In April, dozens of WWE employees, including a good number of in-ring performers, were released by the company, apparently due to budget cuts related to the coronavirus pandemic. However, a new report suggests there were some wrestlers who were let go specifically because they were vocal in their complaints about the travel issues that immediately followed last October’s Crown Jewel pay-per-view in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
As cited by WrestlingNews.co, Dave Meltzer reported on Sunday’s edition of Wrestling Observer Radio that WWE was thinking about more than just expensive contracts when it decided on which performers to release. There were, however, some people, such as Mike Bennett (formerly Mike Kanellis) and FTR (formerly The Revival), who supposedly got cut because they had publicly “complained about money” or rejected their initial contract offers.
Meltzer then pointed out there were also certain superstars, including Rusev, Karl Anderson, and Joe Hennig (formerly Curtis Axel), who gave the promotion “bad publicity” over the travel issues and were consequently let go. He also mentioned that Andrade was similarly upset over such concerns but was apparently able to keep his job because of his high-profile relationship with his fiancée, Charlotte Flair.
“There was a lot of bitterness because WWE sees it one way,” the Wrestling Observer journalist continued.
“The reason that there was a problem is because guys said there was a problem and everything and there’s all those tweets out there which WWE couldn’t deny and it led to this lawsuit as a matter of fact.”
The class-action lawsuit in question, per WrestlingNews.co, was filed by WWE shareholders who alleged that the company “misrepresented” its dealings with Saudi Arabia. It also included testimony from an unnamed former superstar who offered more information on why the promotion’s wrestlers were supposedly stranded at the airport following Crown Jewel. This incident was described by some people as a “hostage situation,” per an earlier report from Forbes.
As explained by the outlet, the anonymous performer alleged that the chartered flight back to the United States wasn’t delayed because of mechanical issues as WWE claimed, but rather due to an argument between company chairman Vince McMahon and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The disagreement was purportedly over late payments related to the Super ShowDown pay-per-view that was held in the country in June 2019.
As further noted, the wrestler who made those allegations was described as having worked for WWE from 2012 to April 2020 — the same month in which the aforementioned mass releases took place.