredible seven Championship matches at the Greatest Royal Rumble event.

WWE fans will also see John Cena vs Triple H, The Undertaker vs. Chris Jericho and Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns in a Steel Cage Universal Championship match.

For Samoa Joe the signature event, featuring 50 WWE stars battling it out at the King Abdullah Stadium, it will be a chance to get back to competing after sitting on the sidelines with an injury.

“I’m dying to get back in the ring as I’ve been nursing an injury, so to be in Saudi Arabia and to be able to get all of those months of frustration out, well I’ll definitely be ready to go. It’s a return to the ring for me and it’s a debut for me in a new culture, so that’s two factors that mean I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

Speaking of the April 25 event, he added: “It’s incredible, you get this rare opportunity to introduce them to the live experience because that is so much different to the television screen. The energy that’s in the building, the atmosphere, to be there and feel the excitement of the crowd and to see what we do live in person is a very different experience, and it’s one that everyone will enjoy.”

Describing the event as a “fantastic night out,” with “some of the most amazing athletes,” he said there was “no better show in the world,” where people can cheer their favorites and boo those that are not.

While Samoa Joe has competed in Abu Dhabi three times, this will be his first visit to the Kingdom.

“In the US I’ve had the opportunity to grow up around a lot of Arab families and the one thing that always stood out to me is the incredible hospitality, it’s out of this world.

“Anytime I’ve travelled to the Middle East I’ve always experience the very best in hospitality, they are some of the most kind and wonderful people I’ve had the chance to meet and I feel that Saudi Arabia shares those same qualities. I can’t wait to learn and experience things for the first time.

“No matter what your background or where you are from, the one thing we can all respect is when great athletes and great passion leads to great achievements. I think that sport is universally respected around the world.”

Asked what one memory he hoped fans would take away from the show, Samoa Joe said: “For the fans in Saudi Arabia I hope the biggest memory for them is I hope they understand how powerful what we do is, how important it is to bring people together.

“It allows people to take a little bit of a break from the world and just share the joy and be entertained. And I want them not only to have seen us but to recognize they lived a piece of history.”

On the global audience looking into Saudi Arabia for the first time, the WWE star said he agreed with the idea that ‘sport is for all’, an ethos adopted by the General Sports Authority as it works to improve sporting access across the Kingdom.

“I think it’s absolutely necessary that we, the people in the West, do see that the everyday lives of people in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “To see a Saudi family enjoying a night out and being able to see that no matter how much culturally different we might be we are still the same.

“I think it sends a powerful message. It puts a face on people, its puts a face on the region, and it’s a very different face than perhaps the one we are used to seeing through traditional media outlets.

“If we can help a fan in the West look over and say ‘wow, they are not much different from us, they enjoy wrestling as much as we do,’ I think we’ve done a service. It’s my greatest hope that comes out of these efforts.”

Samoa Joe, who will be looking for glory in the ladder match as he climbs for the Intercontinental Championship in Jeddah, said Saudi Arabia was now a serious player in the WWE world.

“This will be what we call a ‘tentpole’ event,” he said. “We talk about grand opportunities to make a statement, I think winning the Greatest Royal Rumble in the history of the Royal Rumbles in Saudi Arabia is probably one of the greatest statements you can make.

“In your career to walk away champion of the Greatest Royal Rumble would be something people will take with them for a lifetime.

“I’m very much looking forward to becoming the Greatest Royal Rumble champion.”

 

 Tickets are available online at WWE.SA, and are also on sale at various retail outlets including the General Sports Authority offices in Riyadh, Jeddah and Damman, Red Sea Mall, Mall of Arabia, Alsalam Mall, and a special WWE/GSA outdoor booth at Jeddah Corniche. Tickets will also be on-sale at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium beginning Wednesday, April 25.


A HAT-TRICK OF HOPES: What the UAE and Saudi Arabia should be looking for from their friendly

Updated 20 March 2019
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A HAT-TRICK OF HOPES: What the UAE and Saudi Arabia should be looking for from their friendly

  • Can the Whites and Green Falcons find the back of the net more often?
  • Both teams need to set the tone ahead of the important World Cup qualifiers.

LONDON: Ahead of Thursday’s friendly between the UAE and Saudi Arabia Arab News looks at the main priorities for both sides as they embark on their new eras after the Asian Cup and ahead of the all-important the World Cup qualifiers.

FIND THOSE SCORING BOOTS

For the past 18 months both sides have struggled for goals. Under Alberto Zaccheroni the UAE scored just 10 goals in the past nine matches — five of those coming against lowly Kyrgyzstan and India — and likewise the Green Falcons have also struggled to find the back of the net. Heading toward the World Cup qualifiers, now is the time to find those scoring boots.

PUT ON A SHOW

Both sides have technically gifted players, can keep the ball and at times trouble opposition defenses. But both have been too defensive, too safety-first and, at times, too dull. Football is supposed to be entertainment, and the friendlies ahead of the World Cup qualifiers might be no bad time to throw caution to the wind and see what the players can do in the final third.

SET THE TONE

As the modern cliche goes, a week is a long time in football. With all the sackings and player movements, it is not hard to see the kernel of truth in that overused saying. But, conversely, time can also move very fast in the “Beautiful Game.” It may be six months before the World Cup qualifiers begin, but it will be September before the coaches and players know it. Set the tone and tactics now and triumphs will be easier to come by then and, more importantly, further into the future.