The New Growth of Australian Wrestling

In the last four months of 2018 alone, three more Australian promotions are debuting: Mayhem Pro and Iron Fist Pro in September, and Pro Wrestling League in November. They are a clear reflection of where the Aussie scene is heading despite where its been.

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The Australian pro wrestling scene is the epitome of ups and downs. In the decades before Jim Barnett came Down Under in the early 60’s, local promoters would present seasonal shows, but they were varied in how often they ran. George Gardiner, one of the top promoters in the country before Barnett, could run events that drew thousands, but sometimes it would be months before he promoted a show again. Enter 1964, when Americans Barnett and co-promoter Johnny Doyle opened up World Championship Wrestling, and they averaged 6,500 fans per show that first year, peaking with 8,000 on November 7th. Until 1978, WCW was one of the largest and most profitable wrestling territories on the planet, seeing the likes of Andre the Giant, Bruno Sammartino, and Dominic Denucci. But when it died, Australian wrestling as a whole died with it. Since most of the top stars were foreigners, they went home after WCW went under, leaving few big names left to try and pick up the pieces of Australian wrestling.

For the next twenty years, Australian wrestling was virtually non-existent. The WWF (at the time) would make house show tours of the country, usually once a year, but there wasn’t much to speak of in terms of homegrown content. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, though, promotions began popping up some, most notably Australasian Wrestling Federation, International Wrestling Australia, and Explosive Coastal Wrestling (now Explosive Pro Wrestling). While still very underground, more and more federations were opening up, with very few closing down, and the scene began growing. The advent of the internet helped international wrestling fans get a peek at what the wrestling was like Down Under. Today, Aussie wrestling is the healthiest it’s been in forty years, with the aforementioned EPW, Melbourne City Wrestling, and Pro Wrestling Australia leading the way. However, the current scene is still growing, exemplified in Mayhem Pro, Iron Fist Pro, and Pro Wrestling League all debuting this year.

The three Aussie promotion starting up this year are contributing to their respective state’s current wrestling status: Mayhem Pro is adding to the vibrant Victorian wrestling scene, while Iron Fist Pro is looking to develop the burgeoning South Australian wrestling, and in Gold Coast, Pro Wrestling League will add to what is possibly the fastest growing wrestling market in Australia: Queensland. Seeing so many new promotions open up so close to each other without crowding the market, shows how strong the interest is. This is also beneficial to Aussie wrestlers, giving them more places to work, to make more money, and to sharpen their skills inside the ring. In the last year, we’ve also seen MCW in Melbourne start up a training academy, which will only multiply the future prospects of the country. EPW’s training school in Perth, Western Australia has been running since 2001, and has seen graduates go to both WWE and New Japan Pro Wrestling. Speaking of those two, pro wrestling interest is growing so much in Australia, that WWE is doing a pay-per-view Down Under for the first time since 2002. On October 6th, Super Show Down will draw somewhere between 50,000 to 60,000 in attendance at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds. New Japan Pro Wrestling ran a tour of Australia earlier this year for the first time ever, and are rumored to be returning later this year for a second tour. Even PROGRESS Wrestling from the UK got in on the action, and joint promoted shows in the country with local federations. All of these sings point to the continued growth of the independent scene in Australia, and Mayhem Pro, Iron Fist Pro, and Pro Wrestling League both add to and prove that fact. These new promotions may be the latest to join the party, but they certainly won’t be the last.

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