Australia is a country in the southern hemisphere and is seen as a continent although some see it as the largest island in the world. It has a population of over 22 million people, with over half concentrated in five of the country's state capital cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide).
Until the 1960s, wrestling in Australia was all over the place. It consisted of mostly single matches on shows that also contained boxing contests. It didn't stop the likes of stars such as Clarence Weber, Jack Carkeek, Clarence Whistler and Georg Hackenschmidt touring the country before World War 2, and Lou Thesz, Dr. Jerry Graham and Gorgeous George during the 1950s.
In 1962 in Melbourne, a promotion called International Wrestling came to the attention of the mainstream media when Australian rules football player Murray Weideman announced that he would be wrestling in the promotion. Crowd numbers jumped, thanks to the support of the fans of the football club Weideman played for - Collingwood. Weideman worked for two months between August and October 1962 usually as a tag team partner to Salvatore Savoldi - a largely unknown face in wrestling - against Butcher Vachon and either George Bollas or another unknown in Pierre La Chappelle. These matches were held at Festival Hall, and were refereed by infamous heel Dirty Dick Raines.
In 1964, Australia established its only major promotion in World Championship Wrestling. WCW had a television deal with the Nine Network, the first in Australia to do so and attracted crowds between 2,000 and 9,000 people on a weekly basis. International stars such as Killer Kowalski, Ray Stevens, Dominic DeNucci, Mario Milano, Spiros Arion, Karl Gotch, Bruno Sammartino, Gorilla Monsoon and local stars Ron Miller and Larry O'Dea were all involved with the promotion which grew steadily through its life. However, with the introduction of World Series Cricket, WCW was left with no television deal and was forced to close down in 1978. This sent the Australian market into a large decline. With no access to any product anywhere in the world, the Australian market was almost dead until World Wrestling Entertainment became a prominent figure in professional wrestling in the mid-1980s.
Australian professional wrestling now plays only a minor role in mainstream Australian culture, with most Australian professional wrestling fans being fans of the WWE not even knowing a local independent scene even exists, or treat it with contempt - in all States and territories of Australia (except the Northern Territory). As a whole, Australian Professional wrestling and the promotions, wrestlers, and events are considered on par with most other promotions around the world - it is only the distinct lack of promotion and lack of leadership that leaves a big gap open, and lets many talented and experienced wrestlers fly under the radar and go virtually unnoticed of both local, interstate and overseas wrestling fans.
There have been two attempts to restore the role that WCW once played, in 2002 by Andy Raymond with the Australian Wrestling Supershow and in 2004 by James Brock with NWA Australia. Both failed.
- Australia on Wikipedia