There was a situation in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where the flight taking the WWE crew to Buffalo, New York for tonight’s WWE SmackDown was delayed for hours, according to Dave Meltzer on Twitter and PWInsider.
Word is that a mechanical issue due to the fuel line of the plane, among other issues, is the reason for the delay. WWE talents and staff have reportedly been sitting on the plane for hours as they have cleared customs leaving the Kingdom but cannot leave the plane without going through customs again.
WWE was able to rush out certain talents on another chartered plane, according to PWInsider, but sources were unable to confirm which talents were rushed out. The rest of the crew has been waiting to leave and may still have several more hours to wait before being able to fly back to the United States.
With a near 20-hour flight from Riyadh to Buffalo, WWE talents are looking at a long, hectic day of travel if they make it to the KeyBank Center in Buffalo for SmackDown or not.
Pro Wrestling Sheet also reported that several blue brand Superstars are in danger of missing this week’s show. Their report noted that the delay has lasted for hours with Superstars and other WWE employees being stuck on the plane the entire time. Word was that WWE was working on a backup plan that would get some of the talent to Buffalo for SmackDown, which would be difficult due to the length of the long flight. It was also reported that a second chartered flight was being put together for top stars in hopes of getting them to Buffalo for SmackDown.
Meltzer noted on Twitter that WWE “had a problem” in the Kingdom and talent “was not allowed” to leave on their flight, and that most are still there, as of around 3am ET. It was reported that 20 people, 12 being talent, have left the Kingdom but the rest were still there. Meltzer also noted that he heard the rest of the talent were not going to be able to leave the Kingdom for a lot longer than three hours, which would put them back in the States too late for the beginning of SmackDown.
If talents are unable to make SmackDown, WWE will be facing a situation where they are working with a limited roster for SmackDown as some of the RAW talents were also in the Kingdom. Various flight tracker websites show that one flight is scheduled to arrive in Buffalo on Friday morning with plenty of time to spare, but it’s unclear if the second chartered flight is included on those trackers. The trackers indicate that everything will be just dine with talents making it to SmackDown, but nothing has been confirmed.
We noted back in mid-October that WWE was chartering a flight from the Kingdom to Buffalo, just to make sure that the roster and the production crew made it back to the United States in time for SmackDown. Those plans are up in the air now it seems.
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar reportedly left the Kingdom on his own flight, so it’s possible that he appears on SmackDown, despite being advertised ahead of time. Several Superstars such as The Miz, Elias, Daniel Bryan, Matt Hardy and others stayed back in the States, so they would be available for SmackDown if needed, including the women’s division. It’s always possible that we get some WWE NXT or RAW Superstar appearances on SmackDown, but nothing has been confirmed as of this writing at 4am ET.
Stay tuned for updates on the travel situation going into tonight’s SmackDown. Below is the current announced line-up for the show:
* SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Revival defend against The New Day
* Roman Reigns vs. King Baron Corbin
* Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose and SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley vs. Nikki Cross, Dana Brooke and Carmella
* New WWE Universal Champion “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt appears on MizTV with The Miz