This is a good time to talk about pro wrestling. As we just witness the biggest fight in MMA at UFC229 that ended just like a pro wrestling event. Much has been debated & discuss about how UFC has becoming more and more like WWE. And to some fight fans pro wrestling is frown upon for being ‘fake’
For me I grew up watching wrestling in the 90s. Late night was spend in front of TV watching the antics of Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, Jake the Snake and many many more iconic wrestlers from the then WWF ( which has been rename WWE ). Many afternoon too were spent in the mamak shop with MILO ping and roti canai, cheering on my favourite wrestlers.
As I grew into my love for martial arts, I began to also develop a negative feeling towards pro wrestling for being a staged show and lots of exaggerated acting. I craved for fights that are real, which draw me to UFC.
But my respect for WWE grew when I started working in the marketing industry. Of how they can sell out arena week after week for their shows and packed a stadium for big shows like Wrestle Mania. Then UFC cross path with WWE when they brought in Brock Lesnar to boost their viewership. This clearly shows how successful pro wrestling promoter are at marketing their products.
I must admit that I am a bit outdated in the development of pro wrestling in Malaysia. But I do keep myself abreast on the activities of local martial artist; and I was pleasantly surprise when my fellow Sabahan & Malaysian MMA pioneering pro athlete, AJ Pyro posted in FB about his involvement in MyPW (Malaysia Pro Wrestling).
I began browsing through their FB. I must say I was really impress on their work. Not just the show they put up but their marketing. Their promo video, their event posters all look very slick and professional. They also sell a storyline for their fans to follow. This is the key in getting fans more involve and will follow their series of events. I really think local combat sports promoter can really learn a thing or two from MyPW.
Let’s find out more about MyPW.
There are thousands of 90s kids that grew up with wrestling like me, then came the millenium generations that grew up with The Undertaker, John Cena, Stone Cold, The Rock etc…Ayez Shaukat Fonseka is one of them. He dreamt of one day becoming a pro wrestler.
His love of the sports entertainment made him engage into combat sports and stunt works. He was a Muay-thai and mix-martial artist before, fought in various competition and winning medals along the way. His background is owning a degree in medical course and worked in filming industry in various positions, from editing, cinematography, stunt works and directing.
In 2014, while still in his 20s, Ayez travelled to United States to learn pro-wrestling. After months of grueling training under Ric Drasin, Ayez returned to Malaysia and started up Malaysia Pro Wrestling (MyPW), following that opens Malaysia Pro Wrestling Developmental Centre (MyPW DC) on March 2014.
Early on, the development centre is being monitored by former WWE trainer, Dr. Tom Prichard, through Ayez mentoring the students’ progress and getting advises on moving forward. From 2016 onwards, Ayez became the sole Head Coach of MyPW and everyone is under his tutelage until today.
|Ayez @ Shaukat|
Warriors of Borneo talked to Kevin Kayes (the spoke person of MyPW) to learn more about it.
What is the main story line? Is the story line work for the whole event? or it’s by individual character.
The story line work mostly individually. Like the recent one (MyPW Mall Brawl) featuring AJ Pyro, who saved Aziq Blade from Hendo Remy & Amir Za (Both are Bully Squad group), it resolves on Aziq fighting against his bullies, and has been carried since the previous show back in March 2018.
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Who’s your champ? tell me about their persona & fight hi-light?
Our current MyPW Undisputed Champion is ‘Asian Warrior’ Daryl Wong. He is a mix of American and Chinese heritage.
He embraces his eastern side of his family to become a renown fighter across South East Asia. He has deadly kicks and strong enough to lift a grown man over his shoulder. Despite his baby-face and carefree attitude, Daryl Wong possess the fighting spirit and never gives up to any obstacle thrown at him.
Was it difficult to promote & sell pro wrestling to Malaysian crowd? Do you see the fans growing? Is it easy to sell an event?
From the beginning, it wasn’t as hard as it thought to be because we had a wrestling fan community, which ever expanding from time to time. Our shows were supported by them and our tickets often sold out.
Tell us about your current talent pool? How did you manage to find them?
Ever since MyPW DC officially opens in 2015, we engaged in social media and posts on conducting tryouts for the beginners. So far, the students enrolled after they went to our shows, or they known of our existence in social media (Facebook especially). It is true, we are used to be fans watching the wrestling in tv, Mamak restaurant, etc but now we have social media, we might as well use the platform to expand. We have moved 3 times since the inception and currently our DC is in iM4U Central, Puchong.
How does MYPW plan to grow and gain new fans? What’s in the plan for next 1-3 years? What are the challenges you face? What are the positive development so far?
We plan to get noticed by Malaysian by appearing in the mainstream mass media, which is the TV channels like in Media Prima or Astro. By that way, Malaysia as a whole would get to know us. At the moment, we only plan to engage to local radio station to provide marketing and spreading the words of our existence.
We will do our best to reach mainstream within the next 3 years, as well as gaining more fans worldwide. The only challenges we face is how niche the market is as well as the mentality of the society who only sees Pro-wrestling as fake, yet violent entertainment sport. However, after the recent show, we managed to get words from new fans and interested to watch us performing again in near future.
Who is behind the character development & story line development? What kind of story line / character do you think appeal to Malaysian fans?
The Creatives are behind the character, stories and they decide whichever seem fits to the audiences. The drama between two wrestlers, good vs evil has always been entertaining to our Malaysian audience.
However, the Malaysian fans tend to like those slapstick comedic type of matches and they’re easily entertained when there’s cartoonish situation. Wrestling fans however, more likely moved when they witness high risks move and compelling back & forth strikes instead.
Regionally in South East Asia, is there a Pro scene actively holding events?
Indeed there are, plenty of them. Singapore has two promotions; Singapore Pro Wrestling (SPW) & Grapple Max (GPMax) and they often made a show almost in every month starting this year. Philippine Wrestling Revolution (PWR) also gaining momentum and those three, aside MyPW, are the active pro-wrestling circuits we have today.
For those interested to become a pro Wrestler? What are the criteria?
To be a pro-wrestler, one needs to be strong. Strong in both physically, mentally; literally and metaphorically. You would need a body which can withstand beatings, a mind which doesn’t quit even the body is failing, and a huge spirit to carry the whole training, exercises until achieving your objectives.
Age, genders, races, those criteria are merely trivial. Don’t be worried, you can achieve great strength, endurance and stamina by train hard and smart thoroughly.
Can someone (Malaysian) do this full time and make a living?
We would say, we are yet to encourage that pro-wrestling is a career to make ends meet at the moment. For experience, yes you are welcome to try. We too wish we can make a living out of professional wrestling, like those in the bigger wrestling circuit which made it into mainstream, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) & World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), to say a few.
As fight fans let’s shake off the negative notion of pro wrestlers. Yes they are entertainers. They entertain you through the showing off of their skills in the rings. What they do is a performing art of athleticism which they develop by putting in hours and hours of tiring & painful training to ensure the smoothness of techniques and eye catching acrobatic moves.