John Cena not going to Saudi Arabia: WWE confirms star’s status

John CenaWWE superstar John Cena will not take part in Friday’s Crown Jewel megashow, the company confirmed Monday night.

Bobby Lashley will replace Cena in the World Cup tournament that will be featured on the Crown Jewel show, which will air live on the WWE Network.

Cena had reportedly told WWE officials in the aftermath of the murder of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey that he would not be participating in the event, but the company had stayed mum as officials tried to convince Cena to make the trip.

The pressure on Cena, who has been making the move toward mainstream status as an actor in Hollywood, is understandably higher than it would be on conventional WWE performers.

WWE has come under fire for its decision to continue with the show.

An April megashow in Saudi Arabia came across as a shameless promotional piece for the Saudi royal family, which is widely thought to be responsible behind the scenes in the death of Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the royal family.

WWE will fill its vacant Universal championship on the card with a match between former champion Brock Lesnar and top challenger Braun Strowman. Roman Reigns, who had defeated Lesnar for the title at SummerSlam in August, relinquished the belt last week when he announced a recurrence of leukemia after 11 years in remission.

The WWE title will also be defended at Crown Jewel, with champ A.J. Styles set to defend against former champion Daniel Bryan, who has been rumored to be planning to skip the event, a la Cena.

There is no definitive word on Bryan’s status heading into Tuesday’s Smackdown Live.

Reporting by Chris Graham

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