Scrutiny continues to surround WWE's controversial Crown Jewel event this Friday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. There has been widespread pressure on the company to pull out of doing the show following the murder of Washington Post columnist and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey four weeks ago.
That pressure was only increased with the reports that WWE stars, John Cena and now Daniel Bryan will not travel to the Middle East to perform at the event. Despite the negative press Vince McMahon has pressed ahead with the tour, writing both Cena and Bryan out of the storylines for the Saudi Arabia showdown.
Daniel Bryan was defeated by AJ Styles last night as the pair 'decided' their title match couldn't wait for the WWE Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia, instead fighting on Smackdown Live.
Samoa Joe comes in for Bryan, and will fight for the WWE championship against Styles in Riyadh.
Bobby Lashley is the man who replaces Cena.
While there has been no confirmation from the WWE, Cena, or Bryan that the two Superstars will not appear in Saudi Arabia, it does look certain they won't and while explanations for their absence haven't been forthcoming, it has led to speculation that the pair have refused to make the trip on the back of the recent controversy.
Following the murder of Khashoggi, the WWE released a statement explaining that they would continue their business in the Middle East:
WWE has operated in the Middle East for nearly 20 years and has developed a sizeable and dedicated fan base. Considering the heinous crime committed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the Company faced a very difficult decision as it relates to its event scheduled for November 2 in Riyadh. Similar to other U.S.-based companies who plan to continue operations in Saudi Arabia, the Company has decided to uphold its contractual obligations to the General Sports Authority and stage the event. Full year 2018 guidance is predicated on the staging of the Riyadh event as scheduled.