Kevin Owens and Daniel Bryan are not going to Saudi Arabia next month for WWE Super ShowDown, according to Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio.
That’s apparently the reason why Dolph Ziggler made his sudden return last night on SmackDown and was immediately placed in a WWE title feud against Kofi Kingston. Kingston was originally set to face Owens, but Owens won’t be going to the show. According to Meltzer, Ziggler’s return was a “last minute thing” and Ziggler was actually scheduled for a comedy show in Australia on the night of the Saudi PPV, which was canceled just yesterday.
There’s no word on exactly why Owens is not going to the show, but it could have something to do with his friend Sami Zayn, who is reportedly banned by Saudi Arabia from being at WWE’s shows there. Zayn was banned from the Greatest Royal Rumble last year reportedly due to his Syrian ancestry. Zayn is Syrian-Canadian and has been vocal about the war in Syria, though he hasn’t specifically mentioned Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic relations with the Syrian government and had been trying to overthrow it by arming and funding ultra-Islamist proxies in the war, which have wreaked havoc on the country.
There may also be the fact that Zayn is a relatively liberal Muslim and Saudi Arabia is ultra-conservative and theocratic. The Saudi monarchy has been infamously racist and hateful against people who they feel are “the wrong type of Muslims” and who don’t practice their ultra-conservative brand of Wahhabi Islam.
Daniel Bryan also won’t be going to the show again, according to Meltzer.
Bryan refused to go to Crown Jewel in November. At the time, it was reported that his reason was mainly due to Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women and gay people. Saudi Arabia has one of, if not the worst record of rights for women and gays in the world and homosexuality is severely punished, sometimes by death.
Another reason for Bryan not going was that Saudi Arabia banned Sami Zayn for the reasons above.