Wrestle Square mesmerised India with pro wrestling, using the mystic power of the secret.
What secret? It’s the idea put forth in the book The Secret, that the law of attraction brings into our personal reality what we think about. To non-believers, it’s hokey new age pseudoscience. But when I traveled to India for wrestling, this principle of the universe was everywhere.
India’s first independent wrestling promotion was founded in 2015 by Vinayak Sodhi. I call him Vins – that’s how he introduces himself – but he goes by Risky when he’s in the ring. The reserved but intense Delhi born leader of Wrestle Square and I bond over many common interests. Wrestling, internet marketing, and above all, mindset.
Our paths first crossed in Pattaya, Thailand in 2016. That’s also where I first met the other Wrestle Square OGs such as Baliyan Akki, Zoro, and Malkeet Brawler. Vins entrusted me with the Wrestle Square Cruiserweight Championship, and the title has become a mainstay at Grapple MAX since our inception.
It’s a huge gesture whenever a promotion puts their championship on a wrestler from another company. What it says to the outsider is that he is worthy of their gold. It is an implied expectation of him to elevate the promotion. And it’s a message that it isn’t the last time their paths will cross.
While we continued to build Grapple MAX in Singapore over the next 3 years, Vins was establishing Wrestle Square in India. His biggest event drew a live audience of more than 5,000 people, to the admiration of struggling wrestling promoters.
Towards the end of 2018 Vins managed to sell investors on the vision to launch pro wrestling for India, by India. What’s the most viewed sport in India? Easy. Cricket, right? What’s the second most viewed sport according to Discovery Channel’s CEO? If your guess isn’t wrestling, then you’re on the wrong blog. Because it’s wrestling.
So when Vins showed up with his CV of accomplishments as a wrestling promoter, Discovery knew that it was time for India to get the homegrown product they deserved. Dangal Ke Soorma (loosely translated as “Arena of Warriors”) was approved and production for the 12 episode season began, to be aired on Dsport, a channel that reaches 110 million households a year.
Vins was sucked into the world of pro wrestling when he was 2 years old, introduced to WWE on TV by his grandparents. It set the path for his adult life, and getting his own wrestling show backed financially by a sports media giant was something that only focused thought bordering on the level of obsession could materialise.
Usually Vins and I chat on Facebook about our online businesses, or what crypto other than Bitcoin to buy. But one day he said, “Hey can you come to India in February for a week? I need some cruiserweights for a TV taping.” I said ok, and joined the cast of international wrestlers participating in this exciting project.
One of the first things we had to do was shoot some video vignettes meant to add personality to our wrestling characters. Mine was funny. I was given a plate of delicious tandoori chicken, and I was directed to tell my buddy 2Faan, between mouthfuls, that for all the travelling I’ve done around the world, I’d never tasted anything as awesome as that chicken.
During the shoot, a friendly young man came up to me and said “Hi Ladykiller, thank you for coming to India.” His name was Saurabh, and he was an advisor and core team member of the Wrestle Square/Dangal Ke Soorma crew.
Saurabh’s childhood dream was to wrestle for WWE. But he was forced to give it up because of injuries. Not one to lose hope, Saurabh reinforced his positive outlook by journaling daily to keep himself focused. How would you feel if your lifelong dream was to wrestle, but then your role switched to producing the show as a platform for others to live their dream – the same one you’ve had since you were a child?
Others might feel resentful or bitter, but Saurabh took it in his stride and adapted. He ended up playing a critical role in bringing wrestling entertainment to the entire country of India. I thanked him for sharing his inspiring story of unadulterated passion.
Think positive, attract positive outcomes. Vice versa. You attract a reality based on the frequency of your thoughts. What you put out is on its way back to you.
What I mean is that the universe gives you what you subconsiously represent.
The entire time in India, Vins took really good care of us. We had plenty to eat everyday at the hotel breakfast and dinner catering. So towards the end of the trip I still had all my rupees left, because we were always either in the studio or in bed, without any opportunity or reason to spend money.
On one of those last few days, I had completed my scheduled matches for the session, so I went to change out of my wrestling gear. There was only one more taping to go for me, and it was a Royal Rumble the next day, where I was booked to be eliminated early.
When I had changed out of my gear I bumped into a janitor. I waved for him to stop, and fumbled around in my pocket while he looked at me quizzically. I was about to leave India with just as much money as I had arrived with. So I pulled out a 2000 rupee banknote (approx S$37) and gave it to him. His face lit up with a grateful smile.
And then the magic happened when I returned backstage.
The producer, a seasoned Aussie coach and wrestler called Hayden, came over and asked if I minded wrestling a little more the next day.
“Happy to, but why?”
Hayden explained that 2 wrestlers had just gotten injured in their matches, so for the next day he needed me as a replacement in a tag team match, and then he also needed me to last a lot longer in the Rumble till the final 3, before I got eliminated.
It had fallen right into my lap. While many always argue for a little more air time, or complain they aren’t booked better, I was gifted an extra match, and a bigger role in the Rumble. Incredible.
I like to believe it was connected to the little encounter with the janitor. A random act of generosity. But the 2000 rupees were well received by the universe, and they had made their way back to me in a form I valued much more.
As for the person who eliminated me in the Rumble? Baliyan Akki, a longtime friend of Grapple MAX and a role model for all wrestlers in India.
Akki was consumed by a desire to make his mark in pro wrestling. In 2017, without too much of a plan, he took a risk and moved to Japan, turning a small introduction Grapple MAX made for him into a proper career. He pursued the lifestyle relentlessly, attracting opportunities and favours.
The Japanese audience quickly fell in love with his unique look and style, and he ingratiated himself with them by studying the language and assimilating into the culture. By the time Grapple MAX led a training excursion to Tokyo in 2018, Akki was competent enough to become our translator whenever we struggled in conversations with wrestlers from Gatoh Move and DDT.
Returning to Delhi for Dangal Ke Soorma was a momentuous homecoming for him. He used the lessons he had accumulated in Japan to coax stellar wrestling performances from his local partners and opponents. The audience could discern that they were witnessing a master of his craft. They had a hero.
Dangal Ke Soorma ended 2019 as the third most watched programme on Dsport. Wrestle Square had earned massive credibility for themselves, and the network success of India’s wrestling product opened discussions for a season 2 of the series. I’ve bumped into Wrestle Square boys all across the world at wrestling events, and many of the talent even went on to go for WWE tryouts last year.
However, all plans have been shelved for now because of COVID-19. But once global lockdowns are lifted and when things finally go back to the way they were before, keep an eye out for Wrestle Square. Vins and his team have gotten a taste of what it’s like to bend the universe to their will, and they didn’t come this far to say this is the furthest they’ll go.