Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are two of the hottest new members of the Raw roster and Kurt Angle even hyped the Greatest Royal Rumble Match during the first episode of the Sami And Kevin Show on Raw. But after a bad match against Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley, Sami Zayn said he didn’t feel well backstage during a backstage segment on WWE’s YouTube page. Some might think this is the reason why Sami missed the Greatest Royal Rumble Match but as it turns out there was another reason entirely for Sami Zayn’s absence.
Brad Shepard of Bodyslam.net reported Sami Zayn was absent from the Saudi Arabian show because they didn’t want a Syrian Muslim on the show due to the risk of upsetting their hosts.
There is a long history of issues between Syria and Saudi Arabia and it looks like Sami was told he wasn’t needed for this show as a result of WWE catering to yet another Saudi custom.
WWE has since released a statement on the matter to WrestlingNews.co where they said, “WWE is committed to embracing individuals from all backgrounds while respecting local customs and cultural differences around the world.”
This didn’t seem like a denial from WWE that they had Sami Zayn stay at home because they didn’t want to upset their Saudi interests. There were some reports saying Sami Zayn volunteered to stay at home because talent was told they had a choice to stay home and he took it. But Pro Wrestling Sheet debunked those reports and backed up Brad Shepard’s initial report on the matter.
Just like the women on the roster, Sami Zayn was apparently told that he wasn’t needed for the show due to something out of his control.
WWE planned ahead and wrote that backstage segment to write him out and give him a reason in the story for missing the Greatest Royal Rumble but it looks like the real reason for Sami’s absence is actually much more complicated and stretches far beyond the traditional pro wrestling landscape.