A former WWE wrestler is now a confidential witness against the company.
WrestleNomics released documents from an amended class action lawsuit against the company that were filed last week on June 8th claiming that WWE misrepresented their dealings with Saudi Arabia. The document stated that the wrestler worked for the company from 2012 to April of 2020 and participated in the Crown Jewel event last October.
Following Crown Jewel, WWE talent and crew were delayed in the country for a day before finally flying back to the U.S. The delay caused most of the SmackDown crew to miss that week's Friday Night SmackDown On FOX, resulting in NXT stars being used on the show. At the time, former WWE Spanish commentator Hugo Savinovich said that WWE was owed millions of dollars for two of the shows that the company held in Saudi Arabia. According to Savinovich, Vince McMahon retaliated by cutting off the Crown Jewel live TV feed in the country. Savinovich said that The Crown Prince was so upset over McMahon's move that he ordered the WWE talent to be taken off of the plane right before the flight was scheduled to take off.
WWE denied that the flight issues had anything with Saudi Arabia owing them money, and said that the feed issues were "entirely unrelated" to anything regarding a payment. Vince McMahon later held a meeting with talent and said that the delay out of Saudi Arabia was due to mechanical issues with the plane.
In the lawsuit, the former wrestler, identified as CW-2, said that he asked a stewardess on the flight about the delay, and was told that "it seems someone doesn't want us to leave the country." He added that the pilot sounded "distressed" when he told the passengers that the flight was unable to depart.
The wrestler allegedly asked WWE Senior Director of Talent Relations Mark Carrano about what was happening. Carano reportedly told him that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and McMahon had gotten into an argument over money due from the June 7, 2019 Super ShowDown event.
Several wrestlers were released in April that had worked Crown Jewel, including Rusev, Erick Rowan, Cain Velasquez, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Dax Harwood, Cash Wheeler, Curtis Axel, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder.
You can view the excerpt from the lawsuit below (h/t to Heel By Nature for the transcription):
A Former WWE Wrestler Confirms He and Other Wrestlers Were Detained in Saudi Arabia Following the October 31, 2019 Crown Jewel Event as Part of a Dispute Between the Crown Prince and Defendant McMahon
216. A former wrestler for the WWE, who performed for the Company as a wrestler from 2012 to April 2020 and who participated in the October 31, 2019 Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia, confirms the substance (of media reports about the flight issues). CW-2 (the witness) explained that following the Crown Jewel October 31, 2019 event, he along with other WWE personnel were scheduled to leave the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (where the event was held) and head to a private airport to take a charter plane to Buffalo, New York for the SmackDown event which was scheduled for the next night. CW-2 stated that while his group was waiting to depart, Defendant McMahon, other WWE executives, and big-name talent such as Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan boarded different flights than the rest of the group and took off, appearing to be "in a hurry."
217. CW-2 recalled that he was initially told the charter flight he was scheduled to leave on was delayed because the plane needed to be pulled around, and once they boarded, they were removed from the airplane after 20-30 minutes. CW-2 explained that he spoke with a stewardess on the flight about the delay, who told him that "it seems someone doesn't want us to leave the country." CW-2 further explained that the pilot sounded "distressed" when he informed the passengers that the flight was unable to take off. CW-2 recalled that then they were told that it was because of mechanical issues, but he recalled seeing a "ton" of guards wearing black "militia" attire and wearing guns that were blocking their exit and "staring at the wrestlers."
218. CW-2 became aware that something was wrong and explained that a number of the other personnel were referring to the event as a "hostage" situation." CW-2 explained that he asked the Senior Director of Talent Relations, Mark Carrano, about what was going on and that Carrano told him that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and McMahon had gotten into an argument over late payments in connection with the June 7, 2019 Super ShowDown event. Carrano also informed CW-2 that McMahon had cut the live feed for the Crown Jewel event and that this had made the Crown Prince "very mad."
219. CW-2 advised the he and other WWE personnel looked into the prospect of booking flights on their own at a different airport for early the next morning. After a few hours, CW-2 explained, he and about 10-12 other wrestlers, cameramen, and agents were put on another flight to Buffalo. CW-2 further noted that at this point he wondered why, if other planes were available, that they did not get everyone out of Saudi Arabia.
220. CW-2 also heard that while on the plane, other wrestlers communicated back home that the military police were holding the wrestlers, and that McMahon didn't air the first 30 minutes of the pay-per-view, and that as retaliation the Prince was holding them.
221. CW-2 recalled a number of wives being very concerned on social media and then when wrestlers returned home there were a lot of messages expressing how grateful they were to be home. CW-2 stated that after he returned, the WWE put out a letter that attempted to remove all blame from the company and that, in his opinion, many wrestlers were scared of speaking out due to the limited job opportunities in the industry and the WWE's comparatively high salaries. CW-2 explained that many spoke on the condition of anonymity to journalists and the WWE denounced these stories as "conspiracies" and "laughable." Nevertheless, after the event, CW-2 said that he and a co-worker partner went straight to Talent Relations and said they would not go back to Saudi Arabia. CW-2 noted that other wrestlers tried to do the same, but the WWE "abused" their "power" and threatened the future trajectory of their careers if they did not go.
Slightly elongated versions of CW-2 statements from later in the lawsuit. pic.twitter.com/HzNUdBn82J— Wrestlenomics (@wrestlenomics) June 15, 2020