A Dubai TV personality will soon debut as the first Arab female wrestler for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), a report says.
Shadia Bseiso is a Dubai TV sports host, a voice-over artist, and a CrossFit practitioner, according to the Los Angeles Times. But now she will be adding one more thing to her resume: WWE wrestler.
Bseiso is set to debut in January as one of the WWE’s incoming class of new personalities and could become the league’s first female wrestler who is a practicing Muslim. Bseiso auditioned to host the show Wal3ooha (a Latinized rendering of an Arabic word that means “light it up”), the paper says.
The WWE offered Bseiso a shot at the recent tryouts held in Dubai this year, and according to insiders she ran through the drills amazingly well, especially for not being a professional athlete. Indeed, of all the 33 Middle Eastern applicants, Bseiso was the only non-professional athlete to compete.
“On the fourth day, just before we all went home, Matt Bloom [WWE’s head trainer] pulled me aside and said, ‘Are you ready to move to the U.S.?'” Bseiso told the Times.
The newly minted wrestler said she was hesitant to tell her parents what she had signed up for, but that they were supportive.
“How [do you] tell your parents you want to be the next WWE superstar? You don’t tell them except in person,” she said.
Bseiso said that her parents raised her and her sisters to feel empowered and to be equal with men, so she never worried about stepping up to compete in mixed martial arts tournaments or to appear on TV in the moderate Muslim nation. In fact, her sister, Arifa, is a Jordanian boxing champion who recently joined Nike as a brand ambassador for the Middle East.
Workouts to become an official wrestler are hard, but Bseiso is reportedly excelling at the effort, according to Canyon Ceman, WWE’s senior vice president of international talent development.
Bseiso also hopes to make it past the training stage and into the ring as an official wrestler if for no other reason than to change the past cartoonish representations of Middle Easterners as seen in past decades in U.S. wrestling.
Ceman agreed and said that Bseiso offered a unique opportunity for the WWE.
“Now you neither want to nor can you get away with that so easily,” Cemen told the paper. “There is evolving complexity over how to portray someone’s cultural heritage in a way that it is respected, interesting and creates love or animosity in the audience.”
“Shadia has to make a character that will get a reaction, and it’s our writer’s job to make sure it’s not offensive even while being subtle, culturally sensitive, intelligent and interesting,” he concluded.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.