The whispers of John Cena refusing to head over to Saudi Arabia to take part in the controversial WWE Crown Jewel event turned out to carry some weight. Monday night on Raw, it was revealed that Cena, who did not qualify for the event like the other participants, has been removed from the eight-man World Cup tournament field he was scheduled to compete in.
that it would continue as planned with Crown Jewel, which will air Friday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, despite the controversy surrounding the suspicious death of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi. Part of the immediate fallout related to that decision were the rumors from various outlets that Cena had informed the company that he was refusing to make the trip amid the happenings over in Saudi Arabia. Given his growing profile in the Hollywood scene, it came as little shock that the 16-time world champion was backing out. Cena did appear for WWE in Saudi Arabia earlier this year at the Greatest Royal Rumble back in April, defeating Triple H in the opening match.
To get Cena off the show, WWE ran a segment Monday night during Raw where acting general manager Baron Corbin was so impressed with a beat down of Finn Balor that he allowed Bobby Lashley to take Cena's spot. Corbin cited the fact that Lashley had earned his way into the field, as opposed to Cena who was simply announced for the tournament without having to win a qualifying match like every other competitor in the field.
In addition to Cena, there have also been reports that Daniel Bryan is also taking a stand and refusing to head to Saudi Arabia. Bryan competes for the SmackDown Live brand and was scheduled for a WWE championship match with AJ Styles, so we may be in store for a definitive answer on his status Tuesday night.