WWE was forced to deny nearly 200 wrestlers and crew members were & # 39; held hostage & # 39; by Saudi Arabia in retaliation to struggling bosses who pulled over the live feed to last week's Crown Jewel competition.
Smackdown stars were forced to miss a live show in Buffalo, New York after the game – with reports that the delay was due to Saudi ruler, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who was 175 stars and a production team from a plane ordered to sit six hours on the asphalt.
According to American reports, MBS was furious that WWE boss Vince McMahon had pulled the plug from the Crown Jewel live feed in Saudi Arabia because the company owed up to $ 500 million (£ 390 million) last year for two shows in Saudi Arabia .
Reports also claim that the two sides an agreement was hastily reached before the show was eventually only 40 minutes late, but this did not prevent the majority of the 14-hour WWE entrourage flight from being delayed every day.
However, WWE quickly denied the claims and claimed that the delay was due to & # 39; mechanical problems & # 39; as a result of which their 747 aircraft could not leave Riyadh.
Nearly 200 wrestlers and crew members were held hostage & # 39; by Saudi Arabia as retribution to WWE bosses who got the live feed to last week's Crown Jewel competition, it is claimed
Luke Harper posted a photo on Instagram after the furore – with the no show being accused of & # 39; mechanical problems & # 39; leaving their 747 plane to Riyadh
Some wrestlers – including McMahon and stars such as Hulk Hogan and Tyson Fury – managed to leave their own private planes, but most of those left were furious and swore never to return.
Wrestler Karl Anderson said on Twitter: & # 39; Couldn't pay me enough to go back … well, that's not true, I need a second pole, so … & # 39;
To which his wife, Tini, said: & never go back AGAIN !! We don't need our dad / papi / mother lover / absanderson / besttag team etc. to be taken hostage while we are terrified at home & # 39 ;.
Sports journalist Dave Meltzer told the radio station, Wrestling Observer, that tensions increased when the military police were sent to the airport in Riyadh.
But now it is claimed that the real reason for the delay was because the angry Saudi ruler, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), ordered 175 stars and production crew from the plane to sit on the asphalt for six hours
Some – including McMahon and stars such as Hulk Hogan and Tyson Fury (photo) – managed to leave their own private jets
He said: & # 39; The talent felt that they were hostages … nobody was hurt or anything. It's a very tense story … & # 39;
Some observers thought that if the delay was caused by mechanical problems, another aircraft could have been chartered that would have brought them back to the US sooner.
Former WWE announcer Hugo Savinovich posted a video on Facebook and said the real reason for the flight delay was Saudi retribution for the live feed drawn by WWE.
The two parties hastily reached an agreement, as a result of which the show was only broadcast 40 minutes late
The wrestling news website said that, according to the images, he thought & the crown prince was so upset by the feed that was cut off that he ordered the wrestlers to be taken from Atlas Air just before the plane was about to depart & # 39 ;.
WWE was launched in 2014 in Saudi Arabia, with two to four shows a year in the desert kingdom.
The competitions continued despite criticism from campaigners about the country's human rights record and the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul a year ago.
Joe Hennig posted a photo on his return from Saudi Arabia and said: & # 39; Not the # Top20 I'm # 1 at home! We will not leave each other behind & # 39;
Last week, CNN reported that WWE's share price had fallen by 25 percent this year, amid speculation that this could be due to the non-signing of a new TV deal in the Middle East.
The sports entertainment company has entered into an agreement with BT Sport starting in January 2020, but exact details have yet to be announced.
On Friday, WWE explained why wrestlers would not arrive at SmackDown in time.
In a statement it said: & # 39; The WWE roster has been delayed in its return from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after a historic performance at yesterday's record-breaking WWE Crown Jewel event.
WWE was launched in 2014 in Saudi Arabia, with two to four shows a year in the desert kingdom
& # 39; More than 175 Superstars, production team and employees boarded a 747 charter flight to the United States on Thursday.
& # 39; After the door was closed due to various aircraft problems, including mechanical problems, all passengers were on the asphalt for more than six hours. With SmackDown about to live from Buffalo, N.Y. In order to arrive, several Superstars felt so strong that they arranged their own separate charter to return to the US for the show. Due to unforeseen problems, that charter will only land after the live broadcast on FOX.
& # 39; The rest of WWE & # 39; s Superstars, staff and crew are leaving with a charter leaving Saudi Arabia later tonight & # 39 ;.
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