Induction: Tiger Ali Singh – The Million Rupee Man

45 Submitted by on Thu, 06 October 2016, 20:00

WWF, 1997-1999

Have you ever contemplated how rare success is in pro wrestling?

For every hardcore legend like Mick Foley, there are a thousand stupid kids beating their brains out in their backyards.

For every charismatic muscle man like Hulk Hogan, there are a hundred Tom Magees.

And for every wrestler like The Rock who surpasses his father’s legacy, there are a dozen Tiger Ali Singhs.

Remember him? Tiger Ali Singh, for those of you who used to switch over to Nitro during the boring parts of Raw, somehow managed to combine the character of Ted DiBiase, Sr. with the disappointment of Ted DiBiase, Jr.

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Singh was signed by the WWF in 1997 to much hoopla, hoping to build the son of Tiger Jeet Singh into a star much like the third-generation Rocky Maivia. His contract-signing even got its own press conference at the SkyDome in his hometown of Toronto, which boasts a large Indian population and an occasional wrestling match to the death, as seen in the 1995 classic Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi.

Singh was quickly shot up the ranks by winning the WWF’s second annual Kuwaiti Cup tournament.

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And he was quickly shot down by debuting on TV against Salvatore Sincere in a jobber match that confused fans about which one was supposed to be the jobber, as neither man even got an entrance.

Singh re-appeared months later on the One Night Only pay-per-view in Manchester Birmingham, where he cut a babyface promo about keeping kids off drugs. The fan reaction was lukewarm. See, this was a new, edgier era in wrestling, and the classic do-gooder business turned off many fans.

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It was either that, or the fact that he called himself, I kid you not, “The true messiah.”

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Still, Vince thought Tiger would be a good role model to children of “Asian extraction” and chided Jerry Lawler (very slightly) for his disparaging remarks.

By beating Leif Cassidy and launching his wrestling career, Tiger Ali hoped to take a page out of his father’s footsteps. Vince derailed that metaphor limb from limb.

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The following year, Tiger got a gimmick overhaul, arriving on Sunday Night Heat and Raw to amuse himself, Ted Dibiase style, at how far audience members would degrade themselves for cash.

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Singh, like the Million Dollar Man, even had a manservant (named Abu) to assist him. Instead of the humiliating stunts being a rich vs. poor thing, though, it was a foreigner vs. American thing; the wealthy man from an exotic land aimed to demonstrate the inferior moral values of Americans in comparison to the people of his country.

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He never said which country exactly, but judging by his accent, he probably meant Canada.

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The first person to win five hundred of Singh’s dollars was a woman who ate dog food out of a bowl.

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Next was a large woman who won her prize by stripping. In his first few appearances, Tiger’s sole purpose was to make American woman do crazy things for American dollar.

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The misogynistic angle of the gimmick subsided when this Kevin Dunn-Jim Johnston hybrid accepted Singh’s next challenge.

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The man who tucked his D-Generation X shirt into his khaki shorts sacrificed his dignity by eating a worm.

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And speaking of bold fashion choices, Singh further showed off his fabulous wealth by wearing suits big enough for two.

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Other challenges licking the feet of his manservant Babu (not a typo; the WWF replaced Abu with another manservant and simply added an extra letter to his name. Nobody noticed)…

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…and French-kissing Babu while he had a mouthful of tuna.

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One night, the Toronto Tiger brought out some sausages on a grill and offered his usual five hundred “daw-lers” and asked for volunteers to “swallow Babu’s kielbasa”. Immediately, dozens of male hands shot up. Sexual overtones aside, did these people seriously think they could swallow a foot-long sausage whole?

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I wouldn’t eat one of those things even if I were allowed to chew; because of Singh’s misunderstanding of how a charcoal grill works, they probably hadn’t even been cooked.

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Tiger picked a woman out of the front row and, in one of the lewdest moments of the entire Attitude Era, she deep-throated the sausage, then pulled it out, then swallowed it again, then pulled it out once more.

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And just to remove all plausible deniability by the WWF, the Godfather came right out and said that the woman was one of his ho’s and came to collect his cut of the prize money. Tiger felt ripped off at having selected a “professional” rather than an “amateur”, costing him 500 entire dollars of his fortune. This sparked a brawl between him and the Godfather, who nearly beat the David Byrne-wannabe out of his giant suit.

At last, there was a payoff to Singh’s tiresome shtick, as he wrestled The Godfather the following week.

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Fans in attendance responded by doing the wave.

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Progress: In only a year, Singh had gone from beating Leif Cassidy to beating Al Snow.

Another of Singh’s matches saw him refuse to wrestle Al Snow, instead substituting in Babu. Al Snow had the bout well in hand until Tiger snuck up from behind, hit him with a bulldog, and pinned him to win a match he wasn’t even in.

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By this time, that other multi-generation wrestler Rocky Maivia was the WWF champion, but Tiger had a potential catchphrase that could have rocketed him up to the main event. Curiously, though, “That’s irrelevant!” never caught on like The Rock’s “It doesn’t matter!”

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To emphasize Tiger Ali Singh’s foreignness, the WWF started from perhaps the vaguest hometown in wrestling history, “the continent of Asia”, a landmass containing many of the largest countries on Earth, such as Russia, China, India, and, apparently, Canada.

As he was using the old theme song for Iran’s Iron Sheik, it’s possible that Vince himself had forgotten what country Tiger was supposed to be from.

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Finally, Singh, still being billed from “Asia”, began carrying the Indian flag to the ring and sporting traditional Sikh garb.

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There was also just a smidgen of racism, such as signs about him working at a 7-11…

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…or the UK audience flat-out booing the mention of Indian people living in England.

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Even Good Ol’ JR got in on the act.

In his final weeks on TV, Singh was used to put over a number of new or returning stars.

First, there was Kurt Angle, the Olympic gold medalist to whom Singh offered five thousand dollars to blow his nose in the American flag.

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Angle accepted, but instead blew his nose in the Indian flag to a huge pop from the crowd. 

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What the hell, Kurt?!

(WWE only recently owned up and apologized for the incident; they blamed it all on Kurt Angle)

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Then, there was the time he offered a “fan” (actually WWF writer Ed Ferrara) money to do a tasteless impression of a Bells Palsy-stricken Jim Ross, which he would later parlay into a Cruiserweight championship reign in WCW.

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The Real JR brought out Dr. Death Steve Williams to murder him.

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And finally, there was the time he offered any woman five hundred dollars to rub his feet, prompting Jacquelyn and Terri Runnels to accept, then renege once they found out they’d have to split the cash prize.

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Unwilling to fork over 500 bucks apiece, Singh faced the wrath of the debuting Meat.

Tiger would disappear once again, returning the next year to manage Lo Down before disappearing yet again and being released from his contract in two thousand freaking two.

All in all, Tiger wrestled only a handful of matches over his bafflingly long WWF career and drew less money than he ever gave away.

Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He currently runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws and Hasbro WWF figures. Email at: art@wrestlecrap.com
45 Responses to "Induction: Tiger Ali Singh – The Million Rupee Man"
  1. Autrach Sejanoz says:

    Pity Dr Death didn’t really murder Ed Ferrara. Could have saved us all the wretchedness that was Oklahoma.

  2. Alfonzo Tyson says:

    Yay!!!! A bad gimmick induction! We don’t get these often enough no more! Now we need The Dicks, Kwee Wee, that Jerkass Shemus period between 18 Seconds and his heel turn and a whole lotta junk from TNA!

  3. Mister Forth says:

    I think Williams tried to kill him.

  4. Hulk6785 says:

    2002!? He was still working for WWE until 2002!? He was still under contract when WCW went belly-up and the Invasion angle had ended!? What the hell!?

  5. Mr.Spiffy says:

    A whole lot of TNA crap like Abyss and the magic rings

    • CF says:

      Or Eric Young’s *ENTIRE* *[CENSORED]* *TENURE* in TNA….

      Just on his TNA career, Eric Young deserves some sort of special Wrestlecrap award for “most Biblically awful gimmicks survived with a shred of dignity”….

  6. E-Squared says:

    I actually remembered the overweight woman stripping. That was weird. I also remember the woman french kissing Babu. That woman was hot if I recall.

    By the way, does anybody remember when Tiger Ali Singh managed Lo Down?

    • 80's Guy says:

      Yeah, I remember that chick being hot, and also wearing a pretty revealing white t shirt, since her high beams were on. I think it was basically see through.

      I also remember Babu copping (or trying to cop) a feel on her boob.

      Good times.

  7. Raging_Demons says:

    You forgot the main reason why Tiger Ali Singh was yanked. Down to the end of his WWE career Singh was removed from TV when he made a promo that was almost a terrorist threat about the same time there really was a legitimate terrorist threat that happened. That was the excuse WWE needed to yank him off TV once and for all.

  8. Geoff says:

    Gee that isn’t racist at all. That just sounds like WWE never wanting him in the first place and looking for a way to get out of his contract. Go fig!

    Even more ironic, 10 years later they tried the same thing again with Muhammed Hassan. By this time we were smack dab in the middle of two wars with Iraq and Afganistan. So you’d naturally think that Vince found a perfect heel to rub it in the fans faces. Except that he didn’t figure on the fact that nobody seriously liked that heel at all. And then Muhammed did the same thing, something something terrorist threat and was never seen again ala Undertaker.

  9. Doc75 says:

    perhaps if he had stuck around or maybe returned about the time Muhammad Hassan came in they could have made them into a tag team. perhaps i have said too much?

  10. CF says:

    Why is it whenever wrestlers attempt to use simile or metaphor, they wind up sounding like Opus from _Bloom County_? 🙂

  11. Roland Smitts says:

    Should probably point out, Singh’s “Iron Sheik music” was technically for The Sultan, managed by Sheiky (…and Bob Backlund.). Sheik did use it in later appearances tho.

  12. #OPC says:

    I was really disappointed when he wasn’t in the 2001 Royal Rumble. I know it was supposed to be someone from Lo Down, replaced by Drew Carey, but I wanted Singh!

  13. Mav says:

    Whoah. Oklahoma began in the wwf? One less thing to blame on Russo. Guess we should be happy he didn’t join the nwo with those wwf credentials and all.

    • Walter Kovacs says:

      On one hand, Russo was likely writing at the time, but on the other hand “make fun of JR” seems like a Vince McMahon mandate, so it’s hard to tell which one started it. [Or, which one saw Ed doing the impression and said “let’s put that on TV”.]

      • Si says:

        Ferrara jumped to WCW with Russo, so it’s plausible he liked to amuse people (OK, just Russo) with the impression anyway and Vince told him to do it on TV.

  14. Doc 902714 says:

    That was actually ABU not BABU who got his toes licked by a fan. He would be replaced by Babu the following week for being deported for foot hygiene apparently. Also Abu curiously looks a lot like a younger Kosrow Daivairi.

  15. Geoff says:

    I was thinking the same thing when I looked at that pic. Abu does look a lot like Daivairi.

    • Al Lobama says:

      I believe that was ECW jobber “El Puerto Riqueno” Pablo Marquez. He also played the Sabu knock off character Ubas, who Sabu murdered when he returned to the company in 1996.

      • Art0Donnell says:

        I don’t know who Abu was, but Babu was “El Puerto Riqueño” according to Wikipedia. He’s from Ecuador.

  16. Jason S says:

    The woman doing the sausage swallowing was the “Kielbasa Queen” from the Howard Stern Show. Vince Russo (oh, don’t act surprised!) is a huge fan of Stern and brought her in for the segment.

    Typical Russo revisionist history sidenote: on a recent podcast where he reviewed this particular Raw, he mentioned how “Raw introduced the Kielbasa Queen to the world, before she appeared in Stern’s movie ‘Private Parts.’ Nobody cared enough to tell him that this segment aired at the end of 1998; Private Parts was released worldwide in 1997 and much of the movie was filmed a year or two before it was released.

  17. Justin Henry says:

    Two points:

    1) Karen Angle looks extra fine with the “Dean Wormer’s wife” hairstyle

    2) The Monday Night Wars DVD was already filled with plenty of BS, but the part where JR decries WCW for ‘making his kids cry’ by having somebody make fun of his Bells palsy loses its legs quite a bit.

  18. Jimbolian says:

    You know, I always had a feeling Oklahoma was Vince’s creation (not the panhandle state of course).

  19. Anonymous says:

    Awesome induction.

  20. FrankieSpice says:

    I can’t believe he was around that long and never got his own action figure. Even Bob Backlund got his own action figure.

  21. The Kid from Iowa says:

    I think the reason why we look at the Attitude Era with rose colored glasses is because it had a strong main event scene. Whereas as with the lower card you get future Hall of Fame inductees like Meat, Chaz and Mideon. The Rock, Stone Cold, Taker and Foley were good enough to help you drown out the Oddities or Los Boricuas.

    • Guest says:

      Allegedly strong main event scene is how you get things like Vince McMahon vs Austin at Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre or the 4 Way Elimination match st Wrestlemania 2000 with two guys who shouldn’t have even be in the match.

    • MistaMaddog says:

      Plus we also switched over to Nitro to avoid watching this type of low-carder crap…

  22. Alan says:

    Mr. Spiffy, Abyss and the Magic Rings has already been Inducted. E-Squared, Tiger Ali Singh managed Lo-Down in 1999-2000.

    • Alfonzo Tyson says:

      Abyss and his Magic Rings has NOT been inducted yet. It’s been mentioned in the New Monday Night Wars induction, but never got an induction of its own. Other TNA stuff that needs to be considered for induction:

      Bisexual Orlando Jones
      August 1st Warning
      Brooke Hogan in TNA
      Aces and Eights
      Winter
      Eric Young: Knockouts Tag Team Champion
      Sherpa Shake

      I know there’s others I’m forgetting!

  23. Chris says:

    A very minor detail – One Night Only was in Birmingham, not Manchester 🙂

    Otherwise, really enjoyed this, Singh always got my curiosity back then, not because he was good, but because of how randomly he would disappear and appear again.

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