Very few Indians have made the cut in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), arguably the most popular pro-wrestling franchise in the world. The Great Khali (aka Dalip Singh Rana) is the only Indian national who has made it to the franchise and achieved success.
There is also the Calgary-born Indo-Canadian Jinder Mahal (aka Yuvraj Singh Dhesi) who plies his trade in the SmackDown brand as the reigning United States champion.
In the franchise’s recent showpiece event on Sunday called Wrestlemania 34, Devi entered as a contestant in the Women’s Battle Royal. Despite not winning, Devi caught the WWE universe’s attention.
The 35-year-old woman from Haryana was awarded a WWE developmental contract in October 2017, and this was her WWE main roster debut, a major landmark.
“While compared to some of her counterparts in the Classic, Devi is relatively inexperienced, she has the physical tools to go a long way. Devi was a part of the WWE’s historic Dubai tryout in April and caught the attention of the scouts. Behind her immense physical skills, Devi could one day become a household name in wrestling, perhaps starting with this summer’s (2017) Mae Young Classic,” the WWE had said earlier on its website in July 2017.
To the uninitiated, the Mae Young Classic is a 32-contestant tournament exclusively for women from the WWE’s developmental division NXT and the independent circuit. The outcome of these matches is predetermined based on scripted storylines. Unfortunately, Devi was eliminated in the first round.
“It was a privilege to be the first Indian woman to compete in WWE, and participating in the Mae Young Classic with some of the best female performers in the world was a great learning experience. Now I am looking forward to pursuing my dream of becoming the first WWE Women’s Champion from India,” she said.
However, in October 2017, WWE announced that Devi had signed a contract with them, and will start training at their Performance Center in January 2018
Before pursuing a career in pro-wrestling, Devi represented the country in powerlifting and won the gold medal in the 75 kg category at the 2016 South Asian Games. She cites The Great Khali as her mentor and inspiration.