Mae Young Classic Participant Kavita Devi Sparks Interest In India

Indian-born Mae Young Classic participant Kavita Devi is moving numbers on YouTube and Google.

A clip on YouTube of Devi’s first-round match in which she lost to New Zealand’s Dakota Kai already has 3 million views as of this writing, far more than any other clip related to the tournament. For a clip that’s less than a week old, 3 million is along the lines of an outstanding clip from RAW. No single clip from RAW on August 28 has reached 3 million yet.

To compare, most clips related to the Mae Young Classic stand at less than 100,000 views currently. The last clip of any kind uploaded to WWE’s YouTube that has more views than the Devi-Kai video is a clip of an angle between Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman from RAW on August 21.

Google searches for Devi have also been relatively high. In the last few days, searches for her name have exceeded other participants who most would think of as being more recognizable names before the tournament.

Most of that interest is coming from India. Google trends for the same five wrestlers for only the United States, shows Devi’s searches are fewer.

On September 4, the day the second round of Mae Young Classic episodes were made available on the WWE Network, there were more searches for Devi than for any other participant despite Devi being eliminated in a match that was dropped the prior week, and therefore she was not featured in any of the episodes that dropped on the day there were so many more searches for her than for others.

For select single hours recently there were more searches for Devi than for the most well-known wrestlers of Indian descent: The Great Khali and current WWE Champion Jinder Mahal.

The above Google Trends graph shows Devi even out pacing Mahal for the current incomplete week of September 3 to 9, but that's a projection of how the week will end, and if searches for Devi settle down, she may end the week below Mahal.

Media attention for Devi from mainstream outlets in India has been strong in the last few days. Most of the articles mention the Salwar-kameez (traditional Indian attire) she wears in her match against Kai. Articles have been posted on outlets like the Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, India Times and others.

Devi was chosen to be included in the Mae Young Classic following WWE’s tryout held in Dubai this past April. She originally trained at the Great Khali’s wrestling school in India. Last year she had matches for Khali’s Continental Wrestling Entertainment (CWE) promotion. A mixed tag match involving Devi, uploaded last year, has over 2 million views.

One must wonder if WWE will have bigger plans for Devi as a result of some of the mainstream attention she's receiving at least in her home country. Mahal was booked to become WWE Champion likely in-part due to his Indian heritage and the company's desire to appeal to an emerging market with a population of 1.3 billion people.

EDIT: A previous version of this article mentioned Devi was signed to a WWE contract. To our knowledge she is not.

Follow Brandon on Twitter @BrandonThurston. Email him at [email protected].

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