Dubai: With aggressive attacks, gripping holds and powerful throws the second edition of WrestleFest DXB proved to be a night to remember.
12 muscle-bound wrestlers locked horns against one another in the ring at Warehouse Four, in Al Quoz in what proved to be an extravaganza of entertainment.
Hammer and tongs
The combatants, from all over the world including the UK, Philippines and even the UAE, went at each other hammer and tongs in a night of excitement and drama.
The fighters slammed each other to the ground, they threw punches and kicks - and even chairs - in a bid to emerge as WrestleFest champion in front of the baying crowd that chanted throughout the boisterous night. Taking home the belt was Dan Moloney from the UK who has previously wrestled for the WWE.
One of the wrestlers and organizer of the event was Mohammad Al Shehhi, whose stage name is Shaheen which means falcon in Arabic. He is the first Emirati wrestler to represent the UAE overseas and has taken part in bouts in the US, UK and Pakistan with large crowds in attendance. His aim is to promote the sport, one of the oldest in the world, more in the UAE.
“WrestleFest was created in the hopes of producing a local wrestling scene in the UAE, specifically in a city as vibrant as Dubai,” says the 27-year-old. “When you look at the benchmark outside of the country such as the UK, there are lots of companies that are promoting wrestling to fans and it is everywhere there. Here in Dubai we have the fans but more can be done to promote it. It was incredible to see just how many turned up for the event.”
Al Shehhi is a mild-mannered creative strategist in the events industry by day - but when he enters the ring at night, he transforms into a raging warrior. He only began training to become a wrestler three years ago after being inspired by the stars of WWE and soon established a wrestling academy where amateurs could train and have matches against each other. However, Covid-19 put a halt on proceedings, but soon after the pandemic, WrestleFest was born.
The inaugural event was held in March at the same location – known for fostering the creative scene - and there was another sellout crowd last night.
“Wrestling is an art, it is not just a sport and the fans appreciate it, and at the end of the day people go home and talk about it,” says Al Shehhi who studied international affairs in the UK and UAE.
There’ll be plenty to talk about after last night’s bruising encounter and the good news for wrestling fans is that further editions are planned this year.