In recent years, we have seen somewhat of a rise in professional wrestling outside of the WWE. From my perspective, 2019 has been one of the best times to be a pro wrestling fan. We have seen other promotions put on excellent shows while another company was started up by a group of independent wrestlers that is in competition with WWE […]
In recent years, we have seen somewhat of a rise in professional wrestling outside of the WWE. From my perspective, 2019 has been one of the best times to be a pro wrestling fan. We have seen other promotions put on excellent shows while another company was started up by a group of independent wrestlers that is in competition with WWE in the modern-day Wednesday Night Wars. Yes, WWE is the top company and it’ll probably be that way for quite some time. That does not mean that other promotions produce their own great shows in their own right.
Heading into 2020, one of my goals is to expand my knowledge and watch other non-WWE promotions. I started doing that in 2019 here and there but I’m looking forward to covering that more as we start the New Year.
I made a quick list of a few shows that you should check out if you want some sort of alternate. Obviously, there are so many programs to watch (including promotions outside of the United States) but here are a few that I have been watching,
NXT & NXT UK
Starting off here cheating a bit but some WWE fans are starting to take notice that the third and fourth brand next to Raw and SmackDown have been putting on excellent shows and pay-per-views for quite some time.
Formed in 2010, NXT was first used as WWE’s developmental division, where recently signed wrestlers used the platform to get their name out there and work on their characters and prepare for the main roster. Things have changed in recent years where it is now viewed as the third major brand in WWE under Raw and SmackDown.
After being involved in the recent Survivor Series pay-per-view and being moved to a live broadcast USA Network on Wednesdays, it is clear that NXT is a main brand show now. Still, if you haven’t watched a single episode of NXT, I recommend you do. Their weekly shows and NXT TakeOver pay-per-views are excellent, compared to what Raw and SmackDown have produced in recent years.
In addition to NXT, the yellow brand has also expanded to the United Kingdom with their NXT UK brand. Started in 2018, WWE decided to plant their foot in the British wrestling scene.
Some American fans may not know a lot of wrestlers in that division outside of Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate for example (mainly due to they have been in some WWE/NXT matches) but there is a lot of talent over there that have put on some great matches in their own right.
Ring of Honor (ROH)
Ring of Honor has been a slight downfall this past year but that does not mean you shouldn’t check it out.
Found in 2002, a lot of current WWE superstars such as Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, and Samoa Joe, for example, started their careers in the promotion. 2019 was a bad year for the promotion with a lot of their talent leaving for other companies but they have shown in years past that they are a solid company and have done a great job of building up superstars, so look for them to put 2019 behind them and move forward.
Whether it was called Total Nonstop Action (TNA), Global Force Wrestling (GFW), or it’s current name Impact, the company has remained a consistent program in North America.
Back in the 2000s, there was a legit battle between them and WWE as the best wrestling promotion. While there was a down period thereafter, we have seen a recent rise in viewership and to their credit, they have been able to put on excellent shows in recent years. This was mainly due to scrapping the idea where they sign former WWE superstars and made them the top star of the company right away, rather they have built their own stars in the company.
National Wrestling Alliance (NWA)
National Wrestling Alliance is one of the oldest wrestling promotions on this list. Back in the day, the company is more a territory brand that had alliances with the then World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW).
NWA has worked with multiple promotions in the past but in recent years the company has started to work on their own. Smashing Pumpkins lead singer Billy Corgan bought the company back in 2017 and this past year, they started their own weekly shows that are broadcasted on YouTube, called NWA Power.
If you are a fan of the old school wrestling back in the day then you would like NWA. I was never around for the old NWA period but I have been interested in seeing how they will compete with the other companies. They had their first solo pay-per-view in Into the Fire back in December and the event got a lot of positive reviews. They will have another PPV on January 24 called “Hard Times”. Keep an eye on NWA, it looks to make a huge step in 2020.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW)
Odds are you have heard of New Japan Pro Wrestling. It is the second-largest wrestling promotion in the world and the only non-USA promotion on this list.
NJPW was founded in 1972 by WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki. It is different than WWE per se, as instead of showcasing characters and storylines, the matches showcase more martial arts strikes and legitimate submission holds. In recent years, wrestling journalists have considered NJPW to have the best talent and matches of all time, with Dave Meltzer, in particular, giving some matches five stars or sometimes more.
Their biggest pay-per-view, Wrestle Kingdom, is like their WrestleMania and has put on excellent shows in recent years. Wrestle Kingdom 14 is set to be a two-night event starting January 4. If you haven’t watched a New Japan show I suggest you do it.
All Elite Wrestling (AEW)
A year ago, former WWE superstar Cody Rhodes joined the like of Kenny Omega, Adam Page, and The Young Bucks to create their own promotion, All Elite Wrestling. Thanks to the financial backing of Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan and his son Tony, AEW looks to be a legit competition to WWE.
Add in the likes of Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley (formally Dean Ambrose) and you have a solid roster. The company had its first pay-per-view, Double of Nothing, back in May 2019. They had three more PPV’s before starting their weekly show on TNT on October 2, 2019. AEW has been a solid showing so far and a great direct alternate to WWE.