This past weekend there was some controversy surrounding WWE’s already controversial Crown Jewel event. There was a flight issue that kept several WWE stars and crew in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia following Thursday’s event. As a result, SmackDown was changed due to virtually from the brand nobody being there.
Several stars that were stuck in Saudi Arabia vented their frustration on Twitter, especially after a WWE statement regarding certain talent wanting to buy their own separate charter flight over others. One person who didn’t post anything was A.J. Styles.
Speaking on his Mixer gaming stream, Styles was asked several times what happened and why there was a delay. Styles gave his own perspective on the situation, based on all the facts he knew.
“We were supposed to leave after the show. We got to the airport, they weren’t letting us board,” Styles stated. “What was the problem? Not really sure, heard there was a fuel truck in the way, the guy who drove the truck had left to go home. I know, this makes no sense. Why would the fuel guy leave if he knows he’s got a plane that’s leaving? Then there were some paperwork issues.
“Finally, after at least 4-5 hours, we get on the plane. Then they found something wrong, the fuel or something or another was broken. People can say what they want, ‘It wasn’t broken.’ But I talked to the pilot. On that 14-hour flight the pilots, I guess they take naps as well. We were all chatting, sitting around on this flight and he said, ‘Listen, there was a problem. That’s a real thing.'”
There have been a lot of rumors going around whether this was planned by those in Saudi Arabia or if it was all a misunderstanding regarding convenience. Styles has heard the latter.
“The problem was, we spent all that time, from one o’clock all the way to six or eight in the morning, waiting to board this plane, they are telling us we can’t go anywhere because the pilots and everybody had timed out,” Styles continued. “They can only go so long before they are not able to fly because they’re not able to go 24 hours at a time. They had to go back to a hotel, we had to find a hotel.
“Were there guns? Were there people yelling ‘EVERYBODY OFF THE PLANE!’? No, that never happened. My wife called me in a panic, she’s scared to death. I go, ‘Babe, listen, we’re just not able to go anywhere. It is not a big issue, nobody has threatened to kill us.’ There was none of that going on. Nobody was going to get murdered, it never happened. There was no threat of physical harm or anything like that.”
Former WWE Spanish commentator Hugo Savinovich claimed that he heard from a source that WWE was owed money by the Saudis for past events and Vince McMahon retaliated by cutting off the Crown Jewel live TV feed in Saudi Arabia. On the WWE third quarter earnings call, WWE avoided answering questions regarding Saudi Arabia, although they did mention receiving a $60 million payment “for an outstanding receivable” after September 30 (when the report closes) and before October 31, hours before Crown Jewel. Crown Jewel also reportedly started nearly an hour later on the MBC Action network in Saudi Arabia than scheduled.
A.J. did admit he had the best sleep of his life on the flight due to jetlag. He also explained his understanding of what has been going on between Vince and the Saudi government.
“It is almost blown up, as if, we were on the verge of being killed. That wasn’t the case,” Styles went on to say. “I don’t know what happened between Vince and the King, the Prince or whoever it is. That’s not my job to say anything, my jobs to go to work, my jobs to get home. Was I pretty angry about not going home because I missed my son’s wrestling match? You have no idea. But, if this is out of our hands, if it is out of the pilot’s hands, then there’s nothing we can do.
“There is no point in getting mad, getting angry about something I have no control of. I’m home now, and I’m happy to be here. We’ll find out as we go along why things happened, or we won’t. I don’t know what’s going to happen going forward, it is just going to be what it is going to be.”
Several stars are sure to be wanting answers following the new Plane Ride From Hell. While Styles is not in a rush, he wants to make sure he himself has all the facts together.
“I’ll deal with it when I need to, but I’m not going to throw WWE under the bus, that’s not how I work” Styles stated. “I am a guy who’s committed to making the best product that I can and it is not going to do me any good to throw good people under the bus. There are a lot of good people that work for WWE, and I will not make them look bad. There are a lot of people that were on that plane with me. Until I know more I’m not going to say anything. And if I did find out, and I was offended, I will go to the source, believe me on that one.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Rock Reigns contributed to this article.