Dave Meltzer has more details on the talent meeting that took place on Monday before Raw.
As most of you know by now, the big wrestling story this week is in regards to the travel issues in Saudi Arabia. The talent meeting was held by Vince McMahon with the purpose of putting to rest some of the rumors that were being discussed by the wrestlers.
Meltzer noted that there are bitter feelings among much of the WWE crew and many have said privately that they would not go back to Saudi Arabia but others are skeptical of the ones who say they won’t go back when WWE runs another show there in a few months.
The true story of what really caused the plane delays may never be known and Vince McMahon may be the only person who truly knows what happened. One person very close to the top who would know just about everything about the subject told Meltzer that it’s not a subject they have any power over so it’s best to leave it alone. Everyone else in the company has been left to believe all, some or none of the version of the story that McMahon and WWE have put out.
Some wrestlers have come out publicly with WWE’s version of the story about the mechanical issues but most have not said anything publicly about it.
Former WWE announcer Hugo Savinovich was the first person to go public about the issues in Saudi Arabia and he said the travel delays were caused by the Saudi government after Vince McMahon and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had an issue over money owed to WWE. Savinovich mentioned how the Crown Jewel broadcast in Saudi Arabia was delayed. Meltzer noted that most people in the wrestling business, whether accurate or not, believed what Savinovich said. Savinovich has been around the wrestling business for over 40 years and he has connections in every company and he noted that he also has connections in many countries, including Saudi Arabia. He is not known to be someone to make something up out of thin air.
There is credibility to the story about the Saudi government owing money to WWE because their 10-Q earnings report showed that they had a major accounts receivable owed to them when the last quarter closed. The money was paid to WWE sometime after the close of last quarter. WWE’s George Barrios and Michelle Wilson avoided talking about Saudi Arabia and their lack of TV deal in the Middle East on their recent investor conference call. WWE’s stock price saw a large drop while they were in Saudi Arabia so it was in WWE’s best interest to get control of the story. The timing of their press release on Monday is interesting. Their press release stated that they have expanded their relationship with Saudi Arabia to include two shows per year. They were already doing two shows per year but the second show was optional. The new deal now guarantees at least two shows per year.
The talent meeting took place at 3 pm eastern in Uniondale, NY before Raw and McMahon said there were no issues with Saudi Arabia and he claimed that the Crown Jewel feed to the Saudi Arabian television network was cut at Saudi Arabia’s request and not himself. McMahon reportedly opened the floor for questions but nobody asked anything and nobody said anything about the story McMahon gave. Someone noted to Meltzer that there was a feeling that saying anything negative would not do any good so nobody spoke up.
Randy Orton said something to try to break some of the tension by being funny and McMahon said, “Anybody else want to just kiss my ass?”
As the meeting was about to wrap up, Paul “Triple H” Levesque called out Karl Anderson for his tweet about who would be the person to be the locker room leader on Monday. Meltzer noted that Anderson didn’t say much of anything. I should note that Anderson’s wife tweeted and talked about being concerned about what went down and said she wants him to never go back to Saudi Arabia.
Meltzer noted that AJ Styles also spoke but did not say much. Styles noted on his Mixer account that he wasn’t happy about having to miss one of his son’s wrestling matches. Rusev thanked Mark Carrano of Talent Relations for working quickly to book hotel rooms for everyone while they were stranded and nobody said anything that was negative. Meltzer also noted that some have remarked about how at times while they were stranded, they didn’t have access to wifi and thus couldn’t get in touch with their families.
So, what’s next? It looks like WWE will continue doing business as usual. Meltzer noted that the gist is that a few guys who wanted to leave now want to leave even more. Nobody is going to admit that they will leave since the smart thing is to just stay quiet until contracts expire. Meltzer also noted that most wrestlers are not looking to leave.
On his latest podcast, Jerry “The King” Lawler spoke about what went down at the meeting. He basically went over what McMahon told everyone. He didn’t go into as many details but he did back up most of what Meltzer reported in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Click here for more on what Lawler said.
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