Not sure if you guys have heard, but World Wrestling Entertainment, more commonly known to us as WWE, is looking for Malaysian wrestlers. YAS! SO MUCH YASSS! Nah, watch their promo video below:
— WWE (@WWE) February 26, 2017
The Vice President of Talent Relations Canyon Ceman, and Creative Director Ryan Katz were spotted in Malaysia at a local wrestling show. It is rumoured that they are interested in two big names, although nothing is solid yet. A tournament might take place some time in late-2017, then they’ll see how to progress from there.
Following their success in the recent WWE UK Title tournament, they’re moving forward with plans to crown a WWE Asia Champion for the FIRST time everrr! Okla, they are also poking around for talent in Singapore, the Philippines, and they’ve found 10 wrestlers from China already, but whatever, Malaysia Boleh ok. Then, WWE is also planning a Latin American tournament, possibly one in Africa, in Canada, etc. Essentially they want to increase the diversity and uniqueness of their talents. Yep, WWE going global yo.
OMG so exciting! This is really happening, you guys. For those who are familiar with the scene, this is great news. But for those who don’t know about it, here are 5 things you might not have known about wrestling in Malaysia.
1. There is a huge wrestling fanbase in Malaysia
Gosh, where do we even begin? Apparently we must have been living under a rock because we also just discovered that wrestling has a really strong following in Malaysia, particularly Johor and Penang. And we’re not talking about uncles watching wrestling on TV at home or at the mamak. We’re talking about legit wrestling organisations (Malaysia Pro Wrestling (MyPW) is the official professional wrestling body, then there are fan clubs, Peminat Gusti Malaysia and Malaysian Wrestling Club) and legit matches, like Wrestlecon.
“A lot of people in Malaysia don’t know there’s professional wrestling in Malaysia, they don’t know where to go.” – Ayez Shaukat Fonseka, wrestler and founder of MyPW, Star2
Ayez Shaukat Fonseka, 29, known by his stage name Shaukat, can be considered one of the wrestling otais since he kick-started all these things. His is really an inspiring story of a young man who uncovered his passion for wrestling at the age of 4, when he saw WWE on TV. Growing up, he got no encouragement from cynics (teachers and friends), but he didn’t waver.
Then, when an opportunity presented itself through Nescafe Kickstart (a reality TV show helping youths achieve their dreams), he went for it – only to have his dreams cut short again, when the judges declined because at the time, there was a lack of potential for professional wrestling in Malaysia. Through it all, Shaukat stuck it out and he has achieved all that he has today because of this grit. No guts, no glory.
But Malaysian wrestling has come a long way since his disappointment at Nescafe Kickstart: “We have massive support, a huge following and high demand. Our team is working very hard to materialise this; to establish our country’s very first homegrown wrestling entertainment platform,” Shaukat told Contented.cc.
On top of that, the Malaysian side always tag teams with Singapore Pro Wrestling (SPW) and the Philippine Wrestling Revolution to organise matches such as Wrestlecon, pitting local wrestlers against orang asing ones FUHH! Last year’s Wrestlecon 2016 is the SIXTH annual event already, so all their effort is truly paying off.
2. Wrestlers only make RM400-RM2,000 per match
According to insiders, established Asian wrestlers can make between US$100-US$500 (RM400-RM2,000) per match. Eh, that’s not a lot considering the glitz and glamour of it. And note the word ‘established’, so if a wrestler were just starting out, he or she can probably expect to earn less.
Mostly, the wrestlers do it because they want to live out their ring fantasies, so they perform for little or no pay, like our BM Soscili writer’s friend, Tony Abel. Behind the masks and tight, some of them actually have day jobs.
By comparison, WWE wrestlers in the US make between $75,000-$3.5 mil (RM330,000-RM15 mil) a year. P/S: John Cena and The Rock (before he retired) are among the highest earners. To know more on WWE salaries, read here.
On top of that, wrestlers starting out would need to spend money before dreaming about a return of investment. For one, they will need training, which MyPW provides btw at their MyPW Developmental Centre in Kota Damansara (you can call Firdaus at 012-9342980). Secondly, they might want to buy the appropriate gear (optional), like Dominic Ng, 29, known by his stage name as ‘The D’ (shaddap), who got his from the US.
“My knee pads cost more or less US$70 (RM280) and kick pads at US$30 (RM120). We wear this for safety and for safe matches in the ring.” – Dominic (aka The D), quoted on Free Malaysia Today
Don’t forget that organising matches also cost money! “It also cost more than RM30,000 to organise an event like this and we need support from sponsors. The public should give more encouragement for the sport to thrive across the country,” revealed Syauqi Jamil (aka The Dante), MyPW’s Commissioner in Star Metro. FYI, tickets cost between RM30-RM60 if you want to attend next time.
To tell the truth, it’s not all smooth-sailing, mainly due to a lack of capital and resources, especially operating costs and developing training facilities. MyPW does get financial sponsorship la sometimes, largely from an ardent fan Nadia Fazilla Ramlan, plus Cheras Corporation Sdn Bhd, Mil International Group, Konsortium Media Ad Berhad, World International Holidays Tours Sdn Bhd, Skohns Canteen, Red Bricks Event, An Honest Mistake and The Sukan. At the end of the day, it’s the passion that keeps them going.
“I keep asking myself, is it worth it? The answer is, of course. When you are so passionate about something, you don’t mind sacrificing for its gain.” – Shaukat
3. Malaysian wrestlers also have their ‘sworn enemies’ just like WWE wrestlers
The tap outs and head butts, people in crazy costumes trash-talking each other in the ring before opening a can of whoopass…all the drama you see on TV is exactly what you will get in Malaysian wrestling! So yes, straight up, we have to tell you that the moves are choreographed.
Meanwhile, some of us live for the legendary feuds and the hero-villain shtick… The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar, etc… Malaysian wrestlers are no different. They too have their ‘sworn enemies’, like Shaukat vs The D, Phoenix vs Poppy and A-5th vs Furious Faizal.
Shaukat is our version of John Cena, the top hero fans have been supporting. His rivalry with The D is the longstanding, major storyline running. The D taunts Shaukat and once beat him up in front of his family. He talks in this annoying smug tone (watch him do some trash-talking here) and even mocks fans on his Facebook, earning him the nickname the ultimate troll. Despite knowing it’s all showbiz, it is effective and fans cannot tahan him.
But what does the rest of the roster do if they have no ‘sworn enemies’? Even without a storyline, the other wrestlers still deliver in the ring. Sometimes MyPW goes for a poll on who the fans want to see getting a title shot.
Ok, we know it sounds like they copy WWE, BUTTT, what you can get ONLY in Malaysian wrestling is the unique Asian-ness, which, let’s be honest, every Malaysian is sure to love. For example, did you know Abdul Rani Kulup made an appearance in the wrestling ring before? Watch him bash a wrestler up with his magic tongkat:
And then, there’s this wrestler Gotham, who is also called The Malaysian Mafia… up to the point that fans chanted ‘Kabali’, referencing the Rajinikanth gangster movie. We’re sure Rajinikanth needs no introduction right? It’s freaking Rajinikanth and half of Malaysia would probably give him their kidneys voluntarily if he asked for it.
Diversity and unique individuality… that’s what the kind of talent WWE is scouting for anyway, right? 😉
4. The injuries are VERY real too 😯
Of course, as a professional sport and one based on performance, the wrestlers try their best not to injure their opponents. The objective is first and foremost to entertain, not maim. But theatrics aside, the pain and injuries are real. Shaukat himself has had a dislocated knee and torn ligaments, forcing him to train around the injuries in order not to make them worse.
“Trust me, you will never get used to the feeling of getting slammed in the ring. It’s a very thin mat. When you get slammed onto it, it knocks the wind out of you, your chest hurts, and if your opponent is not careful, you can be seriously injured.” – Shaukat on R.Age
Not to mention the fights look lagi violent when wrestlers bring out their favourite ‘weapons’, like Razza with the chair, Ladykiller with a trashcan cover shield and tennis racquet, Double K and a dustpan, Rani Kulup and his tongkat. There was even one time one Singaporean wrestler The Eurasian Dragon (real name Kenneth Thexeira) shoved a DURIANN onto his opponent’s backside!! 😆 And of course it wouldn’t be wrestling without a ladder. 😀
However, the art of NOT hurting somebody is actually more difficult than you’d think. The sounds of chops to the chest you hear are real hits, but there are safe areas on the human body that can withstand impact without sustaining long-term damage.
It boils down to the wrestlers’ mastery of techniques, which brings us to…
5. Wrestling training is open to anyone!
Mastering pro wrestling is definitely not easy. It takes a lot of training and hard work. Typically, training sessions can last up to four hours, covering strength and stamina conditioning, basic pro wrestling drills, techniques, and ‘spots’ (which is a set of choreographed techniques). And that’s just for beginners… those who have leveled up to the international leagues train up to six days a week. Shaukat trains five days a week.
In fact, you think trash-talking comes naturally to them? Think again! The wrestlers also have to undergo speech training as well as acting classes to improve their showmanship, charisma and self-confidence.
And so to help aspiring wrestlers achieve their dreams, MyPW opened its own Developmental Centre in Kota Damansara on 3 December 2016, as mentioned earlier. Mr. Universe Sazali Samad was there for the launch! 😀
“Pro wrestling is a tough entertainment sport. It combines showmanship and athleticism, with stunts. One has to be mentally and physically tough to train, because of this many come and go.” – Shaukat told Contented.cc
Do take note that they want serious students la, don’t go aldy then give up halfway, coz there might be many others who could benefit from the sessions and take it all the way. If you simply join for laughs then waste the spot for those who are really are serious about their career in pro wrestling.
With passion and the right attitude, anyone can be a wrestler
Guy or girl… flyweight or heavyweight… clown or gangster… whatever their background, any Malaysian can become a professional wrestler, as long as their put their heart and soul into it. And when you get a super encouraging message from freaking Booker T of WWE himself, it’s enough to get pumped!
While wrestlers in WWE are often seen as larger-than-life characters, MyPW places less emphasis on a person’s physique than on their work ethic. What makes our Malaysian and Asian wrestlers is that they are just ordinary people like us. Shaukat stresses that drive, proper understanding of the sport, ability to work the crowd, good etiquette and discipline are all you need and you’re good to hit the ring!
“In this sport, there is no room for big egos. This is a form of performing arts, not a competitive sport. Both wrestlers need to work with each other to put on a good show, and tell the story they’re supposed to tell.” – Shaukat
So, WWE, you wanna look for wrestlers? We got your wrestlers right here in Malaysia yo!