A professional wrestler from Minnesota says he's received death threats since appearing in a skit during a WWE show in Saudi Arabia.
Ariya Daivari revealed on Twitter he's been targeted for abuse and threats after an in-ring segment at the WWE's "Greatest Royal Rumble" event in Jeddah on Friday.
The Twin Cities native of Iranian descent appeared in a skit with his wrestler brother Shawn Daivari, who co-owns The Academy: School of Professional Wrestling in Brooklyn Park, in which they waved the Iranian flag and mocked Saudi Arabian wrestling recruits in front of a 60,000 strong crowd.
They were then beaten down by the Saudi recruits.
On Twitter this Monday, Ariya Daivari – who is a full-time cruiserweight wrestler with the WWE – had to clarify that it's, you know, not real, and that the role he was playing doesn't reflect his personal views.
Daivari doesn't make it clear from whom he received the threats and their political persuasion.
Nonetheless diplomatic tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia remain at a concerning level, having been locked in a proxy war for the past four decades as they compete for regional supremacy, Haaretz reports.
The WWE took precautions to prevent insulting their Saudi hosts when hosting the first-of-its-kind event in the Middle East, preventing its female wrestlers – including Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair – from competing and reportedly keeping a Canadian wrestler of Syrian descent, Sami Zayn, at home.
But the Daivari segment clearly seems to have caused some offense, even though it's a common WWE shtick for the "heels" (bad guys) to insult the home town crowd to build "heat" (get booed, basically).
Local fans might recognize Ariya Daivari from his appearances at F1rst Wrestling's "Wrestlepalooza" events at First Avenue in recent years.
In another tweet, Daivari said he was delighted to share a WWE ring with his brother – who wrestled for the WWE during the 2000s – for the first time.