Outside the Prime Time

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

I want to use this platform for more than just reviews of shows I’ve been to. I want to paint a broader picture of what wrestling can be and I want to show people that there is more to wrestling than what you see on prime time TV.

So I would like to use this opportunity to help people who maybe are just starting out exploring the world outside WWE and outside AEW. There is so much out there, but it can be overwhelming trying to navigate the waters of wrestling without some kind of guide. It took me a fair amount of time spent watching different promotions and researching things online to find what I liked because I wanted to see it all, but the conclusion I drew was that is just not possible.

WWE is a great product, but they are actually very different from almost all other wrestling out there in one important facet.

They operate in what I’ll call a closed universe where the rest of wrestling operates in a fluid capacity. Outside WWE, almost anything can happen, anyone can show up anywhere and any match is theoretically possible under the right circumstances so you truly get one off dream matches you may have never thought would happen. I would like to use this opportunity to try to provide people just starting out into the indies with a decent road map of how to go about that. I know from experience trying to do it on your own is a huge project and takes a lot of trial and error.

The first helpful tip I got when I was starting to get into the indies was a little strange. I had just recently started going to my local indie. I had probably been to two shows, but I was down in New Orleans for WrestleMania 34 and I had talked my group into going to the Mark Hitchcock memorial show at WrestleCon on the Thursday night of the weekend because we really didn’t have anything else to do. The main event of this show was The Golden Lovers vs Sexy Chuckie T and Flip Gordon. At the time, Kenny Omega was super hot and in the middle of maybe one of the greatest feuds in wrestling history with Kazuchika Okada. This was before the prospect of AEW was a glimmer in Tony Khan’s eye.

Anyway, we get to the show a little early and had to wait in line to get in and we ended up next to this guy who started talking about Highspots Wrestling Network and something called Fest Wrestling based in Florida, and he gave me a flyer with a code for a free month trial. When I got home, I signed up and checked out this Fest Wrestling and I loved it. I watched the entire catalog available.

Then I thought, “If I liked this so much there has to be other promotions I like on here.” So I started watching a ton of shows, although not all of them were for me. I realized then that not all promotions are created the same.

You need to find what works for you and what you like.

I definitely found a lot of things on that service I really enjoyed, but then I found some things I wasn’t as into. There’s nothing wrong with anything on there it’s just that it wasn’t for me. I also realized watching all this Fest Wrestling that the guy who had given me the flyer was their announcer. You can say “oh that guy just needed to promote the brand” or whatever, but I am very thankful I met him that day because it showed me a new direction and a way to watch something new.

So now onto the actual guide. With so much wrestling out there, and the internet making so much available so easily, it is easier than ever to consume content. I talk to people or read online about the 90s and 00s and the tape trading days and I know that would be me. If you are unaware before the internet was a thing, independent wrestling matches or foreign wrestling matches were often compiled onto VHS tapes and sold or traded at wrestling shows. So nowadays that practice has basically disappeared because so much is available so easily online.

Today we are living in a boom of wrestling.

The first direction I point people is online streaming sites. The two I mainly use are highspotswrestlingnetwork.com and independentwrestling.tv. Both of these are almost umbrellas for indie promotions that allow you to watch many shows from the catalogs of many promotions. It may take you some time to look through and find what you like, but it is a matter of trial and error. You need to find what you like. I know I gravitated more towards promotions with deathmatches and more extreme matches. I’ll say because that’s what I like, but if you want more pure wrestling there is definitely something there for you. Not to mention IW.TV has recently run 2 seasons of Beyond Wrestling’s weekly show Uncharted Territory which has been awesome and I am hoping for more.

Now besides that, outside of WWE or AEW, there is a decent amount of promotions running weekly shows on more elective channels. ROH runs a weekly program, but if you are into that you may benefit from their streaming service ROHclub. This way you can get all the PPVs and specials for no extra cost to you. MLW runs a weekly show on cable and posts their shows on YouTube every week, which are always very good and at only about 43 minutes cutting out the commercials, you can squeeze in somewhere in your week.

In my personal opinion, one of the best weekly shows out there right now is Impact Wrestling. Plagued with a bad reputation of TNA, they have really turned around the product in the last 2 years. They also recently launched their own streaming service similar to the WWE Network called Impact+ housing their back catalog of videos and one night only specials with their modern roster. Not to mention the second weekly show Impact has recently launched called Impact in 60 compiling some of the promotions greatest matches following a common theme every week. The last weekly show I’ll mention is NWA Power. This is a little out of the ordinary and definitely different from any other promotion, but they know their niche. This is a throwback to studio wrestling in all it’s glory.

Between the world of streaming services and weekly shows there is a lot to consume, but there is probably one source better than both of those and it’s free.

YouTube is not to be overlooked when trying to watch indie wrestling.

I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent searching wrestlers I just discovered and watching their matches. Or on the other side, watching matches I cant believe happened after seeing where the competitors ended up. YouTube is a treasure trove of information. YouTube is currently my most utilized asset when trying to research new wrestlers or promotions. There is no end to what you can find. I regularly go back and watch matches I was there in person for to get a different perspective. YouTube is nearly incomparable in its scope of content and there is nearly no limit to its value.

What I will leave you with is that watching all of wrestling is nearly impossible. I’ve tried. What I have found to be the most beneficial is finding a promotion you like and following that or finding certain wrestlers you like and following them. If you’re not sure where to begin, maybe look up a wrestler you know from AEW or NXT and try to find some of their independent matches on YouTube. If you can find those, maybe you can delve into the promotions they worked and that will lead you down paths to new performers you have never seen and will grow to love. There is a certain satisfaction to seeing one of your favorites debut in their next promotion wherever that may be.

Follow Jon on Twitter @Badger751


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