WWE

AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan..

WWE planned to have AJ Styles v Daniel Bryan fight in a match type not seen for nearly 20 years

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WWE Crown Jewel was supposed to see AJ Styles' WWE Championship defended in a singles bout against Daniel Bryan.

But as time ticked closer to the Saudi Arabian show on November 2, a story emerged surrounding the disappearance, and later confirmed death, of a Saudi-born, U.S.-based journalist, meaning some stars felt uneasy about attending the event.

Two of the superstars rumoured were huge names - Bryan and John Cena - and after this weeks set of television tapings, it proved the speculation was true.

Cena was written out of the WWE World Cup tournament and replaced by Bobby Lashley on the Raw brand, whilst Bryan's title match against Styles was brought forward to take place on Tuesday's episode of SmackDown.

And what a match it was - it ran almost 25 minutes and was as hard-hitting as you could imagine between two of the best wrestlers in the world.

Inevitably though, with Bryan not travelling to the Middle East, it was he who tapped out to the Calf Crusher, before Samoa Joe attacked both competitors after the match to set up a title bout with Styles in Riyadh.

Moving the match to SmackDown Live wasn't WWE's initial idea though, in-fact they had another plan up until Monday evening, according to Dave Meltzer.

Daniel Bryan has refused to travel to Saudi Arabia for WWE Crown Jewel.

“They almost did AJ Styles vs Daniel Bryan empty arena match," stated Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio, via Ringside News.

"That was in the offering to air during the show but I think the feeling was that would call more attention to the fact that Daniel Bryan wouldn’t go to the show.

“But even as late as Monday they were still doing an empty arena match. There was talk of doing it live. There was talk of doing it with a screen that would act like it was Saudi Arabia and not showing it in Saudi Arabia so people wouldn’t get mad in Saudi Arabia.

“But they figured if they did it with like a screen showing Saudi Arabia then there would be no - the crowd wouldn’t be reacting to the match because they weren’t seeing it so it would be so obviously fake so you couldn’t do that.”

AJ Styles will now defend his WWE Championship against Samoa Joe in Riyadh.

There's only been one Empty Arena match in the WWE, that was The Rock versus Mankind in 1999.

Whilst it would have been a very interesting premise given the situation though, we think they did the right thing in making the match for SmackDown.

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Topics:
Daniel Bryan
WWE Smackdown
AJ Styles
WWE

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