UPDATE: According to Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet, there has been a second charter flight issued for the talent that were delayed in Saudi Arabia. Mike Johnson of PWInsider is also reporting that a good deal of the talent is still in Saudi Arabia and won’t be able to make it to SmackDown and that the company is flying the select talent that is absolutely needed for the show. Johnson is also reporting that those staying will have a hotel in Riyadh and that there are plenty in WWE that are very upset with the situation.
There is also a flight report regarding the plane from Saudi Arabia on the way to Buffalo with an arrival time of 9:53 PM EST, almost two hours after SmackDown is scheduled to air (h/t to @SoDuTw on Twitter)
Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful and Dave Meltzer are both reporting that as of about 5:00 AM EST, most of the stars that went to Saudi Arabia for WWE Crown Jewel have been unable to leave the country and there is time ticking as when it could be feasible for said talent to make it back to Buffalo, NY in time for Friday Night SmackDown.
According to Meltzer on his “Wrestling Observer Radio,” about 12 wrestlers made it out of the country and the reasons as to why there is such a major delay are currently unknown. The flight from Saudi Arabia is a 14-hour trip so for talent and crew to make it back to Buffalo in time is just about closed as of this writing. The impression Meltzer got from his report was that talent were asked to leave the plane after boarding and that it would be awhile until they would be able to take flight. Meltzer also states that he was under the impression that talent would not make it out in time and them leaving the plane wasn’t in relation to any mechanical issues or impending weather in Buffalo.
Fightful is reporting that Vince McMahon, Brock Lesnar and Hulk Hogan left Saudi Arabia early.