Friday's edition of WWE SmackDown may have a limited roster. As Hurricane Ian rages on in the southeast, particularly affecting the state of Florida, there are said to be growing concerns about World Wrestling Entertainment's talent being able to travel to Winnipeg for the blue brand's final show of the month. As reported on the Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer noted that WWE is said to be "very worried" about SmackDown due to having a bulk of its roster living in Florida.
"I know WWE's very worried about Friday's show because they have so many people from there," Meltzer said. "The hope was that it'll be okay and people can get there from Tampa and Orlando to Winnipeg on Friday."
WWE closed its Performance Center on Wednesday and postponed multiple weekend live events for later in the fall due to the hurricane.
As is often said with professional wrestling shows, the card is subject to change. For now, SmackDown is scheduled to have The Bloodline's Sami Zayn and Solo Sikoa team to face Ricochet and Madcap Moss, Hit Row's "Top Dolla" AJ Francis and Ashante "Thee" Adonis taking on Humberto Carrillo and Angel Garza, and Monday Night Raw star Bayley facing Shotzi in singles action.
If WWE is forced to pivot, this will be far from the first time that the company has altered a show due to inclement weather. The first Raw after WWE Royal Rumble in 2015 was canceled due to a snow storm in Hartford, CT, but a makeshift broadcast still aired on the USA Network. This show featured replays of multiple Royal Rumble matches and interviews with the likes of Seth Rollins, Brock Lesnar, and Roman Reigns live from WWE Headquarters.
Potential alterations to Friday's WWE show would likely be closer to what went down on a November 2019 edition of WWE SmackDown. This show had a significantly limited roster due to the majority of WWE talent infamously being stuck in Saudi Arabia following WWE Crown Jewel 2019 the day before. WWE flew multiple NXT talent to Buffalo, NY to ensure the broadcast had enough wrestlers to produce a full show. This show was conveniently the first SmackDown in the build to WWE Survivor Series, which was already set to include NXT. Stars like Tommaso Ciampa, Adam Cole, Rhea Ripley, and Teagan Nox all competed on this show. While most current NXT talent reside in Florida, the state being most affected by the hurricane, the strategy of flying in talent from safe areas to give SmackDown a boost is more likely than pivoting to a makeshift show from HQ.
WWE is not the only wrestling promotion being affected by Hurricane Ian. AEW stars Samoa Joe and Swerve Strickland were unable to travel to Philadelphia for AEW Dynamite on Wednesday due to the storm.
Stay tuned for updates on WWE's plans for SmackDown.