For casual wrestling fans, South American countries are mentioned only when WWE goes on tour for a week. Just last month, the SmackDown crew was down in Argentina and in Chile for some shows. They were newsworthy mostly because of an appearance of Triple H and AJ Styles having to leave the tour because of all the rescheduling of the WWE PPV TLC – the now famous match against Finn Balor.
In midst of all the rescheduling, debuts and viral sickness that were affecting the WWE, many fans didn’t notice the business that South American countries made for the World Wrestling Entertainment. In both countries – Argentina and Chile – WWE made huge crowds, in fact, they were all sellouts. In Argentina, WWE averaged 7,200 fans and in Chile the crowds were even bigger, with the company averaging 11,000 fans. If you take that into this quarter – the 3rd quarter that is – crowds average, South America average almost double of what WWE is doing regularly.
Is because of those numbers that I find it strange that we don’t talk a lot about the South American wrestling scene that’s enabling WWE to do huge business in those countries. Even William Regal has notice the big change, he had a private show with a relative unknown promotion – in the eyes of casual and indie fans – in Chile. That promotion alone, is responsible for a boom period that is sweeping the whole nation of Chile.
The wrestling promotion that Regal went to scout is the Campeonato Nacional de Lucha Libre (CNL) – it traduces to National Wrestling Championship – and if you haven’t checked on it, you’re missing on something magical.
I was able to contact the promotion and here’s a profile about Chile’s hottest wrestling promotion CNL.
It started out of necessity
CNL is in its diapers, the promotion started in 2015 by the hand of Jorge Salazar – who is now their CEO and producer. When asked what inspired them to begin the now up and coming wrestling promotion, Felipe Bobadilla – their press representative – said, “It emerged in 2015 as a response to the need to professionalize the wrestling of Chile in all its senses: quality and talent of the wrestlers, staging, production of quality shows and all as an alternative that meets an international standard.” You see, Chile always had a wrestling scene, but it was very unregulated, one thing that you quickly notice in CNL is the professionalism in their product and how clean it looks, separating themselves from every other promotion in South America and even from some in North America.
Their attendance is getting out of control…
Have you ever heard the stories of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla being sold out immediately when tickets go on sale? Well for CNL, this is becoming a common thing. The Chilean promotion started with small attendance numbers, 300 in their first shows and maybe on some good days 500, but when asked about the average of 2017 for CNL, Felipe responded by saying, “The first CNL Chile show attracted about 300 people, while the current average of attendees is around 1000.” If you’re keeping track that’s an increase of 233.33% just for 2017.
CNL is keeping an insane paste with their attendance, when asked about the reasons, Felipe replied, “The public of CNL is a special public, different from the one that can be found in more amateur Chilean wrestling circuits. The public of CNL Chile is an audience that stands out for its loyalty and commitment, being an important part of our live shows, almost as a member of the roster due to its high level of interaction and participation with the fighters and stories that are developed.” If you were to change in that sentence the name of CNL for PWG or even PROGRESS Wrestling, you might have notice that they have the same demeanor when asked about their fan base.
Sean Waltman (X-PAC) was key for their burst of popularity
Yes, you read that right, the former member of D-Generation-X and former WWE and WCW superstar, Sean Waltman helped CNL explode in the Chilean wrestling scene. “X-PAC (Sean Waltman) in the framework of CNL: Conflicto Internacional, a show that faced two teams of Chilean wrestlers, one with X-PAC in their ranks, triggered a series of events that would lead to the 2017 season,” said Felipe when asked about X-Pac’s impact in the company. The X-Pac involvement helped CNL get notice more and build some stories with a high-profile face. It was this chain reaction that helped CNL fill the now famous show in Club Chocolate, were 1,000 fans sold out the theater and some 300 fans were left outside because of how popular the show became. It was at this show that Rocket – one of their top Chilean wrestler – won the battle royal that made those in attendance go crazy.
They have some great prospects on their way
When asked about the top must-see wrestler of the promotion, Felipe stated, “Within our roster, several figures with international projection stand out, such as Pedro Pablo, Rocket, Alessandro and Valentin Bravo, the latter already has a tour of the US and goes by the second this 2018 having been trained by Mr. Kennedy and Shawn Daivari in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Also stand out wrestlers like Boris Müller and The Chilean Export Eddie Vergara who also has training.”
It seemed that those where names that were going to explode, but when asked about the Cruiserweight Classic participant and former member of the roster Alejandro Saez, the only thing that was said was that “there wasn’t a relationship now with him”.
You can see all their shows in YouTube
Yes, even the big ones. You can catch the action of the hottest promotion in South American in the following links:
We want to thanks Felipe Bobadilla and all of the Campeonato Nacional de Lucha Libre staff for the opportunity and interview to Last Word on Pro Wrestling.