Television

Two Indians to debut on WWE Live in Delhi; Ten Sports expects packed house

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NEW DELHI: It may be close to freezing up north but in the national capital New Delhi, the heat is on. Rings are ready as wrestlers pump up to tussle in between the ropes...  only the winner gets the corner to celebrate.

Ten Sports, which has brought the WWE Live event to Delhi after a gap of more than 13 years, is burning the midnight oil to ensure perfect execution of the event. Ten Sports at this stage is concentrating aggressively on the live event, but the sportscaster may later televise it too.

The two-day event is being held at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium tomorrow and 16 January and has already attracted a booking of 35,000 for the two days. The stadium can seat around 20,000.

Ten Sports CEO Rajesh Sethi told Indiantelevision.com on the sidelines of a press meet that around five to seven per cent of the total budget earmarked for the event has gone into the 360 degrees marketing and promotions.

He was confident that the Indian superstars Satender Pal and Lovepreet Sangha would get as much attention as the renowned WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns and Divas Champion Charlotte among others. 

Sethi said several milestones had been created since the announcement of the Delhi event and publicity had also increased by word-of-mouth. 

WWE and Ten Sports aggressively marketed the live event in Delhi with a significant amount of investment. More than five sponsors were roped in for the live event, whereas negotiations were on with over 15 more brands. If sources are to be believed then Mountain Dew has been roped in as the title sponsor for a sum of over Rs 2 crore. 

Referring to his channel’s ratings, he said Ten Sports had been leading week after week as per the BARC ratings. The channel is working with five cricket boards – Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, South Africa and West Indies – apart from the UEFA and the French League in football.

The two-day live event will feature WWE SmackDown and WWE Raw and also see names like Dean Ambrose, Big Show, Sheamus, Cesaro and Ryback. Tickets are priced between Rs 1699 - 17,999. Ten Sports has tied up with ticketing micro-site Bookmyshow for online ticketing. There are several sitting categories, which start with open sitting at Rs 1699. The next slabs are Rs 2999, Rs 5499, Rs 7999, Rs 11,999 and Rs 17,999. 

Earlier during the press meet, Lovepreet who is a Kabbadi champion said he had decided to take to wrestling since he had won all the highest awards in kabbadi and now wanted to take his talent elsewhere.

Both he and Satender were put through rigorous training in the United States, putting in more than five hours of training before going in the ring.

Satender added that he was happy that both he and Lovepreet were making their debut in India. Asked about wrestlers like Undertaker, he said he had learnt a lot from all of them.

Roman Reigns said that he had always been looking for the big fight and this was his opportunity. There were 29 other challengers he had to fight.

He denied that the matches were ‘fixed’ and in reply to another question, he said though his father had been a professional wrestler, his mother was his personal hero as she encouraged him. 

While declining to comment on why The Great Khali was not part of WWE, Roman said he liked Khali as he was very soft-spoken. He was proud that Khali is a symbol of WWE in India.

Referring to John Cena, who was unable to come here, Roman expressed the hope that they will be in the big fight together soon.

Charlotte said that her primary mission was to change the perception about women and to show that they could fight as well as the men did.

WWE president international Gerrit Meier said, “WWE had never meant to insult any country and apologised for the incident when Hulk Hogan had insulted the Indian tricolour.” 

In a press meet held in November last, Meier had said that WWE is also planning to build consumer parks in India in the near future. The company launched its video streaming service WWE Network in the Indian sub-continent early in November.

He said India had been chosen for the live event because of the large number of WWE fans in the country. “WWE holds around 440 events every year and we’ve held events in countries like Japan and Malaysia but India is a major market for us,” he said.

On the television front, by offering a compelling storyline each week, WWE was largely skewed towards the family audience and Meier said that they had found the right partners in Ten Sports and Zee Cinema. The telecast on both the channels had gained popularity and was one the major reasons for WWE renewing the telecast agreement with the broadcasters through 2019. WWE and Ten Sports began their association in India in 2003.

While the WWE telecast on Ten Sports received a lot of attraction from viewers, Sethi said that the reason to bring it on Zee Cinema in Hindi was because WWE was now perceived as family entertainment. “We live telecast some WWE events on Ten Sports from the US. Moreover, Zee Cinema has helped take this event to the hinterland and expand the viewer base with the Hindi dubbing. Zee Cinema is one of the five top movie channels in India and reaches 150 million homes. As WWE is now considered as entertainment, it was only justified that it should be on a movie channel,” he added.

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