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Oceania (Australia & New Zealand)



Pro-Wrestling in Oceania was first popularized by Professor William Miller, who introduced gimmickry to the fledgling sport in the 1880s. In spite of his popularity, pro-wrestling in Australia turned toward the legit style that was the main style in the first forty years of the twentieth century when pro-wrestling was on the radio. There were various claimants to national titles and even George Hackenschmidt visited during this period. Pro-wrestling's popularity grew and by the 1920s, there were a variety of promotions. However, it was Dick Lean's Stadiums Limited, which owned a number of facilities in Australia that became responsible for pro-wrestling's growth in the country from the 1920s through the 1950s. At the same time in New Zealand, it was a cartel of promoters, Dominion Wrestling Union that had the same effect on pro-wrestling in that country.

As the 1960s rolled in it became clear that pro-wrestling in Oceania was changing. The popular style had moved closer to the television wrestling that had swept across North America and away from the athletic marathons between world class grapplers that had been popular during the first half of the century. Dominion Wrestling Union's head Walter Miller died and rising star Steve Rickard took over and started All Star Pro-Wrestling. Rickard began bringing in pro-wrestlers from the US that had established themselves as TV wrestlers. However, that growth was eclipsed by the World Championship Wrestling promotion in Australia. WCW was one of the hottest companies in the world and All Star was able to follow their lead and secure much of their talent.

As the 1960s came to a close, the National Wrestling Alliance began including more international affiliates. Jim Barnett, despite a history of disputes with the NWA, respresented Australia. Steve Rickard's established company represented New Zealand. Both groups underwent some changes over the next decade, but remained NWA members. During this period, top heavyweight John DaSilva broke away for a period of time, but the star power in Rickard's All Star group never wavered.

The 1970s saw the final glory days of pro-wrestling in Australia and New Zealand. NWA-Australia and All Star continued to run strongly living off the huge success of the previous decade. There were new stars coming in, established stars coming back and the two companies were regularly sharing talent. Then in 1978, the rug was pulled out when Channel 9 cancelled WCW's show. The scene died overnight in Australia. It did not take long for New Zealand to follow suit. By 1983, All Star was largely finished. While the NWA continued to send the champion to both countries, the boom period was over.

The WWF and WCW had taken over the pro-wrestling world and these two countries became profitable places for both companies. After WCW was bought, promoter Andrew McManus even targetted the country with former WCW stars and some independent wrestlers with some success. Both countries continue to host independent groups, but pro-wrestling in Australia and New Zealand is far from the hot spots they were in the 1960s and 1970s.


Stadiums Limited [Australia] (1924-1965)
In 1899, Dick Lean and John Wren established Stadiums Limited. Based out of Sydney, the organization promoted boxing and pro-wrestling for decades. For over forty years, Stadiums Limited controlled operations in Australia by owning and running West Melbourne Stadium as well as stadiums in Sydney and Brisbane. In the 1940s, Ted Thye became the American agent for the promotion, but it was the stability after the war ended that . In the post-war years, the tenants of straight pro-wrestling wavered and the more dynamic style became popular. In the 1950s, the colorful stars of the American scene came. In the 1960s, Lean helped promoters Johnny Doyle and Jim Barnett break into the country and they ran his stadiums with monumental success. 


Jim Browning
Primo Carnera
Vic Christy
Dean Detton
Gorgeous George
Dr. Jerry Graham
Roy Heffernan
Ski Hi Lee
Ed "Strangler" Lewis
Jim Londos
Earl McCready
Danny McShain
John Pesek
Ad Santel
Gus Sonnenberg
Joe Stecher
Ray Steele
Sandor Szabo
Lou Thesz
Ted Thye




Dominion Wrestling Union [New Zealand] (1929-1961)
Pro-wrestling in New Zealand was controlled tightly by an association headed by Walter Miller that required wrestlers to have licensing. They would sign crew for the season, May to November, which sometimes included top stars from the US and Canada. Miller was able to secure some of the premier talent of the day. Canadians, because they were part of the British Empire and were not subjected to the taxation that Americans were, became particularly important draws. Miller controlled the incoming talent carefully and was unwilling to let American gimmickry spoil the sport in New Zealand. Houses remained strong, until the late 1950s when he finally relented. This exposed the fans to this new style that was huge in the United States. After Miller's passing, a new generation of young wrestlers took over and redefined the sport.

Paul Boesch
Al Costello
John DaSilva
Dean Detton
Ed Don George
Gorgerous George
Eric Holmback (Yukon Eric)
John Katan
Dan Koloff
Ed "Strangler" Lewis
Jim Londos
Roy McClarty
Earl McCready
Pat O'Connor
Oki Shikina
Gus Sonnenburg
Joe Stecher
Ray Steele
Jim Wright
Zebra Kid



All Star Pro-Wrestling [New Zealand] (1962-1983)
Steve Rickard was the man in charge of pro-wrestling in New Zealand for over thirty years. A former detective, Rickard moved up the ladder quickly. He was talented in the ring and assumed the leadership of the top company when its head Walter Miller passed away. After that point, his group began importing a wider variety of pro-wrestling stars and adapted to the style that was popular elsewhere. While pro-wrestling boomed in Australia, Rickard was able to secure some major names and build up New Zealand. After Australian promoter Jim Barnett joined the NWA, Rickard followed suit in 1972 and remained a member until 2001. In 1978, Australian wrestling was taken off TV and the scene dried up. Many of the stars turned to Rickard for work and in the early 1980s, he had the premier operation in the region. However, times were changing and after the 1983 season, New Zealand wrestling really dropped off. Although he ran sporatic shows throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the arrival of the WWF to New Zealand TV in 1989 effectively ended Rickard's ability to run a successful company. 


Abdullah the Butcher
Siva Afi
Andre The Giant
Spiros Arion
The Assassin
Giant Baba
Ox Baker
Count Bartelli
Jack Brisco
Bruiser Brody
Bulldog Brower
Leo Burke
Haystacks Calhoun
Don Carson
Ciclon Negro
Ripper Collins
"Big Bad" John DaSilva
The Destroyer
Jim Dillon
Ric Flair
Mr. Fuji
Terry Garvin
George Gordienko
Gorgeous George Jr.
Bret Hart
Bruce Hart
King Curtis Iaukea
Rocky Johnson
King Kamata (Tor Kamata)
Ivan Koloff
Jos LeDuc
Mark Lewin
Rick Martel
Peter (Fanene) Maivia
Bugsy McGraw
Butch Miller
Ron Miller
Guy Mitchell
Rip Morgan
Don Muraco
Larry O'Dea
Pat O'Connor
Tony Parisi
Thunderbolt Patterson
Al Perez
Harley Race
Steve Rickard
Pat Roach
Dewey Robertson
Bobby Shane
The Sheik
Sweet Daddy Siki
Tiger Jeet Singh
Toru Tanaka
Les Thornton
Tosh Togo
John Tolos
Tarzan Tyler
Paul Vachon
Ali Vaziri (Iron Sheik)
Waldo Von Erich
Baron Von Krupp
The Von Steigers (Kurt & Karl)
Billy White Wolf (Adnan Kaissey)
Teddy Williams (Luke Williams)




World Championship Wrestling [Australia] (1964-1969)
Johnny Doyle was one of the most successful and antagonistic promoters of the sport's "golden age." He became an underling of Philadephia powerhouse Ray Fabiani and mentored under Toots Mondt before taking over the Los Angeles market. Doyle made huge strides there that opened doors for him and he became an early advocate for a nationally televised pro-wrestling product. After Los Angeles, he joined up with Capitol Wrestling, then Boston and finally focused on Detroit with his partner Jim Barnett. The two were secretly backed by Frank Tunney and Sam Mushnick, but they could not gain NWA membership. Instead, they did battle and aided others in their battles against the NWA establishment. Eventually, they lost interest in their US operations and targetted on Australia. They secured their arenas through Stadiums Ltd., their TV shows on the National Television Network and they sent taped shows ahead to secure their success. They played to the ethnic markets in the cities and it was a huge success. Doyle and Barnett were shrewd businessmen and they turned Australia into one of the hottest markets in the world. Like Japan became noted for at the same time, Doyle and Barnett handpicked talent from abroad. The tours paid handsomely and it was a major accomplishment for any pro-wrestler to travel there. Eventually, Doyle, who was nearing sixty, left the operation to Barnett and retired. Within a year, Barnett had joined the NWA (old NWA rival Fred Kohler had sold his promotion and died by that time) and Doyle had passed away from cancer. 


Abdullah the Butcher
Mitsu Arakawa
Spiros Arion
The Assassins (Joe Hamilton & Tom Renesto)
Ox Baker
Count Bartelli
Red Bastien
Brute Bernard
Johnny Boyd
Jack Brisco
Jerry Brisco
Bulldog Brower
Haystacks Calhoun
Ciclon Negro
Ripper Collins
Buddy Colt
Dominic DeNucci
The Destroyer (Guy Mitchell)
Emile Dupre
Bob Ellis
Pampero Firpo
The Flying Scotts (George & Sandy)
Mr. Fuji
Dory Funk Jr.
Terry Funk
Tony Garea
Pepper Gomez
Dr. Jerry Graham
"Playboy" Gary Hart
Roy Heffernan
Larry Hennig
King Curtis Iaukea
Don Leo Jonathan
Killer Kowalski
Killer Karl Kox
Karl Krauser (Karl Gotch)
Mark Lewin
Dale Lewis
Luther Lindsay
Tex McKenzie
Mario Milano
Ron Miller
Mongolian Stomper
Gorilla Monsoon
Skull Murphy
Larry O'Day
Pat Patterson
Antonio Pugiliese (Tony Parisi)
Harley Race
Antonino "Argentina" Rocca
Bruno Sammartino
Baron Mikel Sciculna
The Spoiler
Ray Stevens
Toru Tanaka
Waldo Von Erich
The Von Steigers (Kurt & Karl)
Billy White Wolf (Adnan Kaissey)
Bearcat Wright




National Wrestling Alliance - Australia (1969-1978)
Jim Barnett and long-time partner Johnny Doyle had been kept out of the NWA in 1961 by Fred Kohler, but eight years later they had built Australia into one of the best markets in the world and Kohler was out of the picture. Barnett's established product became an NWA affiliate, but they did not change their formula much. He quickly moved up the NWA ladder and eventually was looking to get out of Australia for good. The promotion was bought by Tony Kolonie who sold it the following year to the top native stars, Larry O'Dea and Ron Miller. The company ran for three more years and continued to be successful. However, in 1978, the price tag was high and pro-wrestling was replaced by World Series Cricket, effectively ending the Australian wrestling boom. 


Skandor Akbar
Lars Anderson
Andre the Giant
Spiros Arion
Buddy Austin
Ox Baker
Brute Bernard
Bruiser Brody
Bulldog Brower
Bob Brown
Don Carson
Ciclon Negro
Dominic DeNucci
Mr. Fuji
Jimmy Golden
Great Mephisto (Frankie Cain)
Swede Hanson
Rip Hawk
King Curtis Iaukea
Killer Kowalski
Killer Karl Kox
Killer Karl Krupp
Mark Lewin
Rick Martel
Dennis McCord (Austin Idol)
Bugsy McGraw
The Medics (Dale Lewis & Bob Griffin)
Mario Milano
Ron Miller
Missouri Mauler
Dick Murdoch
Skull Murphy
Larry O'Dea
Antonio Pugliese (Tony Parisi)
Dusty Rhodes
Billy Robinson
Masa Saito
Tiger Jeet Singh
Stan Stasiak
Hito Tojo (Kabuki)
Waldo Von Erich
The Von Steigers (Kurt & Karl)
Ed Wiskoski (Col. DeBeers)




I'd like to thank Shanan Gough, Dave Cameron, John Manser and Jason Conlan and the contributions on nzwrestling.com. Big thanks to Greg Tingle and his mediaman.com website. Also Barry York's article on the Australian National Centre for History Education website. And, of course Royal Duncun and Gary Will's contributions to wrestling-titles.com