WWE Super Showdown kicks off in Jeddah

From left, Mojo Rawley, Kofi Kingston, Triple H, Mansour Al-Shehail and Seth Rollins during the press conference on Thursday. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 07 June 2019
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WWE Super Showdown kicks off in Jeddah

  • WWE makes a return to the Kingdom
  • WWE Champion Kofi Kingston set to face two-time former champion Dolph Ziggler

JEDDAH: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstars are in Jeddah this week, as the General Sports Authority (GSA) hosts the company’s Super Showdown event.

One WWE superstar of Syrian decent, Mojo Rawley, will don traditional Saudi attire for the event, and told Arab News that he picked up his thobe and shomagh (traditional head dress) last time he visited Jeddah.

“It’s a tribute to the Saudi people, my parents met and got engaged in Saudi and my dad’s whole side of the family still lives here. In Riyadh my uncle and my cousins came to the show last time, it was one of the coolest moments in my career to wrestle in front of them,” said Rawley. 

WWE Champion Kofi Kingston, who is set to face two-time former champion Dolph Ziggler, said that he will not underestimate his opponent at all. “Dolph Ziggler and I have had several matches on Raw, Smackdown and Pay-Per-View. We have gone at it quite a bit so I know how good Dolph is, and he is at his prime.”

WWE Universal Champion Seth Rollins, who will defend his title against Baron Corbin, said that he always feels humbled in the Kingdom. “The fanbase here is so passionate, it is so humbling to come halfway across the world and have people wearing your t-shirts, chanting your theme song, knowing who you are and being appreciative of the art you perform. It is a cool thing to come across a place where the culture is different from what I am used to, but we all get along so well, because we are all in love with the same thing,” he said.

 

 

Executive vice president of talent and live events, wrestling legend Triple H, said that when it comes to Saudi Arabia, the WWE like to go above and beyond. “These are big events for us. Big stadiums, they are packed, they are sold out and to see the Undertaker and Goldberg for the first time ever along with the biggest Battle Royale ever that will have Saudi’s first signee competing in. Mansoor Al-Shehail is looking forward to representing his country.”

The first Saudi WWE superstar Al-Shehail is living his dream. He told Arab News that one of the low points of his journey to becoming an in-ring competitor was when his family did not take him seriously, and thought he was wasting his time.

“My father, who once said I was play acting and wanted me to go to study and become a doctor, saw me last year, in a ring with 60,000 people from my home country. He said that I looked like I didn’t belong anywhere else in the world than in the ring, and I knew then he understood. I want to give that momentum to any Saudi who wants to be a superstar in the future,” said Al-Shehail.

US champion Samoa Joe said that he noticed the level of appreciation shown by Arab fans. “Coming out and putting on a show is a cool experience — it is always nice to be appreciated. The hospitality is out of this world as it makes you want to go out there and put on a better show,” he told Arab News.

Reigning five-time 24/7 champion R-Truth said this title was more work than any championship he had held. “You have to defend it 24 hours a day. In the morning, mid-day, afternoon, night, evening anywhere, anytime, anyplace. I was ambushed by Jinder Mahal on the tarmac when talking to my wife on my way here.”

The WWE Super Showdown will be held at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah, Friday at 9 p.m.

 


Dutch cap Europe’s World Cup dominance by ousting Japan

Updated 26 June 2019
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Dutch cap Europe’s World Cup dominance by ousting Japan

  • The reigning European champions will need to maintain that composure as they prepare for a meeting with Italy

RENNES, France: Tears were still flowing from Saki Kumagai’s eyes more than 30 minutes later.
With victorious Dutch rivals passing her on the way out of the stadium, Japan’s captain seemed to find solace in speaking about the penalty long after it cost her team a place in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup.
With Tuesday night’s game entering the 90th minute locked at 1-1, Kumagai’s outstretched left arm blocked the shot Vivianne Miedema had aimed into the right side of the net.
“It had my hand for sure,” Kumagai said. “It’s difficult to accept but it’s also sad. I know that is football.”
Referee Melissa Borjas pointed to the penalty spot and Lieke Martens netted her second goal of the game in the 90th minute to seal a 2-1 victory that sent the Netherlands into the quarterfinals for the first time.
“We have made history,” Martens said. “I’m not usually taking the penalties but I felt really good this game. I asked Sherida Spitse if I could take it and she gave it directly to me and I felt quite relaxed about it.”
The reigning European champions will need to maintain that composure as they prepare for a meeting with Italy on Saturday after going one stage further than their Women’s World Cup debut four years ago.
“We were standing in the circle after the match and we were so happy, yelling at each other,” Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman said. “We were saying, ‘Let’s continue writing history.’“
It is journey’s end for Japan, which won the 2011 tournament and was the runner-up four years later.
The strength of the second-half display counted for nothing.
As befitting a meeting of the Asian and European champions, the game produced some of the slickest action of the World Cup. A backheel flick set up Martens to send the Dutch in front in the 17th minute and Yui Hasegawa equalized in the 43rd to complete a slick passing move.
But the post, crossbar and goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal thwarted Japan’s pursuit of a winning goal.
“I think we lacked the clinical edge,” Japan coach Asako Takakura said. “We have to accept the result, we’re defeated, we’re very disappointed and for all the players I feel very sorry for them and frustrated.”
With the last Asian team eliminated, the Women’s World Cup will have a record seven European teams in the quarterfinals. Norway and England meet in Le Havre on Thursday and France takes on the United States the following night. After the Netherlands plays Italy on Saturday, Germany and Sweden will meet.
“It’s really tough to be here,” Netherlands forward Miedema said. “Sometimes it kind of feels like a Euros.”
That is a title already won by this team, thanks to Miedema’s goals in the final two years ago on home soil.
The fans won’t have far to travel for the World Cup quarterfinal, with Valenciennes around two hours’ drive from the Netherlands.
It will be another chance for the orange-clad fans who danced and sang their way in a convoy to the stadium on Tuesday to stamp their mark on this tournament.
They were certainly given a game to savor, and an audacious opening goal.
Martens flicked in the opener after evading her marker to meet a corner and send the ball through the legs of Yuika Sugasawa into the net.
Sugasawa had a quick chance to tie, only to hit the post. But Japan did equalize by completing an intricate move.
Hina Sugita squared across the penalty area to Yuika Sugasawa, who passed back to Mana Iwabuchi on the edge of the penalty area. After holding off Jackie Groenen on the turn, Iwabuchi slipped the ball through to Hasegawa, who was free to delicately dink a shot over Van Veenendaal into the corner of the net.
It was some way to make the most of a first shot on target for a team that failed to score in two of its three group stage games.
But parity nearly didn’t last long.
Miedema received the ball from Shanice van de Sanden but with only Ayaka Yamashita to beat struck straight at the Japan goalkeeper.
Van Veenendaal came to the rescue of the Dutch in the second half by denying Emi Nakajima as Japan chased the winner.
“Japan is a world class team and you saw that today,” Miedema said. “In the second half you can see they have loads of quality on the pitch.”