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WWE lawyer, former announcer in war of words over Saudi lawsuit

The tale of whatever happened after Crown Jewel 2019 - airplane malfunction or hostage situation - is in the courts hands after a class action lawsuit and motion to dismiss said lawsuit were filed in federal court last month.

But the dispute over the conflicting stories isn’t sitting idle while we wait for the Southern District of New York to weigh the arguments and make a decision on how to proceed. Since details of the defendant’s counter-filing surfaced earlier this week, former WWE announcer Hugo Savinovich and the company’s lead lawyer Jerry McDevitt have been going back and forth about their competing version of events.

Savinovich, who worked as a Spanish-language commentator for WWE from 1994 - 2011 and is still active as an announcer & promoter in Mexico & Puerto Rico, was one of the original voices relaying stories from wrestlers stuck at the airport in Riyadh last fall. Although he’s not named directly, his public statements from October & November are referenced in WWE’s motion.

In a Facebook Live video, Savinovich defended his sources for the Saudi story, and overall reputation (transcription via Wrestling Inc):

“My reputation in the wrestling business is very high... I stick with what I said: WWE wrestlers were kidnapped in Arabia Saudi. That’s what my sources told me. I don’t need money, I don’t need fan attention, it’s a very sad thing that WWE and his lawyer try to humiliate me and discredit my story.

“The Prince of Saudi Arabia fought with Vince McMahon, that’s what they told me from Stamford, in the WWE central television studios and I hold on to that report. I’m not afraid of WWE. I’m also not afraid of Saudi Arabia, a country that killed a journalist of yours in Turkey. WWE was wrong to go to Saudi Arabia. But I’m not afraid to speak. WWE herself gave me the information.

“WWE wrestlers gave me that information... I was told that the wrestlers had been held by Saudi Arabia. I’m not against WWE. The curtain falls on the McMahon empire. My version is quite strong and supports the legal trial that WWE is living right now. My report reached Fox, Sportskeeda, Forbes and dozens of media. There was a wrestler who decided to be anonymous and he also told me. He was afraid of WWE, but he participated in events in Saudi Arabia. Everyone was uncertain if they were going to go home alive.

“I have connections around the world and my passion is to bring the truth to people, I love what I do, I have been transparent. I don’t hate WWE and have refused to speak in court, they offered me money to speak in court, but I won’t, because I love Vince and the McMahon family. I am faithful to Vince and my friends. But the version that I told them, as creepy as it sounds, was what really happened there, confirmed by several workers of WWE, the wife of a former wrestler from the company and another former wrestler from WWE.”

McDevitt offered his response to the website SuperLuchas. He particularly seized on Savinovich saying the plaintiff’s offered to pay him to testify. Beyond that, it’s largely a recounting of WWE’s version of events and other arguments from their formal case:

“The only thing interesting about this rant is his statement that somebody offered him money to tell this tale. We have sworn affidavits from the people who were actually there and responsible for the charter flight who have explained that the problem was a fuel pump in one of the wings and that a replacement part had to be secured from another city which took a good bit of time to locate and have flown in. It’s really that simple.

“KSA had nothing to do with the delay, and it is a shame that this guys unsourced fables have detracted from the real significance of that event, which was the first time female performers put on a historic match. His whole story is absurd to anybody who really thought about it, including the 200-500 million part. He is just trying to get clickbait. He does not want to go to court because he would have to reveal his supposed sources, if they really even exist, which I doubt. So in essence the story comes down to some guy with no personal knowledge of anything who does not want to be cross examined on his fable vs the sworn testimony of the people who were there and in charge of the charter.

“The problem being a fuel pump in one of the wings. But it is important to note that is not just me saying that- the sworn affidavit of the director of the commercial charter plane, who was on the ground in Saudi Arabia when this all happened, establishes that KSA had nothing to do with the plane issues; that the closest available replacement fuel pump they could locate was in Jeddah; and that part had to be secured and shipped to Riyadh on a commercial flight which arrived approximately 18 hrs later.”

While we await a judge’s opinion, the court of public opinion remains in session.

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