Logan Paul mounted a camel in Saudi Arabia to confront The Tribal Chief he will fight -- yes, even try and frog splash through a table, if he must -- and attempt in just his third pro wrestling match to win the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.
If that seems like an over-the-top mouthful, well, welcome to Logan Paul’s world.
The YouTuber-turned-boxer-turned-pro wrestler does nothing on the down low and that includes his high-flying inroads into the squared circle. The social media sensation with more combined followers than Super Bowl viewers is counting on that cool-kid audience that advertisers crave to watch him on Saturday wrestle Roman Reigns in the WWE Crown Jewel event at Mrsool Park in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The 28-year-old Paul saves his best performances for WWE’s marquee events -- winning matches already this year at WrestleMania and SummerSlam -- such as this weekend at the lucrative, if not controversial, show streaming live on Peacock out of Saudi Arabia.
“I love stunts, I love kicking ass and I love putting on a show,” Paul told The Associated Press. “It’s the perfect trifecta for someone like me.”
Oh, and if any of Reign’s associates try and use nefarious means to interfere in the match, Paul brought backup: Jake Paul, fresh off his win over UFC legend Anderson Silva to remain undefeated in his boxing career, will be in his brother’s corner to lay the smack down and even the odds.
Good luck, because the odds are against Paul at pulling off the upset.
Yes, even WWE — which has built a sports entertainment empire on the strength of celebrity involvement, with Mr. T, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and rapper Bad Bunny having all won WrestleMania matches, has had a hard time building Paul as a credible challenger to defeat Reigns. The hook is that Paul has steel screws and pins surgically implanted in his right hand and could land one lucky punch to KO Reigns and return to America as WWE champ.
“I’ve heard everything all of you are about to say,” Paul said. “I, a YouTuber, who decided to box, took on Floyd Mayweather and he didn’t knock me out. A guy who guaranteed a knockout, the greatest boxer of all time, facing a YouTuber, couldn’t knock me out. I’ve heard it all before. New industry, new sport, I get it. But you’re not going to tell me I’m not going to go in there and put on a show."
And putting on a show is the point.
Logan, of course, gets that showmanship in entertainment -is what sells and not necessarily wins and losses.
His high point came in July at SummerSlam when Paul climbed the turnbuckle and s oared through the sky for a frog splash -- where a performer leaps and scrunches his arms and feet toward his body before landing chest-to-chest on his fallen foe -- on The Miz.
“I’m a flyer. I’ve been doing stunts my whole life. My first YouTube video I ever posted was a stunts video, me and my brother jumping off the refrigerator in the basement,” Paul said.
Paul’s athleticism certainly endeared him to WWE, one reason why the company signed him to a contract in June and immediately slotted him in the type of platform most wrestlers wait years to get. But really, the signing was about eyeballs on the product. Paul has 24.2 million Instagram followers, 6.6 million on Twitter, 23.6 million subscribers on YouTube, another 769,000 on Twitch.
He’s among the first influencers before the term was even a thing.
And if there are critics as he tries to wrestle, so what?
“I understand the sentiment that used to exist when outsiders entered the WWE,” Paul said. “While I’m an outsider, I’m good at what I do. Undeniable. I’m comfortable in that ring and I’m willing to sacrifice my body for the entertainment and betterment of this organization.”
Paul said three to five times a year is the sweet spot to wrestle as he balances his boxing career, social media interests, a podcast and other business opportunities. He had WWE send a ring to a warehouse near his home in Puerto Rico so he could train. He leaned on former WWE star Shane “Hurricane” Helms and even WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels to take him from novice to mainstream highlight reels.
Michaels noted the difference between Paul and other green wrestlers in WWE’s developmental system is he is being trained on how to perform for one particular match, not necessarily on the fundamentals needed to become a true pro wrestler.
“Because of his popularity, they kind of start him at five years down the road, but he’s still at Day 1 training-wise,” Michaels said.
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