By request, this is the first in a series of posts about professional wrestling shows that I watch. My focus is on what I enjoy about them and where you can see them. It’s going to be light and high-level. I’m ignoring deep history, political infighting, and lurid controversies that would likely be off-putting to new and casual fans. Today I want to talk about classic NWA, the original National Wrestling Alliance.
Some brief background: the NWA was formed in 1948 as a governing body for regional wrestling promotions. All roads in modern North American professional wrestling lead back there. The company that became the WWE, for example, started off as an NWA territory. In the 1950s and 1960s a lot of those regional promotions had their own local TV deals, but starting in the 1970s the NWA began bringing the best of all member promotions to a national audience. It hit its peak of both popularity and influence in the early 1980s. That’s the show that I’m talking about here.
Classic NWA episodes from the 1980s feature what most people think of as professional wrestling. They have cartoonish, over-the-top characters. There are promos with lots of yelling. And mullets, mullets as far as the eye can see. If you’re a fan, you can catch early matches by people who later became staples of the WWE, WCW, and other promotions. You can see people like Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, and other legends that today’s wrestlers cite as inspiration.
I enjoy seeing how much wrestling has changed. Today’s promotions and shows are heavily influenced by MMA, lucha libre, and Japanese styles. The old NWA stuff is almost like innocent fun, even if occasionally the toxic masculinity and overt misogyny starts to burn. It’s a blast to see youngers versions of people who are still working today, like ring announcers Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone. You can see the parents of modern legacy wrestlers, like the above-named Flair (father of WWE’s Charlotte Flair), Rhodes (father of AEW’s Cody and Dustin Rhodes), and Mike Rotunda (father of WWE’s Bray Wyatt).
By the late 1980s the WWE had killed off the regional promotions. What’s was left of NWA television sort of evolved into WCW (long story), before that eventually died. In 2017 Billy Corgan — yes, the guy from Smashing Pumpkins — bought the NWA and relaunched it as an independent promotion, but that’s going to be another post for another day.
How to Watch Classic NWA
Episodes of Classic NWA from the 1980s can be found all over YouTube. I’m not providing a direct link because they’re of questionable legality. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble for uploading their old VHS tapes, but I also don’t want these treasure troves to be taken down. If you search for terms like “NWA pro wrestling” and “NWA world wide wrestling” you’ll find plenty to watch.
If you get anything out of these blog posts, consider buying me a coffee. The money goes toward rent and groceries, to offset the time spent blogging instead of doing paying writing work. And please, leave comments, share with other people on social media, and help to spread the world.