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WWE trying to tap into popularity in India with tryouts, merchandise

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is trying to renew connection with India by conducting more tryouts and ramping promotional activities.

other sports Updated: May 12, 2017 19:09 IST
Sayan Ghosh
The Great Khali (L) is possibly the only Indian who has made it big in the World Wrestling Entertainment..
The Great Khali (L) is possibly the only Indian who has made it big in the World Wrestling Entertainment..(Getty Images)

Professional wrestling has had a long-standing connection with India. Back in 1996, World Wrestling Federation (WWF) organised their first show in the country and it was an instant hit. The crowd was captivated with the performance of the Bret Hart & Co with 30,000 people turning up for that event.

A lot has changed since then but the one thing that has remained the same is WWE’s popularity in India. From TV ratings to fan support, WWE has always enjoyed a good following in the country and according to WWE executive vice president Ed Wells, that is the main reason why the Indian market is a huge priority for the company.

“We have a long relationship with India and we are trying to tap into the popularity of WWE in the country. We have dedicated a lot of resources to the promotion of the sport and at present, India is certainly a priority for us,” said Wells here on Friday.

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The Indian market has been at the centre of a lot of activity in the last couple of years. In 2016, WWE organised a two-day event in New Delhi which featured some big names and last year, they partnered Ten Sports in launching a television content packaged specially for the Indian audience.

But, the biggest issue for WWE when it came to the Indian market was the absence of talents from the country. Till now, Dalip Singh Rana (also known as The Great Khali) was the only one to make it big in the company. There was no other prominent figure that the public could support and that hindered WWE’s cause when it comes to the Indian market.

However, that has changed in the recent past as the Indian presence in the company has been boosted by the addition of two local talents - Lovepreet Sangha and Satender Dagar. The company are also holding tryouts in Dubai right now which features ten talents from India and according to Ed Wells, it can be a great chance for them to add more Indian wrestlers to their roster.

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“The Indian participants have been quite impressive in the tryouts so far and I believe that some of them will be joining us shortly. We found Lovepreet (Sangha) in the Dubai tryouts two years ago and I think that this time will also give us some good talents from India,” he said.

The WWE has also started to show a lot of initiative when it comes to the business side of things in India. They recently launched their official merchandise shop in India and their official YouTube channel has been posting videos of their events with Hindi commentary. It has already created a buzz among the Indian fans and according to Ed Wells, they are looking to make the most of this opportunity.

“When it comes to social media support, India is number one and judging by the merchandise sales and fan reactions, we can be looking at a new chapter in our relationship with India.”