Just because 2017’s Impact tapings in Mumbai or the Jinder Mahal SmackDown title reign didn’t turn into instant revenue for Anthem or WWE, it doesn’t mean wrestling companies aren’t continuing to view India as a big growth market strategically import to future plans.
It makes sense. As Mahal and Triple H continually reminded us, there are 1.3 billion people in the country, and they’re voracious consumers of entertainment products. But no ones figured out how to get them to pay for pro graps yet.
The new focus seems to be on hiring people with whom Indians are already familiar.
Last week, WWE touted the signing of Rinku Singh via ESPN. Singh won The Million Dollar Arm, a 2008 reality competition on Indian TV for a Major League Baseball contract. His story was also turned into a Disney film. The 6’ 3”, 256 lb. junior national javelin throw medalist was in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system for years before injury ended his baseball career. Now he’s signed with WWE, where he’ll report to the Orlando Performance Center tomorrow (Jan. 16) with Saurav Gurjar, 6’ 8”, 298 lb. former kickboxer and television actor. The company’s website touts Gurjar as “a well-known fixture on Indian television, having starred in popular mythological dramas such as Mahabharat and Sankat Mochan Mahabali Hanuman.”
Impact is going in a different, yet similar, direction. Over the weekend, the company announced the signing of “the Hulk Hogan of the international wrestling world”, Gama Singh:
One of the most successful Indian born wrestlers of all time, one of the most successful international wrestlers ever - the legendary Gama Singh (@GR8GamaSingh) has officially signed with IMPACT. pic.twitter.com/qmYMjsxVeI— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) January 15, 2018
Will these moves be the key to unlocking the market? We’ll find out. They’re certainly a sign wrestling’s focus on India isn’t going anywhere.