WWE’s relationship with Saudi Arabia has been, since its beginning, a topic of great controversy amongst fans and experts alike. The relationship has also been uneven, leading to a plane fiasco in the nation where nearly everyone in the WWE roster were stranded for a few hours, the events and reasoning still largely unknown even today, with different personalities from the industry and from WWE coming up with their versions of the story.
Former WWE superstars Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, who now ply their trade at Impact Wrestling, spoke about the incident on their podcast. “We get to the airport. Say the flight is scheduled for 1 AM, for example, we get there at 11 PM,” Anderson said. “So, we’re there a couple of hours before. Around midnight, I’d say Vince, Paul, and probably Brock, went through. Vince said ‘thank you, guys’, we’re all waiting. Everyone is just waiting, hey, I don’t blame him. If I was him, I would be gone. If I was him, I probably would have gone around Saudi Arabia, like, ‘Oh, there’s the boys.’ I would have avoided all the a..holes as much as I could. But then he just gets on the plane and leaves.”
WRESTLERS STARTED GETTING AGITATED AFTER WWE BOSS VINCE LEFT
After Vince left, wrestlers started getting restless and agitated to the point of rumbling. “Then we’re all just starting to sit there… Then you start to hear rumblings of, ‘What’s going on?’ You know, ‘Why aren’t we going?’ ‘Well, we’re waiting for everybody.’ Okay, so then everybody starts to calm down. Then it’s 2 AM, then you start to see one of the guys that is translating things for us start to do a heated talk with, possibly, a Saudi Arabian airport guy. It’s like, ‘What the f–k is that?’ You know, and then at this point it’s 3 AM,” Anderson said.
“Then we start to ask questions and somebody says, ‘Well, the only guy that can pull the plane out, get the plane out there, well, he’s been here all day, and he’s reached his eight hours, and he has to go home. And the only guys that can do it is him. And then we’re starting to go, ‘What?’ Then, it’s about 4:15 AM, then you start to see Mark Carrano and Johnny Ace kind of scooting around over here to this guy that’s been arguing with this guy,” he continued. “Then you start to hear people say that they could hear arguments on the headsets from the camera men during the show from something Vince had done. I never heard anything, but you hear that Vince pulled the plug on the air, correct? I’m hearing that from the crew and they’ll probably never admit it, but like, people that heard from the camera men saying that Vince said pull the plug.”
Anderson went on to ask WWE Hall of Famer and producer Michael Hayer if the roster were in a hostage situation. “Then you see more arguing, more arguing, and then you hear them say, ‘Well, we’re all going to get on the plane now.’ Oh, cool alright,” Anderson added. “So then we sit on the plane for another, probably, hour. You start seeing your bosses get up and leave the plane, then all the boys start texting each other going, ‘What the f–k is going on, man?’ Now I’m starting to feel uncomfortable. At this point, now, it’s probably 9 AM, so you’ve been there – and then I remember, I looked at Michael Hayes and I go, ‘Are we in, like, a hostage situation or something, ’cause this is really f…ing weird?’ And he goes, ‘Huh? I don’t know!’ and walked away, which makes me feel like he did know.”
“Ultimately, they ended up saying that there was a mechanical problem with it. So probably around 10:30 AM or 11 AM, they got us all off of the plane, got us to the hotel, waited around in the hotel for longer, they let us sleep there, we ended up not leaving until 4 AM the very next day, got on the plane, took off like everything was fine,” Anderson continued.
Anderson and Gallows had already packed their stuff and were ready and prepared for less favourable situations. In a nation like Saudi Arabia, they could not put away the thoughts of the authorities blasting away at the WWE superstars for a disagreement with Vince McMahon, who had, as mentioned earlier, already left.
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