Due to a hold up in Saudi Arabia, WWE Smackdown is going to look very different. WWE’s Crown Jewel was live from Saudi Arabi yesterday, and superstars were scheduled to fly straight back to the United States for Smackdown LIVE. However, late last night reports came out that the plane had never taken off.

There are many rumors swirling around about why the WWE plane never took off. Some say there were mechanical issues, others claim that was never the case. “I don’t think anyone but Vince truly knows. The rest is speculation. Those there I’ve been in contact with who are still there have a different story,” said Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer.

WWE released the following statement about Smackdown LIVE following the flight issues:

SmackDown set for surprises with WWE roster delayed returning from Saudi Arabia:

The WWE roster is delayed in its return from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, following a historic performance at yesterday’s record-breaking WWE Crown Jewel event.

More than 175 Superstars, production crew and employees boarded a 747 charter flight back to the United States on Thursday. After the door closed, due to several aircraft problems including mechanical issues, all passengers sat on the tarmac for more than six hours. With SmackDown set to emanate live from Buffalo, N.Y., several Superstars felt so strongly that they arranged for their own separate charter in order to make it back to the U.S. for the show. Due to unforeseen issues, that charter will not land until after the live broadcast on FOX.

The remainder of WWE’s Superstars, staff and crew will depart on a charter set to depart Saudi Arabia later tonight.

As always with WWE, the show must go on. Live at 8/7 CT on FOX, SmackDown will feature Superstars, such as Daniel Bryan, The Miz, Carmella, Nikki Cross, Dana Brooke — plus, additional surprises.
For the latest updates on this story and tonight’s SmackDown, check back with WWE.com and follow WWE on social media.

The additional surprises are rumored to be NXT superstars. Who have been reportedly flown in for tonight’s Smackdown LIVE. News also broke within the hour that Renee Young, Aiden English, and Tom Phillips will be calling tonight’s action.

FOX or Saudi Money?

FOX and WWE’s relationship was already off to a rocky start. NXT going to USA instead of FOX, dip in viewership, and the firing of Eric Bischoff. This “let’s give ourselves the tightest possible window between our Saudi Arabia trip and getting back in time for Smackdown LIVE on FOX” situation will not help matters. It shows, to this writer at least, that WWE cares more about the money that Saudi Arabia is giving the company. Which isn’t a good look for a multiple of reasons.

Either way, Smackdown LIVE should be a “must see” show. Which NXT Superstars making appearances, and other surprises as well.