Wrestling fans might have been wondering why Sami Zayn wasn’t at the Greatest Royal Rumble pay-per-view in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Friday night. While WWE did what it could to ensure that its entire male roster took part in the event, Zayn was conspicuously absent, as he didn’t have a match in the undercard, nor did he take part in the titular 50-man main event. Earlier rumors suggested that Zayn, who is a Canadian of Syrian descent, opted out of the event due to political issues between Saudi Arabia and his parents’ home country, but more recent reports now hint that it was WWE that asked Sami to stay behind.
Citing unnamed sources, Pro Wrestling Sheet’s Ryan Satin wrote on Friday that Sami Zayn was not booked to compete in the Greatest Royal Rumble in recognition of Saudi Arabia’s strained relations with Syria. This contradicted a previous report from Wrestling News, which claimed that WWE allowed anyone who objected to competing in Saudi Arabia to voluntarily stay home and not participate in Friday night’s show.
According to Satin, the decision came from WWE’s end and not Zayn’s, as this was similar to how the company, out of respect to Saudi Arabian culture, did not fly in or book any female performers for the Greatest Royal Rumble. His report was backed up by a similar one from Bodyslam.net’s Brad Shepard, who cited his own sources in saying that WWE itself chose not to let Sami Zayn compete in the Greatest Royal Rumble.
In response to Pro Wrestling Sheet, WWE issued a statement explaining Zayn’s absence from Friday night’s big pay-per-view event.
“WWE is committed to embracing individuals from all backgrounds while respecting local customs and cultural differences around the world.”
As last night’s Greatest Royal Rumble main event involved 50 men taking part in an over-the-top-rope battle royal, WWE made the numbers by bringing in a number of names from the past, including former champions Rey Mysterio, Mark Henry, and The Great Khali, as well as a few competitors from NXT, including big men Babatunde, Dan Matha, and Tucker Knight. But Sami Zayn was not the only current male performer from the main roster who was absent from the Greatest Royal Rumble, thus explaining many of the “surprise” entries. According to eWrestlingNews, the veteran Kane was pulled from the event’s card, likely on account of his ongoing campaign for mayor of Knox County, Tennessee. More recently, Zack Ryder was also removed from the main event battle royal, after suffering an injury in a match against fellow Monday Night Raw newcomer Mike Kanellis.