Growing up in Pakistan, I, as a child, had limited sources of entertainment apart from engaging myself in physical activities.
So when I used to come home from school and get done with my homework, I would turn on the television and scroll through different channels until I found wrestling which used to air twice weekly in the form of Monday Night Raw, Friday Night SmackDown and a pay-per-view once a month, one week after the broadcast in U.S.A which meant that we were lagging by one week but that didn’t matter because since there weren’t any other major means of watching wrestling, there weren’t any spoilers.
Back then almost every kid in school watched wrestling and why wouldn’t they? It was so engaging and appealing to our young brains because we thought that it was real despite my grandfather repeatedly going on about how it was fake but I didn’t believe him, most probably because I didn’t want to. Why would I? These wrestlers were my heroes and it would be the equivalent of telling a child that Santa didn’t exist. We used to watch wrestling every Monday and Fridays and discuss it at school the next day and honestly wrestling was the best part of our lives. The generation above us wasn’t really into wrestling because I don’t think they got wrestling on cable back then so it was just us children at school discussing wrestling and trying out different wrestling moves during recess to the confusion of our teachers wondering where this violent generation was coming from, but they wouldn’t understand us and we wouldn’t bother explaining.
However, as time progressed and our brains slowly grew and realized that wrestling was indeed scripted many of us stopped watching including myself because we never watched wrestling the way it was supposed to be seen. We never appreciated how good of a job Edge did of being a despicable bad guy and we would be confused as to why people booed John Cena when the only thing he did was be a good guy and win his matches. As the reality settled in us as pre-adolescents, we slowly moved away from wrestling and because there weren’t many adults here who watched wrestling or were passionate about the reality of wrestling, we were left baffled as to why people watched it if it was “fake” and just straight up stopped watching it. Nonetheless, wrestling is still an integral part of most of our childhoods. If I were to talk to anyone about wrestling it would often start with the person reminiscing on the good old days and end with them saying how stupid the whole concept was.
Wrestling is something looked down upon over here and anyone who watches wrestling so avidly right now would be lightly mocked because it’s seen as something that only kids would watch now that it’s “essence” is no longer an illusion to grown-ups but regardless, it still has a special place in their heart probably because of nostalgia.
For me, wrestling is still the most wonderful thing in the world. When I started watching wrestling, it was the coolest thing ever and I thought to myself, why don’t they show that on T.V all the time? It’s the best thing there is. I still stand by that statement though. I started watching wrestling when I was four years old with my earliest memory being the debut of The Great Khali who just walked down and destroyed the Undertaker. I remember being shocked and in awe of that monster. He had just wrecked the Undertaker, a literal deadman who had supernatural powers. I just sat there with my mouth open, just staring at the seven-foot giant, aloof to how bad of a decision it was in booking terms and from that point on I was just hooked and stayed hooked for almost six more years until the realization slowly dawned on me that Undertaker and Kane weren’t actually brothers, The Great Khali wasn’t the best wrestler ever and that Randy Orton didn’t hear voices in his head.
I stopped watching wrestling around 2011 but still kept up-to-date with the title changes and feuds. I, unlike many others here in Pakistan, was brought back to wrestling slowly when I truly realized how great wrestling as a sport is and how it’s probably the best form of entertainment you can get because honestly, there is nothing like wrestling. There is no alternative. You have alternatives for every other source of entertainment apart from wrestling. Where else is reality blended into fiction to the extent that it is in wrestling?
In Pakistan, as I mentioned before there isn’t a really large fanbase but there still is a wrestling promotion known as the Pro Wrestling Federation of Pakistan (PWFP) which conducts live shows weekly consisting of exhibition matches mostly and sometimes tournaments which is a good initiative. These shows draw a fine amount of people who want to see two guys just beating the life out of each other. PWFP promotes its shows through their Facebook page. Apart from PWFP, there is also another wrestling organization called Wrestling Revolution Global (WRG) which isn’t as active as PWFP but the quality of wrestling they showcase is on another level with storylines for their main event matches.
They also draw massive crowds for their events but then again no one wants to dive into the stories here, they just want to see muscular strong guys beating each other with weapons as seen in PWFP which is more hardcore compared to the more athletic style of WRG. Over the years PWFP has also conducted major events featuring stars from overseas such as Sammy Guevara who is the longest-reigning PWFP Ultimate Champion (The major belt) at 341 days without a single title defence. The title was then given to Raja Naveed after Sammy failed to defend it in a year.
Although wrestling is growing over here in Pakistan, people don’t watch it for the story, they watch it as a plain combat sport when there’s so much more to it. Plus wrestling outside of Pakistan is known as WWE to them which they only know of through advertisements during cricket matches. I only know one person apart from me in Pakistan who avidly follows various wrestling promotions and is a true fan of pro wrestling, having been in the wrestling scene here in Pakistan.
So all in all, there isn’t a huge following of wrestling here, but people will surely tune in to watch wrestling only to see big meaty men slap meat. From the looks of things, there might be more eyes on wrestling in Pakistan in the future with promotions like WRG that focus more on storytelling in their matches.