DAYTONA, Fla. — For years, the worlds of esports and professional wrestling have been adjoining to 1 one other, each as soon as and some time connecting to create one thing particular.
Final 12 months, wrestling archrivals and associates Kenny Omega and Xavier Woods got here collectively to face off in a Avenue Fighter V exhibition at E3 in Los Angeles, with the shedding aspect having to eat habanero peppers. Over on the East Coast, CEO, one of many world’s premier preventing recreation tournaments, teamed up with New Japan Professional Wrestling to placed on a wrestling exhibition along side the weekend gaming occasion.
In 2019, CEO organizer Alex Jebailey needed to go greater.
In co-promotion with the newly based All Elite Wrestling, owned by Jacksonville Jaguars co-owner Tony Khan, CEO is placing on Fyter Fest, a one-of-a-kind wrestling expertise that after once more coincides with the CEO. Throughout the day Saturday, hundreds of battles with one of the best preventing gamer gamers on the earth will happen on the Ocean Occasion Heart in Daytona, and beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Fyter Fest will characteristic a slew of one of the best wrestlers on the earth taking heart stage.
“Bringing collectively the wrestling world with the preventing recreation group has been a dream come true,” Jebailey mentioned Friday on the eve of Fyter Fest. “Additionally, being part of AEW’s second present and performing in entrance of almost 5,000 is one thing I will always remember, and I hope I can entertain folks from each worlds. Seeing this all come collectively is an expertise that has impressed myself to proceed CEO’s development for even the subsequent 10 years.”
Jebailey will not simply be in attendance for Fyter Fest, he will likely be in one of many night time’s marquee matches, going through off with Michael Nakazawa in a hardcore match.
I am going darkish for my match later tonight at #FyterFest. If anybody wants one thing my unimaginable employees on the command heart will aid you out. Hope everybody’s #CEO2019 expertise has been nice and hope you benefit from the present tonight. I will attempt to not die. pic.twitter.com/lOHDTJXE32
— Alex Jebailey #CEO2019 #FyterFest SOON (@CEOJebailey) June 29, 2019
Up within the commentary sales space calling that match and the remainder of the present will likely be Alex “Goldenboy” Melendez, a staple of the esports business and, like Jebailey, a lifelong wrestling fan. Goldenboy grew up watching the “golden period” of wrestling, within the 1980s, that was thought of a watershed second for the business — not so not like the surge of recognition aggressive gaming has seen lately.
The likes of Jake Roberts and The Undertaker captured Goldenboy’s creativeness and finally took him down the trail of being an entertainer himself on the earth of video video games.
“I’d watch Jim Ross and Michael Cole and be taught from them,” Goldenboy mentioned. ” I additionally discovered how you can do interviews by watching the mic placement and posture of individuals like Jonathan Coachman and Cole. They’re one of the best of one of the best. They placed on a high quality product week in and week out, and for any aspiring broadcaster in esports, there’s quite a bit to be taught there.”
Goldenboy started his profession casting Name of Obligation earlier than finally winding up on Blizzard’s Overwatch League manufacturing as a featured host for its inaugural season. Following his success in esports, he transitioned to the world of community tv, the place he labored with a wrestler he watched rising up on tv, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, on NBC’s “Titan Video games.”
Fyter Fest will likely be a form of end result of Goldenboy’s journey, as he’s getting the prospect to name the present alongside Ross, the legendary announcer who lately signed a take care of All Elite Wrestling and commentated their first present, “Double or Nothing,” in Las Vegas.
Professional wrestling famous person and avid gamer Kenny Omega stops by the ESPN Esports studio to play some Avenue Fighter and dish on his involvement with the collection.
Whereas different aggressive gaming leagues and tournaments try to develop into the subsequent NFL or NBA, Jebailey would not need to flip away from the professional wrestling roots which have been in esports for the reason that very starting. In South Korea, the place esports first blossomed within the early 2000s with StarCraft: Brood Battle, the manufacturing was extra akin to a WrestleMania than the Tremendous Bowl, with mild reveals and theme music accompanying gamers as they strutted out onto the digital battlefield.
“In esports, we’re consistently making an attempt to chase this sports-like ideology, however the actuality is that we’re extra related to professional wrestling,” Goldenboy mentioned. “We undergo all this effort to make each broadcast really feel like a present, and that is what professional wrestling corporations do each week. I feel Kenny Omega, Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and so on., get that greater than most, and it is about bridging that hole between esports and leisure. I additionally really feel each companies function with a chip on their shoulder that permits them to push the boundaries and make even crazier reveals.”
The place CEO needs to be extra like professional wrestling, All Elite Wrestling needs to make use of what esports has finished to seize tens of millions of followers worldwide.
Wrestling, although nonetheless one of many most-watched issues on tv with WWE’s Uncooked and Smackdown, is not the place it as soon as was within the media hierarchy. Arenas that may have been bought out years in the past for WWE occasions at the moment are occupied by a pair thousand followers, with tarps positioned over empty seating to make the gang look higher on digital camera. The followers who as soon as turned on wrestling each Monday night time at the moment are on their telephones or laptops, some watching streams of individuals taking part in video video games on Twitch.
Omega, one of many government vice presidents of All Elite Wrestling, is aware of this all too nicely. The alternative of Jebailey and Goldenboy, Omega is a professional wrestler that grew up with a love of video video games and all issues nerd tradition; his character and strikes contained in the ring are impressed by the video video games he grew up taking part in.
Together with Younger Bucks — Matt and Nick Jackson — Omega has used social media and YouTube to push professional wrestling into the brand new world, the place followers can work together with their favorites within the ring simply as followers in esports can chat to their favourite avid gamers.
Fyter Fest is as a lot a love letter to professional wrestling and video video games as it’s a showcase of the way forward for each industries. For the performers placing on the present like Omega and Goldenboy, it is a childhood dream realized.
“‘It means the whole lot to me,” Goldenboy mentioned. “I like skilled wrestling, and the affect it has had on my life and profession is profound. I am nervous however ecstatic to get to commentate with certainly one of my private heroes, Jim Ross. The cardboard is stacked high to backside, and I am grateful to Kenny Omega for believing in me to do that.”