As a pro wrestling fan I really became a huge fan in the 1990's. It was an era I grew from a small kid who actually believed that Hulk Hogan could vanquish evil Communists and Sgt. Slaughter to the era of an adult who loved the middle fingers that Steve Austin gave. In that time its one I miss and reflect on so much . The storylines , the PPV's , the parties on Monday Night. It was something I loved and my friends did at one time. Now its gone...and now its a different world.
I wanted a thread to reflect on that bygone era . If Brian Cronin wants to move this to the Wrestling sub forums and Brandon is ok ...I don't mind. I really wanted something I could do 90's stuff with and bring up some of the biggest things to discuss. So here goes.... the 90's !
1.) The Big Companies and the Smaller Territories/companies : Its hard to believe that 22 years ago that the landscape was so vastly different. Yes there was the WWE or as it was known then.... the WWF. It was still doing ok business and it seemed like it would never stop. In the south there was the renamed Crockett Promotions (which tried to go national as the WWF in the 1980's and failed) , WCW (World Championship Wrestling). To the Great Lakes area and area of Chicago , Wisconsin and Minnesota was the AWA (American Wrestling Alliance) . Those were the big 3. But I will discuss them later.
The smaller companies basically ran territories they were strong in. Like for instance say you run shows in a state and its your bread and butter , but can't draw elsewhere ...well ya see them stay there. Those companies were :
USWA (United States Wrestling Association ) - The USWA had a weird convoluted history when it formed in 1989. The company was the small Memphis territory the CWA (Continental Wrestling Association) and Texas company WCCW (World Class Championship Wrestling). Well about a year in Fritz Von Erich pulled his company out due to issues with Jerry Jarrett's company over revenue. The USWA kept the name going and WCCW ran 2 more months and ceased to exist after it.
World Class was a great promotion in the 1980's. The combination of storylines and more made the company one of the best to watch and repeats aired on ESPN back when the network carried them. But by the late 1980's with numerous Von Erich tragedies and the company decision to go national against the WWF and Crockett hurt the company big time. It never recovered from losing so much and the USWA basically would run Tennessee and Texas for the rest of its run.
USWA would run well until the changing times started to play a part. By the mid 1990's , the company had watched as Jerry Lawler (its signature star) was working for the WWF. His role was comedic buffoon on national TV and color commentator . Well he also was USWA champion a record amount of times . 28 as this shows...
Anyhow the booking (storyline) for Lawler and the USWA World title was simple. An outsider would come into Tennessee or Texas and beat him. Be it Sid Vicious , be it Colorado Kid or even Ahmed Johnson ...they would come in and beat Lawler. So within months Lawler would man up and defeat them. It became the simple move to do and Lawler soon became part owner of the company as well. Owners always made sure to protect their territories in a sense and it was a sound business move. Of course that was for awhile.
By the mid 90's though the writing was on the wall for the USWA and they decided they needed a hot angle to run to revive interest. So in 1995 they decided that they needed to work an invasion program with another territory that needed help at this point.
SMW (Smokey Mountain Wrestling) was ran by Jim Cornette and started in 1991. The company itself did have a working relationship with the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) and ran for years in Tennessee , Kentucky , Virginia and West Virginia. The shows featured old school ex-Crockett stars like the Rock n Roll Express , Brad Armstrong and Cactus Jack. Of course the company was never profitable and as 1995 rolled in , both the USWA and SMW tried an invasion angle. But sadly it was too little too late. SMW would fold once Lawler became Champion and the USWA would finally tick to its death by 1997. (the end of USWA if you read had lawsuits and more involved once Lawler and his other partner sold it).
Of course this wasn't the only small territories that started and stopped in the 1990's. In Texas , some ex-stars of WCCW were put into a new company called the GWF (Global Wrestling Federation) . That company ran from 1991 to 1994 , and was also aired on ESPN. Of course the GWF had a lot of weird angles/booking done like one wrestler claimed he launched himself to the moon and came back with a moon rock and one wrestler claimed after being struck on the head he was now Elvis Presley.
But that company had a lot of backstage issues and after a pay dispute with Eddie Gilbert , the company lasted 2 more years before folding. The sad end was the GWF was the end of wrestling at the Dallas Sportatorium. The site was demolished in 2003 ending an era of 3+ decades of wrestling from it.
In the west in California , the UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation) would start running. Its owner was a unique man that if you read Mick Foley's book nicknamed himself "Mr. Electricity" . Herb Abrams ran it and well ..he seemed to enjoy every moment of running a wrestling company. It would get a syndicated deal and run from 1990-1994. Of course after a bad PPV attempt , the company seemed destined to slowly fade out as it did by 1994. Abrams sadly lived to his name with his death 2 years later .
To the north east was the ICW (International Championship Wrestling) and it ran from Boston , Massachusetts . The company formed in the 1980's and would in 1990 under go a unique transformation. Once WCCW pulled out of the deal with the USWA , Kerry Von Erich allowed the ICW to use the World Class name. It even would use the same Texas stars and Von Erich seemed ready to battle Tony Atlas for the big IWCCW World title. They just kept the International and used the World Class name essentially. Sadly this never came to happen for reasons we know. The IWCCW would use the name til its demise in 1995.
In the near same region the TWA (Tri-State Wrestling Alliance) would form. The company was unique for its hardcore war that featured Eddie Gilbert and Cactus Jack then. Within a few years the TWA itself would undergo a change and one that is pretty unique . The owner Joel Goodhart would sell his share of the company to a man named Todd Gordon . That story is ahead though....
That about covers the small and independent companies that ran. I am sure others can name more. But these were ones you wouldn't think about unless ya read one of the old Wrestling Superstars magazine or PWI and see them cover them at times. Its also sad that whenever you saw a company you would see an ex-star like Tony Atlas as champion and feel like he was still doing good as a kid.
end of part 1....