By Sahil Sharma:
Three months ago it was announced that the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) would be coming to India for a live event after a gap of 13 years. The last time was in Mumbai in 2002 and while I was living there my parents wouldn’t let me as that year was my Class 10th board examinations.
Fast forward to November 2015. The announcement is made that WWE superstars would be coming to Delhi and performing at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium. The early bird tickets are announced and I join the virtual queue to book my tickets. After a short frenzy of “which tickets to buy?” or “damn these are expensive tickets!” I bought three tickets for the event.
Here, I want to admit something. Like thousands of people in the country, I have grown up watching WWE, then WWF (World Wrestling Federation). I have ‘choke-slammed’ my brother on the bed, hit him with pillows as if they were ‘steel chairs’ and pinned him 1,2,3 to win the fictional championship belt.
While most people my age are over the WWE fan craze, I still follow the live entertainment show on a weekly basis. During my career as a sports journalist, I even had the chance to meet WWE stars like Big Show, Kane, Batista (who gave me an original championship belt – one of my most cherished possession) and of course, the Indian sensation – The Great Khali.
Coming back to the live event. The excitement was fever pitch as I, my two brothers and 15,000 crazy fans like us, went to the Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium to watch the live event. As we entered the arena, we were greeted with the entrance theme of Kane, the masked red giant that we all know in the WWE. And who he was facing — The Big Show.
As they both stood face-to-face, the capacity crowd in the arena chanted their names on top of their voice and it was spectacular. My first ‘live’ WWE fight was between the Big Show and Kane, two of the biggest guys you will ever see. They punched, they kicked, they choke-slammed each other once and it was the ‘the big red machine’ Kane who won the bout, with a vicious chokeslam from the top rope to the 500 hundred pound (roughly 250 kgs) Big Show. Trust me the entire arena shook.
Even though I did miss the emotional commentary that we hear on the TV, while watching WWE, the live action was non-stop.
A total of eight matches were held during the two-hour show, which also included a 10-minute intermission.
I don’t think the Indira Gandhi stadium has ever witnessed the decibel levels it experienced for this live event. The audience cheered for their favourite superstars and booed the one’s they didn’t care much for. There were also some whistling when the WWE Divas Championship was defended by Charlotte, daughter of the legendary wrestler Ric Flair.
In the main event, Roman Reigns defended his WWE World Heavyweight title to the delight of the crowd. An enthralling match, which saw the referee being knocked down, steel chairs being used and Reigns fighting against all odds to retain his shining belt.
“I am honoured to have come to Delhi and performed in front of this amazing crowd. Thank you India,” were the final words by Reigns before he acknowledged the crowd and his theme music ended the evening.
As I walked out of the arena and saw people still posing for selfies in front of the posters, the chants of “this is awesome” stayed with me. A dream realised because it was truly awesome.