Australian Wrestling Chronicles (Part One)
A little while ago I wrote an article called "Australia's Most Famous Wrestler" which focused on Greg Bownds, who goes by the ring name "TNT".
As an extension of that article, I'm now starting a new series which is going to highlight the small number of Australian wrestlers that have ventured overseas and have successfully, to a certain point, made their mark on the international wrestling scene.
Later on I will also take you for a walk down memory lane as I write about some of the defunct Australian wrestling promotions.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the man in the picture above, his name is Mark Mercedes. Some of the older Bleacher Report readers may recognize the name from the early days of WCW, but his journey started a few years before that.
Mercedes, standing at 6'3" or 190cm, and weighing 262lbs or 119kg, first started wrestling in 1991. Soon after he travelled to America where he trained at the Malenko Wrestling School under both Larry and Dean Malenko.
Mercedes was instantly a standout during the training, so much so that he was recommended to WCW, who were quick to give him a run on WCW television. He made his debut for WCW in a match against Rick Rude in May of 1993, and then one week later he was in a tag team match with Ben Jordan, teaming against Blackhearts.
During his tenure in WCW, Mercedes was on match cards with some big name talents including 2 Cold Scorpio, Buff Bagwell, Jim Neidhart, Paul Orndorff, Junkyard Dog, and Vader.
Mercedes returned to Australia after his time in WCW and competed for numerous indy promotions, winning several heavyweight championships along the way, against the best that Australia has to offer.
A few years later in 1997, he was contacted by Otto Wanz from the German wrestling promotion Catch Wrestling Association (CWA), which is primarily a mat-based wrestling organization, about competing for him. Mercedes accepted the offer and went to Germany on a six month tour.
CWA has been home to many world famous wrestlers over the years. From Chris Benoit to Finlay to Chris Jericho, CWA has been an instrumental part of their careers. With the quality of superstars that have stepped through the ropes, being involved with CWA is by no means a small achievement.
After his time in Europe, he made a couple more appearances for WCW including wrestling Rick Martel on WCW Saturday Night as well as wrestling in front of 33,000 people in a dark match at Georgia Dome.
In 1998 Mercedes returned to Australia where he co-founded the International Wrestling Australia (IWA) promotion with his business partner Tyrone Townsend. Since then the company has grown in leaps and bounds, becoming the first Australian wrestling promotion to get a nationwide television deal.
Mercedes has had a big hand in the success of IWA in it's 11+ year history, both in and out of the ring. He has won the IWA Heavyweight Championship on eight occasions along with having three IWA trans-tasman titles. He is also a former IWA Tag Team Champion.
Mercedes is viewed as Australia's best current heavyweight wrestler, as well as being golden on the mic in his heel persona. He has a reputation as an excellent heel with a good work ethic and a great attitude backstage.
Throughout his career, Mercedes has wrestled in many countries such as the USA, Japan, Germany, and of course Australia.
Mercedes' talent isn't restricted to the ring. He's also an accomplished actor, starring in the sci-fi series "Farscape" as an intergalactic bounty hunter.
For anybody that's interested in seeing Mercedes in action against Greg Bownds a.k.a. TNT, you can click on this link to see one of their matches from 1995 when Bownds was just starting his career and was then known as the TNT kid.
In part two of "Australian Wrestling Chronicles" I'll be highlighting the career of a man that many of you will know. He's a former WWE wrestler and is now contracted to TNA. His name is Nathan Jones, and his story is well worth a read.
I'd like to thank the following resources:
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