Cena was set to participate in the World Cup Tournament at the King Saud University Stadium where he would face the likes of Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Rey Mysterio and Intercontinental as well as RAW Tag Team Champion Seth Rollins.
CBS Sports cited rumours suggesting The Champ has refused to be part of the show in Saudi Arabia, which is facing a furious backlash following the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in their consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.
The 16-time world champion has been replaced by Bobby Lashley and the wrestling promotion haven’t included much storyline to explain the decision.
Acting RAW General Manager Baron Corbin stated last night on RAW that he was impressed by the beatdown Lashley laid on Finn Balor and thought he deserved the spot more than Cena, who passed automatically without a qualifying match.
Rumours suggest popular wrestling superstar Daniel Bryan is also set to miss the controversial event and tonight’s episode of Smackdown could shed some light to the speculation.
Bryan may remain the No1 Contender for AJ Styles’ WWE Championship even if he ends up being absent from the card this Friday.
WWE have been urged to cancel the show by many fans as well as US Senators who put pressure on Vince McMahon’s promotion to reconsider their ongoing 10-year multi-million dollar relationship with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia following recent events.
According to BBC, the Saudi government initially insisted that Khashoggi, a US resident who went into self-imposed exile and was an outspoken critic of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, left the consulate in Turkey shortly after arriving to obtain an official document.
But the kingdom then admitted that he died inside the building following what they described as a “rogue operation” they were not aware of and vowed to punish those responsible.
A Saudi official told Reuters that Khashoggi died following a struggle that saw him being locked in a chokehold after resisting attempts to have him come back to the country.
Turkish officials, though, claim they have audio and video proof that show the prominent journalist was tortured, killed and dismembered before his body was removed.
WWE initially responded by stating they were “monitoring the situation” but the Connecticut-based company ultimately decided to go ahead with the show that will take place in the capital city of Riyadh.
Cena competed in WWE’s last Pay-Per-View show in the country the Greatest Royal Rumble last April where he defeated legendary rival Triple H.
Various WWE heroes are set to return to the ring for Crown Jewel as Shawn Michaels has come back from retirement for one more match and has reformed D-Generation X with his best friend Triple H.
Together they will face The Undertaker and Kane of The Brothers of Destruction in a Tag Team Match for the first time ever.