WWE will host the third event in its decade-long ongoing deal with the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, Super ShowDown, on Friday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The event has come with similar controversies to the past two events, particularly regarding which wrestlers can and cannot appear on the show.
Super ShowDown will once again be without the entire women's roster due to laws about women within the country, and wrestlers like John Cena and Daniel Bryan have outright reportedly refused to attend the event. But then there's the situation surrounding Sami Zayn. According to Dave Meltzer via latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, WWE was directly ordered by the Syrian government not to book Zayn for the show due to his Syrian heritage.
"For one, all along we were told the only men off the show were Bryan and Cena, who decided against going, and Zayn, who the Saudi Arabian government told WWE they didn't want him on the show due to his ethnicity," Meltzer wrote.
This same situation popped up back in April 2018 when Zayn didn't appear at the Greatest Royal Rumble show, which was also in Jeddah. WWE released a statement at the time regarding Zayn's absence, writing "WWE is committed to embracing individuals from all backgrounds while respecting local customs and cultural differences around the world."
The Saudi government has also reportedly taken issues with religious symbolism certain wrestlers have. Rey Mysterio altered his iconic mask for a match at Crown Jewel so that the crucifix on his forehead could not be seen, and Aleister Black will reportedly miss Super ShowDown because of certain religious figures tattooed on his body.0comments
Despite the controversy numerous active WWE wrestlers have publicly defended WWE's deal with Saudi Arabia. Roman Reigns, who is booked for Super ShowDown in a match against Shane McMahon, recently argued in favor of the deal in a recent interview with Newsweek.
"It gets a lot of mixed and negative reactions, " Reigns said. "The bottom line for me is, if we're going to help promote change, if we're going to set out to make an impact than I have to be a part of it. I'm not going to sit on the sideline and talk about how we can get there. I want to be a part of the action. I look at it as being a part of the solution while still respecting cultures, but it's a big world and I want to experience all of it. So if we can help make a positive impact that's what we're here to do. We're here to put smiles on everyone's faces. We don't discriminate, that's our goal to help and promote positivity and take that to every inch of the world."