Rinku Singh and Saurav Gurjar - The Indian duo living the WWE dream
For Saurav Gurjar and Rinku Singh, the journey to the WWE ring has been a rather odd one. While Rinku was the first ever Indian to play professional baseball after he won the ‘Million Dollar Arm’ competition in 2008, Gurjar found success in the world of television as he was part of well-known shows like ‘Mahabharat’ and ‘ Sankat Mochan Mahabali Hanuman’. However, their paths intersected at the WWE Dubai tryouts in 2017 and since joining the company, the duo has established themselves as one of the top upcoming tag teams in the promotion.
“We do not come from wrestling backgrounds and this is why it was very difficult for us when we first came to WWE. But now, we are happy with how we have adapted to the training and it feels great that so many Indian people know about us now,” Gurjar told Hindustan Times at the WWE Performance Centre in Orlando, Florida.
“It is not difficult for us to pick up the physical part of the business as we both have experience in sports. But, performing in front of a packed crowd is a whole different experience. When we started out, we used to be extremely nervous but with time, we have grown accustomed to the spotlight,” Rinku added.
Both Rinku and Gurjar come from sporting backgrounds but WWE happened quite late in life for them. Gurjar was a former national champion in kickboxing and has played a variety of sports like wrestling, basketball and boxing during his college days. Rinku, on the other hand, is a success story in a sport that has almost no recognition in India.
The 31-year-old from a rural village in Bhadohi was a junior national javelin throw medallist before he won the ‘Million Dollar Arm’ reality show. The win did wonders for him as he received a tryout in front of 20 Major League Baseball (MLB) team scouts and was eventually signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He went on to become the first Indian to play in a professional baseball match and spent several seasons with Gulf Coast League Pirates. He made the World All-Star team for the 2011 Australian Baseball League All-Star Game and was also the subject of the 2015 movie ‘Million Dollar Arm’. The shades of his baseball days is still quite evident from his finisher where he imitates the action of a pitcher but what separates the Indian duo from most other tag teams are their ring attire which is loosely inspired from Indian mythological warriors.
“It was a tough choice for us to decide on our characters and our attires. We wanted to showcase the Indian culture through them and what we wanted to portray was the character of a warrior. We did not want it to be excessive or offensive but at the same time, we wanted to show it clearly that we are representing India,” Gurjar explained.
The duo has been a regular in the house shows where they took on both experienced and developmental talents in front of packed houses. The biggest moment of their career came in the first two-hour long episode of WWE NXT where they defeated the team of Daniela Roma & Julio Rivera in a dark match (non-televised match shot ahead of the main show). The journey has just started for the talented tag team but when asked about their immediate goal in the WWE, both the wrestlers sounded quite clear about their road ahead.
“Our goal is quite clear. We wanted to become the very first tag team champions from India and to defend the belt at WrestleMania in front of thousands of fans and to make our country proud on the global stage,” Rinku concluded.