The Man Behind Deathmatch Down Under: A Conversation with Joel Bateman
In 2021, Deathmatch DownUnder might be the next big thing in the world of deathmatch. They are sure to bring deathmatch back to its roots and make it even better than it once was years ago for the great people of Australia. I was able to chat with the founder, promoter and Australian Deathmatch Wrestler Joel Bateman. Better known in his native country as “The Smash Hit”, Bateman has been waiting 18 years for this moment to show not just his home, but the world what Australian deathmatch is all about. And thanks to Independent Wrestling TV (Better known as IWTV), Joel and his team are ready to put on an exciting first show. Joel has taken time out of his busy schedule to sit down with me to go over what he hopes fans will get out of Deathmatch DownUnder and what went into the making of this promotion.
LR: First question to start is what do you want fans to get out of deathmatch down under?
JB: We just want them to enjoy themselves. BLM and Speaking Out has changed wrestling down to its core. We didn’t know what it would look like post-pandemic. Cross your Ts and dot your eyes. Melbourne is a progressive city, I didn't know where else to do it. Also, our code of conduct shows this isn’t a cash grab. IWTV has been super receptive in wanting to air the show. Hopefully, it opens the rest of the world's eyes to Australia. There are 230 people expected for this show and it sold out in 2 weeks which amazes me. We have no body of work to go off of and we have sold the show out.
LR: Why did you decide after 18 years of wrestling to get into promoting and how did the idea of DMDU come to be?
JB: Deathmatch wrestling was my first love. I trained in 2001 and my first match was in 2003. Watching wrestling in Australia was very hard at the time. You either buy the pay per views or did the cannibal run of VHS. ECW was my first introduction into hardcore wrestling. Funny enough I found out about Metallica through ECW. During my training, Heath Fury introduced me to FMW and that’s what got me into deathmatch. I was big into Hayabusa and Masato Tanaka. Australian wrestling is usually 5 years behind on the U.S trends. PCW (Pro Championship Wrestling in Australia) brought the ECW style of booking to Australia where we were able to have crisp wrestling and hardcore wrestling as well. In September of 2002, there was a show that PCW did called “Carnage”. They did a match that was a No Rope Barbed Wire 40,000 Raining Thumbtacks deathmatch. No explosions in Australia at all. I am pretty sure the thumbtacks were sub [substitute] for bombs. It was a very bloody visceral deathmatch. The thing was that it was advertised as great family entertainment and a lot of kids were there. One wrestler not affiliated with PCW exposed the business to the news in Australia. I was front row for that match and knowing the people in the match, it almost killed the business. The show was so controversial that most of the shows saw a huge decline in crowd attendance.
As for me I was always a junior heavyweight and never did all the flippy stuff. I was more of a stiff strong style/technical junior heavyweight. I Left PCW in 2006 and ran my first show at 17. The first show sucked. The middle rope broke midway through the show. I was eventually able to come to the US in 2013. I was meant to do some shows but couldn’t due to cancellations. One time working a show, I had torn my Labrum working with a promotion and that put me on the shelf for about 4 years. The injury is like what happened to Finn Balor those few years ago in WWE. During that time, I took a job with Melbourne City Wrestling who had been working with NJPW and grew with the company where it went from 300 people a night to 700 people overnight. I had secured an Office Job with the company and was doing well with them. I always wanted to have a deathmatch company as it was my first love. In January 2020, I had a no-ring deathmatch with Casanova Valentine and it sold out. It was one of my favorite matches and it was my 3rd match back from injury and everything worked so well. 3 days later, the shutdown happened and Australia was shut down right away. The company I worked with wanted a different direction and then other people in the office were like we want to run deathmatch promotion and that’s where DMDU came to be. Having the full year to be able to see the landscape of wrestling change because of BLM and “Speaking Out”, we were able to see how we can run the show our way in the new landscape of wrestling after these big moments.
LR: In regards to your very first show that will be taped on Jan. 16th and airing on Jan .28th on IWTV, who are some people the fans should keep their eyes on that we may have not heard of before?
JB: Ritchie Taylor and Tommy Knight. Ritchie Taylor has been in the business for 12 years. Think of him as a smaller Chris Hero. Elbows are stiff and had some great matches with Robbie Eagles in his backyard days before New Japan Pro Wrestling. Tommy Knight is a protégé of NXT’s Bronson Reed and has only been wrestling for 2 years. He has a Legit MMA background, trained with NJPW’s LA dojo, and can really be special.
Jake Andrewartha and I go back years. Funny story, we worked at the same food court when we were younger. He is a Judo specialist, made it to the 2012 Olympics, and was a Commonwealth Games Bronze Medalist. Amazing Hybrid guy, and he’s been only doing squash matches for the last year or so. The fact he gets a match is amazing.
The tag tournament is great. Our plan is to do two tag matches in the January show and two in the February show, which is in the process of being booked. The teams that make the finals will compete against each other in our March show.
Michael Weaver is a sub for Vixon (who is currently injured). He is 5’9” and 350 lbs. Big fan of deathmatch and strong style and doesn’t rely on his weight. I would put his lariat up against AJ Gray’s.
Raw Beef is like a version of 3 Minute warning. They do raps and they are full of charisma. They are brothers and can hit very hard. That tag team deathmatch will be something to watch and the inclusion of Mad Dag who is Australia’s hardcore/deathmatch icon makes this match all the better.
LR: Personally, my most anticipated match is your UGWA title shot with Gweedo. How do you feel about having him as your fourth match back from Injury? How has it been working with Gweedo since his transition to being a full-time resident of Australia now?
JB: I am excited about it. A lot of different circumstances have gone into this match. He (Gweedo) has been great to work with and he was originally here for a girl but then Covid hit and he’s stayed and he has now he is a full-time resident. The storyline we put together is really simple, we both believe we can put more eyes on Australia with the UGWA belt on the line. When it came to deciding the matches, it was very simple to make this a Cut Can Board and Gusset Plate match. We both really had a lot of ideas going into this and it was awesome to be able to have this match together. Gweedo has been a pleasure to have here in Australia and he is excited to show the world what it means to be the UGWA Ultraviolent Champion.
LR: Your main event is something that has never been seen before in Australian deathmatch history, a 100 Light Tube Deathmatch with Damian Rivers vs Callen Butcher. Can you give us a bit of insight into what made you want to book these two in such a high caliber deathmatch as the main event of your very first show?
JB: We debated about this a lot, but the story was too good to not turn down. The story between Damian and Callen is unique. Damian has been flying the deathmatch flag for smaller promotions in Australia and Callen, this is his 2nd deathmatch. Damian thinks that Callen is just doing deathmatch to be trendy. The story writes itself. Whoever goes on first sets the bar high with the first deathmatch which will be myself and Gweedo. If we can set the pace without the glass with my match with Gweedo, being the match that goes into intermission, then we can catch lightning in a bottle. We are giving them (Damian and Callen) the biggest opportunity as they are the biggest two unknowns and they have the chance to truly cap off an awesome night of wrestling.
LR: I think that is a great place to end as your phone is dying. Joel, I really want to thank you for having the time to talk with me and the best of luck with the show in 13 days. I think I don’t speak just for myself but many people are excited to see what Deathmatch Downunder brings to the world. Thank you again.
The Official Match Card for Deathmatch Downunder will be airing on IWTV on January 28th, 2021.
Damian Rivers Vs Callen Butcher (100 Light tube Deathmatch)
CaveMan Ugg Vs Jake Andrewartha
Mad Dog/Michael Weaver Vs Raw Beef (Barbed Wire Board Deathmatch)
Joel Bateman Vs Gweedo (Cut Can & Gusset Plate Board Deathmatch for the UGWA Total Violence Title)
Tag Team Tournament
Aysha/Murdoch Vs Tyson Baxter/Aiden Miller and JXT/FOX Vs Kurtis Day/Aysha
Ritchie Taylor Vs Tommy Knight
You can follow Joel Bateman and Deathmatch Down Under here:
Joel's Twitter: @thesmash_hit
DMDU Twitter: @DMDownunder