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A first, positive look at TNA's Ring ka King
By BOB KAPUR - SLAM! Wrestling


TNA Wrestling’s new spin-off company, the India-based Ring ka King (translation: King of the Ring) made its broadcast debut this weekend, and while there are inherent challenges that could make it difficult to be a major hit for TNA’s North American audiences, there are definite positives to the show.

The most obvious challenge for King, which airs here on the Indian specialty network Colors, is the language barrier. The majority of the show, including the commentary, is broadcast in a foreign language (Hindi or Punjabi, this writer understands both, but can’t distinguish between one or the other). Through the English spoken by the majority of the roster and by Jeremy Borash, who appears periodically during the show, help Anglophones follow the storylines, but as far as the in-ring action, it will need to be sight over sound that informs the viewer.

The other drawback, at least in Canada, is that the Colors network is a specialty pay channel. Fans, at least those that don’t believe in illegal downloading, will need to order the channel to watch it -- though, in a fortunate bit of timing, Rogers Canada is previewing Colors for free until March, or about halfway through the initial 13-episode run.

Beyond that, at least based on the pilot, the show has the potential to be pretty good. The roster includes a mix of TNA roster stars (including Scott Steiner and Matt Morgan), other famous stars (like Chavo Guerrero Jr.and “Doctor” Nicholas Dinsmore (formerly WWE’s Eugene), and some Indian names (Sonjay Dutt, and Mahabali Veera, who this writer isn’t familiar with but the Indian crowd definitely loved).

The first show kicked off with a Bollywood song and dance number featuring a number of dancing girls who accompanied a famous cricket star, who acted as the ring announcer for the night, to the ring. He announced that the first order of business was the announcement of the 8-man tournament to crown the first Ring ka King champion, and introduced the participants. In addition to those names listed above are India’s Maxx B (a mixed martial arts character) and TNA’s Brutus Magnus. He then introduced the company’s commissioner, Jazzy Lahoria, who looks like a pomopous Indian maharaja, complete with his own private security guard.

The first tournament match saw Dr. Nicholas Dinsmore take on Mahabali Veera. Dinsmore is playing a psycho doctor, that had the commentators speculating that he’s really a mental patient posing as a doctor. Veera is a muscular wrestler referred to as the Indian Superman who was completely loved by the local fans. He beat Dinsmore in a quick match after a twisting backslam.

After that, the “American Adonis” Chris Mordetzky (formerly Chris Masters), entered the ring for his Adonis-lock (full nelson) challenge, offering 100,000 rupees to anyone who could break the hold. He called in a fan from the audience, clamped on the hold, and swung him around for a few seconds until the guy passed out.

Backstage, Magnus, Dutt, and Steiner were on the phone with their mysterious “boss” and promised him or her that they would be taking over the company, with the first step being one of them winning the championship tournament.

The second match saw Brutus Magnus take on Matt Morgan in tournament action. This was a decent if short TV match. Morgan used his power to punish Brutus, earning the “eikh, dhoh, theen” after a chokeslam and a Carbon Footprint. After the match, Sonjay Dutt and Scott Steiner came to the ring with intentions to beat up Morgan, but then Veera made the save, ending the show in a stalemate.

Overall, Ring ka King’s debut show was a good overall package. The presentation -- the music, the lighting and pyro effects, the promos and vignettes, and camera work -- rivals TNA’s Impact show on Spike. The rowdy fans in a full-size arena environment actually come across better than anything in the Impact Zone. In terms of in-ring action, the matches on this show were quite short, as the opening sequence took about half the broadcast, but decent. Seeds were planted for an invasion storyline, and other future action was promised, including an upcoming tag team championship tournament. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Ring ka King is worth checking out.

Bob Kapur is officially petitioning to be the on-air commentator, should the company opt to dub the show in English, like was originally done for Iron Chef and G-Force. E-mail your support at bobkapur@hotmail.com.