DUBAI: While almost all sporting events and competitions have come to a shuddering halt during the coronavirus crisis, the world of professional wrestling has found a way to reinvent itself in lockdown, to the delight of its massive army of followers in the Middle East it seems.
At the start of April, long after football leagues around the world, Formula One races, tennis and golf competitions, not to mention the Tokyo Olympics and Euro 2020, had been suspended, postponed or cancelled, WWE’s WrestleMania was recorded behind closed doors and streamed around the globe.
In addition, archives of old matches and major events have been made readily available to stream for viewers who subscribe to WWE Network.
And what’s more, the reinvention has given fans in lockdown the chance to interact with their heroes.
Legendary WWE Superstar Shawn Michaels has spoken about the relaunch of the WWE Network in the Middle East, and thanked loyal fans for their tributes to his incredible career.
Michaels was responding to questions from fans in the region who have been tuning into the network in record numbers since the social restrictions were imposed.
“It’s great to have WWE Network back in the Middle East and as I have visited the region, I know full well just how passionate people there are about WWE,” he said.
“They are now able to get together to follow WWE storylines and also take a look back at the awesome library of content – and I would like to say a huge thanks for all the kind things they say about my matches.”
The lockdown brought about by the spread of the COVID-19 virus has given Michaels ample time for reflection on a unique journey in the world of wrestling.
“I can sit down and look back on a very long career and you can have some fun watching my early matches with the Rockers tag team through to my battles with Triple H and the WrestleMania performances.”
Michaels was asked by fans in the Middle East to pick out some favorite opponents.
“Ric Flair is just the greatest and there are so many matches you can watch on the Network and see how good he was for so many years,” he said. “The WrestleMania match when I defeated him and he retired really stands out – there was so much emotion from start to finish.”
Michaels also urged fans to dive into the career of The Undertaker, one of the most beloved wrestlers in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East over the last few decades, who he twice fought at WrestleMania.
As part of the content roll-out on WWE Network, fans across the region can watch a new five-episode series which takes an unprecedented look at Mark Calaway, the man behind the legendary Undertaker, as he prepares for the final chapters of his incredible 30-year WWE career.
Available exclusively on WWE Network, ‘Undertaker: The Last Ride’ will premiere on Monday, May 11, at 5 a.m. Saudi time, immediately after ‘Money in the Bank’, giving subscribers the chance to watch two fantastic shows in quick succession.
In the opening episode of the highly-anticipated show, viewers will get to see Undertaker preparing for what many thought would be his final match, against Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33.
Over the course of the five episodes, the show will provide an insight into the pressure Undertaker puts himself under each year, as well as detailing the physical and emotional impact his shock defeat to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30 had on him.
As well as hearing from both Calaway and his wife Michelle McCool, the series features first-hand interviews with superstars such as Triple H, Ric Flair, Edge, Shawn Michaels and John Cena, along with both Vince and Stephanie McMahon.
After this week’s premiere, the following four episodes will be released on May 17, May 24, June 14 and June 21 at 5 p.m. UAE time.
Subscribers to WWE Network can access every pay-per-view event, as well as exclusive documentaries, classic matches, iconic interviews and weekly in-ring shows.