It was always expected to be a rough edition of Friday Night SmackDown after a mega event such as WWE Crown Jewel on Halloween Night.

    UPDATE: 8.30pm GMT:
    Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer is reporting that the remaining WWE Staff, Wrestlers and crew will be on a flight at 8pm EST. He also reports that everyone is “fine” considering the circumstances. Smackdown is going ahead as planned with “Major Surprises” teased. Certain NXT have been flown into Buffalo from their locations around the US to fill in any gaps if needed. This could be the last update of the night, we’ll have LIVE coverage of Smackdown today on Twitter.

    UPDATE: 4.30pm GMT:
    WWE have released an official statement on the delays. They have stated that “Several Superstars felt so strongly about appearing on Smackdown that they arranged their own charter in order to appear for the show”. WWE have now confirmed that the charter will NOT arrive in time for Smackdown tonight. They’ve also confirmed that “More than 175 Superstars, Production Crew and Empoyees” are on board plances that are delayed.

    UPDATE 4pm GMT:
    Mike Johnson from PWInsider has reported that the original plane that was to take the majority of the WWE crew back to Buffalo, had a “mechanical issue with the planes fuel line”. This has not been confirmed and no statement has been release. Dave Meltzer has also reported that some talent has been able to get out of Saudi Arabia after Vince McMahon organised a second chartered plane. To which Ryan Satin has now reported that not all of the talent could leave on this second plane, with most of the talent going back to hotels for the night. Ryan is also reporting that even this second chartered plane probably won’t make it back in time for SmackDown later tonight due to the flight time and the other delays (Baggage checks, customs and weather around Buffalo, NY)

    UPDATE 12pm GMT:
    PWInsider’s Mike Johnson is now reporting that “most” of the crew have been told to return to their hotels as the flight is expected to not happen at all now. Some reports on Twitter have said that more than 75+ on-air talent have not returned thus far. As we mentioned earlier, 20 members of the WWE have left Saudi Arabia which includes Brock Lesnar, Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan (Different flights) as well as 14 members of on-air talent. We’re not sure if the 14 include Brock, Vince and Hogan.

    UPDATE 11am GMT:
    Superstars Humberto Carrillo & Andrade Almas have both posted on Twitter about being stuck in Saudi Arabia. The cause of the delays have not been confirmed but Dave Meltzer has reported the delay has nothing to do with the Planes safety or the weather in Buffalo, New York.

    Original Post

    Normally the show afterwards wouldn’t be affected and the WWE could just cancel house shows or not run them at all. However, this is not a normal situation. With FOX executives wanting SmackDown to air live on a Friday Night and with the WWE/Saudi Arabia agreement to run large events, it looks like this has finally caught up with the WWE.

    Some background information. The flight from Saudi Arabia to Buffalo, NY, is roughly 14 hours. As of typing this (8.30am GMT), the roster will need to be back in the United States, presumably travel to Buffalo, NY and be there for SmackDown before it’s time to go live at midnight (GMT). This leaves little to no time for wiggle room… or delays.

    Unfortunately, flight delays happen at the worse times. Earlier this morning Dave Meltzer, Ryan Satin and Sean Ross Sapp have all reported that the WWE’s charter flight has been delayed for “several hours”. This charter flight had the “majority of the WWE roster and staff” on board. Many of these superstars have been awake all day and night due to the time difference so that some would still be able to compete on SmackDown without too much jetlag. Everyone that these three sources have spoken to are still in Saudi Arabia as of around 2am EST.

    Early reports have said that Brock Lesnar, Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon already left as they had their own flights out of Saudi. Dave Meltzer added to this explaining on Twitter that “20 people, 12 of which are talent, have left but the rest are still here”. That was at 6:45am GMT. Dave reiterated that the flight is around 14 hours and SmackDown would start in 17 hours (as of around 7am GMT). He’s been told that the delays are expected to last even longer.

    We’re unsure exactly of the amount of people who didn’t travel to Saudi Arabia, they don’t tend to release that information, but you can assume that all of the women are still state side (Except for Lana who came out briefly, Natalya and Lacey who’s shock inclusion has made headlines across the world).

    As is Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens who refuse to go to these type of shows would also be around. All of the NXT Talent (except Mansoor) would be available, as is The Miz who also stayed at home.

    SmackDown was always likely to be ran by a skeleton crew of jetlagged Superstars but sadly in this situation the WWEs biggest opponent today isn’t AEW or New Japan… It’s time and time waits for no man.

    More updates as we get them.