Indian sports fans have grown up watching the likes of The Rock, The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, John Cena and many more hardcore superstars battle it out in the ring, outside the ring and everywhere in between. Noting the entertainment sports’ popularity in the country, WWE has made a concentrated effort to bring in Indian wrestlers (or of Indian origin) into their fold.
One of the largest untapped markets for WWE is India. And now these desi performers have created quite an impression in the world of sports entertainment. Whilst WWE continues to broaden its roster, we take a look at five Indian wrestlers in WWE who have made it big.
Why should boys have all the fun? Meet Kavita Dalal, fondly known as Kavita Devi. She is the first Indian woman wrestler who took our national flag to WWE. She is also an Indian International powerlifting athlete who bagged a Gold medal in South Asian Games. WWE in 2017 announced that Devi had signed a contract and she began her training in January 2018.
Devi is married to basketball player Gaurav Tomar and has a son named Abhijeet. Kavita considers ‘Great Khali’ as her main inspiration. She has appeared in WWE’s special events, mainly in the women’s royal rumble.
We know this name may not be as popular enough even for WWE fans. But the Indian wrestler was part of the company. While Mahabali Shera might not be in WWE, he was one of the most promising stars to have ever wrestled. He looked like he might be the face of Indian Wrestlers in WWE in the future but unfortunately, it was not to be. According to reports, he was released from WWE.
Jinder Mahal is the latest sensation in WWE, having achieved quite good success in WWE ring. We are talking about ‘Modern Day Maharaja’; Jinder Mahal (original name: Yuvraj Singh Dhesi). The six feet tall ruled the WWE circuit as he won WWE Championship title many times especially in 2017-18. The Indo-Canadian professional wrestler made his debut in 2010. After a short-lived coalition with his storyline brother-in-law The Great Khali, Mahal was then mostly utilised as enhancement talent during his initial career with WWE, forming the group 3MB with Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre before both Mahal and McIntyre were released from the WWE in 2014.
However, Mahal made a comeback in WWE two years later with a dramatically improved body condition and received a push following WrestleMania 33. From there on, he never looked back. Interesting fact: He is the first United States champion of Indian descent.
2The Great Khali
This list is incomplete without one of the famous wrestlers not only in India but around the globe. Yes, you guessed it right; The ‘Great Khali’. Dalip Singh Rana who hails from Himachal Pradesh has been one of the masterpieces of WWE. Before entering in wrestling, he was an officer for the Punjab state police. Do you know that he has played a role in four Hollywood films, two Bollywood films and several television shows?
Eighth tallest professional wrestler in history became World Heavyweight Champion in 2007.
Only a few of you may know him. Gadowar Singh Sahota from Punjab joined his father in Canada at the age of 9. Known to the wrestling world as Gama Singh, he excelled in amateur wrestling as a teenager.
He began his professional wrestling training in the early 1970s under the legend, Stu Hart. In the early 1980s, he started wrestling for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). He performed mainly at untelevised events in WWF. He was a solid mat-wrestler, occasionally scaling the ropes.
Unfortunately, his WWF career did not take off but his work does not go unnoticed in other promotions. Jinder Mahal is his nephew.
WWE is one of the famous sports entertainment in India. George Barrios, WWE’s CFO revealed the information to the CNBC host Jim Cramer that the number 1 country that consumes WWE video content in the world is India. One of the reasons for this is the multitude of Indian wrestlers who have plied their trade in a foreign land.