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Top 10 Wrestling Promotions: Countdown Part Two

January 16th, 2014 at 12:24 PM
By Peter Schifani

Okay as the countdown continues of whom we believe are the top 10 promotions in the history of wrestling in the United States we advance to numbers seven, six and five. In case you missed part one with numbers 10, nine and eight you can go back to read it here.

Number Seven: Mid-South/UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation)

Mid-South started in 1979 when owner Bill Watts bought out the former NWA Tri-State territory. They focused on bringing great wrestling action to the fans of the states of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The action was always intense and sometimes blurred the lines between "good and evil" with the "faces and heels" of the promotion turning several times. Many wrestlers who would go on to become bigger stars in WWF and WCW would get there start in Mid-South, including Junkyard Dog, Ted DiBiase, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Jim Duggan, Butch Reed, Rick Steiner, Magnum TA and The Blade Runners (Ultimate Warrior and Sting). Also, "Good Ole Jr" Jim Ross got his start as an announcer in the promotion's later years. Unfortunately, Bill Watts wanted his promotion to become a national rival to the likes of the WWF and Jim Crockett's WCW, so in 1986 Mid-South became the UWF, but most of it's top tier talent had moved on by then. Due to a recession in Oklahoma during the latter part of 1986, Watts was forced to sell the UWF to Jim Crockett in 1987, thus ending the promotion.

Number Six: ROH (Ring of Honor)

Started in the wake of the WWE's acquisitions of WCW and ECW in 2001, Ring of Honor was meant to be a bit of "throw-back" to old school wrestling with an emphasis more on the wrestling in the ring and the quality of wrestlers themselves than storylines, which has been the emphasis in recent years. Such current talents, in WWE and TNA, as CM Punk, Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson), Antonio Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli), Samoa Joe and Austin Aries got there start in the pro game in ROH. Other solid wrestlers such as Roderick Strong, BJ Whitmer and the Briscoe Brothers (Mark and Jay) have been working for the promotion almost since the beginning. Also a "code of honor" meant as a sign of respect is supposed to be followed in ROH as participants are supposed to shake hands both before and after matches, and many choose to follow the code but some do not. This independent promotion still thrives more than a decade after it started.

Number Five: TNA (Total Non-stop Action)

Yet another promotion started, after WCW and ECW were folded into WWE, by the Jarrett family. They took some cast-off talents and fresh young wrestlers, such as AJ Styles, Bobby Roode, James Storm, Eric Young and Chris Sabin and found a niche by featuring weekly pay-per-view showcases in there early years. That changes in 2004 when Vince Russo took over "creative control" of the company and debut Impact at Universal Studios in Florida as there weekly broadcast to showcase there talents in a new innovative six-sided ring. All of those talents that were billed as part of the X-Division where "it's not about weight limits, it's about no limits" now had a unique venue to showcase there skills and high-flying aerial maneuvers to the Fox Sports audience that tuned in to see Impact. TNA transitioned from Fox to SpikeTV in 2005, with a five month gap in television programming until debuting on October 1st on Spike. In 2010 the company hired both Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff to help the company grow to the next level, but that "experiment" went pretty much the same way as what lead to the demise of WCW, a formula of high paid older wrestlers brought in for brief runs, augmented by the now aging original talents. TNA tried several times unsuccessfully to go head-to-head with WWE, running Impact live, or going out on the road for weekly shows, but neither succeeded. Now it remains to be seen if 2014 will see the company grow again, or go the way of all ways and close forever.

Next week we will delve into the top five of the top 10 wrestling promotions on our countdown with part three of this series featuring number four, three and two. Then we will give you and even longer history of whom we believe is the number one wrestling organization in the United States.

Tags: AJ Styles, Antonio Cesaro, Eric Bischoff, Eric Young, Hulk Hogan, Impact, Jim Ross, Mid-South, ROH, Sting, TNA, Ultimate Warrior, UWF, Wrestling, X-Division

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