Daniel Bryan, John Cena Reportedly Refusing to Perform as WWE Moves Forward with Saudi Arabia Event

By Barry Werner

Paul Heyman uttered the phrase, “The show must go on” Monday night on Raw, explaining how WWE will move forward after Roman Reigns announced he is battling leukemia, again.

That adage fits Vince McMahon’s sports entertainment juggernaut on Thursday, when the Stamford, Ct., -based company announced it will go forward with its “Crown Jewel” event in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 2, despite the worldwide disgust for the premeditated murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

WWE’s statement:

"WWE has operated in the Middle East for nearly 20 years and has developed a sizable 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."

Who will be at the show remains intriguing. Barstool Sports first reported that John Cena and Daniel Bryan are refusing to participate in the event. Now, Pro Wrestling Sheet has confirmed Bryan will not be participating.

When asked about the reports regarding Cena and Bryan, a WWE representative replied to Pro Wrestling Sheet: “As always, we maintain an open line of communication with our performers and will address each situation accordingly.”

Much of the hype has been built around longtime performers Triple H, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker and Kane. Apparently, legendary performers still resonate with those in Saudi Arabia though they have been infrequent combatants in many years.

What is also known is no women will be on the show. That would be taboo in the country and it comes at a particularly awkward time as WWE is featuring the first all-women’s Pay-Per-View event Sunday at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum.

WWE has a rich longterm deal with Saudi Arabi to produce events. The public company’s stock had seen robust gains after signing mega-million dollar contracts with both the USA Network and FOX for Raw and SmackDown, respectively. After reaching a 52-week high of $97.69 per share, it has slid recently. At the close of business it was at $75.18, off $1.69.