WWE’s bombastic Manila return inspires local wrestling scene
After seven long years, the WWE finally returned to Manila Friday night to entertain wrestling fans of all ages who’d been missing the global wrestling phenomenon on local shores.
Childhood dreams were lived (and re-lived, in others’ cases) as the musclebound athletes from different parts of the world slammed, suplexed, and flew their way into Filipinos’ hearts for one night, leaving everyone asking them to come back soon for more action.
Speaking of childhood dreams, like with any other sport, the world-class wrestlers of the WWE inspire those who train and yearn to make it to the highest level of the industry one day.
During the brief meet-and-greet session with WWE Superstars and number one contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championships Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows hosted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, young aspiring wrestlers Ralph Imabayashi and Nicole Le Saux stood in line to meet just a few of their heroes and be inspired by the top-notch work they do entertaining the fans.
“[WWE coming back to the Philippines] is actually really special, especially now that we are in an age where we understand that this is what we want to do. It’s like meeting our heroes,” said the 18-year-old Le Saux, who has been training to become a pro wrestler herself under local promotion Philippine Wrestling Revolution.
“Even though we’re aspiring wrestlers, we’re still wrestling fans. So to see our heroes, the people who inspired us to wrestle, that’s very [amazing],” agreed 20-year- old Imabayashi, who is actually a young wrestler with the same company, and has already become the promotion’s third champion.
WWE’s return to Manila inspires them and the rest of the local pro wrestling scene in Manila, which also includes the upstart Manila Wrestling Federation, as they feel that the show reignites attention and acceptance of the sport among the public, which had always been criticized for being predetermined—and misleadingly labeled as fake.
“The fact that they came here means that wrestling in general here in the country is getting a lot of publicity. So if they like WWE, we can go tell them, hey, you know you can come watch us while WWE is away,” said Le Saux.
The WWE Women’s Championship match between champion Charlotte and challenger Sasha Banks being part of the show’s headlining bouts also go a long way toward the acceptance of women’s wrestling as legitimate competition, after years of being relegated to a role of being mere eye candy.
It was Banks, with her hard-knock childhood before making it to the WWE, who inspired an aspiring female wrestler such as Le Saux the most.
“She constantly is a reminder to never give up on my dreams, no matter where I come from. Just as long as I work hard, I know that I can make it even if I start from nothing.”
Both Le Saux and Imabayashi, as well as the rest of the Filipino wrestling fans, hope that WWE would return soon—especially after the enthusiastic reaction all of the wrestlers got last night.
“Well, you know, at least it shows that the WWE cares a lot for their fans in the Philippines, and that inspires us,” said Imabayashi.