'There is a huge world outside of WWE that wrestling fans should explore,' says Vinayak Sodhi as he discusses Bangkok Showdown, AEW star, and more (Exclusive)
"Men make history, and not the other way around." - Harry S. Truman
These words of the United States of America's 33rd President withstood the test of time and still echo in the minds of all those who witness a courageous soul, determined to challenge the status quo.
Is it risky? Yes.
But never, in the history of this world, has someone truly earned a victory without battling against the perils of their ambitions.
This article carries pieces of my conversation with someone who embarked on a spirited voyage that could be monumental in scripting the future of pro-wrestling in India.
I had a chance to speak to Vinayak Sodhi – the man behind Wrestle Square (India’s first-ever Independent Pro Wrestling Promotion) and Dangal ke Soorma (India's first indigenous Pro Wrestling Show).
It’s a known fact that this sub-continent is home to millions of pro-wrestling fans. But a large section of that is still aloof to the craft outside of mainstream media. However, things started to change when Dangal ke Soorma first aired on DSport and formally initiated the process of rewriting the history of pro-wrestling in the country that is crazy about sports-entertainment.
Taking it a step further, this year Wrestle Square is set to co-host an event alongside SETUP Thailand Pro Wrestling – titled, Bangkok Showdown. The upcoming show is set to feature pro-wrestling stars from several promotions, including AEW.
Below are the excerpts.
Q. What can the fans expect from Bangkok Showdown?
First of all, it’s a unique show wherein different promotions are coming together. It is being organized by Wrestle Square which is our home-grown company from India. We now have a tie-up with SETUP Thailand Pro Wrestling.
This will be the first time for us when different talents from different promotions such as Emi Sakura from AEW and Masa Takanashi from DDT Pro-wrestling, which is the third biggest wrestling promotion in Japan, will all come together.
Additionally, the likes of Ho Ho Lun, who is a former WWE NXT wrestler, and Andruew Tang -- who faced Kenny Omega three months ago-- will also join us there. And of course, our Indian pro-wrestlers from Wrestle Square like Baliyan Akki, Zorro, Dr Smash and 2faan will be there. We have seen these guys grow in the wrestling scene over the last five years and they also performed in the DSport program, ‘Dangal ke Soorma’.
Also, another major highlight is a female wrestler from Wrestle Square, Mona, who will be making her international debut. After Kavita Devi, she is the second female pro-wrestler from India who will start her international journey.
Hence, it’s going to be an interesting event, both for the fans and for the wrestlers as they will get to meet talents from other significant promotions.
Q. How did this entire show come about?
Last year, in October, there was an event organized by Michinoku Pro Wrestling, which is owned by Jinsei Shinzaki -- who also wrestled in the (then) WWF and faced The Undertaker. After the show, several wrestling legends including Dick Togo and Emi Sakura were having dinner with us. It was a great atmosphere as wrestlers from different countries came together and we were all discussing the independent wrestling scene because you know, this craft extends beyond WWE.
WWE always takes the best wrestlers from different promotions but we are the ones who are producing the good wrestlers.
So, that kind of gave us a new vision to organize a show which will host wrestlers from different promotions and different countries, allowing them to showcase their talent and their abilities.
Q. Was it difficult to get an AEW star for your show?
Well, as I said, several wrestling legends including Emi Sakura were present during that dinner where it all started. Hence, it wasn’t very difficult for us because we all come from the same background i.e. independent professional wrestling. None of have trained in the Performance Centre (chuckles). We value these kinds of independent wrestling events. Yes, maybe only 200-300 people show up but they are the die-hard fans.
Q. What do you think will be the impact of popular wrestling stars coming together and performing at the event?
Professional wrestling is a long journey. If you take an example of a pro-wrestling legend, they have a lot of history behind them. Our wrestlers like Baliyan Akki, Dr Smash, Zorro and others are making history for themselves through their journey in India.
Hence, it’s essential for them to participate in such events where they interact with talents from other countries and learn about the struggles they faced while pursuing their dreams. Some of the wrestlers that I mentioned before have 20-years or 30-years of experience which will be helpful for the younger talent. This is a field that requires you to put in a lot of hard work and the key to surviving is persistence.
Q. Which are the names that fans should keep an eye on in the upcoming event?
Baliyan Akki has performed in Bangkok. Zorro did it too which is why the Thai fans are already familiar with them. Dr Smash will be a new face inside the ring, and I’m sure that the fans will like him.
It’s a difficult question really because it all depends on the viewers. If I talk about the fans in Bangkok, they will definitely like to see Emi Sakura because she is a big star in AEW now.
Q. What can you tell us about the main event of the show?
It’s going to be an exciting match up. Our guy, Baliyan Akki will be in the main-event match and he will team up with Emi Sakura in a Tag Team match.
Q. What would you like to say to the fans who will be tuning in on Sportskeeda to watch the Live streaming of the show?
There is a huge world outside of WWE that wrestling fans should explore. When they see the talent, they will realize the potential of the wrestlers out there who are working hard and deserve their support. One day, they will probably see these wrestlers on their TV screens so it’s better to know them from the beginning.
Sportskeeda will carry the live streaming of an event for the first time on their FB page that will be accessible to 3 million fans. So, I am sure that people will watch and love the show which will be packed with action.
Below is the complete match card for the show:
1. Azura vs Zombie Dragon
2. Team Fateh vs Team X-Hector (Wrestlesquare Tag Team Title Match)
3. Ho Ho Lun & Johnson vs PK Mod
4. Mona vs Alexis Lee (Women'sMatch)
5. TLC - Dr Smash, Malkeet Brawler, Raaka (Wrestle Square Hardcore Title Match)
6. Wrestle Square Intercontinental Title -Zorro vs Skyler vs 2faan vs Amit Assasin
7. Andruew vs Shivam
8. Main Event - Team Wrestle Square India( Baliyan Akki, Emi Sakura) vs Team Setup Thailand ( Paksa, Masa Takanashi)
Tune in on Sportskeeda’s Facebook Page on January 11, 2020, at 5:30 PM (IST) to catch the show.Modified 09 Jan 2020, 18:05 IST