From 80s TV reruns to live shows: how WWE became popular in Saudi

Hulk Hogan as seen on Saudi TV during the 80s. (AN photos)

RIYADH: Saudi wrestling fans of the 80s who have the cherished memories of watching the matches on black and white television really feel happy for the sport they follow passionately and for themselves that the long journey has reached the finest level of watching it live on huge color screens and in the stadium.
Speaking to Arab News, one such wrestling enthusiast Abdurrahman Inayat said: “The passionate game of wrestling has made a long journey, then popular as World Championship Wrestling (WCW) it changed to World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and finally World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).” 
“Our passion to watch it on black and white television never dimmed, however, the telecast on color television came with a new experience, and we are happy that we have the opportunity to watch it live in Riyadh this weekend,” he added.
Another veteran fan Talal Al Sider said: “Being an old fan of wrestling, I am excited that Riyadh hosted WWE. Me and my friends enjoy live events.”
“It is not just the live events here but all wrestling matches that I am passionate about and I always enjoy watching it on television,” he added.
“In the 90s Gold Berg was my favorite wrestler,” he said adding, “I enjoyed watching him against his rival the great Hulk Hogan.”
He, however, was a bit upset, saying “unfortunately I never found the luxury to see those heroes live at that time,” and expressed his happiness that WWE returned live to Riyadh for the second time in three years, which is great for us as fans.”
Mohammed Basher, another veteran wrestling enthusiast said, “I am really excited about the two live events at the Green Hall Stadium.”
He, however, said, “I find bloodshed part disturbing, sometimes I think that the falling blood is fake as suggested by several stories about it on the internet.” “Some YouTube videos suggest that fights in the arena are fake, so I am really excited to see this time if those experiences are for real during the match,” he added.
Mohammed Abdul Azeez, a WWE fan who closely followed previous events, said: “I simply love WWE and looking forward to enter the Green Hall Stadium.”
Of the journey from black and white TV sets to enjoying the action live and on big color screens he said: “Of course the WWE matches now are a great experience of entertainment and sporting event, there is no doubt about it.”
He also urged the Saudi Wrestling Federation and other sporting authorities to organize such events in the Kingdom on regular basis and at the local level too that will be good quality entertainment.
Commenting on the mega event, Mohsin Shaikh Al-Hassam, a TV host and commentator told Arab News: “Wrestling is an event which Saudis love because they like competition.” Wrestling has been one of the favorite sports among Saudis for a long time now, he said.
“In the 1970s and 80s, Saudi TV used to broadcast wrestling events which our grandparents watched,” he added.
Ibrahim Al-Ogaily, a senior sports journalist, shared: “Wrestling is a very good sport and as I like it, indeed I am watching it live.”
The Saudi Wrestling Federation along with the local administration has made elaborate civil and security arrangements to ensure smooth conduct of WWE Live in Riyadh.