For years, local wrestling fans have been waiting for this day and it finally happened. On the 2nd Jul, slightly less than a week ago, WWE made its only pit-stop in South East Asia here in Singapore after an eight year hiatus. Prior to the main event proceedings later that evening, WhatsNext managed to catch an interview with some of the stars from the show, including King Barrett, Neville, and Nikki Bella.
In an informal roundtable setting, we were greeted by a visibly tired but still active Wade Barrett greets us as he enters the room holding his iconic crown. He waves over one of the hotel staff before us before he sits down.
He orders something, speaking faintly with a Northern English accent, “Sorry but could I get a double expresso shot?” At this moment in time, it’s almost impossible to imagine him as King Barrett, his infamous on stage persona. The WWE brand is larger than life though, with superstars adopting reel life characteristics that extend beyond the ring, a persona that millions of fan followers have come identify these superstars with. Despite the fact that what they pot ray on television can often be very different from real life.
We were, fortunate though, able to talk to the people behind the characters, and found things out about them we would never see on TV. For one, Wade is actually an aspiring actor. Despite being primarily a “King” on a daily basis, Wade recently started his acting career back in 2013. He mentioned in brief about his upcoming movie Eliminators, set to be released in 2016.
“I’m basically playing the bad guy again, there’s going to be an American guy going undercover in London, and I’m kind of a hitman hired to track him down and take him down. I’m very excited to be filming that.” With the tremendous success of sports entertainment stars crossing into mainstream media such as the Rock( or as most will know him as Dwayne Johnson now), don’t count out Wade taking over the cinemas soon.
Despite their rarefied status in the rings, some stars were surprisingly not as attuned to fame as perceived by the public eye. Nikki Bella on her recent branching to reality TV saw through her show Total Divas “wants to be very successful” but along with her sister, Brie, “don’t want to be like Kardashian famous”
And as opposed to Wade and the Rock, her acting aspirations were limited to “ a movie or two, but I don’t want to be a movie star. I want to live my life; I can’t imagine a day that I couldn’t do that because I’m a Kardashian.”
(The full Nikki Bella Interview can be found here)
Despite their totally different perspectives on future career plans, the one thing in common the WWE wrestlers shared was their love for wrestling.
For Neville, it was the twelve-thousand strong crowds back in Japan that he remembered best. “Professionally for me, it was Kobe World (Wrestle Mania). It’d always be packed; it was always the highlight of my year. The day we really looked forward to.” Wade and Nikki were in unison too, noting that any aforementioned future career plans were only after they were done doing what they loved most.
Entertain the fans they did that very night to a sold out crowd of 8828 die-hard fans. Decked out in WWE Fan gear for days, fans cheered incessantly for their favourite stars. The energy at the action-packed sold-out Singapre Indoor Stadium was palpable. The stars were definitely not immune to the cheers of the crowd as they too were pumped for a night of action, which saw the likes of King Barrett, Finn Bailor, Neville and Cesario duelling it out.
One of highlights of the show was the Singapore-Styled Street Fight between fan favourite Dolph Ziggler and the sinister Kane. Like the preparation of food that “Singapore-styled” is often associated with, the match was hot and fiery.
Armed with rattan sticks and wooden chairs, it was a no-holds bar affair as both superstars went at each other. The high octane battle of man vs goliath eventually saw Dolph Ziggler taking it in his usual suave fashion of win fall by three counts. The showman that he was, he left the ladies a little red faced when he took his shirt off for his adoring fans in celebration. (the picture was too hot for the site!)
However, there was something for the guys too. The WWE Divas title match featured the beautiful Nikki Bella against the challenger Tamina. The odds were stacked against Nikki, the defending champion, who mentioned in the interview that she had recently returned from a torn hamstring injury. But her movements in the ring seem unhindered by her recent impediment and comfortably disposed of her opponent. Oh and she did look stunning in her shiny gold spandex too.
Though, the main event of the show was the champion vs champion match between United States Champion John Cena and Nxt Champion Kevin Owens. Icon vs new kid on the block, it was a match for the new guard to take over the reigns and the old to try to hang on to it. A match slated for a one fall, the battle was simply epic.
Over 25 mins long, the two stars were constantly trading blows with ferocity. Fans cheered and reacted each time the momentum of the match swung, with distinct factions appearing within the crowd. Significantly, John Cena seemed to be a figure of much hatred from spectators in the WWE realm, with fans yelling “Cena sucks” voraciously. Admittedly, we have not been in the loop of the WWE for a while and it seems like the face of the franchise is having some image problems.
Throughout the bout, both champions were close to capturing victory over a dozen times respectively. The audience was literally on their feet and holding their breath in bated anticipation each time the referee started the 3 counts, only to heave a collected sigh of relief after the end of 2. Eventually, the winner was decide in an anti-climatic fashion as Kevin Owens was disqualified on a low blow to John. Though not the way we would have liked to have had it ended, it was nonetheless a great assurance that our main man was still gonna be a mainstay in the franchise for a little while more.
Overall, the event was well publicised and managed by organisers Dainty Group International. The proceedings on the actual day went smoothly and the usual delays at big events was absent. The fans were extremely enthusiastic in their support for their idols and it made for a sensational sporting atmosphere in the indoor venue. Perhaps the only letdown on the administration front was the cancellation of acts such as WWE diva Paige from the line-up and a missing Brock Lesnar who attended the Tokyo event. Even then, the highs of the night were simply unmatched to any sporting event thus far and definitely gave the fans more than they could bargained for. To quote John Cena’s departing words to Singapore, “8 years is too long…the next time we will be back won’t be 8 years later. But know that we will be back”; Till next time WWE, the universe eagerly awaits your next stop in Singapore and so do we.
Interview Contribution: @benjamindornel
Photo Credits: @guopeiloh/Imagica Productions for Whatsnext.sg
All reviews opportunities courtesy of Danity Group Global