As seen above, newly signed Impact Wrestling stars Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows took to their new Talk N’ Shop Podcast to shed some light on what was going on backstage during their time in WWE.
On the subject of Saudi Arabia, Gallows and Anderson say that they generally enjoyed the trips the company made there. However, they noted how the stars contracted with WWE didn’t actually make any sort of bonus pay from working the Saudi Arabian shows.
“The shows were good, there were huge crowds. The food was always good, I mean, I like the Saudi Arabian food,” Karl said. “In the arenas, they treated us well… Did we want to go though? I don’t think so, because it was a long way and the money was just okay for what you were going to get.”
“Let me clarify that real quick,” Gallows interjected. “The thing is about the money ‘being great’ in Saudi Arabia, once your guarantee gets so high, and you’re lucky to have this high guarantee, it doesn’t f–king matter what they pay you for Saudi Arabia. ‘You guys got fifty grand for your tag match!’ Okay, well, you’re in a bucket in WWE. So this is my weekly pay [here in front of me], well, I’m already in the hole because the shows in America aren’t drawing. So I’m getting paid a fraction each night, but I get this [Saudi pay], so it’s a bucket. It’s add and subtract, so at the end of the year if I don’t get that extra money anyway, it doesn’t matter if you said you paid me $100,000, I don’t get it. I get this same amount of money.
“I’m sure Jericho got huge money for that, and even if you’re a guy like a [Great] Khali,” Gallows continued. “Maybe you’re a guy that WWE wasn’t necessarily going to book but the Saudis wanted to see him because they dictate a lot of creative for those shows. There’s a story that, God rest their souls, that [the Saudis] wanted these dream matches and they asked, ‘Can we get Ultimate Warrior and Yokozuna in one?'”
Gallows and Anderson were a part of the infamous Saudi Arabia trip in fall 2019 that saw a flight’s “mechanical issues” delay the WWE stars from returning to the United States. There was controversy surrounding what truly happened that early morning in Saudi Arabia, and Anderson and Gallows gave their recap of the events that took place.
“We get [to the airport]. Say the flight is scheduled for 1 AM, for example, we get there at 11 PM,” Anderson said. “So, we’re there a couple of hours before. Around midnight, I’d say Vince, Paul, and probably Brock, went through. Vince said ‘thank you, guys’, we’re all waiting. Everyone is just waiting, hey, I don’t blame him [for leaving]. If I was him, I would be gone. If I was him, I probably would have gone around Saudi Arabia, like, ‘Oh, there’s the boys.’ I would have avoided all the a–holes as much as I could. But then he just gets on the plane and leaves.
“Then we’re all just starting to sit there… Then you start to hear rumblings of, ‘What’s going on?’ You know, ‘Why aren’t we going?’ ‘Well, we’re waiting for everybody.’ Okay, so then everybody starts to calm down. Then it’s 2 AM, then you start to see one of the guys that is translating things for us start to do a heated talk with, possibly, a Saudi Arabian airport guy. It’s like, ‘What the f–k is that?’ You know, and then at this point it’s 3 AM,” Anderson said.
“Then we start to ask questions and somebody says, ‘Well, the only guy that can pull the plane out, get the plane out there, well, he’s been here all day, and he’s reached his eight hours, and he has to go home. And the only guys that can do it is him. And then we’re starting to go, ‘What?’ Then, it’s about 4:15 AM, then you start to see Mark Carrano and Johnny Ace kind of scooting around over here to this guy that’s been arguing with this guy,” he continued. “Then you start to hear people say that they could hear arguments on the headsets from the camera men during the show from something Vince had done. I never heard anything, but you hear that Vince pulled the plug on the air, correct? I’m hearing that from the crew and they’ll probably never admit it, but like, people that heard from the camera men saying that Vince said pull the plug.
“Then you see more arguing, more arguing, and then you hear them say, ‘Well, we’re all going to get on the plane now.’ Oh, cool alright,” Anderson added. “So then we sit on the plane for another, probably, hour. You start seeing your bosses get up and leave the plane, then all the boys start texting each other going, ‘What the f–k is going on, man?’ Now I’m starting to feel uncomfortable. At this point, now, it’s probably 9 AM, so you’ve been there – and then I remember, I looked at Michael Hayes and I go, ‘Are we in, like, a hostage situation or something, ’cause this is really f–ing weird?’ And he goes, ‘Huh? I don’t know!’ and walked away, which makes me feel like he did know.
“Ultimately, they ended up saying that there was a mechanical problem with it. So probably around 10:30 AM or 11 AM, they got us all off of the plane, got us to the hotel, waited around in the hotel for longer, they let us sleep there, we ended up not leaving until 4 AM the very next day, got on the plane, took off like everything was fine,” Karl finished.
Gallows and Anderson both agree that something was done purposely to keep them from flying out of Saudi Arabia that night. With the atmosphere as strange as it was on the plane, they actually started preparing in case things took a turn for the worse.
“I was going to get home and I had this plan, I had my buddy coming to sing and I was going to propose to my [now] wife,” Gallows said. “And I was sitting there and I was thinking, ‘I think this is fine, but on the 1% that it’s not, here’s this ring and where it’s hidden. So, I don’t know, get it and pawn it, or give it to my son or something.'”
“There were a couple of situations where I was just like, ‘F–k man, we’re in such a corrupt country, right? With such a corrupt government, like, who’s to say they’re not just going to come in her and blasting us for whatever reason.’ So I remember sending my wife a text, like, that’s how hairy it got. And I was like, ‘Just tell the kids I love them, because this is kind of strange.’ But it never got to the depths that people thought that it did,” Anderson said. “Do I think something happened? Do I think they did something to that plane to not let us take off at the right time? F–k yes!” Gallows agreed.
Gallows says that he didn’t see Vince’s early exit of the evening as someone abandoning their ship in turmoil.
“I remember telling my dad [that Vince left] and he went, ‘That motherf–ker abandoned his ship!’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, I guess. I never thought of it like that,'” Gallows said.
Anderson noted that the next time they were booked for Saudi Arabia, they had the exact same charter plane company waiting for them to fly out.
“I pull up and it’s the same exact charter. And I’ve got a tweet saying ‘I’ll never go back’, but here I go,” Anderson pointed out with a laugh.
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit the Talk N’ Shop Podcast with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.