WWE: From TV to reality

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I STILL remember sitting on the lap of my father in the late evening watching TV from the old box-shaped device with an antenna on top which every once in a while we had to move to get the signal right. We would wait the whole week for Friday night so we could watch (World Wrestling Entertainment) WWE (formerly known as WWF). My father would be as pumped as the WWE stars competing in the match.

Although these shows were presented by an Arab commentator, he was no match for the comments that my father used to make. We used to sit 10 meters away from the TV with me on his lap but by the end of the show I would be thrown to one side of the room. My father heavily grunting, sweating and emotionally high shouted to Jimmy Superfly Sanuka not to waste time and go to the corner of the ring to jump on his opponent to finish the match. Of course, to the dismay of my father, Sanuka would waste time, pumping himself up in front of the WWE universe while at the same time getting a word or two of advice from my father. He used to be so overwhelmed with emotion that at the end you would find him right in front of the TV screen with my mother afraid to enter the room. I have forgotten many other moments, but these still stand out crystal clear in my memory as we used to enjoy these matches to the max.

As time passed I have been watching WWE, seeing the transition and survival of the company when other competitors challenged its existence. There were times when we thought WWE would be history, but it kept on going and as John Cena said: “Time after time and day after day, I will stay here.” Some wrestlers stayed and others moved to other competitors and there were others who returned.

Year after year, the company expanded and the shows improved. Several pay per views were added but the grand WrestleMania, was the best yearly show with the best matches. I remember Hulkamania lifting the giant Andre and slamming him to the floor of the stage and winning in WrestleMania 5 to become the WWE champion. It was even reported in Saudi media, which really meant it was a big deal.

It was from there that WrestleMania became an iconic event with dream matches and a great spectacle for all. I remember when The Undertaker was introduced and how much I hated him as a young kid due to his relentless power, dreaded appearance and the fear he used to strike in his opponents just by his moves, leave aside the beatings they used to get. Going through school and talking about it with schoolmates, then high schoolmates and even my friends in college, it was always a pleasure and a great feeling. It was a family show, which I always enjoyed with my family, minus my mother, understandably.

At an age of 42, finally, I heard the news that WWE had officially contracted with the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia and was coming to Jeddah to host the Greatest Royal Rumble. I thought to myself, I had to be there. But then buying tickets was a big challenge. However, my bother-in-law managed to buy us a SR 20 ticket for SR 120. I was skeptical about the event as it was the first time WWE was hosting such a big official event but we hit the road to see the show at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Stadium. We got great seats; just in front of us was the ring and to the right the stage for the entrance of the WWE superstars.

From the beginning till the end, the event was exceptional. The organization, security and services available were as good as any other place and event that I have ever attended internationally. We booed, clapped and shouted out loud with the WWE universe. However, the best moment was to just experience the entrance of The Undertaker, for whom my feelings as a kid to an adult had changed by 360 degrees, as I now idealized him as the best and most iconic WWE figure.

Experiencing those moments gave me a great feeling and I felt as pumped as my father used to be when watching the show on TV. After the show at King Abdullah Stadium, we talked about it while returning home and agreed that it was a perfect event. Attending the live event showed me an entirely new side of the show and made me love the WWE even more.

M. Azfar Qureshi


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