TNA wrestlers Kurt Angle & Mick Foley visit India, shocked by their popularity

They may look like mean fighting machines with their sinister moves in the ring, but spend five minutes with Mick Foley, Kurt Angle and Jay Lethal and you’ll discover that one thing that they haven’t broken in all their years in wrestling is their funny bone.

On a whirlwind trip of India to find new Indian talent for TNA, the three American wrestlers have been mobbed wherever they went and in Kurt Angle’s words, “ have been amazed with their popularity on the other side of the globe.” This is the first time for all of them in India, but Jay Lethal, who is the youngest among them, is proud of the fact that he is no new- bee to Indian culture. Imitating Shah Rukh Khan’s moves on the train in Chhaiyya Chhaiyya , he explains, “ My best friend Ratish is Indian and we practically grew up together.” Though he hasn’t seen any Bollywood movies, he is pretty sure from all the trailers he’s gazed at, Salman Khan is the ‘ coolest’ hero.

“Bollywood movies are like those big American musicals, probably 10 times more,” says Lethal. He is currently doing a Hollywood spoof on horror movies, which has a “ Bollywood- style dance number” Mick Foley, who has now retired from professional wrestling, joins Lethal in the banter about Bollywood.

Foley, who was the first ever WWF Hardcore Champion and also a three- time WWF Champion, shows that it is good humour and ability to connect with the audience that is the most essential component of being a TNA wrestler.

Kurt Angle, who has an Olympic gold in his kitty — he won it in 1996 at Atlanta in heavyweight freestyle wrestling — says, “ When you are participating in something like the Olympics, you are something of a robot. You don’t need to connect with the audience, whereas in something like the TNA it is the reaction, either loud cheers or boos that you manage to extract from the audience that define how successful you are.” When quizzed about The Great Khali, it is apparent that the three know of the fan following he commands but said they are not looking, “ for another Khali.” “ We are looking for a strong and fit wrestler, and not someone with such a huge built. It is important that he should be bilingual so that he can communicate with the American audience,” says Angle.


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