WORLD Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) chiefs have been forced to deny claims some of its top stars were being held “hostage” by Saudi Arabia authorities due to a row over a reported £390 million (RM2.02b) bill.
Up to 200 wrestlers and a large crew were held back in the Middle East country as they attempted to board a flight back to the United States, according to reports.
The row meant that Smackdown wrestlers missed a live show in Buffalo, New York, following the Crown Jewel bout when their flight from the Saudi capital Riyadh was delayed.
Reports suggest that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – son of Saudi ruler Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – may have directly intervened in the confrontation.
It is suggested that Mohammed ordered the pilot of the WWE stars’ plane to wait on the tarmac for six hours until the row had been resolved.
WWE bosses, however, have poured cold water on the suggestion that they were held up due to an unpaid bill and insist the delay was due to “mechanical issues”.
According to US reports, the Crown Prince was furious that WWE boss Vince McMahon had pulled the plug on the live feed of Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia because the company was owed up to £390 million for two shows in Saudi Arabia last year.
It has also been reported that the two sides hastily reached an agreement before the show was eventually broadcast only 40 minutes late – but this did not stop most of the WWE entourage’s 14-hour flight home being delayed.
Some of WWE’s biggest names such as McMahon, Hulk Hogan and Tyson Fury, were able to charter their own private jets to fly them home.
But the vast majority of those on the trip got left behind and raged on social media that they would never return to the Gulf state.