World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Raw is returning to Abu Dhabi later this year, bringing with it its roster of bulky blokes engaging in some highly theatrical pugilism.
Some of the franchise’s biggest names, including John Cena, Sheamus, Mark Henry and Ryback, have been confirmed for the event at Zayed Sports City from October 10 to 12.
Also appearing will be one of the stars of the 2012 show in the capital – Ronnie Killings, better known as R-Truth. The 41-year-old is a veteran of the scene, having become a professional wrestler in 1999. During this time, his triumphs include being crowned United States Champion in 2010 and, alongside his partner Kofi Kingston, Tag Team Champion in 2012.
With his ringside rap routines, his eccentric persona and his explosive agility during the fight, R-Truth remains a crowd favourite, especially among the younger fans.
Speaking from California, he talks through what we can expect from WWE’s latest incursion into the region.
Are you looking forward to performing in the UAE?
Oh my goodness, I’m so excited about coming back. The UAE is one of the most welcoming places we’ve been to in the Middle East. The fans really were enthusiastic and seemed to really understand wrestling.
Why do you think the WWE brand is so popular across the globe?
Because we are the best of the best. Also, wherever we go in the world, we are more in touch with our viewers and our audiences than any other sport you can think of. We do a lot of public appearances, a lot of signings to make sure we are hand in hand with our universe. This pretty much shoots our popularity up the scale.
How did you get your break into WWE?
I’d grown up loving wrestling, watching guys like Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair and Junkyard Dog. I was always imitating these guys in my living room.
I originally wanted to be a rapper and musician. But a guy called Jackie Crockett, who was a senior cameraman for WWE, saw me and convinced me I had a lot more talent than this.
He said: “You do music, you rap and dance, and you love wrestling. You … have all this athletic ability. I think you’d be a great, great wrestler.” For once in my life, I actually listened to this guy and the rest is history.
How do you deal with accusations that WWE is staged and fake?
We hear it a lot. People are welcome to their own opinions as to what they see us as.
I see us as entertainers. But we are the best form of entertainers, because we take people on this roller coaster ride, from being happy to being sad to being excited.
Also, what we do has its risks, so you can’t just say it’s fake.
How dangerous is it?
It’s very dangerous. We are the first to tell our audiences: do not try this at home. We get hurt a lot, it’s part of the job. I’ve had broken ribs, lacerated my knee and dislocated both my shoulders. I could write a book about it.
How close is the character you play in the ring to the real you?
It’s pretty much 98.1 per cent myself. I can be a funny guy, a serious guy, a fierce guy or an entertaining guy. It’s like a pot of stew. I take all these pieces of me and put them into a pot and R-Truth comes out. I don’t have to put too much acting into it because with me, what you see is what you get.
You’re not the biggest guy in the game, so how do you overcome opponents who are much larger than you?
Well, I’m 225 pounds [102 kilos] solid but I can compete against bigger guys. I always say it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. There’s more ways to skin a cat … there’s more than one way to beat an opponent.
I’m just more aggressive and more athletic than my opponent. Also, I like to use a lot of mind tricks to beat them. And you can always use a big guy’s weight against them.
What can we expect from your show in Abu Dhabi?
We’re going to take Abu Dhabi on that roller coaster of excitement. It’s going to be an action-packed show that will be the highest form of entertainment. WWE is coming. Be ready and be prepared to be entertained.
WWE Raw World Tour will be at Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi, from October 10 to 12. Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.ae
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