Ending weeks of speculation, it was announced on Monday Night Raw that Bobby Lashley will officially replace John Cena at Crown Jewel.
The news coming during a backstage segment where acting general manager Baron Corbin told Lashley he would be given a spot in the World Cup Tournament to Crown the best in the world, Lashley wondered how it was possible to be given a spot. Corbin responded by stating he’d be replacing someone who didn’t even qualify; that person being Cena.
The reality of the situation is that Cena informed WWE he would not be attending Crown Jewel if the event went ahead as planned in Saudi Arabia. Considering the optics of how it would make Cena look by being involved in an event where an American was murdered by the Saudi government, logically it made sense Cena would be tentative considering his budding Hollywood career. While WWE spent a couple weeks avoiding staying where the event would emanate from, they officially said the event was a go and they were sticking with their contractual obligations. That made announcing Cena’s exit as something that became a matter of when and not if.
There is also speculation that Daniel Bryan may follow and his exit will be announced tomorrow on SmackDown Live. That said, WWE tweeted that Bryan was still set to face AJ Styles in the blue brand main event. There are more stars rumored to not want to make the trip to Saudi Arabia but few have as much clout within the company as Cena and Bryan.
Lashley will now be added to a group that includes Randy Orton, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio, Dolph Ziggler, Seth Rollins, and The Miz. Whether more news comes down the wire about this or any match at Crown Jewel remains to be seen but with the boos the event received at Evolution, there may be more WWE Superstars who step forward and refuse to go.