Friday, August 1, 2014

Hey Vince, Non-Americans Like Professional Wrestling Too And There Are A Lot of Them

I swear, this is the best pic I could get. 
CM Punk once said that Vince McMahon is a millionaire who could be a billionaire. I don't think even he knows how true this is. WWE is run by people whose imagination is woefully limited, and by that I don't mean that I am clamoring for them to come up with another "Bra on a Pole" match either (God forbid). They don't have any idea about the way in which wrestling has captured the imagination of countless people all over the world. Take my country, India, for example. We started getting WWF (as it then was) in the first part of the 90's ins the Bret Hart/New Generation era. Cable TV really took off back then. I used to live in a small rural village in Southern India and there was nothing else for miles. We had to walk quite some ways to get a decent pastry or cake which you could eat without risking cholera, but goddammit all the kids were wearing Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels t-shirts, oh brother, and watching Sexy Boy and the Excellence of Execution tear it up. (Side note, has anyone seen that Bret Hart documentary which followed him around from SummerSlam to Survivor Series in 1997?). 

When I moved to a relatively more urban area, I used to get bullied by these kids who told me to "suck it, brother" and "take this pencil, shine it up real nice.." etc etc. Now I never said that WWF had a positive healthy impact on kids about the way they should treat fellow classmates. No one warned them that it might not be a great idea to practice their suplexes on a small kid with woefully small upper body strength. But the thing is that WWE was and remains a tremendous influence and has good entertainment value for people notwithstanding their nationality. It has a reach like no other American television product, from what I remember. Oh yes, people download Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, but in the '90s, Indians used to watch two shows - Monday Night Raw and Baywatch. Most were blissfully unaware of the existence of Nitro. The "War" never happened for us.

And, hey, you know what makes it easier for people to connect with your product? What about having a good pro rassler of their nationality have a good run on your show? You know, maybe let them have a personality beyond "hey this guy is an evil foreigner in a turban who does not like democracy" (we love it) or "hey, he has a funny accent so lets make fun of him" (we have a neutral accent and we are not all named Rajesh). non-Americans are humans with feelings and motivations, Vince. What is so difficult about that? Is it really that incomprehensible? For non-USA people to be people on your show?            

For instance lets look at the couple of Indian gimmicks we have had in pro wrestling. The grand list reads as follows - Tiger Ali Singh (Attitude era jobber who used to get squashed by Steve Blackman of all people, sued the WWE for filling his turban with garbage and making him wrestle in rain leading to a career ending injury - he jobbed out in the court too by the way), Great Khali (an untalented immobile freak with bhangra entrance music, predictably), Sabu (billed as being from Bombay, India in ECW, was actually an American), Sanjoy Dutt (TNA X division) and most recently Jinder Mahal (comic tag team jobber with a turban- yeah WWE we get it. Indians wear turbans.) What a surprise - the only Indian wrestler who was shown to be somewhat approaching a real person on TV was Sonjay Dutt in TNA (from what I remember) he actually desired the X division championship. The rest were an incapacitated freak and stereotypical jobbers. Forget Sabu, ECW didn't have the reach that WWE has.

All WWE needed to get a huge subcontinental viewership (which in any case was watching, albeit with lesser passion) was a real person who was good at wrestling and not presented as a perpetual jobber that we could get behind, just like the way we get behind the athletes competing in the Olympics, or football teams or cricket etc. Somebody who retained his identity without losing his personality. It was that simple. Not only do you introduce a little variety in the show filled with these bland whiteys who talk all the same, have lived the same life in a boring suburban town in the American South and have the same boring shit to tell us, but you also get people interested in seeing them win a wrestling match. Really, how difficult is this shit? 

India is a country with around 30 different major languages, and a more diversified culture than all of the EU and US combined. It is a veritable gold mine for developing wrestling characters. Not all of us do bhangra and wear turbans, and our English is just as good as Wade Barrett's. Trust me, oh yeah.