Sean Tan becomes first Singaporean to wrestle on WWE 'Friday Night SmackDown'


Sean Tan (in mid-air) made his debut on WWE Friday Night SmackDown on Feb 23, becoming the first Singaporean to do so. Photo: Dante Chen/Facebook

Professional wrestler Sean Tan drop-kicked his way into history on Feb 23 when he became the first Singaporean to appear on World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) programme Friday Night SmackDown.

Tan, whose “ring name” in the WWE is Dante Chen, faced Bron Breakker – one of the United States’ pro wrestling juggernaut’s most highly touted young stars – at Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tan, 28, showcased his athleticism with an impressive drop-kick to Breakker early in their match, but was soon overpowered by his 26-year-old opponent, who picked up the win after a vicious spear manoeuvre.

Despite being soundly beaten, Tan later said in a Facebook post that his Smackdown debut was still a “history-setting moment”.

SmackDown is one of two major WWE episodic shows – the other being Monday Night Raw – and Tan’s appearance made him the first Singaporean wrestler to appear on national television in the US.

Local promotion Singapore Pro Wrestling (SPW), where Tan previously competed with the ring name Trexxxus, congratulated him in a tweet, and described his journey from a Singaporean ring to NXT, and then SmackDown, as “nothing short of inspiring”.

“We’re all proud of you! CHEN UP!” said SPW.

In 2021, Tan became the first Singaporean wrestler signed by WWE, and won his first match – competing on the organisation’s developmental brand NXT – in September that year.

Since then, he has featured in NXT in singles and tag team action.

Tan, who was scouted by WWE officials during a tryout in Shanghai in 2019, told The Straits Times in an interview in 2021 that he was inspired to start wrestling after spending much of his teenage years playing video games that featured WWE stars, including his idol Shawn Michaels.

Serendipitously, WWE hall of famer Michaels, regarded as one of the greatest pro wrestlers of all-time, was the one who handed Tan his debut in NXT, shortly after taking over as the brand’s head in September 2021. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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