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Drew McIntyre Addresses Saudi Arabia Flight Delay

Drew McIntyre

Drew McIntyre has shared his side of the story from WWE’s infamous trip to Saudi Arabia that left WWE Superstars stranded on a runway for hours.

WWE’s Crown Jewel event was held on October 31st, 2019 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Appearing on that show was British boxer Tyson Fury who defeated Braun Strowman and UFC legend Cain Velasquez who lost to Brock Lesnar.

In his new book A Chosen Destiny, former WWE Champion Drew McIntyre outlines his experiences of that event. McIntyre discussed making plans for an event in the UK with Tyson Fury.

McIntyre said:

“It was at this event in Saudi Arabia that I first met Tyson Fury, who appeared in a cameo, beating Braun Strowman. He and I would subsequently stay in touch, opening the conversation about headlining a first UK pay-per-view in almost 30 years against each other.”

The Crown Jewel event is perhaps most well known for the events that came after the show. Almost two hundred wrestlers and personnel were stranded on an aeroplane for several hours. The delay lasted so long that those still there had to find accommodation and stay an extra night in Saudi Arabia.

The controversy surrounding the delay has since been met with several theories. At the time a mechanical fault was blamed, however, more ominous factors have also been blamed. Reports at the time suggested the delay was down to the Crown Prince of the nation due to a falling out over the airing of the event in Saudi Arabia. The reports stated that Vince McMahon had cut the live feed airing in the country due to a dispute over money. None of these theories has ever been confirmed.

McIntyre continued, giving his point of view as one of those stranded on the plane:

“There was a strange ending to that event. After the match, we showered, dressed, and left for the airport, still sweating as you do after a match. We arrived at the small private airport, everybody was milling around, and it took a long time to get on the plane. And once we were on it, the plane wasn’t leaving . . . for hours. Moods were getting a bit testy. We couldn’t get our food. The people who wanted a drink couldn’t drink because we’re in Saudi airspace. We were on the plane on the tarmac for a couple of hours, guessing there was a mechanical issue. Some were saying Vince was waiting to be paid! No one knew what was going on. It was weird, and a bit scary.”

“It was in the early hours of the morning when we were told we had to stay overnight to fix an issue. Then it was a case of trying to find a hotel and waiting to be allocated a room. People were going to sleep on the floor, waiting for accommodation to be sorted. I was lucky to know a couple of the guys who worked on the crew from TNA, and they made a point of giving me and one or two other guys who’d been around for a while the heads-up and sorted us with rooms pretty quickly. It was silly o’clock in the morning by this point.”

Drew McIntyre also mentions bumping into former two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez in the hotel gym. McIntyre jokingly congratulates Velasquez for being present for the second-worst travel snafu the Scotsman had experienced in WWE.

McIntyre explained:

“Waking up late the next day, we still had time to kill before we left for the airport again. I went to the hotel gym and worked out with Cain Velasquez, a former UFC champion who was in WWE for a very brief spell – the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee really. I was chatting to him in the gym and asking him how he was enjoying WWE. He asked if this travel scenario was normal. ‘Yes, it happens all the time,’ I joked. His expression didn’t change – I guess all top fighters have that kind of unreadable, impassive expression. So I put his mind at rest: ‘No, it’s never happened before.'”

“The only other thing that’s happened close to this, and I’ve been around for a long time, was a volcano with an unpronounceable name erupting in Iceland in 2010. And it took about 66 hours or something to travel across Europe to get the last plane out of Madrid. And that’s the closest it has ever come to something as ridiculous as this. So congratulations, Cain, you experienced the second-worst travel hiccup there’s ever been!”

Drew McIntyre competed at Crown Jewel as part of a ten-man tag team match. McIntyre was part of Team Flair who lost to the Roman Reigns-led Team Hogan.

A Chosen Destiny from Ebury Publishing is available online and from all good book shops.

If you use any of the quotes above, please h/t Inside The Ropes and link back to this article. You can also check out our full review of A Chosen Destiny here.