Wrestling With Chinese Characteristics: This Art Is All the Right Vibes

The colorful art blends Middle Kingdom Wrestling imagery with elements of Chinese culture and society, aiming to promote the sport of wrestling in China

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Matthew Bossons
12:12 PM HKT, Fri February 24, 2023 2 mins read

Every so often, the team at RADII comes across an example of artistic expression that is too good not to share with our valued readers. Today is one of those days: P-Nut Butter Studio, an art studio based in Thailand, has released a series of quirky and colorful images to help promote Middle Kingdom Wrestling (MKW) — a Chinese professional wrestling organization based in Shanghai.

According to MKW’s 35-year-old founder, Adrian Gomez, the aim behind the art featured below was to blend pro wrestling imagery with elements of Chinese culture and society.

“The original motivation to make these images was to find fun and unique ways to cross pro wrestling with Chinese culture,” says Gomez, adding, “I feel that a softer and more lighthearted approach towards promoting MKW and pro wrestling could help to better enter into the subconsciousness of people’s minds.”

Middle Kingdom Wrestling

Wrestling in China

Gomez, an American expat in China, says MKW was created with a mission to introduce pro wrestling to Chinese audiences and offer Chinese wrestlers proper training and an opportunity to make a living from the sport. The organization also aspires to foster a pro wrestling culture within China.

“One of the more important missions of MKW is to build up a pro wrestling culture within China. North America, Mexico, Japan — all have deep pro wrestling elements instilled in their cultures,” Gomez tells RADII. “We feel laying the groundwork for Chinese culture and pro wrestling to mix together is one of the most important keys to the success of MKW and Chinese pro wrestling.”

Middle Kingdom Wrestling

Chinese wrestling

Gomez arrived in China in 2010. He was inspired to move to the country after watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations in which the iconic chef and TV host visited the Northeast China city of Harbin.

“I consider this episode one of my favorite TV episodes of any show I’ve ever seen — reality show or otherwise. It made me pack up my things and head to Harbin to work as an English teacher,” says Gomez.

Middle Kingdom Wrestling

In 2015, he founded MKW, and in 2019 he quit teaching to focus on the organization full-time. Since its inception, MKW has celebrated several noteworthy achievements, including the MKW Belt & Road Championship Tournament 2018 in Harbin and 2019 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

In addition to matches and tournaments in China and Nepal, MKW has produced events in Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam, and reached nearly 7 million concurrent viewers with its broadcasts in China.

Year of the Tiger

Year of the Rabbit

Wrestling X Lying Flat Poster

The collab between P-Nut Butter Studio and MKW is not the first time the wrestling organization has tapped into Chinese culture and society to help advance its mission to promote wrestling in China.

In 2022, MKW co-opted the ‘lying flat’ working philosophy, which refers to the unbothered attitude adopted by China’s young, burnt-out workers, to promote wrestling in a fun YouTube video. The video features wrestlers from around the globe telling viewers, “Don’t lay flat, get up and wrestle,” a statement that served as the organization’s slogan last year.

Middle Kingdom Wrestling, Chinese wrestling, wrestling in China

Middle Kingdom Wrestling, Chinese wrestling, wrestling in China

Beijing Winter Olympics meets Chinese pro wrestling

If you dig this artwork and want to support MKW’s mission to promote wrestling in China, check out these awesome T-shirts. And, if you are a fan of combat sports, you’d be remiss not to check out our 2022 content series on mixed martial arts (MMA) in China.

All images courtesy of P-Nut Butter Studio

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