Big media coverage of John Cena withdrawing from Crown Jewel including Washington Post, ESPN, New York Post, Sports Illustrated, stock price tumbles during controversial stretch

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor



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John Cena is a big enough crossover star at this point that his decision to not participate in Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia is making headlines in major mainstream publications. These headlines will not be flashed across the screen during Smackdown tonight, in contrast to WWE’s slideshow of headlines of similar media outlets covering Evolution that aired on Raw last night.

The Washington Post headline: “John Cena won’t appear at WWE Crown Jewel show in Saudi Arabia.” Excerpt:

Cena, a 16-time WWE champion who in recent years has spent time away from the ring while working on his acting career, has yet to publicly comment on his absence from the Crown Jewel event. He wrestled in WWE’s first major event in Saudi Arabia in April, the initial promotion in a 10-year partnership between WWE and the Saudi General Sports Authority. In an in-ring speech following his match against Triple H at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jiddah, Cena said it was “an honor and a privilege” to participate in the event and thanked Saudi Arabia for “its unmatched hospitality.”

The ESPN.com headline: “John Cena won’t take part in WWE’s Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia.” Excerpt:

The WWE is moving forward with Crown Jewel despite the ongoing investigation into the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Oct. 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Cena previously performed at WWE’s first major event in Saudi Arabia in April, the Greatest Royal Rumble, and made an in-ring speech following his match against Triple H that opened the show in front of a crowd of 60,000 at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City Stadium.

“What an honor and a privilege it is to be allowed to be a part of an event like today,” Cena said in April. “Regardless of what is going on in my universe, I was not going to miss this event for anything in the world. I want to send a genuine thank you to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia … for its unmatched hospitality that extends far beyond this evening. And I also want to say once again, thank all of you for allowing me to be part of something so special.”

The New York Post headline: “John Cena quietly taken off WWE’s Saudi Arabia card.” Excerpt:

On Monday, WWE star John Cena was reportedly removed from the company’s pay-per-view event scheduled to take place Friday in Saudi Arabia. Cena was quietly removed from the card and replaced by Bobby Lashley during WWE’s flagship television show “Monday Night Raw,” ESPN reported. …

Representatives for Cena did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. …

The male-only event is set to take place Nov. 2 and feature Triple H, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Kane and Brock Lesnar. Bryan is on the card and set to face A.J. Styles for the WWE Championship.


RELATED: Afternoon Update: Bryan reportedly off Crown Jewel, Stephanie McMahon comments on Crown Jewel decision, Associated Press covers WWE’s Saudi Arabia decision, MLW on FITE TV, Cody on MSG show, Jeff Cobb signs with ROH


The Sports Illustrated headline: “John Cena Will Not Compete at WWE Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia”

John Cena will not compete at WWE’s Crown Jewel World Cup tournament event in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 2, and will be replaced by Bobby Lashley, confirming rumors that Cena had refused to work the controversial event after the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. …

Tensions in Saudi Arabia have been sparked following the recent murder of Saudi-born journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi had been a prominent critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. After making several alterations to the story of his death, Saudi prosecutors last week said that his murder had been premeditated.

U.S. senators and some mainstream American media, such as Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, have criticized WWE’s plans to hold an upcoming event in the region. However, the company officially announced last week that Crown Jewel would go on as scheduled. …

Crown Jewel will be a follow-up event to the WWE event held in Saudi Arabia in April, called Greatest Royal Rumble. Female competitors were barred from competing, and the event was criticized as propaganda promoting bin Salman’s regime, with Cena publicly complimenting the leadership for the opportunity to partake in the event.

Cena has yet to officially make any public comments surrounding his decision for this weekend’s tournament, but it’s now clear he will not be competing.

The CBS Sports headline reads: “WWE Crown Jewel card: John Cena officially removed from Saudi Arabia show on Raw.” Excerpt:

WWE recently made the decision that it would continue as planned with Crown Jewel, which will air Friday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, despite the controversy surrounding the suspicious death of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi. Part of the immediate fallout related to that decision were the rumors from various outlets that Cena had informed the company that he was refusing to make the trip amid the happenings over in Saudi Arabia. Given his growing profile in the Hollywood scene, it came as little shock that the 16-time world champion was backing out. Cena did appear for WWE in Saudi Arabia earlier this year at the Greatest Royal Rumble back in April, defeating Triple H in the opening match.

Yahoo, Newsweek, and Bleacher Report were among the other news outlets that covered the Cena decision.

WWE is taking a financial hit, also, this month. The Motley Fool headline reads: “WWE’s Results Leave Investors on the Canvas.” Excerpt:

Investors were hoping that those blowout results would continue, but the company’s financial results were a mixed bag that left WWE flat on the mat.

WWE reported third-quarter revenue of $188.4 million, up just 1% from the prior-year quarter, and a sharp slowdown from the 31% year-over-year growth the company reported in the second quarter. This missed analysts’ consensus estimates, which were calling for revenue of about $202 million.

WWE stock in the last five days has tumbled from $82.05 to $68.53 as of this afternoon. Over the last 30 days, covering the entire time of this controversy and also the 2018 Q3 financial release, WWE stock is down from $25.69 from an Oct. 1 start of $94.22


NOW CHECK OUT THIS REPORT: John Cena off the Crown Jewel event WWE is holding in Saudi Arabia this Friday, World Cup brackets without Cena announced


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