There's been much rhetoric regarding the delays that numerous WWE Superstars and personnel faced when traveling back from Saudi Arabia following Crown Jewel. The problem has publicly been attributed to mechanical issues related to the plane but many think there is more to the story.
Ryback is among that camp that things something else was going on and he talked about that with Wrestling Inc's Raj Giri on his podcast.
"Definitely stuff had gone on. WWE is going to lie at all costs to protect that brand. When I saw the thing when they talked about talent flying their way home, first of all, there was no talent leaving there to get to SmackDown, it was to get the hell out of Saudi Arabia," said Ryback. "That is the truth of the situation. I was told that everyone was on the plane and heard there were stories going around left and right with all sorts of different stories and then [Director of Talent Relations] Mark Carrano got on the intercom for the 20 people to get off the plane to make it to SmackDown.
"I saw Corey Graves say those were the people that were advertised for SmackDown; he was there. I wasn't there for that. I understand all that. This is one of those situations - the talent that you saw speak up on social media that were frustrated were guys that weren't making the money because the guys that were making good money were not going to say anything. I saw how Corey Graves talking about some people handling it better than others by not going to social media. The problem is, the people that go on social media about that are guys that want out anyways and are already frustrated and that is the way to embarrass the company a little bit. Because with that flight, I don't think they got out of there until 3 AM the following day. It was pitch black. I was told that it was a weird situation and there weren't guns or anything. I saw different things about the military presence or whatever, that wasn't the case but there was a lot of weird things going on."
Ryback then brought up that Vince McMahon left the country on his private jet and later chartered a plane for some talent to get to SmackDown, although they ended up not making it in time.
"Again, if you are going to do that and you are going to stay there with your talent, okay, but even then, you shouldn't be doing anything like that with your talent in that place over there. That just goes to show you how asinine that old man can be at times with that ego and the power trip, that is not the place you do that," stated Ryback. "If you want to go there by yourself and do that be my guest. I think a lot of people would encourage that, but to do that with your talent sitting over there and you hijack and get out of there and they get stuck over there are so many things that came out with this that just don't add up...
"The fact that they were able to get 20 people advertised for SmackDown out of there, and this is where I talk about them not caring about the talent as human beings, their number one goal should have been to get every talent out of Saudi Arabia as quickly as possible, SmackDown or not. I get it, you get the people you need for SmackDown and you figure out a game plan for that and you have a whole other group of people trying to get your talent out of there, there is no reason for them to leave at 3 AM. I would love an explanation as to why the flight didn't leave out of Saudi Arabia in the pitch black until 3 AM. There was stuff going on."
Ryback said that none of the excuses for the delay made any sense such as the fuel guy going home. He also said that most wrestlers won't speak up about the situation because they don't want to put their jobs in jeopardy.
"This is why wrestlers are horrible for ever getting a change within the wrestling community for anybody that stays within that system, which is why I am okay speaking publicly and truthfully about the situation because I don't give a s**t because things need to change. The talents don't even have a choice. Nobody wants to go over there and wrestle; nobody does. The ones that do are making a lot of money and there are others who are not making a lot of money that are on the road every single week, so those are the people that are going to be venting their frustrations online more so because they are sick of all the bulls**t and it's a screwed up situation," said Ryback.
He says he wrestled once in Saudi Arabia and he felt uncomfortable the entire time he was there.
"I remember distinctly that that was one of the places that I felt extremely uncomfortable performing at. We weren't allowed to leave the hotel room. We were told that the beheadings were going on down the road," revealed Ryback. "This is legit. I'm like, why are we even put in this situation to begin with? It's all for money for the billionaire old man owner. Again, they can spin things however they want but there is a reason why John Cena, Daniel Bryan and those guys don't go over there.
"John Cena was over there with us and I think Daniel Bryan was there too. John Cena was working out, he would always go to a gym that was off-site and I will never forget when John was working out at the Saudi Arabia hotel gym and he's like, 'I'm not leaving.' There is a reason why some talent doesn't go over there but unfortunately, the talent doesn't have a voice. Vince makes this deal and is making all this money. It's just an unfortunate circumstance. If the talent isn't comfortable working somewhere they shouldn't have to go but a lot of them don't have that power to make that decision."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Conversations with the Big Guy Ryback with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.