In the latest bit of real world fallout from Greatest Royal Rumble, the first event in a ten year partnership agreement between WWE and The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ariya Daivari has issued a statement explaining a segment where he and his brother Shawn appeared waving an Iranian flag and disparaging a group of Saudi wrestling prospects before being dispatched by the quartet.
Daivari - who’s an Iranian-American from Minnesota - explained he issued the statement after receiving death threats:
Unfortunately some people took offense to this despite it being pure entertainment. Some threats were made against my life. I wanted to put this statement out to clarify where I as a person stand compared to my t.v. character. https://t.co/NJbnlMnn28— Ariya Daivari (@AriyaDaivariWWE) May 1, 2018
Though he doesn’t specify whether it was from Saudis for moments like this:
Or Iranians, where the moment apparently got mainstream press and upset people with how their country and flag was represented in a country with which they have history of political and religious conflict:
How much were Iranian-American Daivari brothers paid to be beat by Saudis in WWE charade with Iranian flag? https://t.co/k2KdjRla6T— Iran News by Kodoom (@KodoomIranNews) April 29, 2018
If you were wondering how the Daiviari's carrying the Iranian flag and getting beaten up by the Saudis went over in the Iranian press— Hardcore Professional Wrestling Intelligentsiaist (@ATVS_JakeNazar) April 30, 2018
A) My dad, who watches no wrestling, found out about it and told me on the phone
B) An Iranian MMA fighter challenged them and Salman to a shoot
Either way, this is the latest headline from what has proven to be a controversial event, following issues from the hosts and Western fans regarding the Saudi’s prohibition on women’s wrestling and WWE’s presentation of same, similar concerns around support for LGBTQ community, and the non-involvement of Sami Zayn, seemingly based around his roots in Iran-ally Syria.
Local reports indicate WWE will return to Saudi Arabia for another show in November.