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.

 


Could new format lead to new name on trophy despite virus worry?

Updated 11 August 2020

Could new format lead to new name on trophy despite virus worry?

  • Barca-Bayern promises to be a thrilling tie even without their supporters

LISBON: With just two former winners left in the competition, no Cristiano Ronaldo and no fans, the Champions League moves to Lisbon this week for the start of the “Final Eight” with the intriguing prospect that a new format could lead to a new name on the trophy.

However, the shadow of the coronavirus looms large after it was announced on Sunday two individuals from Atletico Madrid, one of the teams involved in Portugal, have tested positive.

"On Saturday, all members of the first team and the club's party to Lisbon underwent tests as required by UEFA protocols," said a club statement.

"Among the results known today, two positives have appeared and they are self-isolating in their respective homes."

It was not revealed whether the two positive cases involved players or backroom staff.

Barcelona and Bayern Munich, with five European Cups each, are in contention for the title but only one will reach the semifinals —  they meet each other in the quarterfinals at the Estadio da Luz on Friday.

With Barca desperate for more European success before Lionel Messi, who turned 33 in June, moves on, and Bayern looking a fearsome proposition led by Robert Lewandowski, that promises to be a thrilling tie despite the lack of supporters.

But maybe this time the glory will go to someone new altogether, with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain both having reason to believe this will be the year they are rewarded for a decade of decadence fueled by the immense wealth of their owners in the Gulf.

"The big clubs lift the titles," was how City boss Pep Guardiola put it after his team knocked out Real Madrid on Friday.

Perhaps Atletico, back where they lost the 2014 final to Real, will at last go the extra step under Diego Simeone, or perhaps there will be a shock winner in RB Leipzig, Atalanta or even Lyon.

At this level, Atalanta are the minnows and it would be a remarkable story if they won the trophy in their first appearance in the Champions League after the terrible suffering of their hometown Bergamo during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is as a direct result of COVID-19 that UEFA have taken the Champions League to the Portuguese capital for the latter stages.

The competition restarted on Friday after five months in hibernation because of the pandemic. The final was initially due to be played in Istanbul in late May before being postponed.

The final will be played at Benfica's Estadio da Luz on August 23. The “Final Eight” will start at the same ground on Wednesday when Atalanta face PSG.

Whoever wins that will meet Leipzig or Atletico for a place in the final, while City or Lyon will meet Bayern or Barcelona in the other semifinal.

The most unusual Champions League has already seen Real — winners of four of the last six editions — go out in the last 16 along with holders Liverpool and Juventus, who were eliminated by Lyon on Friday despite the best efforts of Ronaldo.