As our countdown continues this week with more of the Top 10 wrestling promotions we look at numbers four, three and two here. In case you missed the previous two parts for numbers 10 through five, you can read part one here and part two here.
Started as part of Jim Crockett Promotions in the late-80's and it's foothold grew as part of being broadcast on Superstation WBTS, owned by Ted Turner. Then Turner bought JCP and created WCW based out of Atlanta, the same headquarters as TBS, CNN and the rest of the Turner empire. After WCW ended its affiliation with the NWA they created there own World Championship but still used the "Big Gold" belt and titled it the International World Heavyweight Championship keeping the lineage of the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Eventually the titles were united into one, and that's part of the reason why WWE used that lineage in creating the WWE World Heavyweight Championship today. Anyway, the reason WCW was successful was because of the influence of a former AWA announcer named Eric Bischoff who took over the reigns of WCW in the 1990's, introduced Monday Nitro to go head-to-head with WWE's Monday Night Raw and gave out large contracts to mostly over the hill talent that eventually lead to the collapse of WCW. The Monday Night War was won early on by WCW and the creation of the nWo, a faction started by former WWF stars Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, but with the addition of a now heel "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan put them over the top. As we all know most WCW assets were purchased by WWE in 2001 ending the long standing war which fans to this day still regret seeing end.
Eastern Championship Wrestling began in 1992 as a regional promotion that brought in old names from WWF and some new young talents to try to thrive in the Northeast. Two years into the life of this small promotion, that was affiliated with the "dying" NWA, a tournament was held to determine a new NWA World Heavyweight Champion, which was won by "The Franchise" Shane Douglas. Despite praising the greats that came before him, Douglas threw down the NWA belt and declared himself the ECW World Champion and an era of bringing the sport back to wrestling. Well actually the sport became extreme as Paul Heyman took over the reigns of ECW and we were all introduced to thumbtacks, barbed wire, chairs, tables and more as weapons. The talents, such as Tazz, Rob Van Dam, Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, Raven, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, The Dudley Boys and more went on to become stars known in many households all across America. Unfortunately the "fad" had worn off with fans by the turn of the millennium and the assets of ECW were sold to WWE, to be briefly revived between 2006 and 2010 but not anywhere near the "extreme" that had been seen in the 1990's.
Yes, it's a juggernaut, yes it's the top dog in sports entertainment, and yes it's been around 50 plus years now, but all of that still only makes it number two on our list. It's a close second because its just about the only game in town these days in pro wrestling, but not when it originally started as Capitol Wrestling Corporation as part of the NWA. In 1963 Vince McMahon Sr. and Toots Mondt decided to break away from the NWA and form the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) and shortly after "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers would lose there World Championship to Bruno Sammartino, who would hold it for the next seven years. On the back of Sammartino Vince Senior built the WWWF to be the biggest promotion in the Northeast, then he sold it to his son Vince Junior, in the 80's, who dropped the "wide", ended the territorial system by signing the best talents of the AWA, NWA, Mid-South, World Class and more, and birthed the biggest wrestling promotion around. His biggest acquisition was Hulk Hogan from the AWA and "Hulkamania" became the force that elevated WWF to new heights. Then the "new generation" era saw Bret "Hitman" Hart and "HBK" Shawn Michaels become big stars, and the "Attitude Era" with "Stonecold" Steve Austin put WWE over the top. Now it's the "PG Era" with John Cena leading the way, and great stars in CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton and more holding there own with wrestling fans.
Now that we have counted all the way up from number 10 to number two, we can devote even more time to whom we believe is the number one wrestling promotion of all-time here in the United States. Have you read all the parts of this and can tell us who you think will be number one? If not stay tuned, because it will be revealed this week.
- Top 10 Wrestling Promotions: Countdown Part One
- Top 10 Wrestling Promotions: Countdown Part Two
- Wrestling Review Weekly, First Edition Number Nine
- Wrestling Review Weekly First Edition, Number 21
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