The Superstars are back
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has always had a strong presence in the Philippines. It began back in 1994 when they held their first live event—also at the Araneta Coliseum—featuring wrestling legends such as The Undertaker and Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Since then, WWE has returned to the country on four occasions, the majority happening within the past decade. It's been three years since they last graced Manila, and the excitement was as high as ever for their live show last September 20.
Over the years, WWE has brought the most popular superstars on its Philippine tours such as Triple H, Jeff Hardy, the Big Show, Batista and John Cena. Though the roster and landscape of WWE has changed, they've continued tradition this year. WWE Live featured big names such as Daniel Bryan, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens, Charlotte Flair, Roman Reigns, The New Day and WWE Champion Kofi Kingston.
For Charlotte Flair and The New Day, it's not their first time coming to the country performing at the SM Mall of Asia Arena during the 2016 tour. They were excited to visit the country not only for their performance but also to experience the local culture as well. Xavier Woods (of The New Day) recalls experiencing local delicacies such as balut and drinking soda out of a plastic bag. Former Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair shares how she looks forward to experiencing our beautiful beaches. Meanwhile, WWE Champion Kofi Kingston expressed his love for the sneaker culture in the Philippines.
More than the cultural experience, the WWE superstars were more than thrilled to be able to perform in our country once again because of the energy that the Filipino fans bring. In an exclusive interview, six-time WWE Tag Team Champions Xavier Woods and Big E share, “I think for both of us [the best thing about wrestling in the Philippines] is the energy, the energy of these fantastic, fine Filipino people—it's unlike anywhere on the planet. And it’s cool because we get to come here from the States. We're not here often but when we are here, everybody is so excited. The energy is just incredible and allows us to hit another level of performance…so we want to say thank you.”
WWE Champion Kofi Kingston adds, “[It's] just the energy, in general. I feel like this is a very loving culture, you know, a very welcoming culture. We just love coming here because everyone welcomes us with open arms and everyone wants to have fun when they come to the show! You guys just allow yourselves to get involved in the actual show and everyone's so happy to be there. As performers, we love that because when we feel all that positive energy, we take that energy and give it right back…It just ends up being this whole positive experience where families can come and enjoy the show and just have a memory that will last a lifetime. And that's really what it’s about at the end of the day.”
For the performers, being a WWE superstar is much more than just winning matches and championships; it’s about the people they do it for and do it with—and the special moments they have along the way.
Kofi Kingston shares that winning the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania this year meant much more than just winning the gold strap. He recounts his experience, “[At] Wrestlemania this past year, winning the WWE Championship…it involved literally all the people that were close to me, that made this happen. Right after the pin, my brothers Xavier and Big E were there dogpiling me; we worked for this moment, this was our goal all along. They were holding me up and the WWE universe who'd come with me on this journey. Everyone was emotional. Moments later, my kids were in the ring and now they're sharing this moment with me…and hopefully, they understand that if you work hard, this can happen…My wife was in the crowd, my dad was in the crowd, my brother was in the crowd…Being able to share that moment with all the people close to me was really something special.”
Charlotte Flair, daughter of WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair, expresses that the best thing about the entire journey is being able to travel the world, entertain and put smiles on peoples' faces. It's also a big deal that she can do it with her dad then and now with her boyfriend (who happens to be a WWE superstar as well.) As she put it perfectly, “It’s like I have the best of both worlds.”
(L-R: Roman Reigns, Kofi Kingston, Chad Gable vs EC3, Kevin Owens)
The goal for the WWE superstars has always been to entertain the fans, and it was achieved at their live show at the Araneta Coliseum a week ago. Filipino fans were treated to a spectacle—far more special than what they're accustomed to on TV and online—with a championship win by EC3, only to have current champion R-Truth win it back on the same night. A street fight between Charlotte Flair and Bayley—featuring tables and chairs used as weapons—also happened plus a WWE Championship match featuring two of the greatest WWE superstars today, Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan. A full stadium of highly engaged fans, cheering on their favorites, only goes to show that WWE—and professional wrestling—is still as big as ever in the country.
As the largest professional wrestling promotion in the world, WWE continues to expand its reach globally—the Philippines is proof of that. Over the past decades, WWE programming has been on and off local Philippine TV; however, it continues to hold a place in the hearts of Filipino fans. WWE not only serves as a form of entertainment but also continues to inspire—even influencing the growing local wrestling scene.
As fans await the next WWE Live, they can stay updated with everything happening through the weekly shows. Fans can catch Raw on Fox+, Smackdown on One Sport (exclusively on Cignal TV) and all WWE programming through the WWE’s online streaming service, the WWE Network. Still, nothing beats watching it live. It's always a treat every time the superstars come to Manila; we can't wait for the next time they'd be back.
Words Maow Del Rosario
Photography Maow and Matt Del Rosario
Art Alexandra Lara