In July 2022, Gzim Selmani and Sunny Dhinsa did not run a wrestling show in the 10,000 seat Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham.
They had planned too, however.
They had (allegedly) booked a host of former WWE superstars, recently released due to the pandemic, as well as various UFC fighters making their wrestling debuts at the show.
The plan was, as best ambitious – at worst, it was a total scam. But what was the true story being the Author of Pain’s doomed promotion, the Wrestling Entertainment Series?
Wrestling Entertainment Series
In May 2022, something nobody happened that nobody had on their bingo cards.
Akam & Rezar, who were former tag team champions in the WWE, announced the beginning of a new wrestling promotion.
The announcement came seemingly out of nowhere, and were set to mark the return of the Author’s of Pain, alongside manager Paul Ellering, for the first time since their release from the WWE.
After filing the trademarks for “Wrestling Entertainment Series”, the pair planned their first show to take place in Dubai, in June 2022.
This plan was cancelled, following the death of the UAE president, and the show was relocated to the United Kingdom.
While the AOP were a decently popular tag team in the WWE, but did not have anywhere near the star power to draw a big crowd in the UK.
The WWE had been touring for years, and struggled to sell out venues for their Raw and Smackdown shows in the country.
The WES would need to book some big talent to try and fill the card, and that is (allegedly) what they did.
AOP managed to assemble an impressive roster, mainly comprised of recently-released WWE talent.
Former MMA icon Alistair Overeem making his debut in the main event. Overeem was initially slated to wrestle Adam “The Titan” Scherr.
Scherr is more commonly known as Braun Strowman, and re-signed with the WWE in 2022.
Nia Jax was also meant to wrestle Lana on the show, following the pair’s release from the WWE.
Meanwhile, other stars like Lince Dorado, Kalisto, Mojo Rawley and Eric Young were all booked to help sell out the 10,000 seat Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham.
The fledgling promotion seemed to be doing everything right, although they had been entirely too ambitious in their plans to sell thousands of tickets.
While no numbers were made available, it is rumoured that ticket sales for their maiden show were in the hundreds. Fightful claim that at best, 400 tickets were sold, which would have put the company at a severe loss.
As it turns out, nobody wants to watch a show full of people who hadn’t been on WWE TV for years, or if they had they had been losing to equally unimpressive midcarders.
Would a Mojo vs Eric Young match really convince thousands to flock to the Midlands for a wrestling show? Roman Reigns would struggle with that.
Other talent on the show included Moose, Big Damo and Steph De Lander, a who’s who of “I remember them, I think”.
The original show was meant to take place in early June 2022, which usually would seem like a good weekend for the matches.
However, it was actually the weekend of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, one of the biggest weekends of celebration in the history of the United Kingdom.
The show was delayed a few times, before being ultimately cancelled just days before it’s July 9th debut.
It was reported that the local wrestlers, like Big Damo, had not been paid for the event, although the company begrudgingly did pay them once the story broke online.
The Wrestling Entertainment Series was officially cancelled just days before the event was due to take place, with them originally blaming the talent for not showing up at all.
However, this was not the case, as talent were left in the dark with the status of the show, with some like Mojo Rawley travelling to the UK, without pay, for the show.
The former WWE star, real name Dean Muhtadi, spoke to WrestleInc shortly after the doomed event, explaining the thoughts behind the show, and it’s shock cancellation just days prior.
“I know where they were trying to go … we were thrilled with the opportunity that was at hand. They had some great financial backers, a great vision for the product.
It actually went pretty hand in hand with a lot of the visions that Steve [Kaye] and I had for professional wrestling and the impact where we would have liked to have to have seen it go.
We loved the fact that this was going to be a travelling show, one promotion that travelled the world internationally and hit some markets that are frequently travelled and exhausted by all the other wrestling promotions.”
“They wanted to hit the Middle East. There was plans for Dubai and Istanbul and some of these other places … bringing in celebrities like Alistair Overeem to train to compete in the right settings with no handcuffs on.
The direction was really pretty cool, we loved the concept behind it. It was just one series of unfortunate events after another,” he said.
“We are talking like deaths of country’s rulers that thrust the country into mandatory shutdown of events as per the mourning period, into pivoting to a different country on literally one day’s notice.”
Other issues with the event was the constant promotion of Nia Jax, who was set to wrestle on the event for the first time since she had left WWE.
She was put on all of the posters, and her match against Lana was billed as one of the biggest bouts on the card.
However, this was all a lie. She took to Twitter to warn fans that she would not be at the event, and that the advertising of her appearance was false.
“I do not know why I am still on this poster, but I will REPEAT myself again… I will NOT be at the show. Please do not buy a ticket thinking you will see me perform or get a chance to meet me. I hate that this misleads people!” Nia Jax wrote.
On the 6th of July 2022, the official WES Twitter account Tweeted out that the Wrestling Entertainment Series event in Nottingham had been cancelled.
The cancellation was blamed on talent not showing up, athough it was clear that the reason was poor planning, and selling only 300 tickets for a 10,000 seater venue.
Dear fans and followers, Unfortunately we will have to cancel the event scheduled for this
Saturday at the Motorpoint arena in Nottingham England.
We are deeply disappointed in the news that we have to share but with so many talent not showing up we will have no choice then to cancel the event.
Our team worked so hard on this event day in and day out for the fans to come with a different type of wrestling event and believe that we still will be able to show that in the near future.
We do want to say that all our talent that was scheduled have been paid in full and that Lina Fanene was paid her deposit as well while she changed her mind and did not want to show up and wrestle anymore. For now we will have to apologize for this, but we promise that it will not end here. See you soon!
- Team WES
The whole Wrestling Entertainment Series seems like it was a scam the entire time, although to what end, I’m not sure.
It seems like the talent had been paid for the event, and the fans had been refunded for the lack of event (even though only 300 of them bought tickets).
Maybe it was a legitimate attempt for a new company to try and take over the UK market. Maybe the Authors of Pain were just in over their heads, and simply bit off more than they could chew.
Either way – Wrestling Entertainment Series was a stupid name and never actually ran a show.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.