This series covers the history of All Japan Pro Wrestling. The company was founded by Shohei “Giant” Baba in 1972 and has gone through numerous phases over the last half century. In the ring, it started as something heavily influenced by the American NWA style and the 1970s footage we have features the top wrestlers of the era — Harley Race, the Funks, Billy Robinson and Jack Brisco, among others — taking on native AJPW stars, most frequently Baba and the rising Jumbo Tsuruta. In the early 1980s, Terry Funk, who became one of the greatest babyfaces in wrestling history in his AJPW tenure, Race and Ric Flair continued in that tradition until the arrival of Riki Choshu in late 1984, which prompted a shift to a more all-action style, with Choshu and Yoshiaki Yatsu facing Tsuruta and Genichiro Tenryu in some legendary tag team matches that were almost a pseudo-interpromotional feud with rival New Japan Pro Wrestling. After Choshu’s departure in early 1987, the Jumbo-Tenryu team was split and the former duo feuded with each other for nearly three years in some of the most legendary main events of all time. Tenryu departed the company in 1990, which prompted Baba to elevate a new generation of stars, most prominently Mitsuharu Misawa. Former Tenryu junior partner Toshiaki Kawada became a breakout star and a young Kenta Kobashi showed incredible promise. The decade ahead is legendary for the sheer number of classic matches those three wrestlers had against each other and other natives such as Jun Akiyama and Akira Taue, and also against top foreign talent like Stan Hansen and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams. In 2000, a year after Baba’s passing, Misawa departed AJPW with most of the roster at his side to form Pro Wrestling NOAH. The task of rebuilding the company fell on Kawada, who stayed behind, and the returning Tenryu. The glory years of AJPW were largely over, but the company exists and produces wrestling worth watching to this day, with top stars like Kento Miyahara, Zeus (no, not him), Suwama and others as top stars in recent years.
This series focuses on Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association, a Midwestern mainstay in the 1970s and 1980s before closing shop in early 1991. Most AWA shows took place in the Midwest, especially in Chicago, Milwaukee and in the twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The AWA was also a stalwart in Winnipeg, Manitoba and had presence in markets like Denver and Salt Lake City. It was typically a wrestling-heavy territory that boasted stars like Gagne, Nick Bockwinkel, Dick the Bruiser, the Crusher (who I’ll occasionally refer to affectionately as “Da Crusher” since that’s how he said it), Billy Robinson and Rick Martel. The territory was hit hard by direct competition with Vince McMahon in the 1980s using his own former stars against him and was largely irrelevant by the end of the decade, being paid to simply fill time on ESPN.
This series walks through the history of the Florida territory as we have it on film, going from a couple of early odds and ends in the 1960s; to the 1970s glory days of Dusty Rhodes, the Funks and the Briscos, when it was considered the model NWA territory; and ultimately, to the 1980s, where Dusty had his first booking stint and Kevin Sullivan frightened fans with a groundbreaking demonic gimmick, all before Jim Crockett absorbed the territory into his own. Renowned wrestling minds like Rhodes, Bill Watts and Jerry Jarrett all sat under the learning tree of booker Eddie Graham, who might have been the most forward-thinking booker in America at his peak. The Florida territory at its best was an exciting blend of great wrestling and creative angles.
This series walks through the history of International Wrestling Enterprise, a short-lived but important Japanese promotion that built around Shozo “Strong” Kobayashi as its top native star and used foreign stars such as Billy Robinson, Verne Gagne, Nick Bockwinkel and a young wrestler named Monster Rousimoff, who was later billed as Andre the Giant. I would strongly suggest doing a deep dive on this forum if you’re especially interested in learning the history of IWE.
This series focuses on the Japan Pro Wrestling Association, which introduced professional wrestling to Japan in the 1950s on the stardom of the legendary Rikidozan and new faces Shohei “Giant” Baba and Antonio Inoki, with top American stars frequently touring as their opposition. This was really the genesis of the modern Japanese scene.
This series focuses on the history of New Japan Pro Wrestling — a company that has always taken its inspiration wherever it can find it, whether it be the American pro style, lucha libre, or even mixed martial arts. Out of that hodgepodge of wrestling and grappling styles, NJPW has created a fully unique house style that has produced some of the greatest and most watched matches and cards in wrestling history. The company was formed in 1972 from the ashes of the JWA and headed by Antonio Inoki, who achieved legendary status in the 1970s and 1980s through his wars with Tiger Jeet Singh, Stan Hansen, Andre the Giant and legitimate fighters from around the world, even including Muhammad Ali! In the early 1980s, NJPW peaked in popularity, fueled by Inoki’s stardom, the rise of Tiger Mask as a high-flying junior heavyweight superstar, the electric feud between Riki Choshu and Tatsumi Fujinami and a popular American wrestler named Hulk Hogan. By the mid-80s, the company was constantly embroiled in turmoil with seemingly one scandal or catastrophe forming just as the previous one subsided, but even in disarray, the company produced some of the best wrestling on earth. By 1989, Choshu became booker, which added some much needed stability, and the company began running dome shows, which would become an annual tradition. Choshu built Shinya Hashimoto, Masahiro Chono and Keiji Muto as the next generation of top stars while Jushin Liger spearheaded the junior heavyweight division as both its booker and ace, delivering some great matches against Naoki Sano, Shinjiro Otani, Norio Honaga, El Samurai, Great Sasuke and many others. In the late 90s, the company’s flirtation with shoots, which had part of the company since its inception, became even more integral, leading to another big wave in popularity centered around Hashimoto’s feud with Ogawa. That same feud was taken too far and ultimately caused Hashimoto’s once bright star to fall and the company entered a dark period where they were overly obsessed with putting their top stars in real fights where they would often lose and never reach their potential as superstars, a trend colloquially referred to as Inokism. The company was largely in search of identity for much of the 2000s, although they had another wave of homegrown stars working their way through the ranks, including Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura. By the early 2010s, while NJPW would never again hit the popularity of previous decades, they became a formidable and successful wrestling company again, producing literally hundreds of top-tier matches involving Tanahashi and Nakamura, along with Minoru Suzuki, Kazuchika Okada, Kota Ibushi and Tetsuya Naito, with the Tanahashi-Okada feud positioned as the top rivalry of the era. In addition, they built top foreign talent such as AJ Styles, Kenny Omega and Zack Sabre Jr. and slowly began expanding to the United States. NJPW remains the top wrestling company in Japan today.
This series focuses on World Class Championship Wrestling out of Dallas, Texas. WCCW peaked in the early 1980s with the popularity of the Von Erichs — Kerry, Kevin and David — and their legendary rivalry with the Fabulous Freebirds. The decline of the territory was in many ways too outlandish for film, but it really happened. WCCW was known for their cutting edge production and incredibly hot crowds, and they spotlighted many of the top wrestlers of the era, including “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin, “Gentleman” Chris Adams, the Midnight Express, the Fantastics, Iceman King Parsons, Gino Hernandez, Rick Rude and Bruiser Brody. Most matches take place at the “world-famous Sportatorium” in Dallas, Texas, and a good chunk also take place at Will Rogers Coliseum in neighboring Fort Worth.
This series focuses on the largest wrestling company in the history of the world, covering its entire history all the way to the present. The first volumes act as a prequel, capturing all the footage out there from Madison Square Garden, the epicenter of the company for decades, and from Capitol Wrestling, the precursor to the World Wide Wrestling Federation, later the World Wrestling Federation and today WWE.