Written By: Wayne Little
G’day one and all and welcome to the weird and wonderful place that is my mind, my name is Wayne and you are now entering my World. Two weeks ago Australian wrestling fans were gifted something we have been asking for for years, a major WWE Premium Live Event is going to come to our country and stream live for the rest of the world to see. While not one of the big 3 of Wrestlemania, Summerslam or Royal Rumble, the announcement of the 2024 Elimination Chamber emanating from the Optus Stadium in Perth on February 24th is something we thought we would never get. Yeah we have had a Premium Live Event before but that one had its own new name and then became a Saudi Arabian show for the next two years. This time we are getting an established show with a 13 year history, the third time it has been held outside the USA (second outside of North America) and to be honest we are ready.
While this might only be the second Premium Live Event in Australia’s history (technically third which I will get to soon) WWE has been in Australia putting on shows many more times before. The first time WWE ever came to Australia was way back in November of 1985 where they did a House Show in Sydney and two in Melbourne. As was the style back then, none of the major names came over (or if they did they did not wrestle), no main eventers, no championships, just mid to low carders but still this was the first big wrestling in Australia since the death of World Championship Wrestling in 1978 and the excitement would have been massive. The shows were headlined by The Junkyard Dog who defeated Iron Mike Sharpe in the main events of the first two shows and Adrian Adonis in the final Melbourne show.
1986 would see the WWE make multiple returns to Australia in February, April, July and September for a total of 12 shows (5 in Melbourne, 4 in Sydney, 2 in Brisbane and 1 in Perth) throughout the year. While these shows were basically the same idea as the 1985 shows with mid to low carders, there were a couple of special occasions that are worth highlighting. On February 8th around 12,000 people would be at the Sydney Entertainment Centre for the first ever WWE taped wrestling show to emanate from Australia. The episode of Prime Time Wrestling would air in the USA on April 8th and would have a main event of Mr. Fuji and The Magnificent Muraco defeating King Tonga and Special Delivery Jones. The fans in attendance would also be offered a treat for being there at the taping with a dark match second main event where they got to see Andre the Giant win in a battle of the behemoths against Big John Studd.
The shows in July would see history being made when for the first time ever Australia would not only ever host its first WWE title matches but would also see its first ever WWE title changes on Australian soil. This honour would go to fans in Brisbane on July 3rd 1985 where they would witness Velvet McIntyre defeat The Fabulous Moolah for the WWE Women’s Title for what would be the start of her only reign with the title. The next day McIntyre would successfully retain her title against Moolah, albeit by a DQ win, in Perth but her run would end after only 6 days when in Sydney on the 9th, Moolah would regain her title by defeating McIntyre.
Despite the success of these tours it would be 16 years before the WWE would put on another show when on August 10th, 2002, members of the Smackdown roster would compete in front of 56,734 fans at Colonial Stadium (now known as both Docklands Stadium and Marvel Stadium) in Melbourne at a show named Global Warning. While not streamed live on PPV the show was taped for home release and has since been added to the Premium Live Event catalogue (therefore why above I said technically Elimination Chamber will be Australia’s 3rd Premium Live Event). While the shows back in the 80’s meant no big names appeared things were not the same anymore with WWE’s new touring style meaning everyone made the trip as shown in the main event of the show where the Undisputed World Champion The Rock would retain his title against Brock Lesnar and Triple H in a Triple Threat Match. With the talent involved Melbourne was able to witness a great show from the WWE, something that we would get more and more of in the future.
Australia would not have to wait 16 years for the next visit from the WWE as for the next 17 years, until COVID stopped the visits in 2020, they would come over at least once a year to entertain their Aussie fans. During this time multiple cities would be host to shows under the WWE banner, with the capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide hosting most shows but Newcastle (2), Canberra and Gold Coast (both 1 NXT show) hosted shows as well.The majority of these were House Show tours, brand specific for the first few years until the brand split ended, then the entire roster from then on (except for an NXT tour in 2016). Being House Shows these were all basically inconsequential shows, title matches did happen but never would a title change hands, that was of course left for TV.
There were some highlights over this time though such as in Sydney on August 27th 2004 where Booker T would beat John Cena in the third match of a best of five series for the United States Championship which would otherwise play out on Smackdown and PPV. So therefore this result was part of a major storyline. Another highlight was called the Brisbane Cup which was held at the Brisbane shows between 2006 and 2011 (except 2008). The Cup was awarded to the winner of a Battle Royal (winners were Mark Henry, Jeff Hardy, John Cena, The Big Show and CM Punk) with the prize being a shot at the major title at the end of the night (which of course they would not win).
Emma would have the honour of being the first ever Australian to have a match on Australian soil for the WWE when in August 2014 she would team with Nikki Bella at three shows beating Alicia Fox and Layla in each match. A year later she would return once more, this time teaming with Natalya to beat The Bellla Twins in another three matches. Unfortunately for her, her undefeated streak would end in her own country when she returned in September 2017 where her three matches would be as part of a 5 way match for the Raw Women’s Title and since she wasn’t champion (it was Alexa Bliss at this time) she of course didn’t win at a house show.
In December 2016 NXT would tour Australia for six shows and this would see a few significant important things happen with WWE in Australia. First off this time not just one Australian would wrestle on these shows but instead would have five Australians showcasing their talent, that being Buddy Murphy, Peyton Royce, Billie Kay, Nick Miller and Shane Thorne. Murphy would win all six matches on the tour, the only member of that group that did so, and has since gone on to win another four on other tours, thus meaning he is the only Australian wrestler to be undefeated on Australian soil when wrestling under the WWE banner.
The other important thing that would happen would be that the 3rd show of the tour would be the 3rd ever show in Australia that WWE would tape. While the NXT episode would not air until January 4th it was taped on December 8th at Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne. On this show Buddy Murphy would team with Tye Dilllinger to beat Bobby Roode and Elias Samson while Billie Kay would lose a Triple Threat Match to Ember Moon which also involved Liv Morgan. Nick Miller and Shane Thorne, wrestling as TM-61, would have the biggest match of the Australians unsuccessfully challenging for the NXT Tag Team Titles against Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, #DIY. The Main event of this show saw Shinsuke Nakamura successfully defend his NXT Championship against Samoa Joe in a Steel Cage Match.
While all these tours would have multiple shows over multiple cities the 2018 tour would only have one show but that one show would be the biggest show in Australia to this date. On October 5th 2018 Australia hosted Super ShowDown, the first ever WWE Premium Live Event to stream live from Australia which had a main event seeing Triple H defeat The Undertaker in a No-DQ Match. Taking place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in front of 70,309 fans, the biggest crowd ever at a Wrestling event in Australia, this event made history. While The IICONICS (Kay and Royce) would win their match against Asuka and Naomi, it was Buddy Murphy’s match that would make just as much history as that massive crowd. His win against Cedric Alexander, which was for the Cruiserweight Championship, would not only be the third time a WWE Title has changed hands on Australian soil but it would be the first time an Australian had won a WWE singles title and would do that in his home country, definitely the biggest moment to happen in a WWE ring in Australia to this date.
Due to COVID closing the world down in 2020, WWE has not had a show in Australia since October 23rd 2019 so the announcement of Elimination Chamber has fans here in Australia itching for WWE to return to our shores and what a way to do it. Not only will it be the biggest show we have ever held but if things go the way things are going we could see our first ever Women’s World Champion Rhea Ripley have her first ever match for WWE in her home country and would be the first ever Australian to defend a WWE title on Australian soil. History will be made in February, I just wish I could get to the other side of the country to see history made, what a great experience that would be as my first ever live wrestling experience after 30 years of being a fan. Oh well I will still enjoy watching it live on Binge.