One of Australia's hottest wrestling promotions is returning to Ballarat next weekend, fresh of running the country's first deathmatch tournament.
Deathmatch Downunder returns to Volta on Saturday night with the cleverly titled Through The Fire and Flames on Expert, an ode to the Guitar Hero cult classic.
DMDU brings a different style of professional wrestling than most would be familiar with, often with matches including the use of chairs, thumbtacks and even fluorescent light tubes as weapons.
While once relegated to a niche corner of the wrestling landscape, deathmatch wrestling has become increasingly popular in recent times with names such as Kenny Omega, Jon Moxley and Chris Jericho competing in the matches on worldwide television and pay-per-view.
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Headlining the card will be new DMDU Australian Deathmatch Champion Callen Butcher, defending his title against American challenger Gweedo.
Butcher said it was a no-brainer for the promotion to come back to Ballarat after its successful debut show.
"The show that we had last time we were there was our first time in Ballarat and just the atmosphere and the vibe, it was a real intimate show, and I think it was a good change from what we used to, being in a big open space," he said.
"At Volta, it was small, it was intimate, you had to walk through the crowd to get to the ring. It felt like everybody was even that much more part of the action.
"The support that we got from that show, not just from the people from Ballarat, but it got people to come drive to Ballarat from the other side of the city just to come watch the show and then see the sites around Ballarat, I thought that was really cool."
With live entertainment scarce throughout Victoria for much of 2021, Butcher said DMDU wanted to expand outside of Melbourne and bring it's unique brand of wrestling to region centres like Ballarat and Geelong.
"I'm really excited to come back. Especially after all the lockdowns that we've had, I think a lot of people are itching to get out of the house and go to live entertainment," he said.
"We don't want that to just be a Melbourne-based thing, we want to take it everywhere so everybody can enjoy what we're doing and get out of the house and have a beer. I think that's something that I'm looking forward to the most, is people just getting out of their house and having fun."
Butcher said part of the rise in deathmatch wrestling's popularity was caused by the pandemic, with promotions carrying the industry through a time when live crowds, a crucial part of professional wrestling, were not allowed.
"Throughout the entire pandemic when everything was shutting down and no one was having crowds, if you went on [streaming services], the main shows that we're running and putting out content were deathmatches and deathmatch promotions," he said.
"They really carried professional wrestling in the pandemic era, I guess you could say. I think with that, it got a lot more eyes on it because it was the only thing that was going and people started to finally accept it as a form of wrestling, even to the point where there was an exploding barbed wire deathmatch on a pay-per-view, which is absolutely insane.
"If you had asked any deathmatch wrestler three years ago if they thought that would happen, they would've laughed at you, and now it's a reality."
Deathmatch Downunder's Through The Fire and Flames on Expert is on Saturday, December 4 and is an 18-plus show. Tickets are available at www.deathmatchdownunder.com.au/upcoming-events.
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