Adrian Gomez is the promoter for Middle Kingdom Wrestling, an upstart pro wrestling outfit, founded in 2015, and based out of one of the most unlikely locations, China. The somewhat uniquely American art form of pro wrestling seems a little out of place to the outside eye, but Gomez, who moved to the country when he was thirteen, sees an opportunity.
In an exclusive Haus of Wrestling interview, I had the chance to dig deep with Gomez into what it has been like to promote pro wrestling in the socially restrictive country.
“When I got to China in 2010, there was no official WWE presence yet,” he recalled. “At that time, WWE had not entered the market in any real official way. So, because of that, it actually made watching wrestling extremely easy.”
Gomez described how most pro wrestling shows, from WWE to Impact, quickly popped up “within seconds” on Chinese video streaming platforms like Bilibili. Due to that, it was very easy for a diehard pro wrestling fan, like himself, to keep up with the more modern pro wrestling products.
“Once WWE did come in that China, they were able to copyright strike several things,” he lamented. “So when they came to China in 2016, that was like their official grand opening of WWE China. They held a really big tryout, and that’s where they hired so many of the Chinese wrestlers.”
A few of the notable names to be signed from that 2016 trip include Xia Lee, Boa, and Ho Ho Lun. The success of WWE’s launch in China was so successful that Gomez noted, to many in China, pro wrestling is simply known as WWE, sort of like how soda is only known as Coke in southern United States.
Despite the popularity of pro wrestling in the country, there are only two major schools in China for those interested in learning the craft. Many are interested in pursuing their dreams of possibly becoming a WWE or AEW star but Gomez noted that the financial commitment that comes along with training is often too much for those chasing their dream.
The entire pro wrestling scene in China was, of course, shut down in 2020 as harsh “zero COVID” policies swept across the country. Gomez was able to keep some momentum going for the promotion as he went about doing a studio-style show called MKW Blast Off, which he produced fifty episodes of while many were confined to their homes. As soon as he was able to, however, Gomez was ready to pick up the torch to begin promoting, and he wanted to do it in a way that benefited more than just pro wrestling fans.
“I would say one of my proudest moments as a wrestling promoter was actually last year,” he began. “Even during the height of the tension in China-US relations, I was able to facilitate a deal between the American government and the Chinese government to put together the first-ever Sino-American Friendship Pro Wrestling Tag Team Tour. Which, by the way, was paid for, mostly, by your tax dollars.
“Basically we toured a few cities promoting the values of America and China. For the shows, we main-evented with an American wrestler tagging with a Chinese wrestler versus an American wrestler tagging with a Chinese wrestler. It was like they’re working together, to be able to better tell this story between America and China working together, even when some say they are at their lowest point in political relations.”
Needless to say, to hear that pro wrestling was being used for good to try and bring two countries that are seemingly at odds together, warmed my heart. It also piqued my interest, as getting politicians from both countries to engage in any kind of diplomacy in recent years has felt like a gargantuan undertaking. I called him a hero for his work but he seemed too humble to embrace the title.
“It involved a lot of timing,” he laughed. “That’s what I can say. Difficult, definitely logistically, difficult as far as paperwork and meetings and things like that. So yeah, it was really difficult. The high-end talks, thankfully, I mean, we can only call myself a hero for so long, all I did was kind of bring this idea there. But the people who, you know, our State Department workers and China’s diplomats, were able to, I would say, that they were heroes in passing this idea, more so than I was. This is just, you know, promoters have crazy ideas all the time, and this is just one of them.”
Gomez continues his work as the promoter for Middle Kingdom Wrestling and has taken on the role of international consultant for Premier Streaming Network. As part of his role, MKW has signed an exclusive streaming deal with PSN, and he will be working to bring more pro wrestling from around the world to the platform.
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You can find my full conversation with Gomez courtesy of the embedded player below.