Ariya Daivari has discussed the segment from the first WWE Saudi Arabia supershow that saw him and his brother insult the crowd and wave Iranian flags.
Between matches at the Greatest Royal Rumble held in April 2018, Ariya Daivari and his brother Shawn, who had previously wrestled for WWE as Khosrow Daivari interrupted a segment introducing four Saudi prospects to their home country crowd. Among these prospects was current Raw star, Mansoor. As the Daivari brothers denigrated their hosts, the prospects teamed up to dispatch of them to a rapturous reception.
Now speaking on an episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily, Ariya Daivari, who was released from his WWE contract in June, has discussed the incident and says he was told the orders for the segment came from the very top, and not just of WWE.
“From what I was told, that was requested from the Saudi Prince. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. He booked the show. At the end of the day, it was his idea, and for me, particularly being fairly new at the time, you’re not gonna say no to stuff. All this Saudi stuff was a big deal. It was a big money deal. Backstage, they made it seem like how important these Saudi shows are to the company.”
According to Daivari, given the importance being placed on these shows and his own position on the card at the time, he was in no place to argue about the spot on the show. He even went to the show despite not being medically cleared to compete at the time.
Ariya Daivari continued:
“They’re doing the very first one, and as a cruiserweight, I’m not gonna be like, ‘No, I’m not doing this type of thing.’ You just kind of have to do what you’re told or at least that’s how I felt about it, and the only reason my brother came is, some people may not know this, but my neck was injured at the time. I was completely on the injured list, and they called me one day and said, ‘Hey, can we get your brother’s information because we’ll just send him to go do this thing,’ and that was a situation where I was kind of like, ‘Oh damn, maybe we can do something together.’ And I told them, ‘Hey, if you guys will let me like, I’ll still go too, injured or not. Maybe me and my brother can do it together,’ and they were all about it.”
“That was the reason why, if you ever go back and watch it, he took all the bumps. I just got pushed onto my ass and rolled out of the ring, and then he took all the bumps because I wasn’t cleared to take any bumps at that point, so that’s why they brought my brother along too. Looking back on in hindsight, and hindsight’s 20/20, I wish we didn’t do it, and you never want to disrespect people. And it’s not like people in the United States were upset about it, but people in Iran, people in Saudi Arabia, they didn’t like it, and I said, ‘My goal was never to offend anybody.’ You never want to do that with wrestling.”
Iran and Saudi Arabia have a troubled past that lasts to this day. Proxy wars have been fought with many calling the current conflict in Yemen a product of the tensions between the two middle eastern powerhouses.
For Daivari, he says he never wants to offend anyone with his wrestling, and apologises to anyone upset by the segment.
“I really care about wrestling. I really care about my work. I don’t want to offend anybody or stuff like that. That was why I took it upon myself to put out that apology. Nobody told me to do it. The company didn’t ask me and all that stuff. I was gonna do it myself. I want to make this right. If it truly offended people, and they’re not understanding that this is just a show, then I’ll say I’m sorry. It wasn’t really a big deal to me to apologise for it.”
“The only part that I take partial blame for is just being uneducated on how big the tensions are between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The geopolitics were a little bit over my head. Because here’s the thing, it’s pro wrestling. At the end of the day, how many offensive gimmicks and character segments have there been? There’s been tons.”
“I didn’t know this one was such a big deal that it was really gonna offend a lot of people in those countries. That was why, like I said, I put out that apology because if this is one of those things that people are truly upset about, then, again, I apologise. We definitely shouldn’t have done that.”