Tuesday night’s episode of SmackDown Live saw the surprising return of Dolph Ziggler, who took advantage of a distraction from Paul Heyman and attacked WWE Champion Kofi Kingston in the ring. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Ziggler later explained that he beat down on Kingston because he felt he should have been the one to enjoy “overnight success” en route to a victorious WWE Championship match at WrestleMania 35. He then concluded his promo by challenging Kingston for his title at WWE’s Super ShowDown event in Saudi Arabia.
While it wasn’t immediately clear why Ziggler, who had not been seen on WWE programming since the 2019 Royal Rumble in January, was booked to face Kingston at Super ShowDown, wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer explained on Wednesday’s edition of Wrestling Observer Radio why the company might have gone this route. As quoted by WrestlingNews.co, Meltzer said that WWE made this decision simply because Kingston’s last rival for the WWE Championship, Kevin Owens, has chosen not to fly to Saudi Arabia for Super ShowDown.
“So the Kofi Kingston thing, the story on that is that Kevin Owens is not going to Saudi Arabia. Because of that, they needed to do something,” Meltzer was quoted as saying.
Prior to Meltzer’s update on Wrestling Observer Radio, Fightful‘s Sean Ross Sapp reported that Owens had informed WWE officials that he “didn’t want to work” at Super ShowDown, which is scheduled to take place on June 7 at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah. No reason was given for Owens’ decision not to take part in the event, but it was noted that his real-life friend and on-air ally, Sami Zayn, has not appeared in WWE’s Saudi Arabia shows since last year because of the kingdom’s “strained” relationship with Zayn’s parents’ home country of Syria.
— WWE (@WWE) May 22, 2019
Aside from Owens and Zayn, a few other top-level WWE superstars have also refused to compete in the company’s Saudi Arabia events, including Daniel Bryan and John Cena. Per Fightful, Roman Reigns had previously expressed an unwillingness to appear at future Saudi shows, but “seemingly changed his tune” after returning from his hiatus.
According to WrestlingNews.co, Dolph Ziggler appears to have been a last-minute choice to replace Owens at Super ShowDown. Originally, the former World Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion was scheduled to appear at a Comic-Con in Melbourne, Australia, but with Ziggler now confirmed as Kingston’s next WWE Championship rival, WWE Australia’s Twitter account wrote on Wednesday that he won’t be traveling to Melbourne “due to a schedule change.”