— On the latest Wrestling Observer Radio, the recent incident in Saudi Arabia where WWE wrestlers were stranded for several hours was discussed, shedding more light into how the situation played out as well as the negative reaction from some of the wrestlers. While WWE has gone on record to vehemently deny that the delays were due to anything other than a mechanical issue with the plane, it it appears as if at least some wrestlers felt that it was due to money issues and one person even went so far as to mention that there was military presence around their plane as it sat grounded.
— After the original flight was delayed, a second charter was arranged for all the talent but whether the plane was delayed in arriving or if there were no pilots to fly the aircraft back to North America (due to flight-time rules) is unclear, it clearly upset several wrestlers, many of whom vowed never to return to Saudi Arabia. Vince McMahon, Kevin Dunn and some others had by this time already taken a private jet back while Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman soon followed on their own private jet. Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Jimmy Hart took a third private jet and Tyson Fury was also flown out. Everyone else was left behind.
— WWE then released a statement to the effect of “several Superstars felt so strongly that they arranged for their own separate charter in order to make it back to the U.S. for the show” which apparently multiple sources are denying as being true. Instead, the story goes that WWE arranged for a second charter flight for 12 superstars + 8 production crew who were deemed as being important for Smackdown (in hindsight though this flight never got back to North America in time either). This prompted several wrestlers to go on social media with comments alluding to the “top 20” as a way to refute the statement that seemed to imply that some talent felt so strongly about Smackdown that they paid their own way back while the rest didn’t care as much. Curtis Axel, Luke Harper, Karl Anderson and Dash Wilder were among those who tweeted.
— Finally, WWE had reportedly originally planned to reveal the Brock Lesnar move to Raw later today on the premiere of “WWE Backstage” (and Renee Young actually promised some ‘huge news’) but because Lesnar was needed on Raw, the show was re-written and his “quitting” was moved up and aired on Friday Night Smackdown instead.
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