Lately, there has been somewhat of an ongoing debate in the pro wrestling world with a wide variety of opinions on just which promotion has the absolute finest product out there. Ironically, even though the WWE stands alone as the largest and most successful promotion in the world, amongst purists here on the Internet, it’s arguably the most critically panned. Over on the G9Z Wrestling twitter, I always see the usual smart fan argue that “WWE sucks and that this or that indie promotion is the best in the world”. And there are also the loyalists who praise the company under any circumstances.
Now that the five minutes you’ve spent chuckling at that screencap have passed, we’re going to have to get back to the task at hand. We’ve got to figure out just how we are to determine what we should give our hard earned money to. Shouldn’t there be some kind of way to decide just which company rules the wrestling landscape? Well what I’ve done here is make the damnedest attempt at helping you find the company that best suits your tastes. We’re going to be taking a look at some of the biggest promotions around (WWE, TNA, ROH, NJPW, SHIMMER, CHIKARA & PWG) and after a brief overview, I will be spotlighting the target audience of each company in hopes to help you find out what you want your eyes on right now. Upon finding the right promotion, hopefully, you will then live happily ever after. Sound good? Well then, take a leap of faith and read on. Just remember, this is sort of a way for you to “speed date” each promotion. Whether or not you get your feelings hurt is just a part of the game my friends.
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
It’s the world’s most famous wrestling organization without a doubt. Chances are, if you consider yourself a big fan of pro wrestling, then you don’t need me to explain this one for you. More than likely, your love for the sport started here. Still, if you’ve been on some sort of WWE hiatus these past few years, then here’s your refresher course. Since the beginning of the 2010s, the WWE has been on it’s greatest talent renaissance since the mid 90s with seemingly endless amounts of experienced young talent bringing the goods in the ring. The company is still very much entertainment based, but it’s leagues ahead of where it was in the latter half of the last decade.
Primarily For Fans Of – Good old fashioned entertainment for the whole family with a vast legacy in the wrestling business. Let it be known the company thrives on storylines and while there are many great wrestlers, they don’t consider ring work the greatest priority here. Excitement and big time spectacle are the name of the game.
Marquee Performers – John Cena, CM Punk & Randy Orton.
Recent Event To Start With – Extreme Rules 2012.
Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling
Known as a lighter, yet more serious version of the WWE, TNA Wrestling is noticeably flawed, yet it can be a very rewarding viewing experience if you stick with it. Arguably, the company has the most balanced product out there with a little something for everyone. Whether you prefer star power, great matches, blood, sex, violence, it doesn’t matter, TNA Wrestling prides itself on being the primary alternative to the PG oriented WWE product. Just don’t go in expecting it to be on the level of it’s competitor on a consistent basis.
Primarily For Fans Of – The WWE’s late 1990s-early 2000s product. Don’t come in
thinking it will be similar to the maximum wrestling orgasmo the attitude era
was story wise, but if you want an accessible mainstream product with some edge,
this is the closest thing you’re going to get.
Marquee Performers – Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle & Bobby Roode.
Recent Event To Start With – Destination X 2012.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW)
This is the best pure wrestling promotion in the world right now. If you’re tired of gimmick matches and unrealistic storytelling, then this is the product you’ve been clamoring for. And don’t worry, even if you’re new to the wrestling scene in Japan, you’ve easily picked the best time to give it a try. The company is the world’s most buzz worthy right now and with good reason. You can always expect a multitude of good-to-great matches every time they release an event and their roster is arguably, the best in the biz.
Primarily For Fans Of – Realistic and extremely competitive presentation. The wrestlers here are presented as pure athletes backed by crowds who fully invest in the action. There are press conferences, public workouts and video packages that always bring the big fight feel. Though be warned, the language barrier may take some getting used to and I recommend you start with a friend more familiar with the product.
Marquee Performers – Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada & Shinsuke Nakamura.
Recent Event To Start With – Wrestle Kingdom VII.
Ring Of Honor (ROH) Wrestling
In it’s heyday in the mid-2000s, Ring Of Honor was easily, the best wrestling promotion in North America. Since then, the company has suffered due to WWE & TNA swiping nearly every talent who breaks through as a major star. Lately however, they seem to be in the midst of a major resurgence & fan interest is growing with each event. Things were also a bit shaky with their iPPV feeds cutting out in the past year, but they seem to have fixed the issue. ROH can be a bit similar to TNA in some ways, but the action here is much more fast and furious. If you just want balls-to the-wall warfare with a bit of an MMA influence, here is where you’ll get it. It’s Dragon Ball Z with a four sided ring.
Primarily For Fans Of – A very intense, very high paced workrate. If slow, steady story based mat wrestling isn’t your thing, then you’ll fall in love at first sight. If you’re an old school purist who doesn’t like a ton of near falls. Yeeaaahhh, you might want to skip this one.
Marquee Performers – Kevin Steen, Davey Richards & The Briscoe Brothers.
Recent Event To Start With – Glory By Honor XI.
Shimmer Women Athletes (SHIMMER)
Most fans of mainstream wrestling often complain about the lack of TV time and major storylines the women receive nowadays. Shimmer is the answer to that issue. If you’re looking for top notch action delivered by some of the best female workers in the world, then Shimmer is your best bet. If the WWE Divas division is your only real exposure to female athletes, then you owe it to yourself to grab a hold of the first Simmer Volume you can get your hands on. You can then return here to thank me if your head hasn’t exploded.
Primarily For Fans Of – Women’s wrestling & Joshi action from the 1990s. I’m not saying that you are going to witness a five star classic in every show, but it’s worth noting that a great deal of the talent here has been influenced by the women of that era.
Marquee Performers – Saraya Knight, Cheerleader Melissa & Ayako Hamada.
Recent Event To Start With – Volume 45.
Chikara is easily the most unique promotion in professional wrestling today. The company made a name for itself as an over-the-top variety show with emphasis on tag matches & high-flying lucha wrestling. Recently, they introduced their first ever singles championship, with Eddie Kingston becoming the first ever Chikara Grand Champion in 2011. Having a primary singles title hasn’t shaken their resolve to deliver the most fun wrestling product around though. If you want the perfect blend of electric characters, fast paced wrestling and an immense amount of laughter, you’ll find that Chikara is the right place for you.
Primarily For Fans Of – Lovers of comic books, cartoons, video games and pretty much everything that makes being a nerd awesome can relate to the style of wrestling found in Chikara. They have their finger on the pulse of the current generation of smart fans who’re looking for something fun, unique and fresh.
Marquee Performers – Eddie Kingston, Mike Quakenbush & The Colony.
Recent Event To Start With – King Of Trios 2012 Night 3.
Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG)
The riotous energy and electric atmosphere that made ECW one of the most legendary promotions of all time has now found a new home in Southern California. Pro Wrestling Guerrilla is an indie diehards dream and hands down offers up the best in-ring product in North America. There’s a constant vibe of determination and desire due to the fact that the roster is full of some of the youngest, hungriest talent the world has to offer. Bell to bell, each PWG show is a pure adrenaline rush.
Primarily For Fans Of – Independent wrestling. If the mainstream promotions have gotten stale for you, then this is the first place you should go. It’s as far away from the WWE as you can get all the while still maintaining it’s own spectacle with an ever growing buzz in the air. Passion, dedication and intensity pour out of the wrestlers and fans alike.
Marquee Performers – Adam Cole, Super Smash Bros. & The Young Bucks.
Recent Event To Start With – Threemendous III.
And there you have it folks. A brief primer on pretty much every noteworthy promotion in pro wrestling right now. And while other popular feds like DGUSA, EVOLVE, SHINE, AJPW, CZW, WSU, AIW, ACW and NOAH also have their supporters, I would think that you would have a better chance at finding what you are looking for from the promotions listed above. And upon doing so, you can now find peace whilst touring this jaded critic brothel we call the Internet. Then again, it’s also likely you’re very familiar with all the companies listed above and still find yourself dissatisfied. If that’s the case, you may want to head over to your facebook profile and remove the words “wrestling fan” from your about me section. Seriously. Away with you. To the rest of you, thanks for reading.
Good call on NJPW’s star performers. I’d put Devitt in there too.
Yeah I’m a huge fan of Devitt and would consider him the Ace of the juniors division. I appreciate the comment. Thanks for reading.
Nice, different type of column. Well done!
Much appreciated. Thank you for the kind words.
Awesome first column!! I certainly look forward to reading more of your work on WR!
I wish I had more time to watch promotions like CHIKARA and PWG. I do watch ROH when I can. The thing with WWE you see, it’s HD and it’s so easy to watch with no hassle. No worrying about lagging etc.. there’s that buzz as well so that’s the reasons why I don’t watch more Indy wrestling.
Thanks for the support, Ray! : )