As WWE wrestlers arrived at RAW yesterday, more information was coming out as to why so many wrestlers were stuck in Saudi Arabia over the weekend and nearly missed SmackDown on Friday.
According to multiple reports, WWE is still owed hundreds of millions of dollars by the Saudi government for shows that were held last year. Without receiving payment, WWE chairman Vince McMahon reportedly made the call to pull the plug on the broadcast of Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia (part of the deal with the Saudis is that the show is shown for free in the country). Reports suggest that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman ordered the WWE charter flight held up in retaliation.
Here’s where things get a little sticky, though.
By the time wrestlers were stranded, Vince McMahon and some top stars, such as Brock Lesnar, were already out of the country on private jets. Then, WWE flew about 20 wrestlers out of the country on a separate plane, and in a strange press release, applauded the wrestlers’ dedication to the company in attempting to make the SmackDown show.
This made several WWE wrestlers, who felt stranded in a foreign country by the company, upset after being portrayed in a negative light, and several of those wrestlers expressed their frustrations on social media.
“I’m #1 at home! We don’t leave each other behind. @WWE,” Curtis Axel tweeted.
What a debacle. Then on Monday night, Wrestling Observer editor Dave Meltzer reported that WWE was trying to get as many wrestlers as possible to record a video message claiming that the travel delays were due to mechanical issues with the plane.
“One person in the company said WWE is trying to get video from as much talent as possible to claim the mechanical issues on the plane were the problem. Just the fact they would do this is very strange,” Meltzer tweeted.
In a time when WWE needs to be worried about morale — there’s another option now for wrestlers in AEW — stranding talent in the middle east and having them used as pawns in an ego match between Vince and the Crown Prince, is an odd decision.
McMahon not believing there would be retaliation is naive. WWE isn’t dealing with rational people. They’re dealing with people used to getting their way, one way or another.
Apparently the money issues were fixed and WWE began broadcasting the show in Saudi Arabia about 40 minutes late. Then WWE and the Saudis announced an expansion of their deal on Friday; someone’s trying to P.R. spin this the best way they can.
The bottom line is that WWE has buddied up with some reprehensible people, all in order to bump up the bottom line and have the rich get richer in their ultimate stock scam.
The wrestlers, meanwhile, get shrapnel from Vince’s negotiating tactics.
Now would really be a perfect time for WWE talent to unionize. The quicker they all realize Vince McMahon doesn’t give a damn about them, the better off they’ll be.