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Sun 4 Nov 2018 08:27 AM

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Saudis host WWE wrestlers at the Crown Jewel extravaganza in Riyadh

With thumping rock music and a dazzling fireworks display, Hulk Hogan, the host for the evening, swaggered to the ring wearing bright yellow sunglasses and a red bandana

Saudis host WWE wrestlers at the Crown Jewel extravaganza in Riyadh
The Miz makes his way to the ring during the WWE World Cup Quarterfinal match as part of as part of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Crown Jewel pay-per-view at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh on November 2, 2018.

Greased-up and trash-talking WWE stars clashed on Friday at the Crown Jewel extravaganza in Riyadh.

Wrestling stars such as Shane McMahon, Seth Rollins and AJ Style brawled and snarled in the ring, sending a roar rippling through a soccer stadium packed with thousands of fans in Riyadh's King Saud University.

With thumping rock music and a dazzling fireworks display, Hulk Hogan, the host for the evening, swaggered to the ring wearing bright yellow sunglasses and a red bandana.

Addressing the crowd as "maniacs", he declared: "It's awesome to be here!"

It was the second WWE event held in the kingdom this year as part of a 10-year agreement with Saudi Arabia's General Sports Authority, headed by Turki al-Sheikh, who was present at the event.

The first WWE event in Saudi Arabia was held in western Jeddah city in April, at which the sports authority apologised over a promotional video that showed scantily clad female wrestlers drawing euphoric cheers from men and women alike.

Hosting the event in the ultra-conservative kingdom would have been virtually impossible before dramatic reforms by Prince Mohammed, who has clipped the powers of the religious establishment and promoted entertainment including mixed-gender events.

"Two years ago, men and women could not sit next to each other at a public event without being asked: 'Is she related to you'," said a Saudi government employee who was at the event with his wife.