IMPACT superstars Karl Anderson and Luke (Doc) Gallows spoke about WWE’s delayed flight out of Saudi Arabia back in 2019, which many believed had to do with Vince McMahon pulling the plug on the live feed for Saudi television. Read below their recap of the events. (Transcribed by Wrestling Inc.)
How they didn’t really make that much more money working the shows in Saudi Arabia:
Anderson: The shows were good, there were huge crowds. The food was always good, I mean, I like the Saudi Arabian food,” Karl said. “In the arenas, they treated us well… Did we want to go though? I don’t think so, because it was a long way and the money was just okay for what you were going to get.
Gallows: Let me clarify that real quick. The thing is about the money ‘being great’ in Saudi Arabia, once your guarantee gets so high, and you’re lucky to have this high guarantee, it doesn’t f–king matter what they pay you for Saudi Arabia. ‘You guys got fifty grand for your tag match!’ Okay, well, you’re in a bucket in WWE. So this is my weekly pay [here in front of me], well, I’m already in the hole because the shows in America aren’t drawing. So I’m getting paid a fraction each night, but I get this [Saudi pay], so it’s a bucket. It’s add and subtract, so at the end of the year if I don’t get that extra money anyway, it doesn’t matter if you said you paid me $100,000, I don’t get it. I get this same amount of money. I’m sure Jericho got huge money for that, and even if you’re a guy like a [Great] Khali. Maybe you’re a guy that WWE wasn’t necessarily going to book but the Saudis wanted to see him because they dictate a lot of creative for those shows. There’s a story that, God rest their souls, that [the Saudis] wanted these dream matches and they asked, ‘Can we get Ultimate Warrior and Yokozuna in one?’
Recap the events of the delayed flight out of Saudi, and reveal they heard that Vince pulled the chord on the live Saudi feed for the show:
Anderson: We get [to the airport]. Say the flight is scheduled for 1 AM, for example, we get there at 11 PM. So, we’re there a couple of hours before. Around midnight, I’d say Vince, Paul, and probably Brock, went through. Vince said ‘thank you, guys’, we’re all waiting. Everyone is just waiting, hey, I don’t blame him [for leaving]. If I was him, I would be gone. If I was him, I probably would have gone around Saudi Arabia, like, ‘Oh, there’s the boys.’ I would have avoided all the a–holes as much as I could. But then he just gets on the plane and leaves. Then we’re all just starting to sit there… Then you start to hear rumblings of, ‘What’s going on?’ You know, ‘Why aren’t we going?’ ‘Well, we’re waiting for everybody.’ Okay, so then everybody starts to calm down. Then it’s 2 AM, then you start to see one of the guys that is translating things for us start to do a heated talk with, possibly, a Saudi Arabian airport guy. It’s like, ‘What the f–k is that?’ You know, and then at this point it’s 3 AM.
Then we start to ask questions and somebody says, ‘Well, the only guy that can pull the plane out, get the plane out there, well, he’s been here all day, and he’s reached his eight hours, and he has to go home. And the only guys that can do it is him. And then we’re starting to go, ‘What?’ Then, it’s about 4:15 AM, then you start to see Mark Carrano and Johnny Ace kind of scooting around over here to this guy that’s been arguing with this guy. Then you start to hear people say that they could hear arguments on the headsets from the camera men during the show from something Vince had done. I never heard anything, but you hear that Vince pulled the plug on the air, correct? I’m hearing that from the crew and they’ll probably never admit it, but like, people that heard from the camera men saying that Vince said pull the plug.
“Then you see more arguing, more arguing, and then you hear them say, ‘Well, we’re all going to get on the plane now.’ Oh, cool alright. So then we sit on the plane for another, probably, hour. You start seeing your bosses get up and leave the plane, then all the boys start texting each other going, ‘What the f–k is going on, man?’ Now I’m starting to feel uncomfortable. At this point, now, it’s probably 9 AM, so you’ve been there – and then I remember, I looked at Michael Hayes and I go, ‘Are we in, like, a hostage situation or something, ’cause this is really f–ing weird?’ And he goes, ‘Huh? I don’t know!’ and walked away, which makes me feel like he did know. Ultimately, they ended up saying that there was a mechanical problem with it. So probably around 10:30 AM or 11 AM, they got us all off of the plane, got us to the hotel, waited around in the hotel for longer, they let us sleep there, we ended up not leaving until 4 AM the very next day, got on the plane, took off like everything was fine.
Talking about the corrupt government and how they were slightly worried they wouldn’t make it back:
Gallows: I was going to get home and I had this plan, I had my buddy coming to sing and I was going to propose to my [now] wife,” Gallows said. “And I was sitting there and I was thinking, ‘I think this is fine, but on the 1% that it’s not, here’s this ring and where it’s hidden. So, I don’t know, get it and pawn it, or give it to my son or something. There were a couple of situations where I was just like, ‘F–k man, we’re in such a corrupt country, right? With such a corrupt government, like, who’s to say they’re not just going to come in her and blasting us for whatever reason.’ So I remember sending my wife a text, like, that’s how hairy it got. And I was like, ‘Just tell the kids I love them, because this is kind of strange.’ But it never got to the depths that people thought that it did,” Anderson said. “Do I think something happened? Do I think they did something to that plane to not let us take off at the right time? F–k yes!
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