Paul “Triple H” Levesque has been in China for a few days (since leaving Download Festival in the United Kingdom) overseeing a tryout and doing public relations. It’s obvious from some announcements this morning that WWE has been hard at work in the world’s world's most populous market well before the Executive Vice-President showed up.
We’ve known that, of course. The company’s hired several executives with experience in the Asian market, and just a couple months back brought on Jay Li as a dedicated operations manager for China. There were even whispers that Shane McMahon, who headed up a company providing pay-per-view (PPV) to the country, might play a role - something WWE has shot down several times, clarifying Shane is only back on a talent deal for now.
On June 16, John Cena joined Levesque and Li to announce several major steps in WWE’s Chinese expansion strategy.
Of primary interest to wrestling fans worldwide is the signing of Bin Wang, the first-ever Chinese talent to ink a developmental contract. The 6’ 3”, 220 pound Wang is 22 years old. He’s been training with WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki’s wrestling/mixed martial arts promotion the Inoki Genome Foundation in Japan since 2014. He’ll head to the Performance Center shortly.
Wang is excited, and already well versed in the company line:
It is an honor to be the first-ever Chinese talent in WWE history. There are no fans in the world that show the same passion as the WWE Universe, and I look forward to training and developing my skills so I can perform for them in the future.
Chief strategy and financial officer George Barrios discussed the signing of Wang, as well as other international talent acquisitions, as key to overall global growth:
It’s really important for our talent roster to look like our fans.
Fans in Shanghai will have an opportunity to see WWE live for the first time in more than three years with a show announced for September 10 at Mercedes-Benz Arena, the venue which hosted this week’s tryouts and today’s announcement.
And people all across China will soon have access to more WWE content on their screens.
A one-hour version of Raw has been available in the country, via various outlets after a three-week delay from the original broadcast. Under a partnership with PPTV revealed today, that expands to on-demand streaming of both Raw and SmackDown being available every week, in Mandarin.
PPTV will also provide clips and other short-form content via Chinese social media, and work to create a new WWE website for the nation. The streaming service reaches 400 million people, and is also holds the distribution rights in China for properties like Warcraft and CBS & Showtime television shows.
CEO and Chairman Vince McMahon commented on today’s announcements:
Today’s historic announcements further demonstrate WWE’s long-term commitment to China. Partnerships with PPTV and Expo Group, as well as the signing of Bin Wang, will enable us to engage our fans in China like never before.
The move is part of WWE’s overall international growth plan. Barrios says a decision on how to bring WWE Network to China should be coming in 6 - 12 months, a market the company has identified along with India and the U.K. for strategic growth.