Sami Zayn likely was not included in last Friday’s Greatest Royal Rumble main event from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia because he is of Syrian descent. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Syria cut relations in 2012. WWE filmed a segment at the GRR go-home RAW that saw Sami mention the 50-man match to Kevin Owens but another segment was later filmed that had Sami say he wasn’t feeling well, hinting that he wouldn’t be able to make the trip to Saudi Arabia for the event.
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports this week that the Sami situation was kept secret before and during the GRR event. Sami had known he wouldn’t be appearing for about a week as he was told that he would be doing an injury angle on the April 23rd RAW to explain why he would not be appearing, despite being advertised for the 50-man match. Sami was not told why he was off the show and it looks like he still has not been told, based on what he’s said to people privately since then. The Observer adds that Sami is claiming he has no explanation on why he was pulled from the show.
There was also a directive handed down, that no one could speak on the Sami issue until after the show, to avoid any potential controversy over WWE being told that one of their talents could not work a show because of his ethnicity, according to The Observer. We noted before how the whole WWE crew was given a list of cultural miscues to avoid while in the Kingdom, such as to never blow off a handshake to anyone because it would be taken as an insult and you don’t want to insult the wrong person. One of the items on this list was to never mention anything about Sami.
WWE issued this statement on Sami missing the big event in Saudi Arabia last week:
“WWE is committed to embracing individuals from all backgrounds while respecting local customs and cultural differences around the world.”