Daniel Bryan is off of Crown Jewel … but Hulk Hogan is in, brother.
WWE wrote Bryan off of Crown Jewel on last night’s episode of SmackDown Live, accelerating his WWE Title match against AJ Styles (he lost in the show’s opener). Samoa Joe attacked Bryan and Styles after the match, and it was later revealed that Styles will now defend the WWE Championship against Samoa Joe in Saudi Arabia this Friday.
This development comes on the heels of Bryan reportedly telling WWE that he would refuse to take part in the Saudi show. John Cena took a similar stand and was written out of the show on Monday’s episode of Raw.
Oh, but it gets better.
WWE began advertising Hulk Hogan for Crown Jewel on Wednesday. If Hogan makes an appearance on camera, it will be the first time he appears on WWE television since he was scrubbed from the company and the Hall of Fame following video surfacing of him going on a racist tirade. It was the same video where he had sex with his former best friend’s wife. But hey, he made over $100 million in a lawsuit against the company that published it.
What a strange turn of events in recent days. Here you have Daniel Bryan, perhaps the most beloved wrestler in the company, being replaced in advertising with Hulk Hogan?
It’s actually smart strategy by WWE. Apparently, the Saudi princes are in love with 1990’s wrestling. For the first show in April, they requested the Ultimate Warrior, unaware that he was dead. So Hogan fits the bill perfectly.
At the same time, putting Hogan in front of the Saudi audience guarantees a strong first reaction when he’s back on TV, likely standing in the ring cutting a tired, self-indulging promo. They’ll cheer because it’s Hulk Hogan.
That doesn’t mean that Hogan will get the same reason once WWE is back in the United States. Depending on the market, I think he’ll be booed out of the building most nights. At least that’s what he deserves. There is definitely a segment of WWE fans, however, that watch WWE through rose-colored glasses and will almost certainly look past Hogan’s history of being a scumbag.
The biggest concern out of SmackDown is what happens next with Daniel Bryan? Is he punished for not sheepily going along with the rest of the pack to Saudi Arabia? Even if WWE wants to punish him, they have to be smart enough to realize how had that would look. But then again, maybe I’m giving them too much credit. They should have been smart enough to not go through with this show to begin with. At least not in Saudi Arabia.