Following Crown Jewel 2019 in Saudi Arabia, a number of WWE wrestlers remained stranded in Saudi Arabia due to "mechanical issues" with the plane. Many wrestlers had to stay an extra night in Saudi Arabia with the majority missing WWE SmackDown, which was scheduled for the next day. Fortunately, everyone made it home safe.
There were unconfirmed reports that the Saudi government held up the WWE plane due to a monetary dispute between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud and WWE Owner Vince McMahon and that McMahon cut the feed of Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia over the dispute.
In an amended class action complaint filed by Firefighters Pension System of the City of Kansas City Missouri Trust against WWE (h/t to Wrestlenomics Radio), an anonymous former WWE wrestler stepped forward and detailed his account of what happened.
The wrestler is referred to as CW-2 in the lawsuit and will be referred to as such in this article.
CW-2, who worked in the company from 2012 to April 2020, was part of the crew flown to Crown Jewel. CW-2 was part of the crew initially stranded and he noted that McMahon and others, including Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, were "in a hurry" to get out of Saudi Arabia on a separate flight. When the plane was delayed, a stewardess told CW-2 "someone doesn't want us to leave the country," that the pilot sounded distressed, and that there were a "ton of guards" blocking the exit.
CW-2 went to Senior Director of Talent Relations Mark Carrano for an update and was told by Carrano that McMahon and Bin Salman got into an argument over late payments regarding WWE Super ShowDown, which took place in June 2019. Carrano also told CW-2 that McMahon did cut the Crown Jewel feed, which made the Crown Prince "very mad."
CW-2 ended up being part of the "Top 20" who flew back the United States ahead of the rest of the crew in hopes of making it to SmackDown. CW-2 and another co-worker went to Talent Relations and told them they wouldn't go back to Saudi Arabia. It's noted that other wrestlers tried to do the same, but WWE "abused their power" and "threatened careers."
Also, as part of the amendment, an employee (referred to as CW-1) of the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) stepped forward and said WWE and MBC could not agree on the basic assumptions of a proposed deal. CW-1 said that WWE had "wildly unreasonable expectations of the revenue it expected from a potential partner," proposing an $80 million annual licensing fee for a projection of 100 million "OTT" subscribers. MBC projected only 6.5 million subscribers at first, before raising expectations for 15 million to appease WWE.
WWE reduced its licensing fee ask to $50 million, but MBC felt they couldn't go above $14.5 million, which led to negotiations ending.
As of now, WWE has yet to agree on a new broadcast deal in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
You can view the full amended complaint by clicking here.