WWE’s Elimination Chamber is coming to Australia this weekend, but one reporter nearly got a premature smackdown from professional wrestler Austin Theory during a promotional interview. In a video released Thursday, Theory was visibly frustrated after the editor-in-chief of The West-Australian accused wrestling of being “fake.”

Theory was speaking with the Australian publication to promote the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view event, which will take place in Perth on Saturday. Anthony De Ceglie, The West Australian‘s editor-in-chief, seemrd to be the one who asked the question that incensed Theory.

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Theory was initially surprised by De Ceglie’s question but grew angry after the reporter doubled down on his previous claim.

“What do you mean? Hold on a second, you brought me here and you’re going to talk to me like this?” Theory said. “No, man. Just because you’re in charge of some s— here man, doesn’t mean you can talk to me like this.”

De Ceglie apologized for offending Theory, but the former United States Champion continued his rant.

“You’re saying what I do is easy and you’re in front of all your people in here, talking about, ‘My job’s easy.’ You couldn’t walk a damn day in my shoes,” Theory said. “Got me in here, dude, are you kidding me, man? I’ll smack the s— out of you right now. I’m not playing around. Y’all bring me all the way here for some media, man, this guy’s talking his f— head off, man.”

Occasionally, it is unclear if professional wrestlers are in character or out of character in public life. In what would be referred to as a “work,” Theory and the media outlet could have arranged for such an interaction to occur to promote the event. But it’s also possible that the altercation was a “shoot,” indicating that it was not planned and that Theory’s reaction was genuine.

Theory has received widespread praise online for defending professional wrestling, a form of entertainment often derided as “fake.” Though the results are predetermined, professional wrestlers typically view their profession through a storytelling lens, one that also requires significant physical risk and extensive training.

Some have compared Theory’s impassioned response to that of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, the wrestler-turned-actor who famously lambasted television host Bill Maher for making similar comments in a 1999 interview. Maher accused Piper and other wrestlers of faking hits on one another, provoking Piper to pull down his pants and show Maher a large bruise on his rear.

WWE’s Elimination Chamber event will be the first pay-per-view the company has held in Australia since 2018. Theory is not scheduled to wrestle on the show itself, but he could be present for other WWE programming scheduled in the area in the coming days.

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