Fans travel from across the country to see Aussie world champion defend her title on home soil

For Steven Lowder and Diogo Guerreiro, flying across the world to join thousands of fans for the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Elimination Chamber was a no-brainer.

The pair queued for hours in sweltering Perth summer heat for a chance to meet their WWE idols and buy exclusive merchandise from a pop-up shop in the city’s main shopping mall.

Steven Lowder and Diogo Guerreiro travelled across the world to be in Perth for the WWE Elimination Chamber. (Supplied: Steven Lowder)

WWE superstars including Australia’s Rhea Ripley, Logan Paul, Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins, Randy Orton, Becky Lynch, and WWE chief content officer Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque will make an appearance at Perth Stadium on Saturday evening.

The event is the WWE’s first live show in Australia since 2018, and the last major event on the wrestling calendar before the massive Wrestlemania 40 in Philadelphia in April.

“I’ve travelled for 26 hours from Ireland to be here,” Mr Guerreiro said.

“WWE is everything to me. It’s just one of my biggest passions, if not my biggest passion.”

“People will say ‘it’s wrestling, it’s fake’. But it’s a sports entertainment platform. You just need to give it a chance.”

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Mr Lowder said the 31-hour trip from Florida in the United States was worth every penny.

“TV doesn’t do it justice. Being here live makes all the difference,” he said.

“[There is] a line wrapped around this area to buy clothes, for the wrestlers, and for the event itself,” he said.

“Obviously the WWE knows what they’re doing for the fans. They make us feel part of the event.”

man standing in front of merch tent

Fans like Leigh McLellan arrvied at 5am to be first in line for limited edition WWE merchandise.(ABC News: Kate Leaver )

Big business for WA

The amount the Western Australian government paid to secure the event has not been made public, despite questions from reporters.

But Tourism Minister Rita Saffioti said there would be a significant economic boost for Perth.

“We know WWE has an extensive global audience of more than one billion homes and I am excited to see WA showcased on the world stage,” she said.

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ABC sport reporter Mitchell Turner said the loyal WWE fanbase was part of the reason the industry was worth billions.

“This is a company and industry that is worth nearly $10 billion dollars,” he said.

“This isn’t just your typical international exhibition or showcase event for the WWE, this is one of their premier events on the calendar.

“It’ll be broadcast live to millions of people around the world and features the biggest names in the industry”.

A woman wearing black clothing with purple shoulder spikes crouches on the outside of the ring mat glaring at the audience

WWE women’s champion Rhea Ripley is returning home for the Elimination Chamber event.(Supplied: WWE)

He said Australian competitor Rhea Ripley, born in Adelaide as Demi Bennett, would be a fan favourite.

“It’s the first time she’s wrestled in Australia for seven years, and the first time she will do it under the sport’s biggest banner,” he said.

Fandom provides a sense of global community

Mr Lowder said a shared passion for wrestling and the WWE brought people from all corners of the globe together. 

“It’s just a great community to be around, besides the entertainment value, the fans are very accepting of each other,” he said.

“You meet so many people at these events and WWE is the icebreaker.”

Tamika Saxby and fiancé Harley brought her four-month-old baby Gabrielle, and seven-year-old son William to Perth from Dalby, in regional Queensland.

A woman and baby.

Tamika Saxby brought her daughter Gabrielle from regional Queensland.(ABC News: Kate Leaver)

“There are people from so many different walks of life, when we were on the plane there were at least 20 other wrestling fans,” she said.

“I got into it when I was pregnant with our firstborn.

“It’s fun. It’s energetic. It’s larger than life. It’s like watching a movie but you feel connected to it at the same time.”


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