The annual World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) SummerSlam event may have been a franchise to wrestling lovers in North America and other western world but the recent partnership with SuperSport has taken the global event to a new height. In this report,Â Femi Solaja, who covered the week-long event looks back at the gains it will be to Africa in the years to come
Dateline was Friday 18th August 2017, and the venue was Holiday Inn Brooklyn Down Town in New York. Battery of cameras and top media representatives awaited the arrival of prominent WWE talents for the ritual pre-event interviews but at the end of the session which lasted a little over two hours, all the participants left the arena fulfilled.
Why? SuperSport recently threw its hat into the ring and passionate wrestling lovers in 50 sub-Sahara region can now enjoy live coverage of the contest. It was a historic moment that offered a rare opportunity to teeming viewers to follow the proceedings as it happens.
At the same time, almost all the WWE stars present at the conference room expressed their excitement as the platform offers them a unique opportunity to expand their followership and give teeming fans the chance to follow the event from the comfort of the their homes.
Before now, wrestling fans in the sub-Sahara region had to rely on delayed broadcast or old actions as the only platform to be abreast with the wrestling world which has moved far into the digital world especially in the advent of social media.
Most of the top stars expressed their excitement of the possibility to expand their popularity to other continents via a major satellite television provider, DSTv.
Early last month, WWE and SuperSport, Africaâ€™s premier sportchannels provider, had announced a new multi-year agreement to broadcast WWE programming live for the first time in more than 50 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
“It’s a welcome development not only to our prime sport, but it will allow me to expand my coast. It will be a great honour to return to Africa and dazzle my fans out there,” the WWE Champion and Indian born super star, Jinder Mahal responded with excitement of the proposed initiative.
In his own remarks, master of free style kicks and Japanese star, Shinsuke Nakamura, noted that SuperSport involvement was an added value to the height WWE had attained over the years andÂ a welcome development to break new grounds.
“It’s an opportunity to make our sport the most popular if over 50 countries in Africa can gain assess to what we do live. In Far East, especially my country, Japan, WWE has become very popular and it has been a motivation to young lads out there and same will be the situation for potentials in Africa,” noted Nakamura whose main asset is his physicality.
The trio of New Day composed of Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, who interestingly have a Ghanaian root all spoke with excitement and ready to flow with SportsSport/WWE partnership.
“Aside our winning formula, it’s a great honour to see our exploits being televised live to African homes. The project will re-awaken youths on the continent to embrace the sport just as our followership will also increase,” responded Big E on behalf of the trio.
In his own reaction, Nuufolau Joel Seanoa better known by ring name Samoa Joe said “it has always been a great honour for me to compete outside USA and coming to Africa or have a lot of wrestling fans watch our events live is great privilege for us to expand our coast,” he responded.
It was not a surprise when shortly after the event in New York,Â DStv and GOtv customers all enjoyed the show as SuperSport aired WWE’s top shows Raw and SmackDown including WWE specials, WrestleMania and SummerSlam.
“We are aware that the WWE Executives are excited to get their foot print on the continent of Africa. Imagine 50 countries and new audience and they are indeed happyÂ to be involved in bringing new wrestlers out of the continent.
“A lot of stars that we have met here spoke about being motivated by the exploits of previous generation of wrestlers and it will be a good investment if through SuperSport, young and talented Africans are motivated to break into WWE circuit.
“Although it’s a long time project and we hope in the next couple of years, through SuperSport, a lot of Africans can feel the excitement that goes with the sports every Monday night and can also catch up with relay telecast much later in the day,” SuperSport Communication Manager, Clinton van dear Berg explained after the event.
To get the one-week long entertainment started, the organisers treated all stakeholders including SuperSports delegation to a welcome party tagged SummerSlam kickoff event featuring WWE 2k18 and WWE Supercard. At the ceremony, top stars like AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, Bayley, Bobby Roode, Braun Strowman, Cesaro and Sheamus, Dean Ambrose, Finn Balor, Jinder Mahal, Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, Sasha Banks, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt and The New Day.
The high point of the event was the live performance and Deejay performance by foremost American rap artist, Snoopadelic popularly known as Snoop Dogg. The rapper got all attendees on their feet all through the show.
The next day was a historic visit to ‘One World Observatory’ It is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the sixth tallest in the world. Where WWE super stars like Charlotte Flair, Seth Rollins, AJ Styles and Nikky Bella were on hand to make impaired children fulfill a life time ambition of one-on-one meeting with WWE stars. The emotion meeting was awesome as the stars freely interact with the lads and rewarded them with quality gift items.
Later in the evening marked the beginning of real action at the Barclays Centre as the the much anticipated NXT TakeOver event got underway. This might the first time in Kickoff Show history where the crowd chanted all through the the night of brawl and entertainment.
One of the main heros of the night was arguable the flamboyant Japanese female wrestler, Kanako Urai, fondly called Asuka who survived a painful tornado suplex against formidable challenger, Ember Moon from Texas in the NXT women’s championship.
The feat thus means Asuka, a graphic designer and video game journalist holds the record of longest reigning female champion in 30 years for 504 days but only second longest behind Fabulous Moolah.
In the other events of the night, Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish left new NXT champion Drew McIntyre lying to close out the show and perhaps usher in a new era of NXT.
The next day also witnessed the much anticipated clash of WWE Champion Jinder Mahal who defended his tittle against Nakamura.
The Japanese-born Nakamura hadÂ entered SummerSlam with a ton of confidence after beating Cena, but he was at a disadvantage due largely to Mahal’s penchant for stacking the deck in his favor with the presence of The Singh Brothers. It was his first defeat in star match parade.
The bout and many others to follow clearly indicate the excitements MultiChoice through SuperSports plans give Africans in the coming years especially when WWE decides to stage the contests in some countries in Africa.
Only DSTv, MultiChoice’s digital satellite TV service in Sub-Saharan terrain, noted for providing various bouquets offering general entertainment, movies, lifestyle & culture, sport, documentaries can make this dream come true.