Interview with TNA Superstar Mahabali Shera
Mahabali Shera gets candid with Sportskeeda.
In the month of August, we got in touch with Mahabali Shera for an interview. We eventually managed to work a time and date out to have a candid conversation with the big man who has been representing India in TNA!
His warm and humble demeanour certainly shows in the way he describes his beginnings, his struggles and his journey to becoming a TNA Superstar.
Without further ado, brought to you by SportsKeeda, here is our interview with TNA Superstar, Mahabali Shera.
#1 Can you tell our readers about yourself?
Shera: Ever since I was a kid, I've always been into sports. However, the situation at my home wasn't great, thus creating certain limitations. My father and uncles used to play kabaddi, and everyone in our village respected them. Thus, to elevate their level of respect, I wanted to make a name for myself in sports.
I dabbled in various games here and there, I would keep pestering my brother to play kabaddi with me, I would ask my friends to go along running with me early in the morning, but unfortunately, nobody would ever be interested in doing these things with me.
I never heard anyone ever say to me, 'let's go for a run,' you know what I mean?
At that time I didn't have any clue about gyms or anything of that sort, and hence, the one sport I played more than any other was kabaddi. There came a time later on when my father started drinking heavily. Thus, shouldering me with the responsibilities of the family.
So, along with carrying out my responsibilities I would manage to play kabaddi. I also started exercising at my home by using sacks filled with mud or bricks as weight and then would attach it to a rod. Thus, with that homemade contraption, I would do pull-ups and several other exercises.
That's how much I was passionate about sports, you know? I knew I wanted to do something in sports but had no clue as to what I was supposed to do.
Then came wrestling.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was always thinking about wrestling as a viable career option. But, I had no idea from where to begin. A young lad from this small village in Punjab, going to the States? Impossible!
Being a fan is OKAY, but going to states and becoming a wrestler? That's an entirely different ball game.
My passion for wrestling started growing, and I would watch wrestling till 2 or 3 at night. The Rock, Triple H, Batista, and Shawn Michaels, I was an ardent fan of these wrestlers.
I had no idea, how I was going to make it. But, my goal had always been to become an Icon for my parents, for Punjab, and my country. I used to read about Dara Singh, was influenced a lot by him.
You know, everyone in the village used to say, “Aggar yeh khayega to Dara Singh banega” or “Aggar yeh karega to Dara Singh banega” thus, as a kid I always wished to be successful so that parents would tell their kids "Aggar yeh khayega to Mahabali Shera banega".
(2) How did you make your way into TNA?
Shera: You know I always followed a set of principles to achieve my goals. I always made sure that I didn't indulge myself in things that could harm me, or with people indulging in such vices. I'm not, what you would call, a "party person". I love staying home. So, I always made sure to keep that aspect of my life together.
So, I began by participating in several bodybuilding competitions, including the highly popular Mr India bodybuilding competition. I won several of these competitions, with people always telling me to become a wrestler after noticing my physique. But, the question again was, where to begin?
So, in 2011 I received a call from my friend in Mumbai, who wanted me to participate in the auditions for a wrestling show. The only thing that was holding me back from participating was my lack of experience in the ring. But, upon my friend's insistence, I appeared for the audition.
I went with my brother, who's also physically well-built, to the auditions in Chandigarh. The place was packed, with bodybuilders from Haryana and Punjab.
Unfortunately, my brother did not participate with me because he did not want to wrestle (of which he found out about after reaching the venue). So, the process began with, 5-6 hours of intense workout, they liked me, and I got selected.
Later I was called up to Delhi, but I refused to go, not because I wasn't fit or anything, but due to a number factors including my health, lack of self-confidence, and a passport. So, these guys required my passport, which I did not have. But, the boys there insisted that I go, and told me to leave everything to fate.
Fortunately, things worked out in the end, and I ended up passing the auditions held in Delhi.
However, after returning to my village after finishing the Indian tapings of Ring ka King in September, I went through an accident, banging up myself in the process.
The only thing that I kept thinking of at the hospital was about the future tapings. The next set of tapings were to be held in the US after the holidays for the new year had ended. I told the director of the hospital to fix me up as fast as they could.
Brother, you won't believe it when I'll tell you, but I recovered within ten days, and then immediately took a flight to Pune. Thankfully, nobody got to know of this unfortunate incident.
(3) How was your experience with going to the United States for the very first time?
Shera: During the entirety of my youth, I never stepped out of town, so stepping out of my country was a daunting task. So, let me tell you about this incident that happened at the airport in New York.
had a flight from New York to Nashville, and I was carrying all my papers and necessary documents with me. So, after the security check, I was told by this officer to follow him to this room in the basement, where there were already a bunch of Indians sitting around.
So, the officer there asks me about my purpose of visit, so I tell him that I'm going to Nashville to join TNA. So, the guy asks me my wrestling name, and immediately checks it on TNA's official website.
He says that the roster on the website doesn't feature me, so I told him to check on Ring Ka King’s page, wherein he finds me and then allows me to leave. Boy, was I scared!
(4) Initially, in TNA, you didn't start out as Mahabali Shera, right? Although that has been your ring name?
Shera: Well, yeah I started out as Khoya, James Storm was the one who changed my name after taking me under his wing. I was just starting out, so I was ready to work any they wanted me to.
(5) What role do you personally like playing more? A Heel or a Babyface?
Shera: The thing is, I look towards my fans for these things, every time I meet anyone they tell me, to just be an ass kicker. My Indian fans want me to turn into a destruction machine. Similarly, my fans in the US and the UK also like my work as a babyface.
(6) How was the experience of working with veterans like Al Snow, James Storm etc.?
Shera: I've worked with almost everyone on this roster, James Storm, Al Snow, Bobby Roode (now in NXT), Matt and Jeff Hardy, such great guys. Learnt so much from them, because I just had a year's experience in the squared circle.
The thing is everything that I'm doing here is for my fans, and for my country, so getting to work with such veterans of the ring helped me get the experience I needed to hone my craft, and also helped me in improving my self-confidence.
(7) How was it working with Grado? Considering he's one of UK's biggest wrestling stars?
Shera: I could never comprehend what he was trying to speak. You know, even the other wrestlers here could not understand what he was trying to say. Whenever he used to speak with me, I would just nod my head and say "Yes".
(8) What are your views on the immensely popular Broken Matt Hardy Character?
Shera: You know a wrestler should keep on trying different things for with his character. Experimenting with stuff eventually ends with you creating something unique. I like Matt's character. I think it's fun and unique.
(9) So, would you ever be interested in joining Matt Hardy's "Broken Bandwagon"?
Shera: Oh yes, I would love to. As I said before, my fans want me to turn into a badass, so maybe that could help.
(10) Any parting advice to our readers? Especially the ones who would like to make a career in wrestling?
Shera: My advice would be to work hard. Don't do anything half-hearted, find what you love and just put every ounce of your energy into it.
For the kids who want to get into wrestling, just have patience and work hard, in the end, it will definitely pay off.
You can follow Mahabali Shera on Twitter @MahabaliShera. Send us news tips at firstname.lastname@example.org