As Daniel Bryan refused to go to Crown Jewel, he had his championship match against AJ Styles on Smackdown live. Which he lost.
On Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer mentioned how WWE planned on as late as Monday, to have the match happen. Adding to that, it wouldn’t be a regular championship match either. This is what he said:
“They almost did AJ Styles vs Daniel Bryan empty arena match. 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. And I think they want that as quiet as possible so they just did the angle that they did on SmackDown to do it that way.”
“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 on tape. 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 — maybe doing it in intermission in Saudi Arabia and putting the match on during intermission and acting like it’s there.”
“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.”
“Then the idea of an empty arena match — you know in today’s wrestling empty arena matches are probably going to suck because crowds they’ve seen every move in the world and the only thing they get off on is the crowd getting off. That’s what determines a good match now, did you get the crowd going at a certain pace because it’s not like you can do a whole bunch of moves and impress people because everybody does all sorts of moves. So an empty arena match is almost for sure going to suck so there was that issue as well.”
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h/t to Ringside News for the transcription.