Sometimes the students surpass the masters. The current indie boom can be attributed by a series of waves of indie promotions starting up, gathering steam, working together in a near territorial format (sharing talent nationally while encouraging local/regional talent). The recon mission in the late 1990s, as ECW was sputtering and WCW was start to show signs of meltdown, were the likes of Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW, 1998), Maryland Championship Wrestling (MCW, now MCW Pro, 1998), New Jersey’s Jersey Championship Wrestling (JCW, now Game Changer Wrestling (GCW)), Montreal’s International Wrestling Syndicate (IWS, 1999), and IWA Mid South (1996). Once WCW and ECW fell in 2001 and the WWE assumed complete control of the mainstream scene, the indies suddenly became a breeding ground of talent. Lead by castaways and rejects from the WWE’s definition of what a wrestler could be, guided by the first waves “non-WWE” pioneers and the rejects from WCW and ECW, new promotions emerged as well – Nashville’s Total Nonstop Action (TNA, 2002), Philadelphia’s CHIKARA (2002), California’s Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG, 2003), New York Wrestling Connection (NYWC) lit up New York in 2003, Florida’s Full Impact Pro (FIP, 2003), and Ring of Honor (ROH, 2002). While WWE expected 100% loyalty and autonomy, for the most part, most of the indie promotions allowed some free travel between promotions, allowing both wrestler and organization to build their own brands.
As the the first two waves began developing the likes of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan), CM Punk, Tyler Black (Seth Rollins), LuFisto and more, the promotions continued to pop up. SHIMMER emerged in 2005 to change the landscape for women’s wrestling, and Chicago’s All American Wrestling (AAW, 2004) and Cleveland’s Absolute Intense Wrestling (AIW, 2005) reignited the US Midwest. By the end of the 2000s, the fourth wave came in like the cavalry. Not trying to compete or destroy the efforts of the first three groups of promotions, but to build on, enhance and work with them all, pushing indie wrestling to the healthiest it had been since the days of the NWA territories. EVOLVE Wrestling (2009) was one one of the big names, coming out of former ROH co-founder Gabe Sapolsky. But it was Bridgewater, Massachusets’s Beyond Wrestling, founded in 2009 by Drew Cordeiro. Beyond created a promotion without titles – it became a promotion built on stories and dream matches, where other promotions were free to have their titles defended (including the current Powerbomb.tv Internet Championship) and the best of the best in the indie scene, from veterans to emerging talent, were showcased on a equal footing. This week, Beyond Wrestling hit 1 million subscribers on their YouTube channel, which puts Beyond a step ahead of many of their peers, from the first wave, to the “internet darlings” of today. A true testament to Drew Cordeiro’s long term vision, use of Social Media and more importantly, scouting the talent that not only draws eyes today, but continues to draw in new fans discovering the wealth of talent the company has sought out since day one.
We just surpassed 1,000,000 subscribers at https://t.co/fDnMiyaedS!
— Beyond Wrestling (@beyondwrestling) October 16, 2018
To show the achievement of reaching one million subscribers, here’s a quick look at the top 30 highest subscribed wrestling promotions world wide. Out of the top 30 (at press time), Beyond Wrestling was only beat by WWE and IMPACT Wrestling, with nearly double the subscribers as Mexico’s AAA, over twice the subscribers as NJPW, and over 3x the amount of Ring of Honor. Not bad for a promotion without a TV contract.
- WWE, 34.7 million
- IMPACT Wrestling, 1.87 million
- Beyond Wrestling, 1.03 million
- AAA, 582,861
- New Japan Pro Wrestling, (269,895 (jpn)/132,356 (en)), 402,251
- Defiant Wrestling, 371,649
- Ring of Honor, 305,405
- *Being the Elite, 248,123
- Women’s Wrestling Revolution (WWR), 192,925
- Limitless Wrestling, 165,019
- CZW, 164,169
- CMLL, 141,912
- AIW, 88,440
- National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), 56,298
- Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW), 53,266
- PWG, 52,673
- Major League Wrestling (MLW), 30,689
- PROGRESS, 28,792
- Reality of Wrestling, 25,898
- WrestleCircus, 21,078
- DDT Pro, 19,226
- Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw), 12,173
- SHIMMER, 11,899
- RevPro, 10,218
- The Crash Lucha, 10,120
- AAW, 8,681
- Preston City Wrestling (PCW), 8,222
- Over The Top (OTT) Wrestling, 7,886
- Smash Wrestling, 7,493
- CHIKARA, 7,466
To show that their success is no fluke, Beyond’s sister promotion, Women’s Wrestling Revolution (WWR) is the highest subscribed women’s promotion and the #9 wrestling promotion in the world, with almost 16x the next highest women’s promotion (that being SHIMMER). Not bad for a promotion founded in 2016. This spring at WrestleMania week, both Beyond and WWR teamed up for a strong intergender showcase, Lit Up, that featured some outstanding performances from both the men’s and women’s roster.
In honor of the 1 millionth subscription, Beyond released Americana 2018 for free in its entirety on YouTube. If you’ve never seen the show, nor heard of Beyond, this might be the best place to start to get a scope of what both Beyond and WWR offer.
— Keith Lee (@RealKeithLee) October 16, 2018
I don't really work in wrestling anymore – i've been part of the content creator/streaming/esports industry for a minute now. Any creator hitting 1,000,000 subs is a huge accomplishment. In wrestling, doubly so. Congrats to everybody at @beyondwrestling. https://t.co/QotkHsZweq
— Kumohara (@BillyKumo) October 16, 2018
I got to watch live as @beyondwrestling got 1 million subscribers on YouTube So proud When he first started I cut the matches together on a desktop @drewcordeiro charged to his credit card cause my computer died And he put all the graphics on the footage Now look at it! Congrats!
— Rickey Shane Page (@RickeyShanePage) October 16, 2018