WWE-style wrestling meets Bangkok – with a Thai twist

Thai pro-wrestlers Tanapol Mahavong aka P’Suchart (2nd left) and Shivam Tripathi aka Shivam (2nd right) take on Singaporean pro-wrestlers ‘Dr Gore’ and ‘The Butcherman’ during the SETUP Thailand Pro Wrestling Show in Bangkok ‘ on. — AFP image

Sunday 07 August 2022 00:07 MYT

BANGKOK, Aug. 6 — A fighter bursts through a thin tarpaulin curtain and leaps into the ring wearing a helmet and the distinctive bright orange jacket of a Bangkok motorcycle taxi driver — this is Thailand’s version of WWE wrestling.

The 25-year-old wrestler, who goes by the stage name “P’Suchart,” was one of nearly 20 people who slapped, punched and slapped each other at SETUP Thailand Pro Wrestling.

The part sport, part show is slowly gaining popularity in the country and co-founder Pumi Boonyatud hopes to create a space for local wrestlers to use distinctive Thai characters.

A crowd of around 250 in Bangkok indicates it could take off.

“We’re trying to bring together some of the Thai fighting background… with professional wrestler training,” said the 32-year-old, to “create what we call the real Thai version of wrestling.”

“P’Suchart”, real name Tanapol Mahavong, first became fascinated with wrestling when he played video games as a child.

He believes that “character building is more important than wrestling skills”.

“Wrestling skills that you can train and develop, if you put enough energy into it, you can become a good wrestler,” he told AFP.

“But having a good character is a whole different story,” he said, adding that his motorcycle-taxi-wrestling persona was inspired by a character from the Thai film Heart Attack.

Like many on the Saturday night stage, he’s training and performing around his nine-to-five job as an editor.

“When I train hard and my body gets hit and injured, my office manager would tell me to go home and rest,” Tanapol said.

And although he ultimately lost his fight, the spectacle in the ring definitely resonated with the crowd.

“They’ve won me over as a fan,” said American tourist Jerry Massey, who stumbled across promotions for the show and reached out to see how it fared.

“It’s different for me,” said the 45-year-old, a fan of US pro wrestling.

“We saw smashed chairs tonight, we saw color footage tonight, you could really feel it in your body to be so close to the action,” added Massey.

“I was absolutely impressed.”

As Tanapol puts it, “Anyone can be a good wrestler, but not everyone can be an enjoyable wrestler.” — ETX-Studio

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