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Six, TNA Wrestling to host India events in Dec

MUMBAI: In order to compete more effectively for eyeballs in the country, TNA Wrestling has decided to take the live events way. Accordingly, in conjunction with its broadcast partner Six, TNA will organise a televised wrestling event in Mumbai in December.

Six, Kix business head Prasana Krishnan and TNA executive VP of television and talent relations John Gaburick announced three TNA Wrestling events scheduled to take place in Mumbai from 2–4 December 2015. This move brings an internationally broadcast sporting event to India featuring the stars and knockouts of ‘Impact Wrestling’, TNA’s flagship.

The final show, ‘TNA One Night Only: Mumbai’, on 4 December, will be broadcast live in India, the US and all around the world. Full information, including broadcast details, will be released in the coming weeks.

Also present at the launch were three of TNA’s names—India’s own Mahabali Shera, former TNA World Heavyweight Champion Ethan Carter III and Knockout Rebel, who are currently undertaking a seven-day international media tour of four of India’s major cities to promote the upcoming live events.

Additionally, Six and TNA announced the launch of their second search for India’s next big wrestling star to join Mahabali Shera on the TNA roster.

The project will give aspiring wrestlers from India an opportunity to showcase their talents on a global platform. The announcement follows 2014’s grand unveiling of TNA’s first ever Indian wrestler, Mahabali Shera, after a year-long talent search led by TNA Hall of Famer and Olympic Gold Medallist Kurt Angle.

In a further announcement, wrestling star Dalip Singh will lead the search alongside Gaburick. Singh will be a part of the selection process and help mentor the contenders. He has also given his endorsement to December’s TNA events.

Mahabali Shera, Ethan Carter III and Rebel are currently on a promotional tour, engaging fans through a series of activities. The expansive media and fan engagement tour kicked off in Mumbai today and will head to Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Bangalore. TNA fans in India can look forward to meeting and interacting with their heroes in each city.

Krishnan said, “Localisation is a significant step for us. India is a country that has an extensive history of wrestling, with such talent in abundance. Given the national interest for the sporting event, we want to showcase consistent content along with high-quality and local programming to connect with our viewers. The fan aficionado is phenomenal.

“The TNA One Night Only: Mumbai will be a first-of-its-kind initiative in India for wrestling fans. For the first time, our local viewers will be able to experience a live event, which is something that they have only seen on our channel.”

“The talent search will further give Indian wrestlers an opportunity to be a part of the incredible international TNA roster. Through our annual efforts in showcasing international wrestling talents in India, we aim to reach out to a broader fan base in the country.” He added that the TG for TNA Wrestling is 15–34 males. “We have a younger profile. Our aim is that with localisation, doing a talent hunt the viewership will broaden.”

Dixie CarterTNA Wrestling president Dixie Carter said, “Our phenomenal partners at Sony Six have been tremendous in recognising the powerful reach of professional wrestling and we are thrilled TNA programming has contributed to the network’s ranking as the most-watched sports channel in all of India. We are also proud of the relationships we are forming with our fans across India and we are honoured to travel our incredible roster to India for three historic global live events emanating from Mahabali Shera’s home.”

Gaburick noted that the aim is to host live events every year in the country. MSM has aired TNA content for two years. The previous partner was Star. For him, the decision to go with MSM was also based on MSM’s commitment as a partner.

“We are coming off our pay per view ‘Bound for Glory’. While we are seen in 120 countries in 14 languages, those are just numbers. What we pride ourselves in is partnership, collaboration and working together. With Sony, we have built a great partnership,” he said.

Today, digitisation allows parents to check what their children can watch. Gaburick though maintained that TNA Wrestling offers a product that is suitable for family viewing. He feels that India is a large enough market to accommodate two sports entertainment properties (WWE is the other one).

“We looked last year about which region we should focus on. We decided on India. Our aim is to build a great relationship. India has a great history of sports and entertainment. Last year, we sent Kurt Angle to find someone who could represent India. Our plan was so successful that we will do it again.”

Dalip Singh runs CWE Academy to train wrestlers. Gaburick is hopeful that the academy will act as a feeder for TNA Wrestling in due course. The aim in doing events in the country going forward is to combine local talent with foreign stars.

Outside the US, the company holds events in the UK and in Japan. For him, the USP of TNA Wrestling lies in the six-sided ring, the quality of the stars and the level of storytelling. “The live event will be special. What our superstars can do in the rung is unparalleled.”

WWE has not done an event in the country since 2002. Gaburick noted that there are places in the country that offer infrastructure to hold an event.

Prasana noted that TNA Wrestling’s approach in India is different from WWE’s in that the focus is more on localisation, finding Indian talent who can be a part of the roster and doing local events. “Let us see where it goes from here.”