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The Grapevine (11/4/19): Back in the US, Back in the US


Welcome to the Grapevine! This section of Smark Henry is where we round up all the founded and unfounded rumors abound the pro wrestling scene that you may have missed over the week. Remember to take everything with a grain of salt!

So much happened in the Saudi Arabia trip from hell:

  • The infamous flight delays in Saudi Arabia may have been caused by a dispute between WWE and the Royal Family. While the official statement from the company and everyone involved is that the Atlas Air plane they were on "experienced mechanical issues," the true story seems to be deeper.

    According to former WWE Spanish commentator Hugo Savinovich, who has connections to people in Saudi Arabia, WWE is reportedly owed hundreds of millions of dollars by Saudi Arabia, including the agreed payment for Super Showdown last June. This caused Vince McMahon to cut the local Crown Jewel live feed off and the show to air an hour late on local TV. This understandably upset Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, who reportedly ordered the roster to deplane before takeoff.

    Vince McMahon and the so-called inner circle managed to leave the country before the flight delays, while Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, Hulk Hogan, Jimmy Hart, Tyson Fury, and Ric Flair left via private jets.

    Dave Meltzer states that many WWE wrestlers he's spoken to don't believe the mechanical issues story; according to them, military police were present, it took them more than 24 hours to leave, and the next flight was also delayed. The talent claim they felt deserted by the higher-ups, as well as taking issue over the statement the company posted about the situation, which unintentionally implied some of the roster were too unmotivated to charter their own flight home. (Source: Wrestling Observer Radio, Hugo Savinovich, Dave Meltzer, WrestlingNews.Co, Wrestling Inc)
We say: What. A. Mess.

While it's easy to say it's WWE's karma for even supporting the Kingdom despite their human rights controversies, there were also real people just trying to make a better living who were involved in the mess.

To be honest, the debt Saudi Arabia has with WWE is the latter's biggest opportunity to cut off ties with a terrible state; if money is the only thing that drove them to this partnership, the lack thereof should be a convenient enough excuse to back out of it. With both public opinion and internal morale messier than ever thanks to this situation, it's on Vince McMahon to do the right—and only—thing now.
  • Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman weren't scheduled to "quit SmackDown" last Friday. They were teased for the premiere of WWE Backstage this week, where they would've likely made the announcement to go to RAW. The last-minute booking changes forced the storyline to happen earlier than planned. (Source: Wrestling Observer Radio)
We say: Still lost in the mess of the weekend is exactly why the top titles are changing brands—and whether the Universal Championship would still be red.

Let us know what you think of today's news in the comments!

Photo from WWE

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