Wrestling’s Global Village: From Korea to the UK and Everywhere Between

The presentation of wrestling overseas is a breath of fresh air, much better than its counterpart in America. Who would have thought?

The capacity crowd inside Chamsil Olympic Stadium were overjoyed when WWE Raw superstars came to South Korea in 2008. This was the last time WWE was in town but the interest in wrestling over there is greater than ever.
The capacity crowd inside Chamsil Olympic Stadium were overjoyed when WWE Raw superstars came to South Korea in 2008. This was the last time WWE was in town but the interest in wrestling over there is greater than ever. [Photo: WWE.com]

Ginzburg’s Gab – January 22, 2019 Edition

Back in the old territory days, a feud would often culminate in a brutal "Loser Leaves Town" match, and in those long lost, pre-Internet times, it really would feel like the loser had been humiliated and banished, not to be seen again for the longest time.

Today, however, the wrestling world and the world itself is "one big town."

That was never clearer to me than last week.

As I sat bored on vacation waiting for my wife to get ready in the JJ Hotel in Sunaedong, South Korea, some 7,000 miles from my home in New York City. The tiny room’s computer was broken, my cell had no service, and the TV shows were almost exclusively in Korean.

And then to my surprise, while robotically channel surfing, I found WWE Smackdown. In Korean no less.

The two-man Korean announce team would do a little intro and later a succinct wrap-up, the action was entirely called in Korean, the interview segments translated by the happy pair, but it all worked.

It’s not like WWE programming is that complex. Like the most popular films in the world- action movies- pro wrestling translates well anywhere.

To their credit, the Korean WWE programming actually improves on the American TV product in that they don’t often cut into matches with endless commercials. They instead choose to have a long commercial block post-show.

To my delight, as I was in time-killing mode, the WWE programming often led into yet another wrestling show. It could be another Smackdown episode, or RAW, or a recent WWE pay-per-view in its entirety for free, a WWE highlights hour, or- to my even greater joy- an episode of New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Yes, Kenny Omega was "over" in Korea, too. And to watch a great 30-minute draw between Okada and Ishii while my wife endlessly prepared for our day ahead was a gift from the gods.

Did you know? WWE programming was broadcasted live in South Korea for the first time in January 2018.

It also dawned on me with New Japan coming to New York at a sold-out Madison Square Garden no less, that these world-class athletes were also world-renowned- they could headline virtually anywhere. Their brand was universal. The Internet and TV had made the world a far smaller place. A global village if you will.

Speaking of which, WrestleMania weekend will also feature shows with Westside Extreme Wrestling out of Germany, DDT Wrestling out of Japan and other representatives from around the globe. And, of course, on any given New Japan and/or Ring of Honor show, you can enjoy British stars like a Zack Sabre, Jr., Marty Scurll, and Will Ospreay. I even enjoyed a CMLL show out of Mexico on Ring of Honor’s Honor Club streaming service. And of course, no true wrestling fan wants to be without New Japan Pro Wrestling’s website where you can see a Kenny Omega-Tanahashi masterpiece headline Wrestle Kingdom in the comfort of your home for under $9 a month.

And getting back to WWE, their recent NXT UK Takeover out of Blackpool, England was an unexpected treat, even sneaking in Finn Balor on a topnotch card from top to bottom.

Yes, the wrestling world is a smaller place today. I’ve enjoyed British wrestling groups in NYC (Progress being the most prominent), Lucha Libre promotions appear fairly regularly- Fenix vs. Pentagon, Jr. was the best indie match I’ve seen here in 20 years, and even an occasional Japanese group will play a local Elks Lodge. Throw in endless streaming and YouTube content and it’s a great time to be a wrestling fan.

In short, we’re all citizens of the world. And the wrestling world in 2019 is an exciting potpourri to choose from and savor.

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Evan Ginzburg is the Senior Editor for Pro Wrestling Stories and a contributing writer since 2017. He's a published author and was an Associate Producer on the Oscar-nominated movie "The Wrestler" and acclaimed wrestling documentary "350 Days." He is a 30-plus-year film, radio, and TV veteran and a voice-over actor on the radio drama Kings of the Ring.