Australian Wrestling Chronicles is back! After a bit of a hiatus, the series is back and will be better than ever. This week I'm writing about the wrestling promotion that saw an opportunity and tried to take on the world!
Way back in 2001 we were witness to the storyline angle now known as "The Invasion." WWF (now WWE) had just bought out World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), and was left virtually unopposed in the world of professional wrestling.
There obviously wasn't going to be enough room on the WWF roster to house all of the talent from three of the largest wrestling promotions at the time, and as a result there were a lot of superstars left without a job.
So what were those wrestlers to do? It seemed like nobody wanted to use their talent, but luckily for them there was an alternative. There was a new promotion starting up "down under."
World Wrestling All-Stars (WWA) was the brainchild of Australian concert promoter Andrew McManus. In the past he had managed to entice the likes of KISS, Alice Cooper, Barry Manilow, and Julio Iglesias to tour around Australia.
McManus envisioned a wrestling promotion that would rival WWF and cement it's place on an international level. An alternative to the monopoly that WWF now owned. He wanted to prove that WWF made a mistake in not acquiring the contracts of so many wrestlers.
Some of the superstars that were involved with World Wrestling All-Stars include:
There were also several notable names that were primarily used as non-wrestling talent.
Jerry "The King" Lawler signed with the company after walking out on WWF for personal reasons. He stepped into the ring on a few occasions, but he was mostly used as a colour commentator.
Bill Alfonso reprized his role as Sabu's manager during his time with the promotion.
Both Bret Hart and "Psycho" Sid Vicious were at one point the WWA Commissioner during their respective tenures with the promotion. Bret Hart was the commissioner during the first WWA PPV where he attacked B.G. James after the main event by putting him in his famous Sharpshooter.
Vicious had the longest reign as WWA commisioner, and even went as far as to be the special ringside enforcer during a WWA World Heavyweight Championship match between Scott Steiner and Nathan Jones.
Undoubtedly, the biggest role that a non-wrestler in the promotion had belonged to Jeremy Borash, now known as TNA's backstage correspondent J.B. Not only was he the ring announcer, but he also fulfilled his duties as colour commentator, booker, and even head of talent. That's one busy man!
WWA's first ever event took place on October 19, 2001, in Western Australia's capital city, Perth. Over the next seven days the promotion had another four shows, the fourth being WWA's first ever PPV "Inception."
The event was considered somewhat of a success considering that it was the company's first ever PPV. The crowd figures were fairly impressive for an upstart promotion. 8,500 people packed the arena to see some great matches, and I think they went home happy.
Some of the matches featured on the card included a ladder match between Juventud Guerrera and Psicosis for the Cruiserweight Title, a "Guitar on a Pole" match involving Jeff Jarrett, and the main event was Jeff Jarrett vs. B.G. James in a Steel Cage match for the WWA World Heavyweight Championship.
WWA was back on the road the very next day. They put on a show in Melbourne, which completed the promotion's first tour of Australia.
It was a month later before the promotion had another show. This time, however, they were touring around the United Kingdom. They had eight shows in total throughout England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and they were all within a period of just two weeks.
The United Kingdom tour was mainly just used to get the shows name out there. Jeff Jarrett managed to retain the WWA World Heavyweight Title on each of the shows, usually against James, but on a few occasions Scott Steiner also got involved.
Another two and a half months went by before another WWA event was held. The break was mainly so the superstars could have some rest over the Christmas and New Year holidays, or so they could tend to their other bookings.
WWA wanted to announce themselves to the world, so they came back with a bang and had their second PPV called "The Revolution." This was WWA's first event to be held in America, and what better place to have it than at the Aladdin Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas?
This pay-per-view is seen as the best in terms of quality wrestling matches and reception from the locals. The card was very well booked, with the biggest matches being a cruiserweight elimination match involving A.J. Styles, Christopher Daniels, and Low Ki just to name a few, a three way cruiserweight title match won by Eddie Guerrero, and a No DQ match that went for 20 minutes between Sabu and Devon Storm.
The event was somewhat of a let down for the live audience because it was advertised that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash would be making their in-ring debuts with the promotion, but those plans fell through.
It was then advertised right up until the day of the event that "Macho Man" Randy Savage would be making an appearance on the show. Unfortunately, that also didn't happen because the booking was cancelled shortly before the show. The fans were still sent home happy with some great performances by the superstars who were there.
In April of 2002, the promotion returned to Australia's shores and toured the country for the second time. It was during this tour that Australia's own Nathan Jones won the WWA World Heavyweight Championship from Jeff Jarrett in a four-way dance which also included Scott Steiner and and Brian Christopher.
The highlight of the tour was the company's third PPV "The Eruption." This was another solidly booked event, with the finals of a tournament taking place to crown a new cruiserweight champion after Eddie Guerrero signed with WWF. It came down to a match between A.J. Styles and Jerry Lynn, which ended up lasting just 11 minutes, but it sure did leave an impression on the crowd.
Another notable moment of the PPV included a spot during a steel cage match between Sabu and Devon Storm. Sabu climbed to the top of the cage and put Storm through a pile of three stacked tables, followed by the pin to win the match.
It would be a full seven months before WWA held another event. The reason for the long absence, according to WWA staff, was that several superstars were nursing injuries. It is thought by most people that the real reason was simply because of poor ticket sales.
WWA returned to the international wrestling scene in late November of 2002. They again put on a total of eight shows over a fortnight, this time even doing a show in Switzerland. For the first part of the tour the World Title was vacant due to then champion Scott Steiner joining Vince McMahon's promotion.
Included in the tour was the company's fourth PPV, which was to take place in Scotland, titled "The Retribution." The night before the PPV, WWA put on a show in England which had a hardcore midget match, and a tag team match of Sting & Nathan Jones vs. Buff Bagwell & Lex Luger on the card.
The PPV itself resembled the live shows that WWA had been putting on for the previous week, with only a couple of differences. Jeff Jarrett, now the founder and NWA World Champion of TNA, defended his belt against Nathan Jones, and the vacant WWA World Championship was won by Lex Luger in a match he had against Sting.
WWA had three more shows on the tour after the PPV before taking yet another break. The last show of that tour, which was in Switzerland, saw Sting get his own retribution when he defeated Lex Luger and Malice to become the new WWA World Heavweight Champion.
It wasn't until late May of 2003 that WWA made another, and ultimately their last, return. It was fitting that they were in Australia for what turned out to be their last few appearances.
There were only three shows on the last tour. The first stop was in Sydney. A.J. Styles had just left the company, which meant that the cruiserweight title was up for grabs. A tournament took place to crown a new champion. The final of the tournament consisted of a match between Chris Sabin and Jerry Lynn, with Lynn eventually gaining the upper hand and walking away with the gold.
The event also saw Sting retain the WWA World Heavyweight Championship against Rick Steiner and Shane Douglas, and it also featured the debut of Mark Mercedes in a losing effort to Crowbar a.k.a. Devon Storm.
The next WWA event, and second last show, was held in Melbourne two days later. The card was similar to the one in Sydney, with Sting again retaining his title and Jerry Lynn again walking away as the cruiserweight champion.
The final PPV in WWA's short history took place in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 25, 2003. The card was stacked with high quality matches, including a couple of title unification matches.
There were two stand out matches on that night. The first was a match to unify the WWA World Cruiserweight Title and the TNA X Division Championship. Involved in the match were Jerry Lynn, Chris Sabin, Frankie Kazarian, and Johnny Swinger. Sabin was the defending X Division Champion at the time, and he managed to retain his title, while at the same time unifying it with the WWA cruiserweight belt.
The second stand out match on the card was a classic battle between the WWA World Heavyweight Champion Sting and the NWA World Champion Jeff Jarrett. The winner turned out to be Jeff Jarrett after Rick Steiner interfered and delivered a guitar shot to Sting.
The rest, as they say, is history.
In the end, World Wrestling All-Stars may not have lived up to their goal as a serious competitor to WWF (WWE by the end of the promotion's time), but they still gave the chance for fans to watch some of their favourite ECW, WCW, and WWE superstars put on some quality matches.
WWA used a lot of relatively unknown talent during their time. Without WWA, we might not see the likes of A.J. Styles, Frankie Kazarian (TNA's Suicide), and Christopher Daniels on our screens each week.
The original plan for WWA was to have Vince Russo come in and be the head of talent as well as the booker, but he was unable to commit to the promotion and instead recommended Jeremy Borash for the position.
WWA definitely had potential to make WWF look over their shoulder. It's a shame that Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Randy Savage didn't appear for the promotion. They could have helped the company get more exposure, and in turn WWA could still be around now.
R.I.P. World Wrestling All-Stars, October 2001 - May 2003.
Next time on Australian Wrestling Chronicles (AWC) I'll be introducing the majority of you to arguably Australia's biggest international stars in history, The Fabulous Kangaroos!
Thanks for reading! Any feedback would be much appreciated!