Trying to fit plans in a very tight window, WWE Crown Jewel wrestlers and producers were unable to make it to the Friday Night SmackDown show in Buffalo, New York, which is roughly an 18-20 hour flight. As a result, the entire show had to be rewritten, and fans instead saw an NXT invasion and a prelude to the upcoming Survivor Series pay-per-view.
Since the original announcement from WWE and apology from Atlas Air for the traveling problems, there looks to be other reasons why the flights were stalled. According to Aaron Oster of Rolling Stone, via the Wrestlenomics Radio Twitter page, not getting paid from Super ShowDown could be a reason why the issues occurred.
“The disaster in Saudi Arabia is starting to make sense. WWE still hasn’t been paid for Super Showdown back in the spring,” said Oster. “They complained about it. The WWE superstars had to suffer for that complaint.”
The disaster in Saudi Arabia is starting to make sense. WWE still hasn't been paid for Super Showdown back in the spring. They complained about it. The WWE superstars had to suffer for that complaint. https://t.co/SD239nZpAx
— Aaron Oster (@TheAOster) November 3, 2019
The highlighted area reads, “Cash generated from activities was $2.3 million in the nine months ended September 30, 2019, as compared to $121.5 million for the corresponding period in the prior year. The $119.2 decrease in the current year period was primarily driven by the timing of collections associated with our Super ShowDown event which was held in the second quarter of 2019, combined with lower operating performance and the increased payout of management incentive compensation in the current year.”
As WWE reported, over 175 superstars, production crew, and employees were unable to make it back “due to several aircraft problems including mechanical issues,” causing the passengers to sit on the tarmac for six hours.
However, the “mechanical issues” explanation led to much criticism, with a Twitter user indicting that all the flights are public record, and the flight that left Saudi Arabia was the same plane that reported to have mechanical issues. Moreover, it was stated that the plane was allowed to take off, but only after most of the WWE workers were taken off of it.