Last Saturday September 10, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) held a live event in Shanghai, China. As expected, there was a huge audience turnout, even if short of being sold-out, seeing as the American professional wrestling promotion has long built up a solid fan base in the country. This time however, there was a significant difference. The third scheduled match for the evening featured a debuting WWE Superstar-in- development with the stage name Tian Bin, who with the ability to switch between a charming smile and a fearsome scowl, coupled with incredible athleticism and showmanship, was able to pin his opponent Bo Dallas for a victory on his home turf.
Such is the beginning of the WWE journey for Chinese pro-wrestler Wang Bin, the first such to sign an official developmental contract with the WWE. CNN reports that under this contract Wang has gained a golden opportunity to train at the WWE Performance Center in Florida, where the 22-year old can work further on the impressive physique (a muscular 220 lbs.) that got the attention of the world’s largest wrestling promotion, refine his pro-wrestling technique and form, and develop his acting and entertainment skills for the day when he could become a fully established Superstar with a distinctive ring persona that fans would love, be it a heroic “face” or a nasty “heel”.
Prior to his first appearance at the Shanghai live show, Wang has been “developing” at the Performance Center for the past three months. The 6-foot- 3 native of Anhui province, who wrestled pro in Japan for three years, could barely contain his excitement in an interview with CNN before September 10.;I'm having my debut WWE match in my motherland,” he said. My family and friends will come to the arena and watch me compete.
And this is merely the beginning for WWE’s intensified campaign to achieve a Chinese audience going into a billion. The beginning of this push lies in the April 2016 appointment of Jay Li as the WWE’s first Vice President and General Manager for China, establishing it as an official market. Wang’s contract signing was later in June, followed by an arrangement with PPTV, a Chinese streaming service, to feature live the WWE’s weekly wrestling programs “Raw” and “Smackdown”, with PPTV providing Mandarin color commentary and Chinese subtitles for the local viewership.
In early September, the promotion was quick to build up on Wang Bin’s possibility by signing an additional seven Chinese national talents for their own developmental contracts. An eclectic collection of boxers, an actor, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, basketball player and fitness instructor, they’ll join Wang Bin at the Performance Center and expected to appear in 2017.
In order to sell the concept of WWE pro wrestling to Chinese non-fans, Jay Li makes an easy comparison. “Kung Fu novels,” Li tells the potential audience. "And they get it immediately. It's scripted entertainment that's full of action."
Photo Credit to bleacherreport.com