Backstage WWE News On John Cena Performing In Saudi Arabia

The latest installment of WWE Friday Night Smackdown featured two of the biggest pro wrestling names of all time: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and John Cena. Johnson’s appearance was somewhat surprising, as he was filming not far away with Pat McAfee earlier in the day and had been rumored for the show, but Cena was expected and has been part of the Friday night mix for a few weeks. Cena has not just been restricted to Smackdown during his latest run; he has also served as a guest referee at WWE Payback and teamed with WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth “Freaking” Rollins at WWE Superstar Spectacle in India.

Cena looks to be expanding his schedule even further past Friday nights, as he is now being advertised for WWE’s next premium live event in Saudi Arabia on November 14. While not confirmed, local advertising that was first shared by the Riyadh Season X account and also obtained by Haus of Wrestling shows the event will be called Crown Jewel and will feature Cena.

Wrestling Observer reports that the last time Cena was booked for a WWE premium live event in Saudi Arabia he pulled out due to the negative optics that came along with it. Following the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, many United States businesses stopped operating in Saudi Arabia after an American intelligence report said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the execution. Interestingly, Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor, which now owns WWE, returned a $400 million investment in 2019 following Khashoggi’s murder and effectively cut ties with the country.

WWE is currently in the fifth year of its ten-year, one-billion-dollar deal with the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, and Endeavor has publicly acknowledged they plan to honor that deal despite their previous protest. It was noted by the Observer that with more companies resuming normal business with Saudi Arabia, Cena receiving negative backlash to performing becomes less of an issue. It was also noted that there is virtually no one left on the roster who is refusing to go or is banned.