Is there such a thing as first world wrestling problems? That might be what we’re going through at this time of the year, with WrestleMania season upon us. It means better stories, a much higher energy, the Hall of Fame announcements, NXT setting up a Takeover (in all its glory) and just the overall feeling that you know we’re in for something special in one way or another. What people often forget is that there is a lot more to it than just the WWE portion.

For the first time in four years, I won’t be attending WrestleMania in person. While I’m going to miss seeing the show itself and all the various things that go with it, there’s another major part that I wish I could see: the indy shows taking place in the same area. Over the last few years, these have become a major part of my WrestleMania weekend experience and it’s easy to see why.

These shows offer a nice alternative to the clean and polished (not a bad thing) WWE style and give you a much more up close and personal time watching wrestling. There’s a thick barrier (both literal and realistically) between you and WWE wrestlers at their events, but at some of these non-WWE shows you’ll wind up talking to the wrestlers at intermission or seeing them interacting with fans far more than you would at any other time of the year. It makes for some incredibly fun and memorable moments, which is kind of the point of the weekend in the first place.

I’m sure you know this stuff:

Since I’ll be having a lot more time on my hands this year for WrestleMania weekend, I decided to take a look and see what was being offered to watch live outside of WWE. To my rather limited surprise, there are about fifty non-WWE shows taking place over the week, many of which are available to watch live (or on an on demand delay). What more could you ask for than good, fun wrestling at a relatively cheap price? It’s one of the only times a year where this kind of thing can happen and that’s a good thing.

What might be the best part about the whole weekend is the international flavor from the shows. Just looking at some of the shows I plan to watch, you have wrestling from America, Japan, Germany, Canada, England and whatever warped place Chikara comes from. Throw in a bunch of the smaller promotions that are only around once in a blue moon, meaning there’s almost whatever you might want to see.

Just looking at all of the shows available, I’m going to be trying to watch twenty wrestling shows over the course of a few days. Think about that for a second. The WWE alone is putting on four shows and I had to cut down more than half of the available options to get it to a list that is only five times the size of the biggest wrestling company in the world. When else are you going to get something like that? In a word, it’s something that is only going to happen over WrestleMania weekend and as a fan, it would be a great idea to take advantage of it.

That’s the wrestling world we live in today: you really can see so many kinds of wrestling all over the place and it’s worth your time to try out something you haven’t seen before. Just because you’ve never heard of the promotion before doesn’t mean that it’s not worth your time. You don’t know what kind of random matches you might see, which is a big part of the fun.

Some of the shows are going to be a regular promotion running a show in front of an audience that already knows them while others are groups that aren’t too well known but are trying to do something to get an audience for a single show and then move forward a little bit at a time. If they can get you to watch their shows going forward, or maybe even subscribe to their streaming service, it can be a rather nice step in the right direction for an up and coming promotion.

But what about something like this:

In addition to their regular rosters, these shows include a lot of guest stars, making them something like a mini all-star show where you don’t know what you’re going to get. A lot of the wrestlers are announced in advance, but a lot of the time the specific matches won’t be confirmed until after you’re in the building. It’s almost like Christmas morning where you know you’re getting something, but what’s inside those packages? That’s what makes the shows that much more fun: yeah there are people on the poster and you recognize a lot of them, but what are they going to be doing?

One of the most entertaining shows you’ll get to see all year is the WrestleCon Supershow. This is almost exactly what it sounds like: a special event (mostly) comprised of wrestlers attending WrestleCon (indy Axxess) as guests. That makes for a heck of a night as you get some rather surprising matches, including the Hardys vs. the Lucha Bros, a full Sandman entrance, a surprise appearance by Jerry Lawler and a ten man tag match that had to be seen to be believed.

Then you have all the big shows from regular promotions such as RevPro, WXW, Evolve, Ring of Honor/New Japan, Chikara and CZW among several others. If by some chance you’ve never seen or heard of these promotions, they’re more than worth checking out and if you don’t like something you see from one of them….I’d probably advise you to find a new hobby as you’re just never going to be happy with wrestling given how many choices there are out there.

That’s how I would sum up the benefits of all these shows: an amazing variety where you can see what is available out there, some of which you might never have seen before. There’s all kinds of great stuff from WWE, but if you’re not always a fan of that style (or you just don’t want to watch a seven hour WrestleMania show (fair enough), there are other options for other wrestling to be seen over the weekend. With so many of the shows being streamed, it’s not like you even have to make the big trip to the location anyway, making it even easier to see all this stuff.

Or maybe this for you ECW fans:

None of this is to say that WWE doesn’t have a lot to offer. There’s all kinds of stuff from WWE that is more than worth your time and money. I’ll certainly be watching most of it as the WWE side of things is the real main event with the big production value and full on stadium. Couple that with NXT and the rapid fire storyline developments on Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live and how could you not be at least somewhat interested in what they’re doing?

I don’t want this to seem like some anti-WWE idea, as it couldn’t be anything further from the case. I’ve been a WWE fan my entire life and if nothing they’ve done has driven me off yet, nothing is going to do so in the future. WrestleMania is the biggest wrestling show of the year and there are all kinds of things going on that weekend to make it he most important wrestling days of the year in the wrestling world. There’s a lot more to it than just what WWE offers though and a lot of the additional shows are able to add in a new layer of fun and entertainment. Check them out, as they’re more than worth the extra time.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at, or check out his Amazon author page with 28 wrestling books. His latest book is the the Complete 2000 Monday Nitro and Thunder Reviews Part 1.

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