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A typical wrestling ring also called a squared circle .

Wrestling ( English for rings , in German-speaking and wrestling in the style of the older term Catch Wrestling ) is a particularly in Japan , the United States and Mexico popular exhibition match - sport . The winner is already determined before the match, the processes are partially improvised and enriched with show elements and storylines . Despite the show character, the actors repeatedly suffer injuries.

Concept and overview

"Wrestling" simply means "wrestling" in German. In the English-speaking world, however, Olympic freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling are called "amateur wrestling", while the wrestling described in this article is a special form and is called "professional wrestling" there.

Wrestling is a mixture of show and sport. The goal is not the competition, but to entertain the audience as well as possible ( entertainment ). The storylines that are invented around the match and the actors can be compared to soap operas . One tries to captivate the audience so that they can watch the show for a long time. In the early days of modern wrestling, various promoters tried to sell wrestling to the public as "real". That is why the “fight” between “good” and “bad” was staged again and again in the ring, whereby the wrestlers were never allowed to deviate from their role. As with a magician, it was an unwritten law not to reveal the secrets. This code of conduct for the wrestling business is known as Kayfabe . But the fact is that wrestling is staged. The processes of the matches are discussed in more or less detail beforehand, whereby the level of detail depends, among other things, on the talent and experience of the opponents. So-called money spots are discussed with the respective TV crew before the matches. This term is used to describe decisive actions and events in the ring, which should be recorded as best as possible by the cameras.


Beginnings (1860s – 1940s)

Wrestlers , painting by George Benjamin Luks , 1905.

The beginnings of this type of wrestling go back to the 19th century. At that time wrestling was mainly used as amusement at fairs and smaller festivals. Visitors tried to defeat clearly superior and trained athletes, but they mostly lost. In order to keep things exciting, the challengers were given other wrestlers to help them usually win. For many years wrestling remained popular at fairs; however, the first minor wrestling leagues were formed, and success grew in the early 20th century. Wrestling became more innovative and professional. The first title in American pro-wrestling was the "American Greco-Roman Title" introduced on January 18, 1880, by the editor-in-chief of the New York " Police Gazette " Richard Karl Fox. The first American Greco Roman champion is therefore William Muldoon . The title was awarded to him because he defeated the French Theobaud Bauer on January 18, 1880 in "Gilmore's Garden". A second title, the "American catch-as-catch-can title", was created in England in 1881, as a result of the Tom Cannon vs. Joe Acton . Acton won and got the above title. Acton then transferred it to the USA and lost it to Evan Lewis in Chicago in 1887 . The "American Greco-Roman Title" was previously considered a "World Title". However, it did not apply to Europe. This title was always backed by the "Police Gazette", which held major championships in what was then pro-wrestling.

In 1901, so-called tag team wrestling was officially introduced as the official type of wrestling match in San Francisco . In the late 1920s, wrestling was recognized as an international sport within the United States, after wrestling also gained popularity in Australia and England .

In August 1929, the Promotion National Wrestling Association was formed under the National Boxing Association . As early as October 1930, the National Wrestling Association made itself independent of the NBA and from 1935 was determined to become the first wrestling market leader. The doctorate has now changed into a federation .

As early as 1931, the first of the later two major US leagues was formed: The Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) , led by Jim Crockett of the same name. In the early 1950s, Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC) , led by Vincent J. McMahon , was added. Both leagues were based on the US east coast. From these two promotions the later promotions World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Federation emerged.

In 1934 wrestling was banned in South Africa on the grounds that wrestling was "brutal and degrading" and a year later (1935) so-called "mud wrestling" was introduced. At first this was only practiced among men, but also by women in the late 1930s . From 1935 a territorial structure was introduced in the National Wrestling Association , in which a regional wrestling promotion usually controlled a certain area. From 1940/41 this system was taken over and expanded by the later National Wrestling Alliance .

In the summer of 1948, the National Wrestling Alliance was founded in Iowa at a promoters meeting, almost all of whom belonged to the National Wrestling Association . At a second meeting in September of the same year, it was agreed there to introduce a uniform - that is, one recognized by all member associations - World Title that was to be defended globally . For this reason, those present agreed on Orville Brown , who went down in history as the first NWA World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion . It was decided to incorporate the former parent association as well. And so a storyline for a title association was worked out between the promoters of the two NWAs . But an unplanned accident injury by Brown thwarted this and so the World Title of the National Wrestling Alliance was awarded to the reigning heavyweight world champion of the National Wrestling Association, Lou Thesz , on November 27, 1949 without a fight . On that day the old NWA merged with the newer one.

Television Era (1950s – 1970s)

The first golden age in wrestling began in the 1950s. The idea of ​​the organizers now became to concentrate their shows on the main match in order to arouse more excitement and interest. During this time, the term “Main Event” became the key word. The NWA reintroduced the territorial system, but this time it was much better planned and coordinated. Some well-known wrestlers were sent from area to area to work with the respective wrestlers and to promote them. Even the TV was always interesting for the promoters, because by this new medium , the awareness of one's own league was further increased, and thus gave the opportunity to attract more attention. In addition to the NWA, the American Wrestling Association and the World Wide Wrestling Federation were formed . The AWA became the most popular league. The then head of the doctorate was Verne Gagne . From 1963 more and more wrestlers left the NWA and switched to the WWWF. That was the league's first step towards dominance in the American wrestling market.

Golden Era (1980s-1990s)

The NWA lost more and more importance, as their concept no longer corresponded to the time, and so the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) (today: WWE) became more and more influential. Through targeted marketing , Hulk Hogan became the figurehead of wrestling and made it popular across the country; for the first time in wrestling merchandising articles were produced.


Wrestling experienced its nationwide breakthrough in March 1985, when the WWF hosted WWE WrestleMania for the first time today . The new concept consisted of not having important matches every week, but of concentrating the events on a special day and a special show (in this case WrestleMania) and building everything up around this show in the weeks before. In addition, more and more celebrities were involved in the event, so that more and more attention could be gained through the media. The most famous examples of this were Muhammad Ali , Mr. T and Floyd Mayweather , who competed against The Big Show at WrestleMania 24 . As sport and entertainment (entertainment) were more and more connected, the term sports entertainment developed . WrestleMania was the first big step towards WWE in its current form. To capitalize on the success of WrestleMania, more pay-per-views were gradually introduced, which were the main source of income at the time. From the novel concept of WrestleMania, this show evolved over time into the most important event in the wrestling world. For example, on March 30, 2008, exactly 74,635 people saw WrestleMania on location (Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida).

Monday Night Wars (1990s)

Monday Night Wars Ratings.

In the mid-1990s, the WWF got competition from the WCW League, supported by Ted Turner . The Monday shows that both leagues radiated almost simultaneously, paved the way to the legendary Monday wars ( Monday Night Wars ), which at peak times of up to ten million viewers in the United States were seen. This war was neither staged nor acted, and it was not a storyline. For example, the D-Generation X faction tried to break into the main building of the WCW, or they appeared in front of the arenas during WCW shows. The aim of these actions was to draw the attention of the undecided fans to their own league. Almost all means were fine with the promoters. Many viewers also switched back and forth during the shows and tried to watch both shows. In 2000, the Monday wars ended after WCW only made losses and was offered for sale by Turner. In mid-March 2001 Vincent McMahon was able to seize the opportunity and bought WCW for only four million dollars. This is how the Monday Night Wars ended .

Montreal Screwjob (1997)

The five-time WWE Champion Bret Hart .

In 1996, Bret Hart received contract offers from his current employer, WWF today WWE , but also from WCW, which offered him around nine million dollars for three years. Hart chose the WWF and was at SummerSlam 1997 the Undertaker in a match for the WWE Championship defeat. Hart was dissatisfied with his role on the shows, however, and when Vince McMahon revealed he could no longer afford him, Hart signed with WCW for three years. At the Survivor Series 1997 there should have been a title match against Shawn Michaels , which Hart should have lost. The explosive thing was that the show took place in Hart's hometown Montreal . However, according to his contract, he had the right to determine the last 30 days of his WWE contract himself. During the afternoon before the match, it is said to have been very confused and wild backstage. During the match, Vince McMahon came to the ring with some officials. Michaels should have taken Hart to a surrender and after that there should have been a wild exchange of blows between the two, but the referee Earl Hebner stopped the match hectically on a signal from McMahon, and Shawn Michaels was chosen as the winner via surrender. Bret Hart was furious and spat in Vince McMahon's face. Hart then went off very annoyed and angry. Hart then punched McMahon in a locker room. This story came to be known as the Montreal Screwjob and was not a storyline.

Attitude Era (late 1990s)

While the WWF was at "war" with the WCW, a new strategy was developed for how the own league could better stand out from the competition. The WWF built on creating new stars and of course on developing new ideas and pushing boundaries. The superstars of this era eventually achieved cult or legend status. With the feud between Steve Austin and the D-Generation X a revolutionary approach was created. Rules didn't matter to both Austin and the DX faction, and Austin and the DX did what was unthinkable at the time: They messed with their boss. This gave the WWF a small head start in the “war” with the WCW, which could ultimately be used to win. The Attitude Era set the course for wrestling today and was also able to secure its position for the WWE.

The market leader WWE (2000s to today)

In 2001, with the end of its two competitors, WWE became the world's leading wrestling company. ECW was in financial distress earlier this year and Heyman filed for bankruptcy on April 4, 2001. WCW continued to lose more money. The greatest competition to date for the WWE ended on March 23, 2001 after the WWE acquired the promotion.

Competition for the WWE

Totally non-stop action wrestling

The TNA, formerly NWA / TNA, was founded in 2001 by Jerry Jarrett as a new sub-organization of the National Wrestling Alliance . Jeff Jarrett's father, and the well-featured Carter family in competition with the WWE. Over time, the TNA, as the successor league of WCW, was slowly able to secure market shares. Unlike WCW, they did not build on similarities, but worked out the differences to the competing product. So until 2009 the matches were played in a hexagonal ring and more emphasis is placed on technical wrestling and less on entertainment. The TNA achieved a great success at the end of 2005 when it was able to sign the only former WCW champion who had never competed at the WWE, namely Sting . This made it possible, on the one hand, to emphasize the quality of the WCW successor and, on the other hand, to point out the uniqueness of TNA again. Many former ECW, WCW and WWE wrestlers compete at TNA, such as Hulk Hogan , Sting , Kurt Angle and Jeff Hardy . In Europe, their TV show Impact Wrestling was sometimes more watched than the WWE program.

Independent leagues

"Independent leagues" are leagues that do not work professionally, but only semi-professionally. The biggest difference to large wrestling organizations is that independent leagues have no fixed TV contracts and that the active wrestlers are not contractually bound to the league, but are also independent. The events mostly take place in sports halls , as the organizers cannot cover the costs for larger halls. Wrestlers who compete for these leagues generally only appear on weekends (mostly two, sometimes three) and pursue other jobs during the week. The goal of most independent wrestlers is to be seen by major league scouts and then possibly offered a contract. So far, some wrestlers have made this step (including AJ Styles , CM Punk , Daniel Bryan , Samoa Joe and Seth Rollins ). Occasionally, former stars of major leagues are also signed up to attract viewers. Independent leagues are known for their more technology- or violence-oriented wrestling styles and thus mainly serve the target groups of Smart Marks and hardcore and death match fans . The best-known independent leagues in the United States are the Ring of Honor , Combat Zone Wrestling, and the Independent Wrestling Association .

Principle and technology

The WrestleMania 32 event in 2016.

Wrestling takes place in a ring that is similar to a boxing ring. In contrast to the boxing ring, the wrestling ring usually has three instead of four ropes as well as four ring corners and two stairs that lead to the ring. The ring surface is about 70 cm above the ground and consists of padded mats and wood, the top ring rope is about 140 cm high. In professional leagues (also called promotions ) there is a large grandstand at one end of the hall where the athletes enter the hall. For some athletes, a small fireworks display ( pyro ) is set off on this higher platform in order to make their entry more interesting and spectacular. In addition, when the wrestlers march in, theme songs are played to get the fans in the mood. A steel ramp leads down to the ring. The spectators are separated from the fighters by a barrier, which is about two meters away from the ring. In addition, the commentators' desks, where the commentators sit, are next to the ring for television recordings.

A match begins when the referee sounds the ring bell. The match ends with:

Brock Lesnar performs his submission move Kimura Lock to John Cena .
  • Pinfall : One wrestler presses the other's shoulders on the mat for three seconds.
  • Submission : One of the wrestlers is in the submission hold of the other and can no longer free himself from it. To indicate the task, the loser has to tap the mat orsaythe words I quit in an I quit match .
  • Knockout : The wrestler loses consciousness during a match or a surrender hold. To determine the knockout, the referee raises the wrestler's arm three times in the air, if he falls back on the mat three times, he loses the match to a knockout.
  • Countout : You can only stay outside the ring for ten seconds; if this time is exceeded, the match is ended. But it is enough to touch the inside of the ring to abort the countout . In Japan, as well as some types of Ring of Honor matches (e.g. the ROH Pure Championship matches ), the time that can be left outside the ring is 20 seconds. If after 10 seconds both wrestlers are outside the ring, both lose the match. In this case one speaks of a double countout .
  • Disqualification : A wrestler loses through disqualification if he uses a prohibited item or another wrestler intervenes in the match. In this case, the wrestler in whose favor the intervention occurs loses.

The referee can also abandon the match if he thinks that a wrestler cannot continue the match. These details refer to normal matches as they mainly occur. Other types of matches also have specific rules. In a “last man standing match” there is neither a disqualification nor a “countout” or “pinfall” and “submission”. For more see: Wrestling Match Types .

Match action

Daniel Bryan leads the Yes! Kicks at Triple H from.

During the matches, the athletes show different types of actions to weaken their opponents. Such wrestling fighting techniques exist in many variations, but performing them can also be very dangerous. The principle applies: the more dangerous and spectacular, the more interesting for the audience. A rough distinction is made between jumps, throws, handholds as well as punches and kicks. The actions are carried out in such a way that they appear as realistic as possible to the viewer on the one hand, but the opponent is not injured on the other. However, the general claim that wrestling is "a completely contactless form of fighting" is incorrect. Frequently, injuries to the actors that ended their careers occurred due to insecure statements.


At least as important as a wrestler's ability to attack an opponent is to make the opponent's attacks look as good as possible. The expression “selling” could be translated as “selling”; The aim here is to make an opponent's action look as realistic and effective as possible. The Over-selling is the comparative form and refers to the exaggerated and unrealistic Sell an action. Often times, over-selling can occur to younger athletes who have not had much experience in the ring. There are also experienced wrestlers for whom over-selling is part of the character, such as Hulk Hogan , Shawn Michaels or The Rock .


Pro-wrestlers are athletes . You are an athlete and train regularly in order to be able to do your job. However, wrestlers must also have certain acting skills in order to be successful and appear authentic. You have to train for years to be able to move safely in the ring. In addition, younger wrestlers visit wrestling schools, which also exist in Germany. One of the most important skills taught in schools is the art of falling correctly, because this is the only way to compensate for tough actions by opponents. Constantly maintaining physical fitness is essential to prevent injuries. Depending on the status and success in the wrestling business, earnings in the millions are possible for absolute top stars.

Titles and championships

Four-time WWE Champion Brock Lesnar . In wrestling, this title is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious of all time.
The three-time World Heavyweight Champion John Cena . The legacy of this title can be traced back to the World Heavyweight Wrestling Championship , giving the belt a legacy over 100 years old.
The two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion Sting . This title is the most historic title in wrestling.

The basic idea of ​​wrestling is fighting for titles. Since there have been leagues, since the beginning of the 20th century, titles have also been defended. As wrestling developed, these titles became more and more significant, and sometimes entire shows were just about the titles. Nowadays there are usually two to four different titles in the major associations, which are intended for the respective divisions.

A wrestler forms the Triple Crown when he has received three specific championships of a doctorate in the course of his career. If this wrestler receives a fourth specific championship, he forms the Grand Slam . These specific championships are mostly divided into the following categories: World Championship, Secondary Championship, Tertiary Championship, and Tag Team Championship.

Wrestling title contenders are those athletes who are well received by the audience, whether in a positive or negative sense. You have a good chance of earning a title one day. All wrestlers are under constant scrutiny by both the scribes and the league owners. The last word usually rests with the owners, but also wrestlers with high influence and / or the so-called "creative control" (a clause that allows the wrestler to decide for himself whether to be a heel (villain) or face (hero) wants to occur, or whether the gimmick changes otherwise). Such a radical change is usually only granted to legends such as Hulk Hogan .

Sometimes titles are revoked. This can be part of a storyline, which then mostly has to be written due to a real injury or misconduct by the real person.

While the titles rarely changed until the early 1990s, title changes have taken place more often since then in order to keep the audience. However, it is precisely this approach that is also criticized because it causes titles to lose value.

There were and are among others the following title definitions:

World heavyweight title

Territory related titles

Weight related titles

Gender-related titles

Tag team related titles

Injuries and Hazards

Even if the wrestlers' actions and maneuvers are staged in the ring and wrestlers are professionally trained athletes, the risk of injury is very high. The actions in the ring require years of training to be carried out safely and credibly. Therefore, imitation is strongly discouraged. Before the fights, the athletes warm up intensely for several minutes and prepare mentally for the fight. Body parts that are particularly stressed are the legs, especially the quadriceps femoris muscle , which Triple H injured several times in his career. He had to take a break of about six months. Since you often have to jump and land on your feet during a fight, the knee joints are also very stressed. In so-called high - risk actions ( i.e. very dangerous attacks), it often happens that wrestlers land on the neck and injure themselves. Ultimately, almost every muscle is used, so the risk of injury is quite high.

Another threat to wrestlers is the abuse of muscle building drugs ( steroids ), which can also have a stimulating effect. According to a list by USA Today magazine, 65 people under the age of 45 have died in the past ten years ; 25 of them from heart attacks alone .

On June 24, 2007, wrestler Chris Benoit first killed his wife and child and then himself. A subsequent examination of Benoit's brain revealed severe brain damage caused by numerous concussions in wrestling that can be the cause of irrational behavior. There was also clear evidence that Benoit had used steroids such as testosterone .

Backyard wrestling

As Backyard Wrestling (German Backyard Wrestling) refers to the exertion of wrestling without the counterparties are qualified through professional training to do so. Most of the practitioners are young fans who want to emulate their idols and play their own "matches" with friends in unprofessional surroundings such as backyards, gardens and children's rooms.


Wrestling these days is a skilfully marketed total product. The largest provider, the market leader World Wrestling Entertainment, has long been a publicly traded company with substantial sales ($ 400 million in 2006). Famous wrestlers take on roles in movies (e.g. Hulk Hogan in Rocky III - The Eye of the Tiger and the television series Thunder in Paradise , The Rock in The Scorpion King and Daddy Without a Plan , or John Cena in The Marine and Twelve Rounds ) or bring their own music albums onto the market, such as B. John Cena. There is also a wide range of merchandising items: video games , DVDs of the individual shows, T-shirts and other clothing , right through to copies of the wrestling titles, which are very popular. However, this does not apply to lesser-known or highly specialized independent leagues; the wrestlers performing there usually only have the chance to gain a certain level of awareness outside the fan base of the respective league if they switch to one of the larger leagues.

Relationship between the fans and the actors

The fans at WrestleMania 32 .

Since wrestling has been shown as a mass product on television in the USA, but also in Japan, England, Australia and many other countries such as Germany, so-called feuds and storylines have been developed around the fights , reminiscent of soap operas . As a rule, in the case of two parties who face each other over the long term, one has the role of the face (the “good”) and the other that of the heel (the “bad”). In this way, the audience should be polarized and better identification with the stars should be established. However, this does not necessarily have to mean that a heel wrestler is not cheered. For example, smart marks often override this. This phenomenon has so far occurred most clearly in the WWE with the example of John Cenas , who was often booed for his wrestling style, while heels such as Triple H, which had been established for years, were cheered in fights against Cena. Some wrestlers like Eddie Guerrero once have a status that is set between heel and face and is referred to as "tweener" (from the English between , in between). Some wrestlers are initially deliberately kept in this status in order to observe the reactions of the fans and then classify them accordingly. As the audience's reactions were often misjudged in the past, the background stories at the WWE are now tested in the Florida Championship Wrestling training league before the wrestlers are transferred to one of the main squads.

While in the past the heels had to appear purely evil and the faces were only good, i.e. a stereotypical representation was represented, today both heels and faces enter gray areas. The reason for this is that the fans found the stereotypical representation of a page to be absurd and therefore hardly showed any reactions to it. It also happens that heels are forced to face-turn by the fans , according to Hulk Hogan after the last nWo appearance, because the latter, although he should have been booed, was cheered by the fans, or William Regal , who his backstory at an event in Nuremberg , because he was cheered by his fans instead of being booed for his role.

The "creative control clause" and "legend contracts"

A specialty that is only granted to older and very successful wrestlers is the "creative control" over their character. While younger wrestlers often disappear to appear months later with a changed hairstyle, name and ring attire, i.e. a new gimmick , this is not at all possible with actors with a certain status, such as Hulk Hogan (except for Mr. America ) or the Undertaker . This clause was increasingly used, especially during the quota wars between WWF and WCW, to prevent people from migrating to competitors. More concessions were made to wrestlers, from a fixed number of titles to fewer appearances for more money. Some players could even decide for themselves whether to win or lose.

With the bankruptcy of the WCW and the purchase by the WWE, however, the rights of most wrestlers were restricted again, as the wrestlers now lacked the leverage to switch to the competition. Older wrestlers are now offered so-called legend contracts in order to bind them to themselves. However, these contracts do not contain as many special rights as before.

Performances and events

The WrestleMania 35 event in 2019.

Many wrestling promotions broadcast their major events on television and / or the internet. Most of the time there is one major event per month. The largest promotions such as WWE or TNA broadcast them live as pay-per-view on pay TV and on the Internet. In Germany, the major monthly WWE events can be seen live on the WWE Network.

In addition, the big leagues have so-called “weeklies”, ie shows that are produced and broadcast every week. The WWE shows are called WWE Raw (live on Monday in the US), WWE NXT (Wednesdays), WWE Superstars (Thursdays) and SmackDown (Fridays). In Germany, RAW can be seen on Wednesdays and SmackDown on Thursdays on ProSieben Maxx .

Smaller leagues like RoH or CZW do not have weekclies or major events as PPV. They live exclusively on the income from ticket sales and the proceeds from the DVD sales of their events.

Due to the increasing popularity of wrestling, many independent leagues are now also able to conclude television contracts. As an example from the German-speaking area, the NEW by Alex Wright is listed, whose events have been broadcast by Fightbox HD since June 2016.

League directory

Surname Abbreviation Location Period Special
Athletic Club Wrestling ACW Germany 1998–
All Japan Pro Wrestling All Japan / AJPW Japan 1972– Founded by Giant Baba , directed by The Great Muta . Former organization of the National Wrestling Alliance .
American Wrestling Association AWA United States 1919-1991 Originally an independent promotion. Part of the National Wrestling Association since 1935 and part of the National Wrestling Alliance from 1949 . The banner was reactivated in May 1960 and the NWA resigned. Closed in 1991 for financial reasons. Since 1996 events have been organized under the AWA banner (see also Wrestling Superstars Live! ).
Asistencia Asesoría y Administración AAA Mexico 1992– Formerly part of the National Wrestling Alliance .
Big Japan Pro-Wrestling Big Japan / BJPW Japan 1995– Former organization of the National Wrestling Alliance.
Chaotic wrestling CW United States 2000–
Catch Wrestling Association CWA Germany, Austria 1973-1998 First major German-language doctorate. Close collaboration with the American Wrestling Association . Led by “Big Otto” Wanz and Peter William .
Chikara Pro Wrestling Chikara United States 2002– Affiliated association of the National Wrestling Alliance . Close cooperation with Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW).
Combat Zone Wrestling CZW United States 1999– Hardcore heavy league. Originally belonged to the National Wrestling Alliance as an affiliate of the then promotion NWA New Jersey .
Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre CMLL Mexico 1933– Most famous Mexican league.
Deep South Wrestling DSW United States 1986– Founded in 1986 as NWA Deep South Wrestling part-organization of the NWA and was a short-term development territory in 1988. Closed in 1988 and incorporated into WCW Power Plant . On September 1, 2005, the banner was reactivated by World Wrestling Entertainment and until April 18, 2007 it was run as a development territory (so-called "Farm League"). Closed on April 19, 2007 by the WWE. The promoters have been organizing under the DSW banner in the independent scene since April 30, 2007 .
German Wrestling Alliance DWA Germany 2002–
Eastside wrestling ESW Germany 2003– Most famous doctorate in East Germany . Founded by Steve Douglas , close cooperation with wXw and EWA.
European Wrestling Association EWA Austria 1998– Most famous doctorate in Austria. Directed by Michael Kovac and Chris Raaber .
Extreme Championship Wrestling ECW United States 1992-2001 Hardcore league; 2006-2010 revived by the WWE .
Florida Championship Wrestling FCW United States 2007– Official World Wrestling Entertainment “Farm League” and seeing yourself in the tradition of Championship Wrestling From Florida , whose name is a trademark of the National Wrestling Alliance .
German Stampede Wrestling GSW Germany 2001– Second largest German doctorate in Germany; close cooperation with wXw, German Wrestling Federation and the US-American NWA.
German Wrestling Promotion GWP Germany 2006–
Global & German Wrestling Organization GGWO Germany 2005–
Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South IWA-MS United States 1996– Founded as an affiliate of the National Wrestling Alliance and originally competing with the former ECW and CZW. Since 2003 close cooperation with Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW).
International Wrestling Association IWA Puerto Rico 1994– Until 2001 member of the NWA , 1999-2001 "Farm League" of the then World Wrestling Federation .
International Wrestling Association Switzerland IWA-S Switzerland 2005-2007 Hardcore-heavy doctorate in Switzerland. Official affiliate of the IWA Mid-South. Close cooperation with wXw in Germany.
Italian Championship Wrestling ICW Italy 2001– Affiliated association of the National Wrestling Alliance .
Juggalo Championship Wrestling JCW United States 1999– Official wrestling league from Psychopathic Records .
Major League Wrestling MLW United States 2002-2004 Arose as an attempt to create an alternative to world wrestling entertainment . Has signed many former ECW wrestlers . Lost its rank as the top Indy league to Ring of Honor and was discontinued.
National Wrestling Alliance NWA United States 1948– Oldest active wrestling umbrella organization in the independent scene. Controlled approximately 90% of US and Canadian wrestling at their wedding (1953). Insignificant today, as the market leadership has passed to World Wrestling Entertainment . The NWA still has a die-hard core audience of all ages.
New Japan Pro Wrestling NJPW Japan 1972– Founded by Antonio Inoki . Also organized under the banner of NWA New Japan and is represented on the board of the National Wrestling Alliance .
New European Championship Wrestling NEW Germany 2009– Founded by former WCW wrestler Alex Wright .
Nordic Fight Club NFC Germany 2006– Founded by Karsten Kretschmer.
Nu-wrestling evolution NWE Italy 2005– Currently the leading doctorate in Italy.
Ohio Valley Wrestling OVW United States 1997- The promotion was founded in 1997 as Ohio Championship Wrestling and has been a former affiliate of the National Wrestling Alliance since 1998, under the banner of NWA Ohio Championship Wrestling . In 2000 it was taken over by World Wrestling Entertainment and operated under the name Ohio Valley Wrestling as a so-called "farm league" - that is, as WWE development territory. On February 8, 2008, the cooperation on the part of the WWE was ended. Since then, the promotion in the US American independent scene.
Pro wrestling fighters PWF Germany 2008–
Pro wrestling guerrilla PWG United States 2003–
Pro wrestling NOAH NOAH Japan 2000–
Ring of Honor Raw United States 2002– Most famous and largest "Indy League". Currently third largest wrestling promotion in the USA.
Rings of Europe RoE Austria 2004-2008
Rings of Europe Switzerland RoE Swiss Switzerland 2005–
Riotgas Wrestling Alliance RWA Austria 2003-2009
Shimmer Woman Athletes Shimmer United States 2005– Most famous "Indy League" in women's wrestling.
Smoky Mountain Wrestling SMW United States 1991-1995 Founded by Jim Cornette as part of the National Wrestling Alliance to replace the discontinued Promotion World Championship Wrestling . Close cooperation with the then World Wrestling Federation and finally bought up by them.
Total non-stop action wrestling TNA United States 2002– Biggest competitor of World Wrestling Entertainment . Founded as the official successor organization of World Championship Wrestling and member of the NWA until 2004 . Since then active in the independent scene and the second largest wrestling association in the USA.
United States Wrestling Association Etc.WA United States 1988-1997 Promotion of Jerry Jarrett and Jerry Lawler under the National Wrestling Alliance .
westside Xtreme wrestling wXw Germany 2000– Largest German doctorate; close cooperation with GSW, ESW and the American doctorates NWA, CZW and IWA.
World Championship Wrestling WCW United States 1988-2001 Once part of the National Wrestling Alliance and rose under Ted Turner to become the second largest wrestling promotion in the USA. After the sale to AOL / Time Warner, the WCW was bought by the then World Wrestling Federation .
WWE WWE United States 1952– Global wrestling leader. Member of the National Wrestling Alliance between 1953 and 1963 and again between 1971 and 1983 .
World Series Wrestling WSW OUT 2005–
Wrestling School Austria WSA Austria 1998–
Xtreme Pro Wrestling XPW United States 1999-2003 Hardcore-heavy promotion. Main competitor of Combat Zone Wrestling. Discontinued for financial reasons.

Wrestling in the USA

In the sport of the United States wrestling the most popular sports matters. There are many different wrestling leagues in America; the largest is WWE , which is now a multi-billion dollar company. However, there are also a lot of small leagues that do not work professionally, but still hold shows on a monthly basis. The independent sector is very strong, and one can assume that several thousand people in the States are full-time wrestling.

Wrestling outside of the US


Wrestling in Europe is mainly found in Germany and England. The style of the British wrestling scene is very traditional and technical. The slogan of British wrestling is “We wrestle!”. In general, many British wrestlers do not have a special attack to win a match, but can win their matches by using different surrenders or a variety of cover variants. However, the New School wrestlers from England are increasingly orienting themselves towards America and are therefore deviating from this old principle. In the 1950s a round system was introduced in England in which matches were divided into five-minute rounds. In addition, there were many "2 out of 3 fall matches" at that time, that is, to win a match, you had to defeat the opponent twice. Tag team wrestling is particularly popular in England . There are also numerous associations based in England.


Until the 1960s, wrestling in the European version of catching could also fill the halls in Germany. The European catch was based on the "British wrestling tradition", with the emphasis on sporting accents and less on pure entertainment for the audience. In the 1970s, due to the popularity of catching at the time, the League Catch Wrestling Association was founded.

In the years between 1980 and 2000, American wrestling made its breakthrough in Germany, which was very different from the British: American wrestling primarily serves to entertain the audience. As early as the mid-1990s, Germany was the third largest wrestling market for the American WWF; Germany came just behind the USA and Japan. During this time, the WWF alone held around 30 shows a year in Germany.

But as early as 2000, the German market was considered uninteresting for the WWF's marketing department, especially since the competitive leagues World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling could be acquired from 2001 . With that, the German wrestling market collapsed and other sports came to the fore among the former supporters.

In Germany, independent wrestling leagues have now been founded, which primarily had the so-called "hardcore style" of the former ECW as a model. These leagues include the "European Wrestling Promotion" in Hanover, westside Xtreme wrestling in Oberhausen and German Stampede Wrestling in Marburg . From a global perspective, the German leagues are rather insignificant. However, the wXw seems to have been at the top of the German wrestling leagues since autumn 2008, as it began working closely with the US promotions Independent Wrestling Association and Combat Zone Wrestling and had worked closely with associations of the National Wrestling Alliance before that would have. A large part of the current English-speaking wXw team belongs to the NWA England , NWA Scotland , NWA Wales and NWA Ireland . There is also a collaboration between westside Xtreme wrestling and the Japan- based promotion Dragon Gate . The German Wrestling Federation has existed in Berlin since 1995 and also operates its own wrestling school in Berlin-Neukölln .

It should also be noted that there are still two styles in Germany today: on the one hand, the traditional British style, which is still popular in the Hanover, Bremen and Hamburg triangle, and on the other hand, the modern style, such as can be found in the USA, for example. Leagues like the very entertainment-heavy GSW, the more sport-oriented wXw and the ACW lead this style. In recent years there has been an increasing number of American IWA and CZW wrestlers in German leagues.

Some German wrestlers, who also celebrated a breakthrough in the USA, acquired their basic knowledge at the catch tournaments of the Catch Wrestling Association . Big cities in which these tournaments took place were Vienna , Hanover , Hamburg , Bremen , Wuppertal and Dortmund . The best-known German wrestlers in the English-speaking world are Alex Wright , who has set up his own league and event venue with the New European Championship Wrestling (NEW) , as well as Thumbtack Jack and "Bad Bones" John Kay . The latter was also extremely successful in Japan.


The wrestling industry in Italy has been expanding in recent years. The WWE has discovered the market in Italy and has launched a marketing offensive. In addition, all shows are shown on Italian television. There are only a few internationally known wrestlers from Italy, but the FBI (Full Blooded Italians) group stayed in the WWE for several years. One of the most famous Italian leagues is Italian Championship Wrestling (ICW), which hosts around 15 to 20 shows a year.

Then there is the Nu-Wrestling Evolution , which was founded in 2005. Over the past few years, the NWE has made it to the top of Italy. In their roster are and were established names such as Rikishi, Ultimo Dragon, Andrew "Test" Martin, Scott Steiner, Jamal (Umaga), Chuck Palumbo, Juventud Guerrera and Vampiro.


Catch Wrestling Association

Until it was set up in Germany and Austria in 1998, the CWA was the most important German-speaking league. The CWA was led by Otto Wanz in Austria and by Peter William in Germany . Great popularity obtained the organized by the CWA wrestling at the Haymarket in the square of the Wiener EV .

The WSA has been trying to fill this vacuum since 1998. As the only league in Austria with a regular TV show ( Wrestling Fightnight since 2006) on the TV station Okto and steadily increasing audience numbers, it managed to reactivate the hay market in 2008, so that a 5-day tournament every summer since July 2009 is organized.

European Wrestling Association

The largest league in Austria, however, is the European Wrestling Association, or EWA for short, which is headed by Michael Kovac and Chris Raaber . The league has seen the likes of Sheamus , The Warlord, Douglas Williams, Mideon, Bruiser Bradley and Bryan Danielson .

In October 2009 the league, together with some German leagues, was offered try-outs for its wrestlers from the American League Total Nonstop Action Wrestling . Michael Kovac ( Leoben ) and Chris Colen ( Vienna ) played a tag team match against the Swiss team The Hellvetic Warriors at a house show in Winterthur . The match ended in a time limit draw.


There are some resident associations in Australia, but their wrestlers usually only remain active nationally and therefore cannot make a name for themselves internationally. There are 14 smaller associations that are divided into the individual areas in Australia and have several events throughout the year.


Japanese wrestling is known as Puroresu . Compared to the size and population of the country, Japan has an unusually high density of successful wrestling companies. At the top are New Japan Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling NOAH . Compared to US wrestling, only smaller organizers value larger shows. The big associations, however, try to maintain the image of a tough sporting competition. Puroresu is considered the hotbed of the mixed martial arts boom, which is gradually displacing Japanese wrestling. The most successful stars include and were: Keiji Mutoh , Kanako Urai , Mitsuharu Misawa , Shinsuke Nakamura and Takeshi Morishima .


Latin American wrestling is commonly referred to as Lucha Libre and is particularly popular in Mexico. Compared to classic US wrestling, the Lucha Libre places much more emphasis on fast movement sequences and acrobatic performances. Most Mexican wrestlers wear masks that can be jeopardized as use in important matches. The loss of his mask signifies the greatest possible humiliation of a luchador . The greatest legend of Mexican wrestling is El Santo ("The Saint"), who was revered as a folk hero long after his death. Matches in teams of two to four people are played more often in Mexico than individual matches, in order to give individual victories and defeats greater importance. Wrestling of small stature, the so-called mini- estrellas, is also more popular than in other parts of the world . The most important wrestling companies in Mexico include the CMLL ( Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre ) and the AAA ( Asistencia Asesoría y Administración ). The most successful star of the Lucha Libre right now is Sin Cara .

Match types and rules

See also

Portal: Wrestling  - Overview of Wikipedia content on wrestling

Web links

Commons : Wrestling  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Hardcore Wrestling  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files
Wiktionary: Wrestling  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ History of Wrestling ( Memento of February 14, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  2. Story of the Monday Night War ( Memento from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  3. Story of the Monreal Screwjob ( Memento from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  4. Story about the Attitude Era ( Memento from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  5. Story of the TNA story ( Memento from March 30, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  6. News report on the operation of Triple H ( Memento from October 22, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  7. Sick Elephant ( Memento from February 5, 2008 in the Internet Archive ). In: NZZ , 7./8. July 2007, p. 61
  8. Article on nytimes.com
  9. ^ WWE share history ( Memento from December 31, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  10. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. Reports Q4 Results (PDF; 116 kB) 4. ( Memento from December 31, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) (from August 28, 2006)
  11. NEW signs international TV contract
  12. ^ Wrestling on Italian TV
  13. ^ Official homepage of the Italian NWE ( Memento from August 17, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  14. Euro-Wrestling-News ( Memento from January 9, 2016 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on January 30, 2008
  15. ^ Official homepage of the WSA ( Memento of December 21, 2008 in the Internet Archive )