Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.
Graves Clears Up Rumors on WWE Travel Issues in Saudi Arabia
Rumors ran rampant regarding WWE wrestlers and personnel getting stuck in Saudi Arabia longer than expected last week after Crown Jewel in Riyadh, but SmackDown announcer Corey Graves attempted to put some of them to rest on Wednesday's episode of After The Bell (h/t WrestlingInc.com's Robert Gunier).
Additionally, Graves addressed the controversy surrounding some of the crew getting on a charter flight in an effort to make it to SmackDown in Buffalo, New York, while others stayed behind longer:
"They de-planed everybody and then at some point, people from management came around and said, 'Hey, if we can get a group of you guys to SmackDown, would you be willing to do it?' This is where it comes down to being a professional; we wanted to do it! So, we've been given the nickname or the reported hashtag, 'The Saudi 20'. Depending on who you ask, 'It was the twenty 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. Your King Corbin, Roman Reigns, The Revival, New Day, guys that had advertised matches who did not want to let anyone down, including ourselves.
"I remember talking to Roman on the plane—Roman has not missed TV for any reason beyond illness or scheduled reasons. We all take a lot of pride in what we do. So when we say, 'Hey, this show is going down', that's what we do. It had nothing to do with who was more important or who had the most cachet. There are a lot more important people than myself, and Michael Cole, and 'Sweaty' the camera guy that made it onto that charter. But the fact is, it was decided who was essential to make Friday Night SmackDown as close to whole as possible, and the efforts were made. Obviously, it didn't work out. But that was the effort."
Graves was referencing some social media posts by talent such as Curtis Axel and Luke Harper in which they seemed to be upset that they weren't part of the 20 people who were put on the charter.
As part of his explanation of the situation, Graves took issue with some of the talent complaining and suggested that nothing was accomplished by airing it out on Twitter:
"Nobody wants to be sitting on a plane, on the tarmac for hours on end. It sucks and there's no two ways about it. But all of these conspiracy theories that have been drawn up, and half of it comes from some of the boys that were on the plane. If you're that insecure and you feel so strongly that you're going to get on Twitter and complain that our flight got screwed up for whatever the reason may be? What's Twitter going to do? All it is is fuel for these journalists, so to speak, and then it gets on the internet and everyone puts their two cents into it and start coming up with their conspiracy theories.
"And if you're mad that 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. Quit crying about it on Twitter—you're a WWE Superstar. This happens, this is part of our life, we all have travel woes, we all have travel issues."
None of those who got on the charter Graves was referencing made it to Buffalo in time for SmackDown, which forced WWE to call an audible and stage an NXT invasion, which featured the likes of Adam Cole, Shayna Baszler, Tommaso Ciampa and many more.
Eventually, everyone made it back to the United States from Saudi Arabia on Saturday, and it was business as usual on Monday's Raw, although NXT once again played a big role and will likely continue to with Survivor Series just a few weeks away.
Jericho Comments on Orton Re-Signing with WWE
In an interview with Daniel Wood of SportsKeeda, Jericho suggested that Orton re-signing was financially motivated:
"I can't say anything about it because I don't know anything about it, no one's calling me to tell me about these things. But I know this—nobody is getting out of WWE, especially Randy Orton, because unless he's very, very committed to saying, 'I don't care if you pay me 20 gazillion dollars I'm leaving,' that's not what he's doing. I mean, obviously Vince is going to pay millions and millions of dollars to not have Randy Orton go."
Orton has been a cornerstone in WWE for many years, but there was recently some speculation that Orton might consider signing with AEW due to an Instagram post. Ultimately, the AEW tease may have been nothing more than Orton trolling, or it may have been a negotiating tactic.
Either way, Orton is now in line to be one of WWE's top guys for many years to come, and he could make some history in the process.
The 39-year-old veteran is a 13-time world champion, which leaves him three behind the record shared by Ric Flair and John Cena. It isn't outside the realm of possibility that The Apex Predator could match or surpass them in the future.
Orton is among the most successful and respected wrestlers in the business, and the fact that WWE was able to re-sign him and keep him away from AEW in the process was a big win for the company.
Riho vs. Sakura Added to AEW Full Gear Card
An AEW Women's Championship match between Riho and Emi Sakura was added to Saturday's AEW Full Gear card on Wednesday.
That match joins a card that already included AEW World champion Chris Jericho vs. Cody, Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega, "Hangman" Adam Page vs. Pac, The Young Bucks vs. Santana and Ortiz, and Britt Baker vs. Bea Priestley.
Riho and Sakura have a ton of history, as Sakura trained Riho in professional wrestling. They have also shared the ring in AEW on a couple of occasions already.
Most recently, Riho teamed with Baker to beat Sakura and Priestley a few weeks ago on AEW Dynamite.
Since then, Riho has successfully defended her title against Baker, while Sakura beat Penelope Ford, Allie, and Sadie Gibbs in a Fatal 4-Way match. That win was apparently enough to earn Sakura a shot at Riho's title.
It seems likely that Riho will retain and move on to face other potential contenders such as Priestley or Awesome Kong, but she should be able to put on a strong match against Sakura at Full Gear regardless of the result given their familiarity with one another.
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