B.C.'s 'Bollywood Boyz' slam their way to the big leagues
Burnaby-born pro-wrestling brothers bring Bollywood to the WWE
"You can't hold back true talent."
That's what professional wrestling icon Bret 'The Hitman' Hart told Burnaby brothers and aspiring wrestlers Harv and Gurv Sihra in 2008, when they ran into the Canadian legend at wrestling event in Las Vegas.
"Over the last 10 years, whether we're wrestling in front of 50 people in Winnipeg or 1,000 people in Vegas, we never forget that advice," said Harv Sihra.
The Sihra brothers are better known by their in-ring alter egos, The Bollywood Boyz. They're one of the highlights of the B.C.-based Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling promotion.
Once a month, you can find them sporting tights and tassels at the Russian Community Centre in Kitsilano, eliciting cheers, dancing and chants of "Butter Chicken!" from the crowd.
"If the wrestlers are having fun, the crowds starts having fun," said Harv Sihra.
And after a decade of bruises, body slams, and Bollywood dances, the Boyz are bringing their "butter chicken beat-down" to World Wrestling Entertainment.
The big leagues
Last week, the Sihra brothers travelled to Orlando to compete in the WWE's first ever Cruiserweight Classic — a 32-man tournament that showcases up-and-coming talent from across the globe.
The event gave Harv Sihra, 28, and Gurv Sihra, 31, the opportunity to each showcase their skills in front of 1,000 fans — and a handful high-ranking WWE execs.
"I can just remember, both of us being so nervous the night before," said Gurv Sihra. "We could have the greatest match in Vancouver, or the greatest match in Las Vegas or anywhere in the states, but this was the one that counted the most."
But when it came time to enter the ring on June 23, they didn't forget to indulge in the long-awaited fruits of their labour.
"I remember just standing behind that curtain before that music hit, thinking 'I'm about to wrestle for the WWE!'" said Harv Sihra.
"And you remember why you're doing this — you remember being that eight-year-old kid watching wrestling on TV. So you enjoy the moment."
A childhood dream come true
Long before the Sihras ever laced up their boots, they had dreams of making it to the big show.
"Our earliest memories were watching guys like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels as kids," said Harv Sihra, adding that they both knew they wanted to be wrestlers while they were still in elementary school.
The Sihras started wrestling professionally in the lower mainland under ECCW in 2005. But it wasn't until they embraced another childhood passion that they really made their mark on the local wrestling scene.
"We grew up being huge Bollywood film fans, watching it with our parents," said Gurv Sihra. "It truly is a part of who we are, and what our family is as well."
The duo decided to incorporate Bollywood into their wrestling personas, marketing themselves as The Bollywood Boyz, a tag-team duo that would just as soon strike up a traditional Punjabi dance as they would throw their opponents in a Boston Crab.
They quickly became crowd favourites, winning numerous championships in regional promotions across Canada, the U.S. and India.
But they always had their sights on the WWE. And getting their foot in the door wasn't easy.
The big leagues
"We were actually in touch with the WWE for the last five or six years," said Garv Sihra. "Exchanging e-mails with them, knocking on the door, trying to get tryouts, trying to go to the camps — just to get noticed."
Their persistence paid off in August 2015, when they were cast as extras during a taping of WWE's Monday Night Raw in Seattle, appearing as members of wrestler Adam Rose's entourage.
While they might not have wrestled on the show, their networking game was in full swing.
"We managed to get in a short little conversation with Triple H," said Gurv Sihra, referring to the WWE's superstar turned vice president of talent.
He advised them to try hard to make a name for themselves. They took his advice, and it paid off. The following February, the WWE reached out to them to compete in the first ever Cruiserweight Classic.
There's no guarantees the Bollywood Boyz will receive a long-term contract with the WWE. But they believe their performances, inside and outside the ring, will leave a strong impression on the WWE's higher-ups.
"We got to talk to Triple H personally, we got to pitch him ideas. We got some hands on training with William Regal, it was just surreal. That whole week, we were just soaking it all in," said Gurv Sihra.
"We're hopeful we're going to make another trip back," added Harv. "We felt like we delivered, we're different and unique, and right now we're taking it one day a time."
The Sihra brothers are especially optimistic they'll return given their popularity in India, one of the WWE's biggest markets.
But if they do make the transition to a permanent spot in the big leagues, you can bet they'll be sorely missed by one of their current employers.
"Of course I'd be sad to see them leave," said Scotty Mac, co-owner of of ECCW. "It'd be detrimental to the shows."
"But if I was sad I wouldn't let them know it. It would just be the single tear rolling down my face as they ride off into the beginning of their WWE journey."
Until then, the Bollywood Boyz will be bringing their dance skills back to ECCW at the sixth Commodore Ballroom Brawl in July.