On the way back from Crowl Jewel in Saudi Arabia, the WWE travel delays had a significant impact on the November 1st Smackdown Live potential future shows in WWE. While the 2019 Crown Jewel event did receive positive reviews the biggest story of Crown Jewel was the WWE crew members being stuck in the Middle East after the show.
Before we start discussing the effects of the travel delay, there is a lot of speculation about what was the cause of the WWE travel delays. Some speculation that is occurring is that Saudi Arabia has not paid the WWE for previous shows in Saudi Arabia. In response to not getting paid for previous shows, Vince McMahon pulled out the live feed of Crown Jewel to the Saudi Arabian television.
While the show went on as scheduled after the show Vince McMahon quickly left the Saudi Arabian country. There was supposed to be a charter of over 100 WWE wrestlers and crew to go to Buffalo for the Smackdown Live show but the flight they were on was “delayed”. As you can imagine having to take a 14-hour flight being delayed for several hours made people upset.
Several WWE Superstars took to social media as Karl Anderson said :
Couldn’t pay me enough to go back ..
Well that’s not true, I need a second pool, so.....
— Karl Anderson (@KarlAndersonWWE) November 2, 2019
Rusev also tweeted:
At this point and time We need all the prayers... brother.
— Rusev (@RusevBUL) November 1, 2019
Eventually, the plane departed and the WWE is back in the United States.
In the short term, there were two major benefits from the WWE travel delay. As news spread on social media that there was a significant amount of talent stuck in Saudi Arabia there was a lot of intrigue and speculation into what would happen on the Fox show. That intrigue led to more viewers matching Smackdown Live on November 1 than on October 17th, the last time the show was on Fox.
WWE Travel Delay Effects
The second benefit was that the WWE travel delay gave an opportunity for fans to get a look at NXT talent. Some of the causal WWE fans got their first look at Tommaso Ciampa, Matt Riddle, and Keith Lee. By finally seeing these new performers could have an impact on future NXT ratings.
The third benefit from WWE travel delays was that the storyline can begin for Survivor Series. This year, Survivor Series will have NXT versus Raw vs Smackdown Live. By calling up the NXT roster because of the WWE travel delays, the build can begin to the confrontation at Survivor Series between NXT and the main roster.
While there were short term gains from the WWE travel delay there could be two long term issues because of this incident. One long term issue will be the relationship between WWE and Saudi Arabia. While there was already controversy for the WWE working with the Saudi government the WWE could lose a lot of money from backing out the 10 year deal.
Second, there might be difficulty getting talent to travel to Saudi Arabia due to WWE travel delay. Some people have publicly voiced their displeasure with their experience at Crown Jewel and if there if enough talent says no to going the WWE could not put on a show in Saudi Arabia.
Talent being unhappy because of the WWE travel delay could also lead to talent leaving the company. Currently, there are a lot of other wrestling promotions that talent can work for such as AEW. All we can do is wait and see if disgruntle talent jumps over to another company in response to the mishap in Saudi Arabia.