Wrestling popularity in New Zealand continues to fluctuate

Whilst there have been a number of professional wrestling events to have taken place throughout New Zealand in the past, the sport has always had a rather mixed reception.

At one moment in history, the sport was booming and looked to be one of the main sports of the Kiwi nation, as many were invested in the action and wanted to see what wrestlers were able to do when performing in the ring.

However, the sport of wrestling lost all of its appeal at one stage in the 1980s, with many not keen on what it was providing and it left some professional wrestling promotions that had been formed feeling a little sorry for themselves.

Despite a lack of interest at home, there were a number of wrestlers from New Zealand making names for themselves abroad, which perhaps brought back the appeal of the sport in the early 00s.

In the very early part of the decade, a match between Jeff Jarrett and Sting was held in Auckland, with the stipulations being a “champion vs champion” contest, with the NWA World Heavyweight Champion going up against the Australian WWA World Heavyweight Champion and subsequently unifying the championship belts.

It could be argued that this event paved the way for other big wrestling promotions to get involved with the emerging popularity of the sport that was being seen at the time in New Zealand, as the excitement that was starting to fester was similar to the one that can be found now when using Guts’ welcome bonus offer.

The WWE were one such promotion that would look to capitalise on an emerging market, with the company deciding to go and tour the country in 2006 ahead of WrestleMania 22.

On March 4, the WWE held their first ever live event tour in the small nation, with a trip to the Westpac Stadium being part of their WWE Smackdown Road to WrestleMania 22 Tour.

The main event for the night was a triple threat match for the World Heavyweight Championship between Kurt Angle, Mark Henry and The Undertaker.

The champion, Angle, managed to win the contest after Henry was disqualified for using a steel chair on the back of the Deadman, as he appeared to be on the verge of capturing the title from the one of the two former Olympians involved in the contest.

All that contest ended in boos from the crowd – likely down to the finish of the match – there has continued to be an increase in popularity of wrestling in New Zealand, with a number of subsquent tours having taken place since, with the latest having been as recent as 2017.