“The Game” Triple H and current boxing Lineal Heavyweight Champion, Tyson Fury, were guests on a recent edition of the Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. During the conversation, Hunter went in-depth about why WWE has booked two combat athletes to make their debut in WWE on the same night at their Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia on October 31.
“I think the timing of it is right,” Hunter began. “Like he said, when we reached out to [Tyson] this was the timing for him. I think we were reaching out in sort of a, ‘Hey, what if?’ and he was like, ‘The timing is now,’ and we had an event now, and I don’t know if we would have [brought in two fighters] at the exact same time but it worked. Things happen for a reason, so it worked out perfect for him and we were like, ‘Well, let’s just go with it.’ If we can make this happen now, if we can make it happen quickly, then we can move and make this epic blockbuster event with Cain and Brock.
“The timing is right for that too, as well. Cain is somebody that looked into this a while ago; he came to the performance center and tried out with us but he still had the fight game in his head,” Hunter continued. “I feel like you either do this or you don’t do this and he was looking to do [pro wrestling] long term but he hadn’t put that away yet. Now he’s kind of gotten to the point where he did a few matches, we trained a little bit and did a few matches and he got the bug for it. And now I can see it in Cain’s eyes and he really wants this. So, it’s a different conversation. Now he stepped away from MMA and he’s fully dedicated to what we do, so, that’s a different conversation because he was looking to fully make the transition. [Bringing in Fury] was the opportunity – right place, right time, right athlete, all of it. It just fell into our lap.”
Fury has admitted in the past that he’s been wanting to work with WWE for years, and the excitement shows when discussing the process he’s gone through to begin training. Fury also revealed that Frank Warren, the popular manager and promoter for boxing, his family, and his management team had no clue he was going to compete in a match with WWE until he appeared at the SmackDown on FOX premiere.
“I didn’t [give Frank Warren a heads up about me competing in WWE] because I wanted it to be a big surprise!” Fury said through a smile. “He was mad, he was quite pissed to be fair. He said to me, ‘I think this is a really bad idea, you could get injured; Braun Strowman is a massive guy. What happens if the cut re-opens? What happens if you get injured shoulders, or legs, or whatever?’ And I said, ‘Well, this is a risk that – what happens if I go out the front door and get run over by a bus in the morning? If we lived our lives on what if, we would never do anything in our lives. You’ve got to take the bull by the horns and get on with it and enjoy it because like I said, these are once in a lifetime opportunities.”
“I’m sat here with one of my childhood heroes. It’s surreal to me to go backstage and meet Hulk Hogan and all the rest of the guys – The Rock and everybody. It’s been a fantastic thing for me and it was an opportunity that I did not want to slip,” Tyson continued. “But Frank along with my management team, trainer, father, brothers, everybody was like, ‘Concentrate on your job. You are not a showman, you are not a movie star!’ I was like, ‘Try telling me that!'”
There were reports Tyson will be making $15 million for competing at Crown Jewel this year, however, that has yet to be confirmed. Hunter and Tyson discussed the matter a bit, hinting that the amount Fury is receiving is indeed a heavy sum.
“Listen, I can’t comment on moneys. So I’ve read [the rumors] but I don’t know where their information has come from but I’m not going to confirm or deny because I don’t want to breach my contract,” Tyson said.
“It is amazing how much other people count people’s money isn’t it? Look, you could make an argument that WWE right now – if you say one of the big 4 sports in America, you could make an argument that we’re right there,” Hunter said. “This is a moment in time and, to his point, I’m not going to confirm or deny but the positioning of what we are is no different from any other sport. We’re not the size of the NFL or anything like that but what we do is up there.”
“And also, I just want to say one thing: you said none of the other boxers that came into it didn’t make this type of money but none of the other boxers came into it with a Lineal Heavyweight current World Champion, and also they’re not the ‘Gypsy King’ so let’s put that into play too,” Tyson said.
“If you want the king, you’ve got to pay for the king!” Hunter added.
Despite criticism by fans and the media, Crown Jewel 2019 will be the fourth WWE event held under the ten-year deal with the Saudi General Sports Authority. Triple H hopes that viewers can disassociate any political affiliations and simply enjoy the entertainment the WWE provides.
“The truth is, we’re an entertainment company and politics and everything else aside we have millions of fans in the Middle East. They love what we do, they love the product and love to be entertained by us. This is an opportunity for us to go there like we have been doing for years, and years, and years and go there and entertain our fan base,” Hunter said. “I think that our talent especially have seen that when they go there, what they do is they see an event just like the other events that they do. They see tens of thousands of fans in the stadium going crazy for what they do. That’s what we do – we entertain. We’re not in it for politics or anything else, it’s about going there and entertaining our fan base and there’s millions of fans there.”
“I’m a prize fighter, I’m an entertainer like Triple H just said. I go where I have to go,” Tyson stated. “Like I said, I’m going over there to put on a show for the fans around the world, boxing fans and wrestling fans alike, and every contact sport fan there is.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.