Will you be the first P16 Billion Powerball jackpot winner from the Philippines? Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college WWE set aside its women’s movement in favor of a more lucrative statement in Saudi Arabia, an event next month titled Crown Jewel with female wrestlers banned from competition. The deal has prompted a public smackdown from fans , bipartisan criticism from politicians and lampooning from late-night hosts, backlash that took a turn and grew louder after writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul .The financials are murky but WWE was expected to make between $20 million and $40 million from the two Saudi Arabian shows this year, as part of a 10-year deal.“WWE will say running Saudi Arabia is all about their hope of inspiring change,” wrestling journalist Jason Powell said. “It screams cash grab regardless of how they spin it. I’m happy the women are getting their own show and they deserve it, but the company’s ongoing business relationship with the Saudis is a black cloud hanging over not just the Evolution event but the company as a whole.”There are now hints the show may not happen as planned. The wildly popular Undertaker heard boos when he talked about Crown Jewel in a promo last week on “Smackdown.” WWE has heavily downplayed Saudia Arabia itself in its promoting of the event. The country wasn’t mentioned as Crown Jewel’s site on recent television shows and it doesn’t show up on advertising on its website .WWE has said it was “monitoring the situation.”ADVERTISEMENT Natalya Neidhart, niece of WWE Hall of Famer Bret “Hitman” Hart, said she hoped that should WWE proceed, changes for women could happen over the course of the deal.“You’re not going to change a culture overnight. I think WWE is taking such positive steps in doing positive things over in Saudi Arabia,” she said. “One day, I believe that we will be over there.”Bliss said she believed women should get the chance to wrestle in Riyadh.“I don’t feel like it’s out of reach,” she said. “Who knows? I don’t think it’s ever not a possibility.”Until then, if ever, WWE is counting on events like Evolution to push women into the headlines.WWE has started to give women equal billing with men on the biggest cards. Its event at Nassau Coliseum on Sunday is a statement, topped by one of the most famous and marketable athletes in sports in Rousey.The WWE has delivered a list of firsts for women over the last two years — from the brutality of a Hell in a Cell match, the ladder-climbing, briefcase-snatching Money in the Bank bout to the Royal Rumble where Rousey made her debut — the kind of over-the-top gimmick fights that for decades had been reserved for men only.“We’re running out of first-evers because the women are taking over,” Neidhart said. “I feel like in the WWE right now, it’s becoming normal for women to be at the forefront.”John Cena, Daniel Bryan and The Miz are sitting Sunday out. Rousey headlines Evolution against Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch takes on Charlotte Flair, and Bliss and Mickie James team up to face returning stars Trish Stratus and Lita in the other top matches.WWE was a bit late in the fight game in pushing females to the top of the card. Rousey headlined her first UFC pay-per-view in 2013 and female boxers have long straddled the line between seriousness and sideshow. WWE first saw the value of a legitimate women’s division in its developmental NXT promotion and started giving major story lines and longer matches to future WWE stars like Flair, Banks, Bayley and Asuka. Gov’t to employ 6,000 displaced by Taal Allen Durham still determined to help Meralco win 1st PBA title Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Tim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crown MOST READ Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Bliss grew up a wrestling fan (she laughed that her grandmother wanted to marry Dusty Rhodes) and she’d jump in a pool with her cousins as they mimicked stars like the Hardy Boyz and Lita. Now, little girls emulate the 5-foot-1 troublemaking “Goddess” of WWE, who, despite her bad-girl persona, credits fans who pushed on social media for women to get star billing like Steve Austin or the Rock.Bliss, who signed with the WWE in 2015 in the midst of its shift, described it as a time when fans wanted more for women.“Our fans saw that we were getting 30-second matches. They saw we were capable of more, we just weren’t getting the opportunities,” Bliss said. “It was our fans who rallied behind us and saw we were deserving of more.”Stephanie McMahon, WWE’s chief brand officer and main event female villain, is touting Sunday’s show as a chance to show how much the company has changed its presentation of women.“Our women were treated as secondary, if not tertiary type, characters and our fans had had enough,” McMahon told The Associated Press before a pay-per-view event in August. “They started a hashtag that trended on Twitter for three days, #givedivasachance. Specifically calling for better matches, longer matches, more athleticism, better story lines. Their voices were so loud that our chairman and CEO, my father (Vince McMahon), heard them and said, keep watching and we’ll give divas a chance.”WWE is making clear its long term plans even though those efforts for women have been clouded by its Saudi Arabia deal. The promotion wants to keep the focus on the women actually fighting in New York, not their absence overseas.“Now, you have little girls everywhere saying, ‘I want to be a WWE superstar,’” Neidhart said. “I want to be like those girls. It’s because of the movement.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew LATEST STORIES Japeth Aguilar embraces role, gets rewarded with Finals MVP plum Wozniacki gets 1st win at this year’s WTA Finals “The welcome was so warm,” Bliss said of fighting Banks for the WWE Raw women’s championship, a year after female stars made only promotional appearances at the event. “They were up-to-date with women’s story lines. There were little girls crying in happiness. It was just so cool because we got to have that moment with them.”The December bout was widely hailed as an empowering, key moment for the sports entertainment giant — progress toward a stated goal to transform how women’s wrestling is promoted. WWE is taking another step this weekend with a pay-per-view card in New York featuring all female wrestlers, dubbed Evolution and headlined by former UFC star Ronda Rousey .FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSJapeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for GinebraSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back Chriss“It’s not just a women’s evolution in WWE,” Bliss said. “It’s an evolution all over the world.”Don’t ring the bell for the win just yet. FILE – In this March 6, 2018, file photo, professional wrestler Ronda Rousey speaks at a press conference in East Rutherford, N.J. WWE has benched the women’s movement in favor of a more lucrative statement next month by running the Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia where female wrestlers are banned from competition. (Marko Georgiev/The Record via AP, File)Former WWE champ Alexa Bliss ditched her skimpy two-piece ring gear for a full bodysuit. Performing for the first time in the United Arab Emirates, where strict rules govern what women wear in public, Bliss wasn’t about to risk offending a nation set to have WWE female wrestlers fight on the same card as the men.She went hold-to-hold with Sasha Banks to make wrestling history — and fans in a country where women have had to fight for the right to drive responded with chants of “This is hope!”ADVERTISEMENT View comments
“Our special teams were really big tonight,’ South Hills coach Steve Bogan said. “That’s how football goes. We could be a little more efficient, but that’s stuff we can work on.’ The win improved South Hills to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the San Antonio League. More importantly, with Rowland and West Covina out of the way, the Huskies are on track to win a third consecutive league title. COVINA — It’s a good thing the South Hills High School football team has special teams capable of determining the outcome of games. The Huskies were outgained by West Covina, 297 yards to 139, on Friday night at Covina District Field. But a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown and other miscues by the Bulldogs helped South Hills to a 28-13 victory. The miscue parade continued for West Covina as the Bulldogs’ next two possessions ended with a muffed punt snap, then a downed ball by West Covina punter Robert Mata, who took a knee while attempting to field a bad snap at his own 32. South Hills, however, wasn’t able to turn either mistake into points. It didn’t take long for the Huskies to be given another chance, though. West Covina drove from its own 16-yard line to South Hills’ 23 before Huskies defensive back Fred Glaster intercepted a pass and returned it to midfield. Winbush cashed in the turnover with a 47-yard touchdown run to make it 21-0. “Against a good team, you’re not going to be able to make those mistakes and give them 21 points,’ Bulldogs coach Mike Maggiore said. “It’s disappointing, obviously. You learn about yourself when you lose and I think now we know what we need to work on.’ West Covina, which went to halftime with a yardage edge of 142 to 70, didn’t quit despite being down three touchdowns. The Bulldogs drove 60 yards on their first possession of the second half and scored on Tyler Hockenhull’s 7-yard touchdown run. Following a stop, the Bulldogs got the ball at their own 19 and drove 81 yards in just over two minutes to make it 21-13 on Hockenhull’s 4- yard touchdown run with 3:19 left in the third quarter. West Covina had the ball back twice more, trailing by eight, but South Hills’ defense came up with stops both times. Winbush’s 3-yard touchdown with 9:26 left in the fourth quarter provided the final margin. Aram Tolegian can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2233, or by e-mail at aram.to[email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “I didn’t think about it that way,’ Bogan said. “I know one thing, Nogales and Walnut don’t want to hear it. We’re going to do our best to not take anybody lightly. The loss was West Covina’s (6-1, 1-1) first of the season and ended the Bulldogs’ 13-game winning streak. Bulldogs coach Mike Maggiore might burn the tapes of Friday’s game instead of showing them to his team. South Hills scored first when Brian Slover blocked a punt and Ricky Cortez returned it 15 yards for a touchdown. West Covina fumbled the ensuing kickoff and South Hills scored on the next play when receiver Erik Haveman and running back Marquies Winbush executed a hook- and-lateral play for a 15-yard touchdown that made it 14-0.