WWE: Indi Hartwell latest invader in a growing group of Australasia's pro wrestling mafia

The Australasian invasion of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has been a feature of the growth in professional wrestling downunder.

Kiwi trailblazer Dakota Kai leads a hungry pack of trans-Tasman sports entertainers, that includes main-roster stars Buddy Murphy, Shane Thorne, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay, as well as NXT's Bronson Reed, Rhea Ripley and New Zealand-born Toni Storm.

And that tradition of young superstars to-be continues with Melbourne's latest WWE export, Indi Hartwell (aka Samantha Martin).

At 24, the future is bright for the bubbly Victorian, who was placed straight into a major storyline on NXT, after making her debut with the development brand in April 2020 - just four years after entering the business.

Hartwell forms part of 'The Way' stable with NXT veteran Johnny Gargano, on-and-off-screen wife Candace LeRae and youngster Austin Theory.

Hartwell tells Newshub, while she believes she is ready for mainstream exposure, she was shocked to be thrust straight under the spotlight of a featured story.

"It was really humbling to me that the company trusted me in that situation at this early stage of my career," Hartwell says.

"Johnny and Candace are exceptional talents, and I can't even quantify how much I am learning from them every day.

"And that's not just in-ring stuff. They are both so well-rounded as performers, so my promo work has to be up to scratch to hang with them and that's been a big focus for me.

"Honestly, I didn't think I was good enough to be in a programme with Johnny and Candace, but I am so happy with how the storyline is playing out and the best is yet to come for us."

WWE: Indi Hartwell latest invader in a growing group of Australasia's pro wrestling mafia
Photo credit: Image - WWE [Supplied]

Every day is full of surreal moments for Hartwell, who was sitting at home just five years ago, watching WWE mainstays Bayley and Sasha Banks tear down the house with the Match of the Year at NXT Takeover in Brooklyn.

Bayley and Banks have since graduated to WWE's main game, and both are global superstars. Banks is the current Smackdown women's champion and recently starred in the second season of Disney Plus' hit show Mandalorian.

Hartwell was convinced she wanted to be a WWE superstar after watching that match, which some believe is the greatest women's wrestling match of all time.

"That was it," Hartwell says. "I always loved pro wrestling growing up, but that moment, it turned from a dream into a passion.

"At age 19, I knew that nothing was going to stop me from doing it and I signed up for wrestling school the next day.

"It's really cool now that five-six years later, I have the chance to very soon - hopefully - work with those two. I'm walking in their footsteps now and hopefully, I'll walk alongside them in the future."

As part of the Australasian mafia that has set up home in WWE, Hartwell knows she is paving a path for those that follow.

Five years ago, just two Aussies were part of the WWE roster - now that number is in double figures, if you include Kai.

Hartwell says Australasian wrestling is on the rise.

"The scene down under is full of ridiculous talent and in the last five years, the Australian independent wrestling scene, in particular, has just taken off.

"It's at that point now where, if any young Australian talent is doing well, there is enough interest in it, that WWE tales notice."

As for New Zealand's pro-wrestling pride and glory, Hartwell believes Kai has the talent to be one of the top women's stars in the company.

"I love Dakota so much. She is such a talent and she will be a champion in WWE."