Living in Australia has many advantages. Beautiful weather for most of the year. The drinking age is 18. Some of the best tourist destinations in the world. Donald Trump isn’t in line to be our next leader… But if there is one thing it’s hard to be in Australia, it’s being a wrestling fan.
Wrestling is not super prevalent here in Australia. There are plenty of really small wrestling promotions in each major city, I know the names of the local ones simply because I’m a big enough wrestling fan and I research these things.
When it comes to finding official wrestling merchandise here, good luck! The major department stores will have a small section devoted to the DVD’s. But that’s about it. Admittedly in some areas it has improved, action figures, play rings and whatnot have seen an increase. Not so much in variety (Anybody want 14 of the same John Cena figure?) but nevertheless, the stock is there I guess.
Some of the points I will bring up may be applicable to those in other countries… But for the most part, Aussie fans will know what I’m talking about here.
Our Media Treats It As A Joke
Now this could be the case in a number of countries, but in Australia I find it to be pretty bad. Our mainstream media just don’t care, like at all. The mainstream media will never treat WWE seriously (no matter how much WWE is desperately trying to change that). But at least for the most part, they let them have their say when a superstar is on a show promoting the live event in the area and not, y’know, laugh at them.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people refer to it as ‘WWF’ on Australian television. It wasn’t a big deal in the 2000’s when they had only recently changed the name to WWE. But it’s been nearly 15 years since it was last called WWF. Come on guys.
A big example of when the media were just disrespectful quite frankly was when Australia’s own Emma was a guest on ‘The Project’ in 2014. This segment was painful to watch (and still is when I re-watch it as I write this). Emma was promoting the upcoming Australian tour, her first time back in Australia as a main roster superstar. What followed was a train wreck of an interview.
They started by referring to her as ‘Diva Emma’. Clearly misunderstanding the press release they had been handed that said ‘WWE Diva, Emma’. They proceeded with generic questions in regards to body slams as a kid. They asked about her relationships for some reason (because she’s a girl I guess…). At one point one of the hosts called her Sarah.
It was awful. Watch it if you like, it’s uncomfortable. Poor Emma.
WWE Only Visits Once A Year
(At a Live Event in 2012. Daniel Bryan Vs CM Punk)
This just comes with being an international fan. I totally understand why they only come once a year. It’s super far away, there are only so many days in a year and a tonne of other countries around the world also want to see it. That’s fine. This has more to do with what WWE does while they’re here. And by that I mean they do nothing of note.
Since 2003, Australia has been getting annual tours. These consist of 3-5 dates of just generic live events where nothing happens. Everyone knows the way live events go. 6-8 matches of whatever feuds are happening on TV, all champions retain, more faces win than heels and the top babyface will always triumph to close the show. It’s okay to do that, but the amount they charge to see a generic show is ridiculous!
Outside of the 2002 Global Warning Tour (which was later released on video), WWE have not had a televised event from Australia, which is baffling. The 2002 tour had 56,000 people attend a non-televised event! The demand is (or at least, was) here, it’s not too much to ask that we have at least a Raw and Smackdown taping here.
No Australians Have Made It Big (Yet)
If I asked you 3 years ago to name a successful big time Australian wrestler, you most probably would come up with nothing (If you said The Bushwackers I would have hit you, they’re from New Zealand).
The Fabulous Kangaroos (Al Costello and Roy Heffernan) were a very successful tag team from 1957-1965. They won numerous NWA Tag Team Championships and were posthumously inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003. However in the minds of todays wrestling fans, they aren’t remembered.
Outback Jack wrestled for the World Wrestling Federation in the 80’s. His WWF career was short. He won a handful of matches against some jobbers and left the WWF with little fan fare 2 years into his career. Nathan Jones signed with WWE in late 2002. He left 12 months later. Let us never speak of him again.
In more recent times, the likes of Emma and Buddy Murphy debuted with WWE and are still going strong. Emma is did great things in the NXT Women’s division and has returned to the main roster and Murphy became one half of the NXT Tag Team Champions in January of 2015, making him the first Australian in history to win a WWE branded championship. They are also the first Australian WWE superstars to not be total embarrassments (I’m looking at you Outback Jack and Nathan Jones).
In April, WWE signed Perth born wrestlers Mikey Nichols and Shane Haste, also known as The Mighty Don’t Kneel (TMDK) from Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan and are now in the WWE Performance Center awaiting debut. Billie Kay and Peyton Royce are both Sydney natives and competing in NXT as well. Good luck to all of them!
Television Broadcast Delays
This was definitely more of an issue 5-10 years ago, but it still was a major annoyance. In February 2014, Australia finally (and I mean FINALLY) started to receive Raw live on television. Monday night in the United States is about mid Tuesday morning in Australia. Perfect! But like I said, February 2014 that happened, it wasn’t always like this.
I started watching Wrestling in 2000, and at that point Monday Night Raw was broadcast on Tuesdays at 8:30pm, around 12 hours after it airs in the US. By 2003 it had moved channels and aired on Wednesdays at 9:30pm, 36 hours later than America. I was so lucky the internet wasn’t as useful as it is now.
By 2005 it settled on Wednesdays at 3pm. It stayed in that time slot for 9 years.
Smackdown on the other hand, Australia got a good deal with that! Until 2005, the blue brand was broadcast on a Saturday night. It didn’t bother many people, it was like a tape delay of a tape delay, no-one cared. However in 2004, when Smackdown was moved from Thursdays to Fridays in America, we got a super good deal.
Smackdown was moved to Friday 3pm in Australia, which meant we received Smackdown about 12-16 hours before the United States. That was a hell of a deal we got until January of 2016.
Television broadcasts were a bit of a catch-22 for Australians. Raw was super late, but we got Smackdown before anyone else.
Avoiding Spoilers Of Pay Per Views
This is something that will never change because that’s the beauty of time zones. Sunday nights in the United States is mid Monday morning in Australia. This is where being an Australian wrestling fan is at its toughest.
Between March and October, PPV’s would start at 9:30am. Between October and March, 11:30am (Hooray for daylight savings!). This would mean you would be forced to go to school/work and spend the entirety of your day wondering what’s happening on the show that you can’t watch!
This proved even more difficult as the internet got bigger, social media became a thing and access to spoilers became even easier to accidentally stumble across. So the thing that you would usually do to pass the time while bored at work/school you can’t for fear of spoiling yourself!
But I do have to say, the best feeling ever was coming home and dumping all your stuff and run to the TV to watch the PPV. Because wrestling, no matter how much it irritates you, is just the best form of entertainment out there!