It was expected to be odd, and it didn’t fail to deliver.
Tyson Fury’s first ever wrestling match had costume, soul music, trash talk, powerslams and one knockout punch.
After all was said and done, the undefeated former heavyweight boxing champion is now an undefeated WWE Superstar, after one match.
Four weeks of build-up to Fury’s fight against the 6ft 8in ‘Monster Among Men’ Braun Strowman culminated at the Crown Jewel event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday – with the Briton landing a right hand on his opponent and winning by virtue of Strowman failing to get back into the ring before a count of 10.
This won’t go down as one of Fury’s greatest sporting achievements – because, spoiler alert, wrestling isn’t a sport. But Fury has enthusiastically thrown himself into the world of scripted fighting and has been a showman from start to finish in a venture that has reportedly earned him £12m.
Here’s how it went down.
The ring walk
A batman costume, jazzy shirts and plain old boxing shorts – Fury’s wardrobe has been varied down the years. So what clobber would he bust out for his WWE debut?
Always one to try to ingratiate himself to the locals, Fury emerged in full Arab thobe, including headdress, and stepped out from the curtain to the soothing soul sound of the Isley Brothers’ It’s Your Thing, with pyrotechnics blazing.
Was it subtle? No. Was it very Tyson? Yes.
“Forty-five years after the Rumble in the Jungle, we can call this the Showdown in Saudi!” cried commentator Michael Cole as the match started, rather optimistically referencing Muhammad Ali’s win over George Forman in DR Congo in 1974.
This wasn’t a classic of the spandex genre, or any genre come to think of it, but Fury showed off a few tricks he’s learned along the way, pulling off a headlock, a kip-up and even a drop toe hold.
Fury even threw in an Undertaker-style, back-from-the-dead sit up.
“This is my ring, you piece of trash,” yelled Strowman at one point. Charming.
Fury took a few blows but eventually prevailed by clocking Strowman with a right hand as he was getting back into the ring.
Strowman may have been embarrassingly beaten but was he going to take this lying down? Of course not. This is the predetermined, soap opera world of wrestling where attacking your opponent after the match is almost obligatory. And Strowman let nobody down by planting Fury with his signature move, the running powerslam.
But Fury’s commitment to consistency in his character can’t be questioned as, almost a year since he inexplicably got up from a knockdown against Deontay Wilder, he was at it again, dancing around the ring just a few moments after being thrown to the floor by a man mountain.
After the match he refused to rule out a return to WWE, but said he wants to focus on his rematch with WBC world heavyweight champion Wilder, which is set for 22 February.
“I’ve got a big fella called Deontay Wilder to see to, and then we see where we go from there,” he said.
Some people on social media were angry and mean about something that isn’t actually real, so we’ve ignored those people and picked out a few from those of you who got into the spirit of it all.
@DommMcG: They’ve gone all out for this Tyson Fury entrance. It’s cracking me up. The WWE Saudi budget is insane.
@Dan25021997: If you didn’t already know that WWE is fake, Tyson Fury just got a one-punch KO win
@TheHughezy: Tyson Fury’s wrestling skill was as realistic as Tyson Fury saying that he’s not afraid of Anthony Joshua.
@Luketuc57920589: Growing up I used to believe WWE fights, cage matches, even burials! But Fury knocking someone out has just gone a step too far, now I know it’s fake.