Throughout the night, updates on the situation and its cause had been vague. Dave Meltzer tweeted, "Some notes since nobody can say anything. WWE had a problem in Saudi Arabia. Talent was not allowed to leave on their flight and most are still there. 20 people, 12 of which were talent, have left but the rest are still there."
The delay puts a serious hamper on Friday night's episode of SmackDown on FOX, due to many key talents unable to make it to Buffalo in time because of the delay.
WWE released a statement Friday acknowledging the situation, saying:
"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.
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.
The remainder of WWE’s Superstars, staff and crew will depart on a charter set to depart Saudi Arabia later tonight.
For the latest updates on this story and tonight’s SmackDown, check back with WWE.com and follow WWE on social media."