I’ve been very vocal about my love of the new TNA backed/Endemol produced wrestling promotion in India known as Ring Ka King (King of the Ring). However I can understand why there isn’t a huge vibe about this new promotion across the inter-webs. After all there are plenty of reasons why you might not want to bother watching an episode of Ring Ka King. However there are a few reasons why I think you really should…
It’s not TNA
The phrase “backed by TNA” obviously sends a shudder down a lot of people’s spines and with good reason. That’s fine, it was probably my main reason why I thought the whole venture would end up a disaster. TNA takes enough short-cuts and random twists that it is difficult to see how the random mess a typical Impact show is could translate to an audience that isn’t exposed to the business in the way a U.S or European audience is. Thankfully TNA did the sensible thing and send Dutch Mantell out as the head booker and the one thing Dutch doesn’t do is p*ss about trying to work the audience like Russo does. Consistently each show tells a story, we recap what has happened previously and matches happen for logical reasons.
“But if it’s not like TNA then…”
It’s not WWE either
No, it’s not like the other company either. Where WWE delights in producing cookie cutter wrestlers with very little difference between them Ring Ka King goes back to wrestling’s roots and allows wrestlers to be characters again. Even their generic jobbers have their own entrance videos and music! Every guy who goes out there has something that sets him apart from the other guys, even guys as generic as Matt Morgan shine because he’s the only guy like him in the company. Abyss can be a monster again, Scott Steiner really is the Big Bad Booty Daddy. The Bollywood Boys, the Sheiks, the Mumbai Cats are all tag teams of one quality or another but they are TEAMS! The tag division actually has tag teams in!
Ever wondered how life would be if Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty had been born in Mumbai? Now we know…. the Bollywood Boys
“But I’ve seen the Impact Zone and it’s dead surely there isn’t a big market for pro-wrestling in India…”
If there is a hotter crowd out there I haven’t seen it. The Indian crowd is like the massive 80’s crowds who gave a crap about everything that happened in the ring. They cheer the faces and boo the heels and they are quick to work out who is who when the lines aren’t as obvious. This is the crowd that runs away from Steiner and Abyss when they jump the barrier! They aren’t a smarky crowd, chanting for the heels, shouting whenever something doesn’t go as planned or delighting in showing off how smart they are about the business…. and it’s awesome! It makes even the blandest of matches entertaining to watch and makes you remember what actually enjoying wrestling was about.
A crowd? Giving the Heel a hard time? Enjoying the show? What is this madness?!
“But it’s all in Indian, how can I understand what’s going on?”
It’s not all in Hindi…
Only the Indian talent and the commentators speak in Hindi. All the other wrestlers promo in English with some translating done on the fly for very long speeches. So often you get around 50% or more of the show in a language you can understand plus there are always recaps of action that has happened and this keeps you clued into what you are supposed to be watching..
“Yeah but still, that’s a lot of a program that I simply won’t understand!”
…but that doesn’t even matter!
Seriously, you won’t even begin to notice that you aren’t actually listening to a language you understand. Firstly the commentators are amazingly expressive and actually do the right job of highlighting what’s happening in the ring instead of arguing with one another or dribbling on about things that don’t matter. Secondly even when then Indian guys promo you can still get the feeling of what’s happening just from the reactions. You get if someone is being a heel or face from the crowd or simply from their tone.
Plus the colour commentator (at least I think he’s the colour guy ) has already trademarked his phrase in the “My GawdJim Ross” vein. Every time I hear him say “Big Boot! I like it!” I smile. It probably seems trite that someone gets excited over a boot to the face or a similarly overused move but it’s infectious. Hey, if they can make me smile at Luke Gallows giving someone the Big Boot then they’re doing a great job!
“But it’s full of old TNA stars and WWE rejects? Surely it’s all the same crappy wrestling we’ve already seen?”
It’s a new lease of life for even the oldest of talents
I never thought Scott Steiner could be seen as anything other than a bit of a joke, a loveable incoherent joke but a joke nonetheless. Yet in Ring Ka King he’s back to being a scary pumped up beast who terrorises the audience and opponents in the ring. The crowd are amazed at his suplexes and in turn it reminds you that actually Steiner still does those moves really well. Abyss can be a proper monster again, not speaking and simply dominating people in the fashion that made him a highlight instead of just another big guy. Chavo Guerrero and D.H Smith actually have some relevance instead of being seen as just jobbers for the WWE. Matt Morgan is a crowd favourite and actually seen as something special instead of just someone who is tall. Chris Master’s is back with the Adonis Lock challenge and again this doesn’t feel old or re-used because actually you remember that the Master Lock challenge was a great little spot.
Occasionally even the two guys who serve me a large doner and chips on a Friday get to challenge the tag champs. It’s that kind of show!
I know it sounds like it shouldn’t work. They’ve taken a selection of wrestlers from TNA, mixed them with some very green Indian workers and brought it straight into a territory where pro-wrestling isn’t a big deal. Yet it works and it works bloody well.
Ok, so to balance things up a bit I have to say that some of the Indian workers really aren’t what you would call “ring technicians” but they do all right considering they’ve not had a huge number of properly trained pro’s to teach them before. Yes, the commentators do call moves the wrong name but once you get used to it that’s not as irritating as it sounds, in fact it’s a little endearing. I love that a moonsault is called a reverse cross body block and Abyss’ Black Hole Slam is a spinning sidewalk slam.
The last sticking point for some could be that the show has a very produced feel about it, probably from the influence of Endemol as a production team for the project. They split each taping into a one hour show and you get two shows a weekend. It does mean that it can feel a little choppy as they tend to overuse flashbacks to remind us of what’s happening but personally I find a 2 hours show a bit of a slog, especially if you aren’t enjoying what you are watching. It suits the product that the viewer isn’t required to analyse everything going on. Each match is special, each entrance is special, each wrestler is special. Everything feels important without having it rammed down your throat. That may be because the crowd is so receptive, it’s paced for rapid consumption, for an audience who isn’t jaded by the age old stories being told inside the squared circle and who can argue that isn’t a good thing?
It feels good to enjoy wrestling for what it is again, give it a try…