WWE's last trip to Saudi Arabia for the Crown Jewel event in late October ended in yet another shroud of controversy. In case you missed the story, the wrestlers and production team were delayed from leaving the country for nearly a full day. The WWE claimed the delays were strictly due to mechanical issues involving the plane, while other reports started popping up that the flight was deliberately delayed due to a dispute between Vince McMahon and Saudi Arabia's government officials. The crew was eventually set home, but the delays caused the entire SmackDown roster to miss that week's episode of live television and led to numerous disgruntled posts from wrestlers on social media.
WWE has another pair of Saudi Arabia shows booked for 2020, and WrestlingNews.co's Paul Davis reported on Sunday that the show is penciled in for either Feb. 20 or Feb. 27. He then added that more wrestlers are planning on joining Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens and John Cena in refusing the participate in the event.
"Several wrestlers said privately around the time of the 'mechanical issues' that they were not planning on going back to Saudi Arabia. Now, with the heightened tensions in the Middle East, specifically the recent issues in Iran, there are more wrestlers questioning whether they should fly out for the next show," Davis wrote. "I was told that at least two more wrestlers have decided against going to the next Saudi Arabia show."
WWE's deal with the Saudi Arabia General Entertainment Authority was originally signed in early 2018 and is set to last through April 2028.
Despite the controversy, Crown Jewel wound up being a night of firsts. Cain Velasquez made his in-ring debut for the company in a WWE Championship match with Brock Lesnar while heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury made his debut against Braun Strowman. The show culminated in "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt winning the WWE Universal Championship from Seth Rollins, marking the first time a title had changed hands on a Saudi Arabia show.
WWE's next pay-per-view, Royal Rumble, takes place on Jan. 26 in Houston, Texas. Check out the full card so far below.
- WWE Universal Champion Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan
- Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch vs. Asuka
- Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin
- Men's Royal Rumble Match
- Women's Royal Rumble Match