WWE has had a stranglehold on the wrestling industry for decades now. Founded by Jess McMahon and Toots Mondt in 1952, WWE cemented its status as the top wrestling promotion in the world during the Monday Night Wars where the company famously defeated the former competition, WCW.
However, WWE is not the only successful wrestling promotion to currently exist. Other promotions offer an alternative for fans and wrestlers alike. Here are five successful promotions that continue to thrive outside the WWE umbrella and five who didn't quite make it.
10 Successful: Ring Of Honor
Many current WWE Superstars are ROH alumni, including Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, and Daniel Bryan. The promotion is well-known for showcasing the talents of many indie darlings who have gone on to have decorated careers, some never signing with WWE.
It was founded in 2002 by Rob Feinstein and is a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group. Ring Of Honor has boasted not only an incredible talent but also phenomenal matches that have put up-and-coming wrestlers on the map.
9 Flopped: Global Wrestling Federation
Global Wrestling Foundation had a brief tenure. It ran from 1991 to 1994 and, at one point, had some big names on the roster such as Mick Foley, Jerry Lawler, and JBL.
Unfortunately for GWF, several issues hurt the credibility of the promotion and doomed it from the start. Questionable booking decisions and absurd storylines that disjointed fans from the product all contributed to its downfall, as well as financial issues and an attempted lawsuit from WWE who claimed the name of the promotion was too similar.
8 Successful: All Elite Wrestling
The debate about whether All Elite Wrestling is currently competition for WWE is a hot topic in the wrestling industry. Triple H and other WWE executives would say otherwise, though AEW's growing popularity is hard to contest.
What arguably put AEW on the map was the acquisition of former WWE Champion Dean Ambrose, who made his debut at Double Or Nothing under his indie name Jon Moxley. Moxley is currently inactive due to injury, but the popularity of Tony Khan's promotion is only increasing due to big names such as Chris Jericho and Cody Rhodes.
7 Flopped: World Wrestling All-Stars
Wrestling icons such as Eddie Guerrero, Sting and AJ Styles all worked for World Wrestling All-Stars at some point, after the company was founded in 2001 by Australian concert promoter Andrew McManus. Its inception came on the heels of ECW's dissolution, though WWA enjoyed far less success and was disbanded two years later.
Five-minute main event matches did little to put WWA on the same level as WWE. Randy Savage was set to battle Jeff Jarrett for the WWA Heavyweight Title at their Revolution PPV but failed to show up, signifying the apathy this wrestling promotion generated.
6 Successful: Lucha Underground
The format of Lucha Underground is so far removed from WWE that it functions less as competition and more as an alternative for wrestling fans. It airs more like a television show, each installment episodic and split into seasons. Indeed, it is branded as a wrestling promotion and serial drama hybrid.
Lucha Underground has attracted some big stars such as Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio and the Lucha Libre style of wrestling sets it further apart from its competitors. The first two seasons of Lucha Underground are currently available on Netflix.
5 Flopped: Nu-Wrestling Evolution
This wrestling promotion billed itself as looking to the future of wrestling and hiring up-and-coming talents. Unfortunately, it never got off the ground and closed in 2013.
An Italian founded promotion, NWE was the second organization after WWE to bring big names such as Rikishi and Billy Gunn to Italy, though this moment was short-lived. In 2008, the Ultimate Warrior and Orlando Jordan faced each other in a match that would provide another unfortunate blip on Warrior's otherwise outstanding resume.
4 Successful: Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling
TNA markets itself as a wrestling promotion that offers an alternative to WWE. The differences between the two companies have been made distinct, as TNA's hexagonal ring has become one of its trademarks.
Impact Wrestling has showcased a plethora of WWE Superstars who have flitted between the companies such as The Hardy Boyz, Hulk Hogan, and Mickie James. Although TNA has had its fair share of wacky storylines and booking decisions that made fans raise an eyebrow, it persists today and has contributed a lot to the legacy of the wrestling industry.
3 Flopped: X Wrestling Federation
X Wrestling Federation (also known as Xcitement Wrestling Federation) never really took off. Following in the footsteps of WCW and preceding TNA, the promotion held their first taping at Universal Studios - though it quickly went downhill from there.
X Wrestling Federation had a strange mismatch of wrestlers on the roster at one time, including AJ Styles, Carlito, Greg Valentine, and Sable. XWF's tenure was brief, however, as fans stopped attending shows gradually and the promotion closed in 2002.
2 Successful: New Japan Pro Wrestling
Like Ring Of Honor, several WWE Superstars have signed deals of varying degrees with New Japan Pro Wrestling, including Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura. It is the second-largest wrestling promotion in the world, founded in 1972 by WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki.
NJPW's style sets it apart from WWE, as it is characterized by legitimate submission holds and martial arts strikes. It showcases the "strong style" version of Japanese wrestling and is regarded by many wrestling fans as the superior promotion to WWE.
1 Flopped: World Championship Wrestling
It is a tough thing to say that WCW flopped due to it being, at one point, arguably more successful than WWE and the only wrestling promotion to present Vince McMahon's empire with legitimate competition. However, WCW eventually succumbed to WWE's might, selected WCW assets being purchased by WWE in 2001.
The company, founded by Ted Turner in 1988, was one of the most successful wrestling promotions in the United States and boasted a decorated roster with stars such as Goldberg, Kevin Nash, and Sting. Creative missteps hurt WCW until eventually, it crossed the point of no return.