Documents from one of the lawsuits filed against WWE stemming from the Saudi Arabia deal saw the light of day and it includes first-hand accounts from somebody who was on that flight which was not allowed to leave Saudi following Crown Jewel last year.
WWE Superstars and crew were supposed to leave Riyadh in the early hours of November 1 following the Crown Jewel pay-per-view held the on October 31 but something happened and everyone was stuck on the chartered flight for several hours on the tarmac before all on board were told to leave the plane and return to the hotel.
The incident hit the mainstream media and WWE was forced to produce the live Smackdown on FOX that same day with just the women and the crew from NXT. Only a handful of individuals made it out in time on a private jet, while others managed to leave on a different commercial flight but still did not land in time for Smackdown that evening.
There were different scenarios played as to why the Superstars and crew got stuck in Saudi with WWE saying that the Boeing 747 plane they chartered from Atlas Air had a malfunction. But unofficial reports at the time suggested that flight was not allowed to leave after a disagreement between WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon and the Saudi royal family.
Now, documents which were pulled by Wrestlenomics, show the testimony of an unnamed individual, listed as CW-2, who was on the flight that night and worked for WWE until this year.
CW-2, which stands for Confidential Witness 2, says that he asked a stewardess on the plane to see why there’s a delay in departing Saudi and the stewardess told him that “it seems someone doesn’t want us to leave the country.” CW-2 also said that the pilot of the 747 sounded “distressed” when on the PA system he told everyone that they’re unable to take off. “CW-2 recalled that then they were told that it was because of mechanical issues, but he recalled seeing a ‘ton’ of guards wearing black ‘militia’ attire and wearing guns that were blocking their exit and “staring at the wrestlers,” the document states.
In addition, when CW-2 brought up the situation to the Senior Director of Talent Relations, Mark Carrano, he was told that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and McMahon had gotten into an argument over late payments in connection with the June 7, 2019 Super ShowDown event. Carrano also informed CW-2 that McMahon had cut the live feed for the Crown Jewel event and that this had made the Crown Prince “very mad.”
CW-2, along with around a dozen of other wrestlers, cameramen, and agents were then put on a different flight to Buffalo after a few hours while the rest remained behind and said that he wondered why if other planes were available why did they not get everyone out of Saudi instead of letting them stay in the country locked up in a hotel.
According to the legal documents filed in the lawsuit, CW-2 said that he heard other individuals on the same plane talking to their loved ones at home saying that military police were holding the wrestlers hostage as a retaliation because Vince McMahon didn’t air the first 30 minutes of the pay-per-view in the country as per the original agreement.
CW-2 stated that after he returned, WWE put out a letter that attempted to remove all blame from the company and that, in his opinion, many wrestlers were scared of speaking out due to the limited job opportunities in the industry and the WWE’s comparatively high salaries.
“CW-2 explained that many spoke on the condition of anonymity to journalists and the WWE denounced these stories as ‘conspiracies’ and ‘laughable.’ Nevertheless, after the event, CW-2 said that he and a co-worker went straight to Talent Relations and said they would not go back to Saudi Arabia. CW-2 noted that other wrestlers tried to do the same but the WWE ‘abused’ their ‘power’ and threatened the future trajectory of their careers if they did not go,” the lawsuit states.