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

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.

 


Australian Open: Top-ranked Ash Barty a step closer to ending Aussie drought

Updated 28 January 2020

Australian Open: Top-ranked Ash Barty a step closer to ending Aussie drought

  • Barty aiming to be the first Australian woman since Chris O’Neill in 1978 to win the Australian Open
  • She won her first title on home soil in Adelaide in the lead-up to this season’s first major

MELBOURNE, Australia: Top-ranked Ash Barty is a step closer to ending a long drought for Aussies at the national championship.
Barty saved set points in the 11th game and another in the tiebreaker before seizing the momentum against two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in a 7-6 (6), 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena. She next faces No. 14 Sofia Kenin, who reached the semifinals at a major for the first time with a 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 78-ranked Ons Jabeur.
Barty fended off eight of the nine break-point chances she faced in the first set before finally getting the upper hand when she won a 22-shot rally, defending for much of it just to stay in the point, at 3-2 in the tiebreaker.
After clinching the first set in 69 minutes, she went on a roll to take a 4-0 lead in the second and take all the momentum away from Kvitova, who beat Barty here at the same stage last year before losing the final to Naomi Osaka.
Barty rebounded from that to win her first major title at the French Open, where she beat Kenin in the fourth round. Until she arrived in Australia, Kenin’s run at Roland Garros — which included a third-round upset over Serena Williams — was her best at a Grand Slam.
There’s a lot of local expectation riding on Barty, who is aiming to be the first Australian woman since Chris O’Neill in 1978 to win the Australian Open. The first major of the decade may see the end of the 42-year wait, and an Australian man hasn’t won since 1976. Barty is already the first Australian woman since 1984 to reach the semifinals of the home Open.
Barty doesn’t expect to feel the pressure. She won her first title on home soil in Adelaide in the lead-up to this season’s first major.
“I’m not going to have anything but a smile on my face when I walk out onto this court,” Barty said of her next match.
Kenin and Jabeur were both into the quarterfinals for the first time at a major.
For Kenin, who was born in Moscow but moved to the United States as a baby and grew up in Florida, the degree of difficulty will only increase.
“I’m in the semis,” she said, when asked for her preference of semifinal rival. “Anyone I play, they’re playing really well.”
Kenin is playing her best tennis, too. Her best previous run at Melbourne Park ended in the second round, when she lost to Simona Halep last year.
She finished last year ranked 14th, and could match Barty in one category: they were tied for most hard-court wins on the women’s tour last year with 38 wins each.
Kenin’s run here included a comeback win in the third round against 15-year-old Coco Gauff, when she made only nine unforced errors across the second and third sets.
In the second set against Jabeur, she saved three break points in a long sixth game, then broke serve in the seventh game to set up the win.
“It was a tough moment,” Kenin said. “I didn’t know it was 10 minutes (but) it was pretty long, the game. After that I got my momentum.”
Jabeur, a 25-year-old Tunisian, was the first Arab woman to make it to the last eight at a major.
“Ï think I proved that I can be in the quarterfinals in a Grand Slam, even if I have a lot of things to improve probably physically and mentally,” she said. “But I’m happy that I pushed through a lot of things. I proved to myself that I could do a lot of great things.”
In later men’s quarterfinals, 20-time major winner Roger Federer was playing 100th-ranked Tennys Sandgren, and seven-time Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic had a night match against Milos Raonic of Canada.