The art of true living in this world is more like a wrestler’s than a dancer’s practice.Marcus Aurelius
The History Of Professional Wrestling
To tell you the history of professional wrestling, I have to go way back in time to give you the best perspective and show you the best I can since when and how professional wrestling developed from its very beginning until today.
To start, I will briefly sum up what professional wrestling is, starting with his definition.
So at his core, professional wrestling is a popular form of art and entertainment that blends athletics and theatrical performances. Choreographed, scripted matches take place, aiming for entertainment rather than competition. There’s a huge presence of theatrical antics associated with the matches that have their outcome predetermined.
Professional wrestling, as in his wrestlers, professional athletes performing their choreographed stunts and coordinated maneuvers, the action usually takes place inside the ring, but it could happen literally everywhere.
Unlike some other forms of art, there isn’t the 4th wall in professional wrestling. Most of the time, the audience interacts with what is happening and is itself a part of the show.
Although the importance of the physical part of the game, the art of telling a story while performing in and out of matches isn’t less important. In fact, in-ring skills are just among the many aspects that wrestlers need to master in their craft.
A good gimmick, mic skills, and charisma are qualities required as well to become a bonafide star in the industry of professional wrestling.
Since his birth, professional wrestling changed, evolved, survived, thrived!… and now I propose to you to join me on a trip where I’ll take us since ancient times until our days, a trip where together we unfold the history of professional wrestling!
Pop up on board and… allow yourself to be entertained!
The Roots Of Wrestling
I had the care of write on the title “wrestling” instead of “professional wrestling” because professional wrestling as performance art as we know appeared in the late 19th Century, meaning that everything preceding that point can be seen as legit sport or as our great Jim Ross would say a real slobberknocker!
Wrestling has its roots in ancient times. The first evidence of wrestling’s existence was found in a cave in France, with draws in the walls that date to a mind-blowing 15,000 years ago! I wonder what they used as a bell…
The Sumerians left us some shreds of evidence from 5,000 years ago of wrestling in their society, in the form of reliefs and sculptures.
In Ancient Egypt were found reliefs and a wall drawing in a tomb displaying virtually all the wrestling moves used nowadays. That speaks volumes about the popularity of the sport among the Egyptians.
It wasn’t less important in Ancient Greece too, where wrestling was quite inserted in the society and always held a place of importance not only as a sport (it was one of the modalities to profile in the first Ancient Olympic Games in history!) but as a mano-a-mano training to the Greek soldiers as well.
The Romans adopted wrestling from the Greeks but made some changes to make the sport less violent. It’s believed that after being defeated by the Romans on the battlefield and seeing their sport changed, the Greeks, in an attempt to keep some of their roots in the sport, created the Greco-Roman style.
All pagan games (Ancient Olympic Games included) were forbidden by the Roman Emperor around 393, making the wrestling fall to obscurity.
Middle Ages and Renaissance saw wrestling gain momentum, in large part due to artists’ and social elites’ efforts.
Wrestling eventually arrived in the Americas via the European settlers and became very popular between the settlers and the native Americans.
Many former American presidents were well-crafted wrestling practitioners like George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower, but the one that excelled most was Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln competed for twelve years, had around 300 matches with only one defeat in his resumé, which granted him the induction in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
As referred to this date, wrestling was a legit sport, far from the performance art presented to us nowadays. But how professional wrestling appeared in the first place anyway? And what was the purpose? That, my friends, it’s what we’re about to find out in the next chapter.
How Wrestling Became Professional Wrestling
The firsts attempt to combine wrestling with showmanship happened in France around 1830. In the mid-1800s were created at France the first modern circus’ troupe. His creator, the french showman Jean Exbroyat had developed a style that he called “flat hand wrestling” this style eventually spread to the rest of Europe and became known as Greco-Roman wrestling, Classic wrestling, or French wrestling.
Though in the US, the most popular and prominent wrestling style was the Catch-as-Catch-Can. One of the main differences between the styles was unlike Greco-Roman wrestling, where grabbing below the waist wasn’t allowed, in the Catch wrestling style were allowed not only grapples below and above the waist but leg grips as well.
Both styles were trendy in the mid and late 19th Century, as amateur and professional sports. But around that period, a sub-section from the Catch wrestling style changed slowly for what we all know today as professional wrestling.
In the US, in the post Civil War in the late 1860s and 1870s, wrestling contests were a common act in traveling carnivals, circuses, and vaudeville halls, where some of them were legit ones, and some of them were staged matches, it was in this period that popped up performers using colorful costumes and fictional biographies marking the birth of the gimmick in professional wrestling.
One of the negative consequences of it was the loss of credibility of wrestling as a sport and a decline in terms of popularity.
If in the US by the 1890s the catch wrestling became the most common style displayed in professional wrestling, in the UK, the catch wrestling style took more time to take off (being displayed mainly in variety shows), in part because the UK kept his wrestling’s tradition as a legit sport.
That attracted at the time many famous wrestlers, including a legit Estonian grappler named George Hackenschmidt. Hackenschmidt shattered literally all the competition imposing himself as the top-notch wrestler in the UK.
His booker, Charles Cochran, seeing that Hackenschmidt’s legitimate dominance over the opponents was killing the crowd’s interest, Cochran persuaded Hackenschmidt to learn about showmanship in matches aiming the entertainment than the competition rather, dropping the first seeds of professional wrestling in Europe.
At this early stage, many were the wrestlers with celebrity status that left for the US, Hackenschmidt included, that led the business into decline in Europe.
Meanwhile, in the US, the wrestling scene was dominated by Frank Gotch, a legit wrestler known as one of America’s first sports superstars. Gotch engages in two legit epic battles with Hackenschmidt in 1908 and 1911, with Gotch getting the W in both bouts, becoming in the process the first World’s Undisputed Heavyweight Champion.
After Gotch’s retirement in 1913, the industry was enabled to produce new superstars to captivate its fans. The widespread doubt of its legitimacy and status as a competitive sport made both wrestling and professional wrestling lose popularity and credibility. And with the beginning of WWI, things went from bad to worse…
In the 1920s, by the hand of Billy Sandow, Ed Lewis, and Toots Mondt, collectively known as the “Gold Dust Trio,” professional wrestling started to excel; their new and genuine product took the wrestling world by storm.
The introduction of the time limit in the matches, new holds, signature moves, and a unique approach to tag team wrestling creating all sorts of techniques like distracting the referee, was some of the many innovations that must be credited to the Gold Dust Trio, in particular the visionary mind of Toots Mondt.
Another key for their success was instead of paying traveling wrestlers to perform on certain dates and combining wrestlers in match-ups when they were available; they decided to keep wrestlers for long runs, months, and years at times. That allowed them to have regular wrestlers to work that meant regular cards, which allowed long-term angles and feuds to develop and ultimately more entertainment and money for all.
In the early 1930s, professional wrestling started to thrive in the UK, inspired by their American fellows the catch wrestling was adopted as the main style in professional wrestling. The Britains called that style at the time “All In.”
Not everyone was convinced of his legitimacy as a competitive sport, but that didn’t slow the business’ growth. By the hands of Sir Atholl Oakley and his friend, Henry Irslinger will appear the British Wrestling Association (BWA). In 1930 after a long tournament, Oakley will become the first British Heavyweight Champion. Professional wrestling attained new highs in terms of demand during this period but then…
It’s believed due to the lack of response from the promoters to find competent wrestlers for their shows, they started to present some new gimmick matches like with weapons or in mud pits, hiding in that way the inexperience of their rosters, women in pro wrestling were most likely introduced in the UK in this period too.
That led in the late 1930s the London County Council ban the professional wrestling, leaving the business in dire straits in lands of his majesty.
In Mexico, professional wrestling grew exponentially at a regional level at the beginning of the 20th century. Later in the early 1930s, by the hand of Salvador Lutteroth, Empresa Mexicana Lucha Libre was created.
This promotion became Mexico’s national reference in terms of professional wrestling and eventually debuted many of the most iconic Mexican luchadores of all time, including El Santo.
With the end of WWII, professional wrestling was about to enter its Golden Age, in part thanks to something that changed millions of lives, the television. So without further ado, I will present to you the Golden Age of professional wrestling.
The Golden Age Of Professional Wrestling
The Golden Age of professional wrestling kicked off in the earlies 1950s. As mentioned before, the arrival of television deeply changed the business, and wrestlers became wide exposed, with some of them becoming national stars.
Another thing that television allowed was better and longer storylines as more effective character development.
One of the negative parts of this exposure was wrestlers’ need (especially the most popular) to maintain the kayfabe literally everywhere. Kayfabe is basically being in character whenever in public (if you want to learn more about kayfabe you can do it here).
The US, UK, Mexico, Canada, and Japan were the driving forces behind it, with professional wrestling developing in different ways in these countries.
In the US, it was created in 1948, the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), which basically took under his wing most of the country’s organizations that were divided at the time in a territory system.
At the time, there were many championship belts throughout the country; that number was highly reduced to restore some legitimacy in the few remaining ones. A World Heavyweight title was created in the process, and Lou Thesz was their first undisputed champion.
Despite being the first NWA World Heavyweight champion, the most popular wrestler of this era in the US (and most likely around the globe) was Gorgeous George.
Despite his size (5 ft 9 / 1.75cm), George had a bigger than life character, with his bleached hair, extravagant robes, iconic entrances, and dirty wrestling style, cheating all the times he could (generating real heel heat in the process), he became one of firsts wrestlers not only to really understand the value of entertainment in professional wrestling but how to do it at its finest.
In 1957 Verne Gagne created his own promotion that later will be named American Wrestling Association (AWA); AWA became NWA’s most popular promotion in the US. Still, in 1960 AWA broke away from NWA.
Another promotion that left the NWA was the Capitol Wrestling Corporation (later named World Wide Wrestling Federation) in 1963 but was forced to return in 1971.
The UK saw as well in 1952 by the hand of a few promoters Joint Promotions (JP) being created under the same territory system used in the US.
In 1955 the first show was aired, and the British wrestlers, as their fellow Americans, became quite famous as well. In the mid-1960s, professional wrestling peaked when a television show named “World Of Sports” (WOS) debuted in the UK.
WOS was a televised wrestling show that increased the celebrity status of many British wrestlers like Mick McManus, Giant Haystacks, Big Daddy, Kendo Nagasaki, and Jackie Pallo.
To give you an idea of how big televised professional wrestling became in the UK, In 1963, a match between Mick McManus and Jackie “Mr. TV” Pallo was watched by a massive 20 million people(!) in the UK alone.
In Mexico, the television’s effect helped professional wrestling increase its popularity among the people too.
With the likes of Gory Guerrero, that created many holds and moves used nowadays, Blue Demon, Mil Máscaras, that developed and spread around the globe the high-flyer style, and as referred before the most famous luchador of all time, the silver masked El Santo, Mexican wrestling achieved popularity never saw before.
To better understand the popularity of El Santo and how he became a Mexican pop culture figure, we have to look to his resumé, a career as a wrestler of almost fifty years(!), numerous roles in movies, comic books superheroes, among other public appearances made him a national symbol that fought for the weak and oppressed.
And he made all of these behind his silver mask, keeping his identity a secret throughout his entire career; actually, just at old age, he finally revealed his identity.
During this period, Mexican wrestling developed in different ways than in the US or UK; despite the existence of four-man tag team matches, the trio matches were (and are) the most popular style of tag team in Mexico, due to the most popular wrestlers in Mexico were cruiserweights that influenced the in-ring style too, with very unorthodox submissions, fast combinations, and high fly moves.
In Japan, it was Rikidōzan that popularised professional wrestling in the 1950s, with television having a massive role in the process as well when two broadcasts acquired the rights of the Japan Wrestling Association (JWA), the solution was the creation of two new promotions in 1972.
In the late 1960s, early 1970s, professional wrestling started to lose momentum again, mainly due to the business’s overexposure. But in the late 1970s, professional wrestling started to flourish again due to the advent of cable television.
During the 1970s, the most popular wrestler was André the Giant. Although he signed for WWWF in 1973, he made regular appearances in most NWA promotions and AWA.
As an all, NWA stayed at the top of the industry throughout the 1970s, mainly due to Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW) that had its first wrestling program broadcasting nationally on cable in 1979.
But with the arrival of the 1980s, the business was about to change again, mostly due to Vincent K. McMahon that had bought the WWWF (in 1979 became known only as WWF) from his father Vincent McMahon senior and his new vision of the product.
The beginning of the 1980s became known as the 80s Wrestling Boom. In the next chapter, we will look at this period and see how professional wrestling had changed once again.
1980s Wrestling Boom
The 1980s Wrestling Boom marked the most prosperous period for professional wrestling on television.
In great part due to the approach of Vincent K. McMahon to the product, to achieve a younger audience and keep growing his already bigger and bigger fan base, McMahon turned his product more friendly, aiming more the entertainment than the athletic part of the business, during this period McMahon created the term “Sports Entertainment” to define his product.
In a period where NWA was weaker than never, having in Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) their best chance to fight the growth and eventually wrestling’s dominance from WWF, McMahon kept an aggressive growth, invading other territories and buying other wrestling promotions, and ultimately adding to their roster their big stars making from WWF literally the face of the business throughout the 1980s becoming the only promotion airing on national television at the time.
With the likes of Hulk Hogan in their ranks as the face of the company, WWF popularized professional wrestling throughout the globe.
In 1984 with the creation of the “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection,” a cross-promotion between WWF and the music industry, saw Cyndi Lauper, one of the most popular singers from the 80s, join forces with WWF, with wrestlers making appearances in her videos and Lauper making a presence in some events, taking professional wrestling by the hand of WWF to highs never seen before.
To compete with the biggest NWA event, Starrcade, that aired for the first time in 1983, McMahon had his biggest creation in the form of Wrestlemania on March 31, 1985. The show was a huge success establishing even more WWF’s worldwide dominance.
In an attempt of stopping the dominance of WWF, JCP took the name of many pay-per-views from NWA as other promotions’ rosters to draw ratings but once again, McMahon was a step ahead, and on the same day of Starrcade 1987 and 1988, WWF aired in pay-per-view their first Survivor Series and Royal Rumble respectively gaining in the ratings and leaving JCP death-wound. Eventually, JCP was sold to the media’s giant Ted Turner.
To refer that during this period professional wrestling in the UK was not enjoying the same wealth, due to a series of events related.
After the fall of JP in 1975, All-Star Wrestling (ASW) filled in the void left by JP, and it was in that period that the alter ego of Shirley Crabtree, Big Daddy was born and ultimately became the biggest British wrestler of all time.
ASW’s product was too centered on Big Daddy, which did wonders for the television product as Big Daddy was incredibly popular in the land of his majesty. Still, it wounded their live shows as they relied on basically one wrestler to build their promotion around.
That made most of the best British wrestlers at the time to be unhappy with their role on the promotion, putting over Big Daddy or teaming with him to make all the heavy lifting in the matches while Big Daddy grew old and didn’t have anymore the ability to put in a good match all by himself.
That made names as Davey Boy Smith, Steven Regal, and Dynamite Kid fled from the UK in the hope of finding better opportunities to display their craft. The countries that benefit more from British wrestlers’ departure in the 1980s were Japan, Canada, and the US.
The end of World of Sports that was taken off the air in 1985 was a huge loss to the promotion, and even if ASW had gained their own wrestling show, the fact of not having a fixed weekly day to display their product drove away from the audience’s interest and ratings.
By the end of the decade, ASW didn’t have the monopoly of British wrestling anymore.
Meanwhile, in February 1989, before the New Jersey State Senate, McMahon admitted the business’s staged nature, in what many refer to as the day the kayfabe officially died. McMahon took that decision mainly to avoid rules and regulations applied to competitive sports like Boxe and MMA. Ultimately that allowed him to mold even more his product to his vision.
The beginning of the 90s will bring once again big changes to professional wrestling with the birth and death of two eras only in a 9 years period! And that, my friends, will be the theme of or next chapter.
The hot 90s
In the early 1990s, with WWF already established as the industry’s juggernaut, Vincent K. McMahon kept his strategy of a product with strong appeal to family and kids audiences and captivating to casual fans.
In 1993 WWF’s chairman was charged by the US attorney for the eastern of New York due to a steroid scandal involving wrestlers and a doctor.
Being known as “the land of the giants,” WWF was forced to change their philosophy of having big (and most certainly juiced) wrestlers as the top guys in the company and relying more on smaller and technical wrestlers like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Mr. Perfect (arguably the biggest wrestler who never hold the WWF World Championship) among others as the new top guys.
1993 saw the end of the Golden Era and the birth of the “New Generation Era.” From there, WWF’s product got lackluster, to say the least, as the product got too childish and cartoonish, something that simply wasn’t appealing for a new generation of fans, wishing for a more mature and violent product.
To answer that desire, Ted Turner, after buying JCP and rebranding the promotion as World Championship Wrestling (WCW) with lots of dollars and with Eric Bischoff on the wheel, stepped up to the game.
On September 4, 1995, they launched their weekly live show called ” WCW Monday Nitro” on Monday nights to compete directly with WWF’s own show called “Monday Night Raw,” that started to air on on January 11, 1993, with both shows being transmitted in national television in the same night. That will be known as the “Monday Night Wars.”
Unlike WWF that as previously referred had a very childish and cartoonish product, WCW gave more importance to the athletic side of the business, engaging in a more adult and realistic product, and with the capital to acquire the biggest names of the industry, wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Curt Henning, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and many others wrestlers made the jump from WWF to WCW.
In this period, WCW debuted the biggest faction that professional wrestling has ever seen, the New World Order (NWO). Important to refer that was used an invasion angle to introduce Scott Hall and Kevin Nash on WCW’s television, meaning the two had come from another promotion (WWF in the case) and were there to highjack Monday Nitro’s show.
Happening years before the internet era, it was relatively easy for WCW to play the fans to believe the two wrestlers were still under contract with WWF at the time; after a couple of weeks due to complaints of WWF, Hall and Nash eventually admitted on live television they weren’t any more under contract with WWF although they didn’t say they had signed with WCW.
Taking in count Hulk Hogan was the biggest babyface from the 80s, maybe from all time, in 1996 at the “Bash at the Beach” pay-per-view when Hogan joins forces with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash beating an unconscious Macho Man and cutting an inflamed in-ring promo in front a very irate and hostile crowd the world was in shock and disbelieve when arguably the biggest and popular babyface wrestler of all time had turned heel.
From this point, due to direct relation with the creation of the NWO, an exciting cruiserwheight division, and names like Sting, Goldberg, and The Fourhorsemen stable, WCW started to excel in merchandise and pay-per-view sales, and most important, WCW started to win the war of ratings against WWF and during a period between 1997 and 1998 WCW was indeed the most-viewed show on Monday night.
WWF seeing WCW claiming the throne of top promotion of the industry was forced to change its product to keep up with its rivals. The need to come up with a more adult and edgy product was the only hope for WWF to keep at the top, and that was what happened when WWF started to push the envelope and deliver a more adult product not so suitable to a younger audience.
An important event that contributed to that happened in 1997 during the main event of WWF’s pay-per-view Survivor Series, something that became infamously known as “The Montreal Screwjob” and would change deeply the industry one more time.
Bret Hart had his farewell match in the company against Shawn Michaels. Due to booking matters (Bret Hart didn’t want to drop the title to Michaels in his own country, Canada), McMahon, against what was predetermined as a draw, came from backstage until the ringside and ordered the referee to end the match in a moment that Michaels was applying a submission to Bret Hart, announcing Michaels as the winner and new WWF champion.
McMahon that until the date had mainly portrayed the role of commentator on television, got a huge backlash from the industry and media with McMahon itself using the situation not only to assume himself as the promotion’s owner but he came up too with his new gimmick as Mr. McMahon, the tyrant, and abusive boss.
Although different opinions on the matter, it was around this time that professional wrestling entered one of the most exciting eras of them: the “Attitude Era.”
After Bret Hart’s departure, WWF started to push the most and most popular anti-hero Steve Austin. At Wrestlemania XIV in 1998, with the help of Mike Tyson, Steve Austin would beat at the main event of the show Shawn Michaels and became the WWF World Heavyweight Champion; after this, Austin and Mr. McMahon will engage in a long feud, remembered by many as one the best feuds of all time.
Important to refer that during this period, by the hand of Paul Heyman, a promotion based in Philadelphia that had been rebranded recently as Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) had a huge influence in the business throughout this period too, mainly due to their violence and hardcore wrestling style, and a very loyal fan base.
EWC fed both WCW and WWF with wrestlers to their ranks. Names like Rob Van Dam, Sabu, Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, and Shane Douglas made their names initially on ECW.
Although WWF had a huge influence at the beginning of this new era, without the contribution of WCW that started previously to offer a more adult product and ECW that gave national mainstream to the more violent and bloody hardcore style, probably WWF would not start to lose field to their rivals and feel the need to change their product to maintain their status quo of the industry’s big dog.
Although WWF won the rating wars, it’s good to remember that that happened not only by its own merit as WWF was putting on long and good storylines but also by WCW’s own demerits. Unlike WWF, WCW lacked long-term vision, bad booking decisions, the cruiserwheight division’s underused, and many other problems.
And in 2001, only five years of the NWO creation, the unthinkable happened, WCW lost the rating wars and closed doors, being bought by WWF at the time.
ECW bankrupt as well, leaving WWF as the only top promotion in the globe again and marking the end of an era. In 2002 the professional wrestling world will see another era’s birth, the “Ruthless and Aggression Era.”
From Early 00s Until Our Days
After WCW and ECW were bought by WWF, did professional wrestling benefit from that? Well, I would like to say yes, but the reality is quite different, I’m afraid.
Without direct competition during the Ruthless Aggression Era, WWF (renamed WWE in the early 00s) as a product got stale. It lacked engagement and originality that basically started with a lackluster invasion angle with WCW stars “invading” WWE and trying to get control over the company; many fans will remember this angle as one of the biggest misuses of talent and opportunity from WWE’s creative team.
The departure of the likes of The Rock to Hollywood, Brock Lesnar, to embrace a career as an MMA fighter and Steve Austin that made his second and final retirement allegedly due to frustration with the company (in particular with the creative team) was a hard blow to the company.
The likes of Triple H, the returning Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Chris Benoit, and Eddie Guerrero took WWE’s wheel before the skyrocketing ascension of John Cena as the face of the company.
Cena will eventually attain Ric Flair as a wrestler with more World Titles with 16 each. Cena had in Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton, Edge, and CM Punk his most formidable opponents.
During this period, despite the birth of new promotions like Total Nonstop Action (TNA) and Ring Of Honor (ROH), among others, WWE kept the monopoly of professional wrestling.
TNA actually tried to restart the Monday night wars but without success. In contrast, without trying to compete directly with WWE, ROH saw its product grow with the time and nowadays is a reference in terms of professional wrestling in the US.
The year 2008 saw the birth of a new era, the PG Era. As the name suggests, WWE went PG14 in 2008, meaning their product became (even) more friendly, less violent, and despite some good feuds, the overall product was quite boring.
In 2010 WWE launched NXT, at the beginning a scripted reality show / live event, but in 2012 NXT changed its format and became WWE’s third promotion, displaying a young and talented roster, good wrestling level, and compelling storylines.
NXT’s pay-per-views are highly acclaimed due to their quality. Overall it is seen nowadays as a better product than WWE’s flagship show, Raw.
Despite WWE’s product still PG14, many claimed the PG Era died around 2014, although that didn’t change the overall product, with NXT being the best thing that happened during this period with many of his wrestlers making the jump to the main roster.
During this period, WWE once again made history, this time by launching their own network baptized “WWE Network.”
WWE Network displays its library of WWE’s content ( recent and vintage) and content from WCW and ECW as WWE possesses the rights from both former promotions.
During this period, once again, the wrestling community was avid for something new, something fresh, and eventually, other promotions in the US tried to offer that.
Although their disastrous management and never achieved their maximum potential, TNA became the second biggest promotion in the US, ROH kept its growth and has seen many of its top wrestlers making the jump to WWE and eventually becoming top guys in the promotion like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, or Seth Rollins.
Japan always kept a strong tradition in wrestling, and although it never captured too much attention from the casual fans nor had a big exposure abroad, Japanese wrestling always had a solid fan base, which increased significantly in recent years.
Mexican lucha libre saw his product increasing in popularity too, with his style widespread worldwide, with many of their wrestlers performing not only in Mexico but abroad too in most of the top promotions in the world.
In 2014 El Rey Network launched in the US a series based on a wrestling promotion called “Lucha Underground” (LU). With an On and Offseason format, LU was during four seasons a promotion acclaimed by wrestling fans around the globe due to their high level of wrestling, engaging storylines, and unique product.
2014 onwards was a period marked by multiple reboots from WWE (without creating significant changes on their product) in an attempt to captivate once again their fan base.
If in one hand, WWE kept its global expansion plan, trying to recreate its national success when it almost destroyed the US’s territory system, this time on a global scale, on the other hand, other promotions like NJPW, Triple-A, or ROH tried not only to spread their boundaries, but they started to cooperate, with wrestlers often displaying their craft in the multiple promotions around the globe.
That cooperation led us to the present time when WWE loses prestige and fans while other promotions, as mentioned above, are gaining further and further a bigger fan base.
The internet helped incredibly wrestlers promote themselves without relying exclusively on the promotions. At the present time, many are the wrestlers that made a name outside the promotions’ domains.
Recently the Young Bucks, Cody Rhodes and Kenny Omega (praised by many as the top wrestler in the world) with Tony Khan launched the brand new All Elite Wrestling (AEW) with the likes of Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, MJF, Joey Janela, Péntagon Jr, Rey Fenix, Hangman Adam Page, and Sammy Guevara joining the company.
Actually, many are the wrestlers trying to make the jump to AEW, with many being WWE wrestlers, disappointed with their place in the company and the backstage politics.
AEW is seen by many as the business’s future; where that led us is unsure, but it’s most definitely an excellent moment to be a wrestling fan.
My Two cents
It was a long but interesting trip that professional wrestling took since his early days; like any other art form, professional wrestling changed, evolved, and achieved global mainstream.
Despite some clouds, I do believe that professional wrestling is shinning more than ever, reaching a wide fan base and making part of popular culture in all its forms. Let’s hope for the best and long life to professional wrestling!
I know I sidelined some information, but it isn’t elementary to cover all and be highly detailed in a single post due to the topic’s nature.
Do you think I miss something? Do you want to add something or just give me your thoughts on the subject? Don’t hesitate to superkick me in the comment section below and I’ll gladly chop you back!
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Founder of Against the Ropes.