WWE might be heading to Saudi Arabia this Friday, but John Cena won’t join them.
Cena had reportedly been uncomfortable with taking part in Crown Jewel after the Saudi government was implicated in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoogi. Reports began to surface early last week that Cena told WWE management he wouldn’t take part Crown Jewel if the show was still going to be held in Saudi Arabia. Last Thursday, WWE announced its intentions to run the show as scheduled in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Cena was scheduled to take part in the WWE World Cup tournament, but on last night’s episode of Monday Night Raw, Baron Corbin was “so impressed with Bobby Lashley” that he gave Lashley Cena’s spot in the tournament, effectively writing Cena out of the show.
It will be interesting to see what happens on SmackDown Live tonight as well. Daniel Bryan is scheduled to face AJ Styles in a WWE Championship match at Crown Jewel, but like Cena, Bryan reportedly expressed concern to WWE management and told them that he would not be on the trip if the show was still going to be held in Saudi Arabia.
But back to Cena.
He’s been praised on social media for taking a stand and not taking part in the Saudi show. Honestly, I praised him on Twitter last night when the move was made official. But upon further reflection, I’d be interested in finding out Cena’s true motivations.
If Cena is taking a stand — like Bryan — and was willing to turn down a huge payday on moral grounds, then good for him. If Cena backed out of the show over fears of what it could do to his public perception, which he has carefully crafted over almost 20 years, then it’s not as virtuous a move as maybe it first appeared.
Cena has a huge Hollywood career ahead of him. He won’t be a breakout megastar like the Dwayne Johnson, but Cena’s movie career is clearly on the rise. He’s landing bigger roles and garnering bigger paydays.
What would images of Cena taking part in Crown Jewel do to his Hollywood profile? I’m not sure it would hurt him that much, honestly, but it sure wouldn’t help him.
Bryan, on the other hand, is only a wrestler. Moreover, he only recently returned to WWE as a full-time member of the roster after missing two years due to concussion symptoms. Bryan’s taking a much bigger risk than Cena, who is bulletproof even to WWE management. WWE can make Bryan’s situation a living hell until his contract comes up.
Cena might deserve praise, but maybe not. Bryan, on the other hand, is a full-time member of the roster who reportedly took a stand and refused to take the Saudi blood money. Good for him. He’s a rolemodel.