John Cena and Daniel Bryan, two of WWE’s biggest main roster stars have officially pulled out of WWE Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia. Bryan has been replaced by Samoa Joe while Bobby Lashley replaces the 16-time World Champion.
Joe now gets another shot at the WWE Championship by replacing Bryan at the global pay-per-view event. The Destroyer will square off against “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles on November 2 at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
— WWE (@WWE) November 2, 2018
Cena and Bryan pulled out of Crown Jewel due to WWE deciding to proceed with Crown Jewel in the Middle East despite huge backlash arising out of the murder of US journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Cena was scheduled to be one of the eight participants in the inaugural WWE World Cup at Crown Jewel. However, it’s Lashley who now gets the golden opportunity to cement himself as the best in the world.
Changes were made to the World Cup brackets after Cena pulled out as he was initially planned to face high-flying masked legend Rey Mysterio in the first round of the tournament. According to backstage news, Mysterio was billed to be the winner as WWE is on a mission to cement Mysterio as a superhero. This might explain why the company has been pushing the “Greatest Mask of all-time” catchphrase with Mysterio.
After Cena pulled out, the decision was made to hold brand-specific quarter-finals and semi-finals instead of RAW vs. SmackDown matches.
From what Shane McMahon said this week on SmackDown Live, it seems like the winner of the World Cup will be a blue brand Superstar. McMahon warned the SmackDown contestants that whoever reaches the finals and loses to a RAW Superstar will be fired.
Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio seems to be the most probable World Cup final with Mysterio coming out on top.