Bengaluru, May 23: WWE took up an agenda to change the course for Saudi Arabia sports culture by signing a ten-year contract to deliver consecutive pay-per-views on a half-yearly basis. But there is a large number of fans and superstars who do not believe in the motto of the sports entertainment company. As a result, some of the roster members have decided not to make a trip to the middle-east country when WWE returns there to host Super ShowDown within two weeks of time.
As reported first by Fightful, Kevin Owens informed the company that he won’t be working on the June 7th pay-per-view event. Many got surprised that a star like Owens who has good work ethics and great rapport with Vince McMahon would choose to deny performing at Super ShowDown. But the fact that his best friend Sami Zayn has pulled out of the show may have worked as the biggest factor in taking the decision.
John Pollock of Post Wrestling followed up with confirmation that 'the underdog from the underground’ will not work at Super ShowDown due to his Syrian heritage and issues that raised in Saudi Arabia. Zayn, a Syrian Muslim by religion always backed out to perform in WWE’s events in KSA in 2018 just to keep in mind the local culture. (Syria has had tension with Saudi Arabia since the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2012)
As a result, both Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn currently belonging from Canada decided to stay away from Super ShowDown that directly affected the WWE Championship storylines. The officials had to bring back Dolph Ziggler out of nowhere on this week’s Smackdown and hand him over a WWE title match against Kofi Kingston on the upcoming show. Otherwise, Owens could have expected to get a rematch from Money in the Bank against the champion.
As for the other top superstars, Daniel Bryan opted out of Super ShowDown, as well. Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer confirmed the news that one-half of the current Smackdown tag team champions will miss the second consecutive show in Saudi Arabia after November’s Crown Jewel pay-per-view show. Now you know why there has been no progression on the Smackdown tag team title match storyline ever since Bryan and Rowan won those belts.
Lastly, Post Wrestling added a fourth name to the list of superstars not working in Super ShowDown in the form of Aleister Black. There’s not much information available on the whereabouts of the former NXT Champion who’s not been on TV for the past several weeks.
WWE holding global pay-per-view events were never a popular decision by any means. They never forced any superstars to perform in Saudi Arabia and kept the volunteer option available to walk away from the concerned shows if they intend to. In the past, the franchise names like Roman Reigns and John Cena also denied working in Crown Jewel. But WWE is committed to cater to the fanbase present in the country as you can see the same in the following statement released in the fall of 2018,
“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.”