WWE’s recent travel delay in Saudi Arabia sparked tons of speculation, but Corey Graves set the record straight (from his perspective) on “After the Bell.”
The latest episode of WWE’s new podcast begins with Graves addressing the rumors right off the bat, saying he’d be open and honest about the situation. The SmackDown announcer then spoke highly of the first flight on the charter jet and praised Saudi Arabia for how well WWE is treated.
“Let me be the one to say, I had my reservations the first time I went over there as well, but the people over there have been nothing but gracious,” Graves said.
According to Corey, there were a litany of delays getting onto the flight including a fuel truck blocking the plane with no operator around to move it.
Once they were onboard, this is what happened next:
“We got on the plane. We all were in our seats ready to takeoff … [the crew] came around and took our food orders for the flight. There was some confusion regarding the pilots – I was seated in the upper deck right outside of the cockpit – pilots were going back and forth. There was some sort of mechanical issue. I am not an airline pilot. I can barely wind my own watch. So I don’t know exactly the ins and outs of what happened. Sat on the plane for awhile. They shut the plane down, restarted it to see if whatever they were attempting to fix worked. It hadn’t worked. In the time it took for all of this to get done, the flight crew timed out and we were all informed that we would not be taking off. So they de-planed everybody.”
That’s when someone from management approached Corey asking if he’d be willing to hop on another charter with other SmackDown talent hoping to get them to the show before it started the following day. This group included Roman Reigns, Baron Corbin, New Day and The Revival – who had all been advertised for Friday night’s show.
“Depending on who you ask, it was the 20 most important people in the company … that wasn’t the case. What it boiled down to was the people who were advertised for Friday Night SmackDown on FOX,” Graves explained.
Corey then shut down the narrative that Vince McMahon “left” his crew in Saudi Arabia, pointing to the fact that the WWE head honcho leaves town on his private jet after EVERY show. Therefore this wasn’t a case of McMahon quickly leaving the country to avoid a confrontation. “So it wasn’t like he said, ‘to hell with the talent, to hell with the crew.’ It was exactly what he has done every week, without fail,” Corey added.
Graves focused his attention after this on WWE stars who complained about the situation on social media. “If you’re mad because your flight got delayed and you weren’t one of the ‘Saudi 20,’ you weren’t important enough to get on the jet, that’s on you,” he stated. “Quit crying about it on Twitter. You’re a WWE Superstar. It happens. This is part of our life. We all have travel woes.”
Adding, “You know who wasn’t complaining? Randy freaking Orton. If anyone has the cache and the right to speak his mind and raise hell, it would be Randy Orton. He’s got a bit of a reputation for doing that. But Randy got it. It wasn’t because any of us on that smaller charter were more important than anybody else. It was about doing the damn show.”
Listen to the full episode of After the Bell below.