Austin Theory, The West Australian, WWE Credit: The West Australian

As WrestleMania XL approaches, WWE finds itself with a number of intriguing storylines.

There’s Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes (including the involvement of The Rock).

There’s Rhea Ripley vs. Becky Lynch.

And there’s WWE wrestlers vs. the Australian press.

As for the latter, the latest chapter in the unlikely feud came on Thursday, with WWE in Perth for Saturday’s Elimination Chamber premium live event (formerly pay-per-view). In an effort to promote the upcoming show, WWE star Austin Theory visited the offices of The West Australian, where he became engaged in a heated conversation with the newspaper’s editor, Anthony De Ceglie.

According to the paper, the issues began when De Ceglie offended the former United States champion by referring to wrestling as “fake” and not as “hard” as Australian Rules football or Rugby League.

“You brought me here and you’re going to talk to me like this?” Theory replied. “Just cause you’re in charge of some **** doesn’t mean you can talk to me like this.”

“I didn’t mean to offend you,” De Ceglie replied.

“You’re saying what I do is easy and you’re in front of all of your people talking about my job is easy. You couldn’t walk a damn day in my shoes,” Theory continued. “Are you kidding me man? I will smack the **** outta you right now. I’m not playing around.”

Suffice to say, the interview didn’t continue any further as Theory proceeded to leave the newsroom.

As is often the case in wrestling, it’s important to note that this could be a work (wrestling lingo for, well, fake). But if that’s the case, then it’s hard to really see what either side gained from this exchange, other than people like me writing about it.

It’s also possible that De Ceglie saw Grayson Waller’s reaction to being teased about wrestling while on an Australian TV news show last month and wanted to incite a similar response from Theory. In which case, mission accomplished, I guess.

Taking these confrontations at face value — which again, is dangerous to do when it comes to pro wrestling — there clearly appears to be some sort of disconnect between how the Australian press treats the industry compared to the media members that wrestlers have become accustomed to dealing with in the United States.

Or maybe, this is all a work, and we’re just giving WWE and these outlets the attention that they’re looking for.

[The West Australian]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.