John Cena hasn’t wrestled one of WWE’s semi-annual premium live events in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since the company’s first under its ten year contract with the Saudi General Sports Authority.
That was 2018’s Greatest Royal Rumble, which took place before the KSA-ordered murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Cena was one of several names who reportedly declined to work the show WWE put on in the wake of that controversy, the first Crown Jewel. But while the Saudi regime is still accused of violating the rights of humans inside & outside their borders in a variety of ways, the company has been able to make incremental progress in featuring women on their shows in the country. Moves like that have helped much of the wrestling community accept WWE’s Saudi shows as the norm.
It seems Cena is among those who’ve had a change of heart on the matter. When the schedule for his post-SummerSlam return to WWE was announced last month, fans noticed it could coincide with building a match for Crown Jewel 2023. Now, his “participation” is being promoted for the show on Nov. 4 in Riyadh (at the ~8:30 mark of this video for “Riyadh Season”, the state-sponsored sports & entertainment festival held during the winter months which features Crown Jewel).
Cena hosted Payback earlier this month, and is rumored to be taking part in Oct. 7’s Fastlane PLE. No word on what he’ll be doing or who he’d face if he wrestles at Fastlane and/or Crown Jewel, but WWE’s set-up a few options in his return to SmackDown over the past several weeks.