The recent Crown Jewel 2019 event made history, but it has also left a lot of WWE superstars stuck in Saudi Arabia. In addition to in-ring talent, production crew and other employees were also held up due to a delay, according to recent reports. That left the WWE SmackDown show facing issues as it was preparing to go live from the United States on Friday evening.
Why were superstars stuck in Saudi Arabia?
According to a report from ET Canada, there were over 175 WWE superstars, production staff, and other employees delayed in Saudi Arabia. The delay occurred due to various mechanical issues that prevented a 757 charter flight in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from leaving the airport on time.
The reports first arrived via Fightful’s Bob Ross Sapp, who tweeted about the news and then provided a paying subscriber report.
— Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com (@SeanRossSapp) November 1, 2019
Due to the delay, the various WWE workers were stuck on the plane for over six hours. If they chose to leave the aircraft, they’d need to go back through customs all over again. That led to complications as top superstars were needed for the next big WWE television program in the United States.
WWE released the following statement from Atlas Air, the operator of the charter flight in Saudi Arabia.
“A chartered passenger flight operated by Atlas Air is currently delayed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia due to a mechanical issue. The flight was scheduled to depart at 3:00 AM AST on Nov. 1. Our top priority is always to ensure our passengers arrive safely and on time at their destination. The aircraft is being repaired and will be inspected and certified before returning to service to transport our passengers to their final destination. We regret that operational disruptions delayed the flight and apologize to our passengers who were inconvenienced.”
SmackDown issues due to stuck plane
Due to the delays, the charter would be unable to make it in time for the live SmackDown scheduled for FOX on Friday evening. However, ET’s report mentions that a number of superstars coordinated their own charter so that they could make it to the show.
According to a report from Pro Wrestling Sheet, many other superstars ended up staying in Saudi Arabia in hotels.
Friday’s episode of SmackDown was scheduled to take place in Buffalo, New York as the follow-up for the special event in Saudi Arabia — Crown Jewel 2019.
The event featured a historic first-ever women’s match involving Natalya versus Lacy Evans. Boxing star Tyson Fury and mixed martial arts star Cain Velazquez also participated in the event in Saudi Arabia.
In addition, WWE superstar, The Fiend, defeated Seth Rollins to win the Universal Championship. As mentioned in WWE’s report, they planned “special surprises” as part of the new episode to make up for the lack of a number of superstars making appearances.
Viewers can watch SmackDown episodes on FOX on Friday nights at 8/7c.