There are more details coming out on the travel issues in Saudi Arabia.
As previously noted, the roster is very unhappy with how everything went down. News about the issues between Vince McMahon and the Saudi Crown Prince were known among the talent on the day of Crown Jewel as the show was happening.
On the latest Wrestling Observer Radio with Bryan Alvarez, Dave Meltzer gave some more details on the situation and he noted how wrestlers felt deserted by their boss. Meltzer also brought up WWE’s statement where they claimed that some of the wrestlers felt compelled to charter their own flight in order to make it to SmackDown. There were issues that prevented that flight from making it to the United States in time. It turns out that the wrestlers who were supposedly compelled to charter the flight happened to be the top names booked for Friday Night SmackDown.
In regards to that part of WWE’s statement, Meltzer said, “You know the statement where they said that the talent felt so compelled to go that they arranged for their own flight. They basically tried to tell you that this loyal talent bought a charter and everything. That I know is complete bullsh**.”
Several wrestlers were grumbling on social media on Saturday night about WWE’s statement. You can click here to read what was said by Luke Harper and Tyson Kidd in regards to WWE’s statement.
Bryan Alvarez remarked, “[WWE management] buried everybody else who was stuck in Saudi Arabia and couldn’t get out. That’s what that did. If I were on that airplane and I saw that statement, I would be like ‘so I’m a disloyal person because I couldn’t charter a flight?’ That’s what it reads like.”
According WWE’s latest quarterly earnings report, they had not been paid by the Saudi government for their Super ShowDown event as of September 30th. Super ShowDown took place on June 7 and it’s the show that featured The Undertaker vs. Goldberg.
On the WWE investor call on Thursday morning, WWE’s Co-President and Director George Barrios did not address specific questions about the last Saudi Arabia show being excluded from the earnings report. Barrios said they received a $60 million payment after September 30. Barrios said, “Notably subsequent to quarter end we received a $60 million payment for an outstanding receivable that would have resulted in year-over-year cash flow growth and positive free cash flow in the period had it been received during the quarter.”
Meltzer noted that there was talk about money owed from Saudi Arabia. The Crown Jewel show was supposed to air live in Saudi Arabia, as they have done in the past. The show did not go on the air right away and the wrestlers at the show were aware that there was some sort of showdown between Vince McMahon and someone in the Saudi government and McMahon was not going to allow the live feed to go out to the country. Apparently, things were settled and the show eventually went on the air on delay about 40 minutes later. Some people on social media claimed the show went on the air 2 hours later.
Meltzer added, “A lot of the talent knew this. A lot of the talent had been told that money was owed but then the talent was told ‘oh, it was a mechanical failure on the plane.'” He continued, “I’m not trying to say that nobody believed that story because I know one person did believe that story and did say there were mechanics working on the plane. Almost everyone else said they didn’t buy the story at all. They were told the story but they said there were military police there.”
People were questioning why it would take 24 hours to get out of the country and why couldn’t reservations be made for everyone to get on a commercial flight. Meltzer noted that there was a second flight that was supposed to leave at 8 pm and that was delayed. Then they were supposed to leave the next day at 3 am and that flight was delayed by an hour and a half. Most of the roster finally arrived in the United States on Saturday morning.
As noted earlier, Vince McMahon and his staff had already left the country on a private plane before the plane issues with the talent came up. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman left on his private plane along with Hulk Hogan, Jimmy Hart and Ric Flair. The belief is that Tyson Fury also left on a private plane and Cain Velasquez was stuck in Saudi Arabia with the majority of the talent.
From what I understand, there is a ton of unhappiness right now with Vince McMahon. Everyone is already exhausted from the Saudi Arabia trip and to make thins worse, they have to fly out for the Eurpoean tour in a few days.
The bigger story for WWE is if all of this leads to the end of their relationship with Saudi Arabia.