When did John Cena start taking Chinese lessons? At a press event in Shanghai onThursday, the entertainment wrestling superstar got up in front of the media and delivered a smooth address that lasted nearly three minutes.
He was speaking at the WWE’s announcement of a multi-year distribution deal it signed exclusively with Chinese streaming service, PPTV.
The deal marks a solid commitment to China for WWE, which on Thursday also unveiled its first Chinese wrestler, Bin Wang, as well as the first WWE live event in China in the past three years, to be held on Sep. 10.
During Cena’s speech, he assured the room that the WWE shows coming to China starting Jun. 28 — SmackDown and Monday Night Raw — would be in Chinese so local audiences could understand.
“Our shows go out to 180 countries, but in the past, we weren’t so big in China,” he says.
Cena’s Chinese skills certainly did not fail to impress. He delivered the speech fluently, and appeared not to be reading off notes, given that he paused a few times to seemingly form the next sentence in his head.
Fellow WWE heavyweight talent, Triple H, also took the stage (albeit speaking in English) to introduce the 220-pound Bin Wang from Shanghai, who has been training with WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki for the past two years.
“From Shanghai to Mongolia, from Beijing to Chongqing, we looked everywhere,” said Triple H, of the company’s talent search in the Greater Chinese region.
WWE’s choice of a streaming platform to partner, rather than a traditional pay-per-view channel, comes as China’s younger generation flock to online platforms for their TV content.
Chinese consumers spend about a third of their time watching online video, and there are about 510 million peoplewatching, according to mid-2015 figures from iResearch China.
Chinese online video firm LeTV said in 2015 that it streamed 367 music concerts and festivals to some 200 million people, with some shows attracting nearly five million concurrent viewers.
Taiwanese pop singer, Rainie Yang, had more than five million tuning into her Oct. 2015 web concert, during which she streamed comments from netizens on a huge screen behind her.