The Middle East and North Africa (Mena), especially Qatar, serves as a fertile ground for professional wrestling to further grow and be successful, Qatar Pro Wrestling (QPW) general manager Eric Bischoff has said.
“This (Mena) is an exciting new market for QPW and for professional wrestling in general, and I think QPW has a tremendous opportunity to be very successful here,” he told reporters at a recently held press conference in Doha on the staging of Superslam 2.
The event, organised by QPW and supported by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, was held at the Lusail Sports Arena yesterday, bringing together a line-up of wrestling legends from the US, France, South Africa, the UK, Canada, Austria and Mexico for a grand showdown on the ring. A large number of people thronged the venue and cheered for their favourite pro wrestlers, including some of the finalists such as Alberto del Rio, Rob Van Dam, Chris Raaber and Alofa.
Citing the sport’s popularity across the globe, Bischoff said he produced wrestling events as far as Pyongyang, North Korea, and in different parts of the world.
“The opportunity to come to the Middle East and have a chance to participate with QPW and be a part of something that is new and successful and growing is just an opportunity that I couldn’t miss,” he noted.“People don’t realise that professional wrestling is so popular all over the world because of its action that translates in any language. People can identify with the characters, with the action in the ring, the drama, the physicality, the athleticism. “All these things combine to provide entertainment that, as I have mentioned, translates in any language and in any culture. We have the opportunity to come here and be a part of QPW in its early stages.
“It’s only a few years old and makes a strong, successful impact on this market; it’s just a great opportunity and the future is very bright.”
Established in 2013, QPW is the first and only professional wrestling association in the Middle East and brings superstars from different parts of the world to premiere in prestigious events with large-scale production throughout the Arab world.
Pro wrestler PJ Black, who was among the participants at Superslam 2, echoed the statement of Bischoff, saying pro wrestling continues to grow worldwide.
“I just got back from South America — from Chile, Argentina and all those up and coming countries, and wrestling is booming. In the Middle East, it is growing…in Qatar and other neighbouring countries, as well as in Iraq and Iran,” he said.
“Pro wrestling is an all-time high…and is a fun sport. It is great entertainment and a lot of action, which is fun for the whole family,” PJ Black stressed.
Performing four times in Qatar, the pro wrestler from South Africa who now lives in Los Angeles, the US, said he loves to visit Doha.
About Qatar hosting major sporting events, he said: “I think it is fantastic, my dad was a wrestler, and in the late-’90s he actually helped set up a bunch of first companies here, of pro wrestling and I’ve seen it grow like 20 years ago.”
“I just love coming back here, I love the people, l love the great food and hopefully, we can grow this show (Superslam) into something spectacular. It is already something fantastic but I love to see it grow every year,” PJ Black added.“I would love to come to Qatar in 2022, if they can arrange a show around that, which will be perfect.”
About what inspired him to be a wrestler, he said his father was a professional athlete who went into wrestling and trained him at a very young age, when he fell in love with the sport.
“I turned pro when I was 16, I think at that time I was one of the youngest in the world (of wrestling). My dad was a great inspiration for me, like most kids who looked up to their dad,” PJ Black recalled. “My dad was very special because he was very young too (then), he was like my best friend and we used to wrestle together. People thought we were brothers.”
He has competed in several major wrestling events across 64 countries around the world.
“The average lifespan for pro wrestlers is like five years, and I’ve lasted for the last 22 years, I think that is a major achievement,” PJ Black added.