Due to the political tension brewing in Saudi Arabia, two of WWE’s top performers, John Cena and Daniel Bryan, have refused to travel to the country ahead of Friday’s PPV event, Crown Jewel.
Both were set to have big-time matchups during the show, but since deciding not to travel, they have been effectively replaced in different ways.
Cena, who was set to face Seth Rollins in the first round of the first World Cup tournament, has been replaced by Bobby Lashley. WWE decided to announce the replacement on Raw this past Monday with acting GM Baron Corbin.
After Lashley’s match, Corbin informed that since Cena didn’t technically have a qualifying match for the tourney, Lashley would replace him due to having recent success against Finn Balor.
Overall a very easy, but pretty lame, way of announcing the change. But nonetheless, it is done, so expect Lashley to be a quick out as Rollins will most likely move on to the semi-finals, if not the finals, of the tourney later that night.
Bryan, on the other hand, was set to face WWE Champion AJ Styles for the title at Crown Jewel.
There have been talks about one of the options the company discussed being to film the match at the Performance Center in Orlando, and just show the match during Friday’s event.
Thankfully, they came to their senses, and decided to have the title match on last night’s Smackdown Live. If you haven’t watched last night’s show yet, *SPOILER ALERT*: Styles picked up the submission victory over Bryan.
However, right after the match, both were attacked by the recently absent Samoa Joe, setting up the new match for the title between Styles and Joe on Friday.
Joe hadn’t been on Smackdown Live since his loss to Styles at Hell in a Cell last month.
It is surprising to say the least that only two superstars have come out to say they will not travel to the war-torn country. But considering who these performers are, it doesn’t surprise me that they are able to speak out against things that most others in the company can’t, given their popularity and influence within the company.
It seems the WWE is just trying to go on as planned with the show without trying to bring up any fears or worries there might be about having the show right now. The company has even censored all employees from saying the name of the country on TV, most likely to keep Crown Jewel disassociated from the turmoil going on there.
Overall, it seems like Vince McMahon has decided to go through with the event as planned and hopes the night goes as planned, instead of risking losing millions of dollars by cancelling the PPV all together.
After the PPV, expect WWE to most likely abandon it’s attempts to continue to travel to and partner with officials of the country due to the recent disappearances and deaths of certain politicians and journalists.