The wrestling world is still buzzing from All Elite Wrestling’s inaugural event, Double or Nothing. The show has been getting rave reviews from fans and performers alike, including WWE Superstars. The AEW pay-per-view was a hot topic of conversation behind the scenes at Raw. Many people were waiting to see if WWE would react to the event on Raw.
The biggest instance of WWE acknowledging AEW came during Sami Zayn’s “electric chair” promo. Fans in the crowd were encouraged to ask Zayn hard-hitting questions. No topic was off limits, which seemed like a prime opportunity for an AEW reference. When none of the fans asked about AEW, Zayn mocked them and said, “You could have asked me about AEW.”
Given the WWE’s usual stance on other promotions, the namedrop surprised fans — leading many to believe that Zayn went off script and improvised the reference. According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio, that’s not the case. He argued that it was a scripted moment.
Co-host Bryan Alvarez disagreed, stating that the AEW reference was, in fact, improvised. While Zayn was ready to respond to an AEW question had it come up, Alvarez heard Vince McMahon was “furious” after Zayn voluntarily referenced WWE’s new competition.
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubIta) May 28, 2019
“There are absolutely people who insist that Sami was given the OK to mention AEW, alright?” Alvarez said. “I’ve even heard from one person who said that in the script that went around in the morning yesterday, it was in the script that he was going to mention AEW. One person said that. I had another person say, and Dave had people tell him that it was a scripted line. Now, with that said, I heard from multiple people, far more people in fact, and people that heard from other people, that all said, the line was not scripted, the line was not supposed to be said.”
“I was also told from multiple people that when it happened, Vince flipped his lid. He was furious that this happened, OK? […] The one [theory] that people seem to think is the most likely, is that a small number of people were told that he was given the OK, and that they’re working the boys and flipping out about it,” Alvarez explained.
“[…] I wasn’t there to witness it, but I do know that the people there who absolutely 100% believed that he was very angry, that this was not him putting on a show for people, that this was not him trying to work the boys, that he was angry when this got on the air. I don’t know how to explain everything, I just know that’s what happened last night.”
WWE edited out the AEW reference in their YouTube upload of the segment. They didn’t, however, choose to do anything with their live delay. Raw airs with a 15-second delay, which would’ve given them ample opportunity to bleep or silence the name.
If Zayn did go off script and McMahon was genuinely furious as described, it is believed that Sami will have to contend with the consequences of his decision. Meltzer even suggested that Zayn could face possible suspension if that’s the case.