No Gimmick Required

A Brief Letter From Borneo

Yes, there is a place where being a wrestling fan is a respectable undertaking.

by Raywat Deonandan
December 2, 2002

This column is a regular feature on It is reproduced here with the author's permission.

Greetings from Borneo!

Your roving wrestling columnist is presently touring Malaysia, and is now killing some precious time on Borneo, land of Orangutans, terrorists, scuba divers, the first Survivor and really great satay.

It's my third visit to this fascinating country, but my first time since the Internet really became a globally accessible commodity. So I now write this column from a comfortable cafe in the city of Kota Kinabalu, fresh from jungle trekking and snorkelling, while an incredibly lame Malay boy-band plays on the TV. (It's an international affliction, it would seem.)

So why would 411 readers care about my foreign exploits? Well, I think it's important for North American wrestling fans to appreciate the global grip of our faux-sport, to understand that it need not be (and indeed is not) a strictly American phenomenon.

Yesterday, a 13 year old boy dropped a people's elbow on me in the open-air marketplace. A middle-aged woman identified herself as "Stone Cold". And a couple of days ago in Singapore, a friend requested that I not use my wrestling knowledge to make time with a gorgeous local babe he had just met, since she was also an enormous fan of our genre.

Let me repeat that last bit: someone was concerned that wrestling knowledge might confer an unfair advantage when seeking the attention of the fairer sex. See, wrestling geeks? The rest of the world accepts and shares in our fandom, even really (really) hot Singaporean women.

On the street market in Kuala Lumpur, I purchased a DVD of the latest Survivor Series. Obviously, it's a knock-off, since I doubt that that PPV has yet to be released on DVD. But the market for it here is so big, that forgers must meet the demand. (Did I say I purchased it? I mean I just looked at it and turned away in disgust.... for all you treasury agents out there.)

The WWE(F) came through here about a year ago, and the locals still speak of it. A visit by Stone Cold or the Rock is apparently big news in many of the communities here. Wrestlers are looked upon as international superstars, and not derided 'roided freaks.

It's hard to say what this might mean for the wrestling industry in the long term. WWE's income stream is still largely American. And the disadvantageous exchange rate (about 3.8 Malaysian ringgit for every US dollar) means less income for each American wrestling show staged. But it is evident that fan appreciation here is comparable to that of Western audiences in the 1970's and 1980's, except further jet-fuelled by modern marketing schemes.

Okay, I gotta run. I don't trust this Internet connection to stay up much longer. See you all in a few days.

P.S. I'll be posting photos of my travels at my website,