The last piece of Robbie Fox’s bombshell tweet from Oct. 22 appears to be coming true.
PWInsider says they’ve confirmed with multiple sources that Daniel Bryan will not travel to Saudi Arabia for Crown Jewel. They’re reporting “Bryan made it clear he would not be traveling to the event and WWE began making alternative plans last week.”
Further, as of yesterday (Mon., Oct. 29), Insider says WWE was not planning on sending WWE champion AJ Styles to Riyadh for the controversial event this Friday, either. At that point, company officials were going to send Styles and Bryan to Orlando to tape their announced title bout at the Performance Center. The footage would then be aired during Crown Jewel’s broadcast, Nov. 2 on WWE Network. But apparently that idea was scrapped. As of this writing, the company has not finalized plans for addressing the situation.
Possibilities Insider mentions include taping a blow-off for the Bryan/Styles program on tonight’s SmackDown in order to move the champ on to a new challenger – one of the possibilities allegedly being discussed backstage is to have Rusev face AJ in Saudi Arabia – or filming the bout in Atlanta on Oct. 30 but not airing it until Friday’s pay-per-view (PPV). They could also use the promoted “face-off” segment to postpone the match or otherwise explain it away.
We’ll have to wait and see about that. For now, Bryan joins John Cena in refusing to work an event which continues to be a public relations nightmare for WWE. Their relationship with Saudi Arabia was always controversial due to the Kingdom’s human rights record, the fact Saudi law prohibited women from working shows there and the arrangement calling for WWE to air propoganda for the country during shows. The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey gave critics a new focal point, however, and appears to have been a bridge too far for Bryan & Cena – both of whom worked April’s Greatest Royal Rumble show in Jeddah.
Despite the backlash, WWE announced last week they would proceed with Crown Jewel. It looks like it won’t be completely as planned, however, as they’ll now have to run the show without some of their biggest stars.