By Jim Phillips, Columnist
When you think of Australian wrestling, and the famous wrestlers that have come out of there, the brain conjures images of The Sheepherders, The Fabulous Kangaroos, “Superstar” Bill Dundee, Paul Graham, Nathan Jones, and the purists out there will go all the way back to the days of 1936 Olympic bronze medalist Eddie Scarf, and all the way up to present day with the recent rise of I-Conics, Billie Kay and Peyton Royce. Australia is known for hard hitting heels that will knock your teeth loose and, let you know about it while they’re doing it. For most of the last decade, I’ve kept an eye on the homegrown scene down Unda’. It wasn’t until recently that I saw a promotion that has captured that fire of Aussie competition that it’s legacy demanded.
After doing the Road Stories and Ribs column, I decided to get back in touch with World Series Wrestling owner, Adrian Manera for a discussion about the history of the promotion and what he sees for it’s future. The best place to start would be back in South Australia, on the sun drenched coast of Adelaide.
It was 1999, and Manera was beginning his first forays into the promotional side of wrestling. Have grown up a fan of the local product, and all the great wrestling coming out of America and Japan, he decided to begin promoting small shows around Adelaide with some of the local talents. Over the next few years he climbed the learning tree, and established himself as a trusted businessman in the Aussie wrestling community.
Adrian married his girlfriend in 2004, and on a subsequent trip to New York she called his attention to a girl that she “thought was a wrestler”. Her presumption turned out to be correct, as Adrian introduced himself to Christie Hemme, and snapped a quick photo. After reflecting on the chance run-in, he took it as a sign to get back into the business full time once again. He began preparations to launch his next idea onto the wrestling area around the southern tip of the country.
World Series Wrestling began as an entity in 2005 and hit the ground running with a highly successful tour that saw an amazing trio of matches between Christopher Daniels, and A.J. Styles, as well as Rhyno being crowned the first WSW champion when he defeated Jeff Jarrett, only to lose the title two days later to Double J in Newcastle, South Wales. When Jarrett started up NWA-TNA, the title was stripped from him and remained vacated until it was reclaimed by Bryan Danielson after his defeat of Nigel McGuinness in the summer of 2007 at their International Assault series of shows. Then, sometimes, when everything is going the way you want it to, life comes calling.
After a sponsorship issue in 2010 that side-lined their planned tour, Manera began to focus more on his personal life and saw the birth of his second child during this time. His furniture business, HaggleCo Furniture, also began to pick up, and more of his time was required away from the ring. It wasn’t long though, before the he began to feel that tug to get back into promoting wrestling.
2017 saw the rise of a new tour for World Series, and the crowning of a new champion. Ricochet won the title on the first night of the event in, what I can only say, was one helluva good match. He came out victorious over Brian Cage and Austin Aries, but the Belt Collector, claimed another prize when he took the title two days later, on November 27th of this past year. He has maintained his status as WSW Champion since that night.
I asked Adrian how long he would like to keep the promotion going this time around, and he replied in that classic Aussie accent, “That’s hard to say really mate. How’s long a piece of string? I have no desire to stop doing this anytime soon. We’ve got a really strong roster of local talent like “World Class” Chris Basso, Jonah Rock, Robbie Eagles, and Slex. Concrete Davidson and the recently resurfaced Joey Ryan have come together as The Concrete Dongs to win the WSW Tag Team Titles. We also have Austin Aries on as our Champ. Things are looking good for us right now.”
World Series has the distinct advantage of being outside the restrictive compete clauses that we face here in the States. This affords them the ability to bring together some dream matches that would be impossible elsewhere in the world at this time. By combing the talents of Impact, Lucha Underground, ROH, and NJPW they offer a great diversity of top level action, as well as getting over the local guys.
“I try to take care of the talent.”, said Manera. “It just makes everything go smoother when everyone is happy and having a good time out there, in and out of the ring.”
When I tabled the subject of possibly working with Billy Corgan’s new NWA and establish a new branch in Australia, Adrian quickly responded with words bearing the solid individuality that is pure Aussie.
“Nah…nah, I really just wanna do my own thing, ya know. Make a name for myself without having to be affiliated with any big organization to be able to do it. I’d like to see us eventually be able to have a rotating tour going around all of the country. Not just the southern areas and branch out more into the rest of Australia, and possibly New Zealand. Build the shows from one town to the next across a long tour. That’s it mate; that’s where I’d like to see us go.”
World Series hits the road again with the International Assault:Best of the Best tour in the cities of Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney from Friday June 22, through Monday night the 25th. The cards are stacked and will definitely not disappoint. I recommend that if you’re in that area you go and check out the WSW product, and if you’re stateside like most of us reading this, go to the YouTube links below and hunt the product out. They are the premiere promotion in Australia at the moment, and in the keen eye of this observer, they offer they best array of homegrown talent going.
Sometimes we get so landlocked in our perceptions of what professional wrestling has to offer, that we miss out on what is on the plate in the rest of the world. I urge all of you to seek out these international promotions, not letting language or format differences being a barrier to your enjoyment of the action that goes on between the ropes. There are some truly great options out there if you look for them.
Special thanks to Adrian Manera for his contributions to this story.