Report: Non-Mechanical Issues Added To Delay Of WWE Saudi Arabia Flight; Non-Payment, TV Feed Rumors Debunked
There was much more than just mechanical issues going on regarding the very long flight from Saudi Arabia.
A recent report by Stan Morris of NEAReport.com dives into what really happened before the flight from Riyadh and dispels a lot of the speculation that has been surrounding the much-talked-about flight which had WWE talent voicing their frustrations out on social media and news outlets left wondering to what exactly went down.
According to the report, which has several WWE officials and talent cited as sources, a WWE executive told Morris that the plane was initially delayed by a tug that was malfunctioning and that the plane was actually being tugged to the wrong spot. Additionally, a Saudi VIP was being flown into the country as well which added to the delay.
The next problem to arise was an issue with the manifest. The Saudi military police and customs were unable to reach an agreement in relation to a weight problem with the plane which was the only delay that involved any Saudi government official, according to Morris. All these delays also used a good deal of the fuel supply so the plane also needed to be refueled.
Next according to the report, a sensor went off, indicating that a piece of equipment used in a fuel transfer between engines was having an issue. Jerry Lawler explained more details about the trip on his podcast (according to NEA via Wrestling Inc) noting that he wasn’t on the trip but spoke to others in the company about the issue and said the broken part couldn’t be found locally and needed to be flown in from Germany. Ultimately, it did end up being a mechanical issue that stopped the attempt of departure and Atlas Air issued a statement regarding the problem.
The talent was clearly frustrated and they were not informed of details about the issues due to the complexity of the matter. Wrestlers also reported to Morris noted cultural differences in how US airport crews operate in comparison to how Saudi Arabian crews operate.
Morris also spoke with AJ Styles who repeated what he said on his Mixer channel days after returning home that he spoke with the pilot and that mechanical issues were the problem.
As far as the flight itself goes, the only unexplained aspect is how the plane ventured off from it’s designated course until it was outside Saudi airspace before it resumed planned trajectory. Talent also confirmed to Morris that they were not allowed to drink alcohol on the flight until they were outside the Saudi airspace, but no other changes were noticed by the wrestlers. The flight did go off course flying to the west tip of the Red Sea before flying over Egypt and then over the Mediterranean Sea. Morris cites that The US Navy Fifth Fleet operates in areas including the Red Sea and the Sixth Fleet operates in the Mediterranean. Morris also notes that this flight, in particular, was one of the longest for the plane with the tail number of N322SG. Dating back to at least August, most of the flights that this plane took were about two hours so a 13-hour trip is the most arduous journey this plane has had in recent documentation (any documentation before August would have to be purchased).
The report goes on to state that “everything” that former WWE Spanish announcer Hugo Savinovich claimed, including a money dispute over non-payment and the television feed being cut off, was inaccurate. In addition, the report dispels information originally reported by Dave Meltzer, including claims that he spoke with people on the flight that gave other reasons besides the official mechanical issues as a reason for the delay.
NEA notes WWE announced they’d been paid an outstanding balance by the Saudi group during the latest earnings report, and when Morris asked a WWE executive about the company cutting the feed for the show, the executive told him he had no knowledge of that. Regarding Meltzer’s speculation about another plane not being ready for talent, NEA cites the fact that Atlas didn’t have any other planes arriving or departing that airport that day, much less the rest of the week. NEA went on to note the sizable cost of WWE trying to get another plane through another carrier, in addition to finding that many available tickets on short notice.
Regarding Vince McMahon leaving the country, McMahon reportedly told the talent in the now-infamous Monday after meeting that he expected the flight for talent to be right behind him. A long-time wrestler told Morris that Vince wouldn’t have done that to his wrestlers. In addition, an executive told him that if he even thought Vince did that, he would have talked to him at his house about it. These comments line up with that Corey Graves said on the latest episode of After The Bell, where he noted that Vince didn’t abandon anyone because he leaves shows immediately after they’re over and has been doing so for years.
The article continues to break down some of the media speculation made about the whole situation and what that could indicate as far as some reports on the flight go.