Wrestling in Southeast Asia: The Definitive Guide [2021 Edition]

Thailand

Companies & Promotions

  • SETUP Thailand Pro Wrestling
  • TOP Dojo

Key Talent

  • Shivam (SETUP Openweight Champion)
  • Jibzy (WWE tryout athlete)

Shows

The Thai pro wrestling scene is doing comparatively better than the rest of Southeast Asia. The one that most resembles a pre-covid normal that we all remember. Live events, ticket sales, title defences, etc kept wrestling in Asia alive.

TOP has found its niche as an approachable and unintimidating glimpse into the world of pro wrestling. Source: TOP Dojo Facebook.

SETUP did a few episodes of their live wrestling events, and so did TOP Dojo. Each brand possesses a distinct character and has maintained that course over the past year – SETUP’s gritty fighting sports entertainment feel, contrasted with TOP’s humble makeshift training room. One year after the Gatoh Move split that led to the formation of both camps, I’d say that SETUP is leading the race in terms of brand equity, but as for product-market fit, I think it’s still too early to call a winner.

2020 Moment

Both SETUP and TOP experienced no scandals, no drama that distracts from the kayfabe angles being pushed, no interruption in live performance schedule etc. Good.

In fact SETUP, being the only wrestling promotion in Southeast Asia to have regular events, announced a partnership with Hong Kong Wrestling Federation. HKWF, languishing and on a decline since the 2019 riots, handed the AWGC Jr Heavyweight Championship to SETUP in December 2020. Widely considered the most prestigious prize in Asia ex-Japan, the title can now be placed on a Thai wrestler, with the agreement that it will be defended against a Hong Kong athlete at a future time.

SETUP has portrayed themselves to be the edgier and savvier wrestling brand in Thailand.
Source: SETUP Facebook.

Smart deal.

  1. It offers HKWF some relevance again at little to no effort;
  2. The opportunity cost to HKWF being zero anyway;
  3. While adding a new spot to elevate a Thai wrestler into;
  4. Without SETUP having to spend additional budget for a belt.

SETUP works hard to build its brand, which gives HKWF free mileage in a time when they have been afflicted with low motivation to survive. Well played by both sides.

Share your thoughts.