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Khali biggest attraction

WWE TV shows likely to be broadcast in regional languages.

entertainment Updated: Apr 12, 2010 18:41 IST
Hindustan Times

India is a very important market for WWE. India is one of the most important consumer markets in the world for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), which partnered with Ten Sports in 2002, to broadcast its TV shows in India.

The channel reaches 50 million homes here. “The Indian TV market is very important. It is the second largest for WWE after UK,” says Andrew Whitaker, executive vice president international, WWE.

Second to cricket, Raw and SmackDown are the two most popular WWE shows in India. They are second to cricket in ranking of sports programmes and event-based attractions on the channel, says Whitaker.

“The production levels on Indian TV and in Bollywood are very sophisticated. So, I think Indians like the glamour and production sophistication of what we do too. It is very polished. We offer them storytelling on a weekly basis. It’s like a soap opera with larger-than-life superhero characters and ever-unfolding, never-ending compelling stories,” he adds.

While WWE is only broadcast in English, Whitaker hints there are plans to bring it to India in regional languages in the future. And should the opportunity present itself, he clearly sees the potential for more Bollywood stars to help with the promotion of WWE’s Superstars as well.“Last year when we brought Kane to India, Akshay Kumar invited him to have breakfast with his family,” he points out.

More live events
Plans to increase the amount of WWE merchandise sold in India and develop a pay-per-view business here, are also underway. They may also bring WWE’s digital, mobile and publishing business along with more live events to India. The last live event in India was held in 1996.

Whitaker says WWE is happy to pick more superstars from India, or even find a diva, after the success of The Great Khali, who will be visiting Mumbai at the end of this month.He adds: “Our philosophy is to look for people on a talent basis, wherever they are from.

Apart from having talent, they need to have charisma — that means delivering on the physical side and having mic skills and looking good on camera — it’s hard to explain the X factor that we are looking for. But The Great Khali certainly has it: he is tall and imposing, and has a great physique.”

From: Quebec, Canada
Raw Diva and currently Divas Champion
Her team won the 10-Diva Tag Team Match at Wrestlemania XXVI
Message to Indian fans:
I want to tour India and I would like to let people over there know that one doesn’t have to be a giant or superbly well-built to be in WWE. With commitment, anyone can make it.

Shawn Michaels
Height: 6 foot 1
Weight: 225 pounds
From: San Antonio
Signature Move: Sweet Chin Music
Lost to The Undertaker in Wrestlemania XXVI, ending his career in the ring.

What’s your view of The Great Khali?
He is a unique talent and only WWE could have marketed him for what he has — the giant size. I hope Khali appreciates what WWE has done for him.

What’s your message to your Indian fans?
I want to thank them for their support and patience about the fact that WWE stars like me,
cannot always travel to India.

Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase
Height: 6 foot 1
Weight: 260 pounds
From: Florida
Signature Move: Million Dollar Dream

How did you feel about being inducted in the Hall of Fame 2010?
It’s those who are closest to you, and your industry putting their stamp of approval and saying ‘you are one of our best’. It doesn’t get any better than that. It’s priceless.

You have been involved in the ring since giving up wrestling?
Yes, I have made cameo appearances and done TV commentaries. I don’t enjoy that as much, as I have enjoyed being in the ring — that will always be my biggest thrill.

What value does the Great Khali bring to it all?
Khali is a part of the total package of what WWE is. It’s like when you go to a circus, there is something for everyone. You can’t get any more unique than Khali. He is a giant of a man, with unbelievable stature. He dwarfs Big Show. He is very representative of the WWE, since it’s larger than life and he is a shining example of that.

You have been to India a few times?
Yes, I loved it.

Height: 6 foot 6
Weight: 272 pounds
From: Ireland
Signature Move: Crucifix bomb
Raw superstar who lost to Triple H at Wrestlemania XXVI

What is your view of The Great Khali?
Khali adds flavour to WWE as do others like people from Scotland, and people like myself, from Ireland. He’s a giant and is unique.

What is your message to your Indian fans?
I look forward to being in India one day. Keep supporting WWE.

From: Los Angeles
SmackDown Diva

What’s your view of The Great Khali?
He is a great person, who has seen and done so many things, not only in terms of wrestling, but in movies as well.

How does wrestling compare with modelling?
I feel like I am accomplishing more in this, and there is more to it.

Your message for Indian fans?
I am jealous of anyone who has gone to India… I love Indian culture so much — the clothes, the food and everything. I want to
experience that for myself some time.

Drew McIntyre
Height: 6 foot 5
Weight: 18 stone
From: Scotland
SmackDown Superstar who lost the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at Wrestlemania XXVI.

Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
I reckon I will be a world champion and WWE champion and even Hall of Fame eligible, by the time I turn 30.

What is your view of The Great Khali?
He is huge, a very formidable opponent. Thankfully, I have not had to face him in a singles’ contest yet, but if I did, my strategy would be very different. I would have to prepare for a very long time.

Ted DiBiase Jnr
Height: 6 foot 3
Weight: 235 pounds
From: Florida
Signature move: Dream Street
Raw Superstar who lost Triple Threat Match to Randy Orton at Wrestlemania XXVI

What inspired you to be a wrestler?
Growing up and being around it, going to the shows and being backstage with the likes of Jack the Snake, Andre the Giant. They were my heroes while growing up.

How was your Wrestlemania debut at Phoenix this year?
It was the biggest weekend of my life and I also got to induct my father into the Hall of Fame.

What do you think of The Great Khali?
Khali is the biggest attraction WWE has. If you just see that guy walking through an airport or out to the ring, your jaw drops, as he is so massive and good-looking. He is such a nice guy, has such a big heart and we are very proud to have him.

Any message for your fans in India?
I have never been there and I can’t wait to visit. My father has been there a couple of times and he always says, ‘It’s such an incredible experience – the people are amazing.’

First Published: Apr 12, 2010 15:05 IST