In a strange way, the parallels between most eSports and pro-wrestling are abundantly clear. After all most eSports are about fictional combat! I’m just kidding, wrestling is real, honest.
The two worlds have often merged together though. For instance, there was the Streetfighter tournament between WWE superstar and YouTube gamer Xavier Woods and Kenny Omega, now of AEW fame. Incidentally, the stipulation for that match was that the loser had to eat Habanero peppers. For the record, WWE star Woods lost that bout and had to chow down on the spicy pepper.
There have been a few examples of wrestling and eSports joining forces. However, CEO organiser Alex Jebailey decided to take things to the next level. Colluding with AEW head honcho Tony Khan the two came up with a terrific idea for their gaming event which happened to clash with AEW’s Fyter Fest event.
The event featured a whole slew of talented wrestlers from the fledgling AEW promotion competing against one another competitively. This may seem a little odd but often wrestlers use video games to kill time backstage when they are waiting to go on. There is a thriving gaming community within the niche world of professional wrestlers. Xavier Wood’s YouTube channel is just the tip of that particular Iceberg.
Who are AEW?
You would be forgiven for not having heard the name. AEW is a relatively new promotion with hopes of wrestling away the monopoly held by the WWE on the industry (yes, I meant that pun). They have a chance of doing just that having already secured a pay per view and TV deal. Under the backing of the hugely wealthy Khan family who has experience in running sports franchises as they also own the Tennessee Titans and Fulham FC, they look a force to be reckoned with. They have made waves by acquiring former WWE champions Chris Jericho and John Moxley (formerly Dean Ambrose).
True wrestling / eSports cross-over
But the crossover didn’t end with wrestlers proving their chops as gamers. Jebailey stepped into the ring to get a taste of what “real fighting” is all about (it’s still real!) He isn’t the first non-wrestler to get in between the ropes, celebrities have been involved in wrestling for decades, Drew Carey once appeared in a Royal Rumble match and who can forget the president of the USA himself, Donald Trump getting involved in the WWE?
However, this wasn’t Jebailey’s first foray in the squared circle. This was the second time he had faced his opponent, Nakazawa. After a surprisingly intense clash, Naka equalled their ongoing feud by picking up the win in controversial fashion. There was a nice comedic use of gaming paraphernalia used throughout the bout and while nobody was going to name it match of the year it was good for what it was.
The future for wrestling and eSports
The future partnership between these two industries should continue to flourish. There are wrestling video games of course, although to date none have really become a serious eSport, that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t though. In many ways, wrestling games are perfect for the eSports market. They are visually appealing and pit people against others, so the competitive element would lend itself well to, for instance, a knockout tournament.
As for more gamers stepping into the ring, well it isn’t exactly the same but we did see Logan Paul challenge CM Punk to a UFC contest! Could we see the likes on Ninja grappling with Tfue? Arguably the latter has the athletic ability. (He used to surf and enjoy extreme sports don’t forget!) However I wouldn’t hold my breath. Sometimes, as the adverts say, people shouldn’t “try this at home.”