New reports suggest that a number of the WWE superstars who took part in Thursday’s Crown Jewel pay-per-view in Saudi Arabia might not make it back to the United States in time for this week’s edition of Friday Night SmackDown.
Citing subscriber-only information from Fightful Select, Pro Wrestling Sheet wrote on Thursday night that a flight carrying several WWE wrestlers and employees was, at the time, delayed for hours due to an “issue with the plane,” thus putting the in-ring performers “in danger” of missing this week’s SmackDown. The publication’s Ryan Satin noted that it wasn’t clear why exactly the flight was delayed, but also stressed that WWE was working on “backup strategies” that would at least allow some of the wrestlers to fly to Buffalo, New York before the start of the show’s taping, difficult as it may be due to the length of the flight from Saudi Arabia.
In a separate report, Wrestling Inc. wrote on Friday morning that WWE was able to arrange for a second chartered plane to fly “certain talents” to Buffalo. No specific superstars were mentioned, but the outlet cited the Wrestling Observer Newsletter‘s Dave Meltzer, who pointed out on Twitter that a total of 20 people, including 12 wrestlers, had left Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as of 3 a.m. ET. He added that the other WWE personnel that remained stuck in Saudi Arabia were forced to stay for “a lot longer than three hours,” thus making it doubtful that they’d be available for the start of Friday Night SmackDown taping.
“With a near 20-hour flight from Riyadh to Buffalo, WWE talents are looking at a long, hectic day of travel if they make it to the KeyBank Center in Buffalo for SmackDown or not,” Wrestling Inc. wrote.
According to Wrestling Inc., there are several superstars who may be available for this week’s Friday Night SmackDown, including WWE Champion Brock Lesnar, who reportedly flew to Buffalo “on his own flight,” as well as most of the women’s division. As reported by The Inquisitr, Lacey Evans and Natalya were among the few female talents to appear at Crown Jewel on Thursday, as they took part in the first-ever women’s match held in Saudi Arabia.
Some male wrestlers from SmackDown, including Daniel Bryan, The Miz, Elias, and Matt Hardy, specifically chose to remain in the U.S., which could make them available for Friday night’s show. Wrestling Inc. also mentioned the possibility of Raw or NXT superstars crossing brand lines to appear on SmackDown as another contingency measure in case most of the roster cannot make it back from Riyadh in time.