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Top 10 Wrestling Promotions: Countdown Part One

January 14th, 2014 at 11:44 AM
By Peter Schifani

For this month's countdown of our "Top 10" series in 2014 we take a look at what we believe were the top 10 wrestling promotions in the history of the sport. This first part takes a look at number 10, nine and eight on our countdown, and the next parts we will go to number seven, six and five, then four, three and two, before a concluding, and more in-depth look, at number one.

Number 10: GWF (Global Wrestling Federation)

Many may not even remember this promotion as it only appeared briefly on the wrestling scene between 1991 and 1994, but it made an impact despite it's short duration. The GWF ran shows out of the Sportatorium in Dallas, billing it as the "GlobalDome" for a time, after WCCW had been absorbed into the USWA. The promotion brought many newcomers to the wrestling audience weekdays on ESPN such as the debuts of the Lightning Kid (X-pac), The Ebony Experience (Stevie Ray and Booker T) and John Hawk (JBL). Unfortunately one year after the GWF started there were major cutbacks and a new ownership group took over, bringing back many former World Class (WCCW) wrestlers such as Kerry Von Erich, "Iceman" King Parsons and "Gentleman" Chris Adams, but the revival never took hold. WWE bought up the GWF video library in November, 2013, so expect to see more of the GWF as part of the "vault" section of the WWE Network.

Number Nine: NWA (National Wrestling Alliance)

The grandfather of all wrestling organizations, and the one that gave birth to WWE (as WWWF), the AWA, WCW, ECW, TNA and many more. The alliance started in the 1940's with the idea of having one true World Heavyweight Champion to represent the NWA and assist territories all around the alliance, as needed, promoting those territories and helping sell tickets at shows by there appearances within each. The NWA lost prestige during a scandal that had the government look into whether or not to apply anti-trust laws to the "monopoly" it had over the world of pro wrestling in the 1950's. It's strangle hold eroded as the AWA (1960), WWWF (1963) broke away from the alliance, and in later years WCCW (1986), WCW (1988) and ECW (1993) all did the same. By the mid-90's there were less than five member territories in the NWA, but new ownership over the last few years is starting to bring back the oldest continuous wrestling promotion in the United States.

Number Eight: AWA (American Wrestling Association)

The AWA was started as the Minnesota Boxing and Wrestling Club in the 1950's but became the AWA when the then current NWA World Champion Pat O'Connor was advised to defend his "AWA Championship" within 90 days of being awarded the title in mid-1960. Verne Gagne became the AWA World Champion after O'Connor failed to defend his title, as he was the triple threat (owner, promoter and wrestler) of the AWA. The promotion saw much success early on as they expanded outside of Minnesota to the Midwest and West regions as well. The pinnacle of the AWA began when a blond powerhouse known as Terry Boulder became Hulk Hogan in the early 1980's. Along with the Road Warriors (Hawk and Animal), Bobby Heenan, Gene Okerlund, Ken Patera and Jesse Ventura the AWA had it's greatest talent base that should have let them thrive in the long-term. Unfortunately, all but the Warriors left the AWA for the WWF and the promotion started to decline. Despite a late revival with such wrestlers as Scott Hall, Curt Hennig, The Nasty Boys (Saggs and Knobs) and The Midnight Rockers (Shawn MIchaels and Marty Jannetty) the AWA would cease operations in 1991.

Now that we have started this list, feel free to debate us on it's contents. More promotions, such as Mid-South wrestling, WCW and ROH are to come, and are ranked higher for reasons we will divulge in future parts of this series.

Tags: AWA, ECW, GWF, Hulk Hogan, Kerry Von Erich, NWA, Road Warriors, Verne Gagne, World Champion, World Heavyweight Champion, Wrestling

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