The bell rang thrice, a signal that the match had officially begun, and the crowd roared with great fervour in exhilaration as their favourite wrestlers clashed against one another in a match of muscles, aerobatic moves and dynamic style — all in the name of entertainment.
Such is the scene of Singapore’s wrestling world, an ever-increasing close-knitted community of wrestling fans and local wrestlers, bonded together in their shared love for the sport.
But the world of wrestling is not just an ‘entertainment sport’ or a ‘hobby’; within it lies a classic storytelling of good versus evil, supervillains versus superheroes. A form of escapism somewhat similar to the classic blockbuster ‘Fight Club’.
“There are things that you wanna do inside the ring that you can’t do outside“, muses Andruew Tang, Singapore’s first ever pro wrestler, also known as ‘The Statement’. He is also the co-founder of Singapore Pro Wrestling Pte Ltd (SPW).
“I always feel that to be a wrestler you definitely have to be ‘thick’ somewhere, be a little bit creative in terms of coming up with your character, your movements, your signature move, the storylines that you can think of“, Andruew added further.
Prior to the creation of SPW in 2012, becoming a wrestler in Singapore was next to impossible as there were no places that allowed such a thing to be pursued.
In fact, if anyone chose to become a professional wrestler, he/she would have had to travel to Japan, USA and/or Canada. “You definitely need to work and save the money to do training, and when you go there you may not even succeed“, Andruew said as he recounted his earlier days before the creation of SPW.
“It happened by chance that I met my partner who wanted to expand into Singapore and I thought ‘why not’?”
Now, SPW has become a place where aspiring wrestlers can live their dreams of being a professional wrestler, without the hefty cost of training in an overseas country with only a possibility of achieving the dream.
“At least now there’s a place where they can actually train, and when they perform there’s a sense of satisfaction for them. They can actually see whether pro wrestling is something that they can do in the future“, Andruew added, reflecting on the creation of SPW.
At first, his decision to become a pro wrestler was met with great scepticism from others, who believed that pro wrestling would never work in Singapore due to our small statures as compared to wrestlers of WWE.
“But then again I actually feel like that’s a unique factor as well“, he countered. “Like right now if you actually look into pro wrestling, there’s not a lot of big guys in WWE now, more of them are more athletic as compared to the wrestlers of the 90s“.
Andruew, or rather ‘The Statement’, has since trashed that belief, performing and winning championships all over the world. His successes even got the attention of WWE scouts themselves, who featured him on their scouting tour video in Asia.
Like ‘The Statement’, each local wrestler has created their own unique character persona and innovative moves in great detail, which has earned praise and positive feedback from international schools and events when they travel abroad.
But there are important things to consider as a wrestler — one aspect is the audience, especially if they are new to the wrestling scene, as well as the dangers with working with other self-proclaimed wrestlers who have limited training.
“One of the common misconceptions they have about pro wrestling is that it is fake“, claims Andruew in reference to crowds unfamiliar with wrestling.
“You’ll need to do more strikes cause you can’t fake a strike; you need to hit hard“, he added.
Hence, injuries sustained from training and actual matches are a common experience for wrestlers. This can range from superficial wounds to more serious injuries, such as dislocation. But yet the show must go on.
In fact, one of Andruew’s serious injuries was dislocating his shoulder three times in a span of 24 hours.
“The first happened during my training for a match, and the last two dislocations was during my match. But somehow I managed to take my opponent down singlehandedly“.
That night, as Andruew squared off with a WWE champion, Réné Duprée, many likened it to the epic battle of David versus Goliath.
True as they said, it was a ferocious battle between the two. A match that began with a test of patience where they taunted one another, as the crowd ooh-ed and ahh-ed with bated breath, waiting for the upcoming physical clash.
When they did, it was a fury of motion; from the grunts and sound of bodies slamming into each other at running speed, to all-out strikes that were louder than the audience’s reactions. They fought intensively with no holds barred, as the audience cheered, jeered and gasped in shock, engrossed in the intense match.
Most of the impressions of the wrestling world has always been of wrestlers pitting themselves against one another, either in the ring or outside the ring. It’s something that is seen by some as nothing more than just entertainment.
But offstage, these wrestlers revert back to their usual, ordinary selves. Just friends who share the same love and respect for each other in the pursuit of their passion.
From something that was shrouded in doubts before and existed only in dreams, Singapore Pro Wrestling has created a community, as well as a platform for wrestlers and fans around our tiny island to come together to achieve and live their dreams.