How Did Pro Wrestling Territories Work in the US?

In the following article, you will learn how professional wrestling promotions controlled their territories in the US and North America back in the territorial era.

This era was obviously before the WWE (previously WWF) came and dominated all the US and drove every competitor out of business.


The NWA was created in the late 1940s as the governing body for professional wrestling and was also the most recognized.

The board of directors consisted of several regional promoters who oversaw the NWA’s territory system that recognized a singular world champion, was actively involved in talent exchanges and protected the interests of its members.

During this time the territory system had not received widespread acceptance, that came a little later on in 1974 when all territories had been defined. 

NWA Mid-America was a territory created under the umbrella of the National Wrestling Alliance, it had its promotions in Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama from the 1940s to the early 1980s.

NWA Mid-America was the brainchild of Nick Goulash and Roy Welsh, founded in 1948 and was also one of the first members of the NWA, the promotion recognized several championships that were shared across territories as well as the NWA Mid-America championship that was defended in Mid-America territory. 

Randy Savage vs Terry Taylor – NWA Mid-America Heavyweight Championship match

2. WCCW (World Class Championship Wrestling)

WCCW was a promotion that operated out of Fort Worth, Texas, the WCCW began as a NWA territory until it decided to become a major independent promotion in the mid-1980s with very little success.

WCCW was initially known as “Big Time Wrestling” while it was still a member of the NWA and was later renamed by the then head of production telecast Mickey Grant who suggested the addition of world-class to the promotions name. 

WCCW had a host of stars that made it quite a successful promotion before their bid to become an independent promotion with stars like David von Erich, Bruiser Brody, Booker’s Ken Mantel and Gray Hart to mention a few.

The WCCW also benefited from the talent exchange program overseen by the NWA to recruit young stars like Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, etc.

Gino Hernandez, one of the stars of WCCW (World Class Championship Wrestling)

via Gfycat


Was the NWA All-Star Wrestling a subsidiary of the governing body NWA? 

Not at all, the NWA All-Star Wrestling was a professional promotion that was located in Vancouver, British Columbia, and was a member of the National Wrestling alliance from the early 1960s.

But like most promotions that began to gain some semblance of success, the NWA All-Star Wrestling promoter Al Tomko decided that it was time for the promotion to break out from the umbrella of the NWA. 

Al Tomko then decided to create his own sanctioning body that he named the UWA (Universal Wrestling Alliance), the NWA All-Star Wrestling promotion grew after its breakout from the NWA in 1985 after a promotional feud between the promotion and its governing body, regardless of this NWA, All-Star Wrestling became one of the longest televised wrestling promotions in the Vancouver area. 

4. GWF (Global Wrestling Federation)

The Global Wrestling Federation was an NWA territory that was located in Dallas, Texas and was active between 1991 till 1994.

The promotion was founded by Joe Pedicino and Max Andrews.

The promotion was also co-owned by North star promotions, the GWF was created as an alternative for wrestling fans as the WWF ratings continued to plummet with ridiculous storylines and terrible execution.

GWF was however unable to fill that gap as it was listed 24th of 25 in the all-time worst promotions by the 2011 Bleacher report. 

The promotion had quite the roster boasted stars like Scott Levy, Cactus Jack and Devon Erics to mention a few.


American wrestling association was created in downtown Minneapolis by a then former member of the NWA Antony Stetcher as a boxing and professional wrestling promotion in 1948.

He then sold a third of the promotion to his son Dennis and his partner Wally Karbo.

Antony passed away on the 9th of October 1954, after his death, full control of the promotion rested on Dennis and Wally Karbo and they went about it by getting Verne Gagne into the promotion with great effect as Verne had created a reputation for himself and was quite sought after. 

After getting Verne into the promotion some problems began to arise between the promotion and the NWA as Verne Gagne wanted a shot at the NWA World championship but for political reasons, he was denied his dream match.

Dennis would later sell-off his majority shares to Gagne and Karbo who then became co-owners of the promotion. 

This led to Gagne and Karbo breaking out with certain territories within the NWA’s territories.

The American Wrestling Association recognized the NWA world champion Pat O’Connor and gave him 90 days to defend his title. 


Formerly titled Klondike Wrestling, Stampede Wrestling was formed in 1948 by Stu Hart and Al Oeming, it became the NWA’s territory in Calgary Alberta, Canada as they were members of the NWA at the time.

Klondike wrestling changed its name to Big time wrestling in May 1951 and thereafter changed their Alberta Tag Team championship titles to the NWA International Tag Team Championships in 1958, sadly a year later Al Oeming retired and handed over full ownership to Stu Hart who later changed the promotions name twice. 

Wildcat wrestling became the promotion’s name in 1965 and then Stampede Wrestling in 1967, after the change of name the promoters created other singles championships and later withdrew from the NWA in 1982. 

Calgary Stampede Wrestling Battle Royal 1979 – Andre the Giant, Big Daddy Ritter (JYD), Mr. Hito

7. NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship

Mid – Atlantic Heavyweight championship is a professional promotion in Carolina’s Virginia, formed by Jim Crockett promotions and was one of the most influential territories directed by the NWA.

The promotion was started in the early 1930s when Jim Crockett Snr. began promoting shows in the eastern states. 

Jim Crockett productions joined the NWA in 1952, and his territory would cover North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, Mid Atlantic championship wrestling became the primary name of the Jim Crockett brand adapted for radio and television purposes.

In the 1950s Mi-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship becomes the rave of Tag Team action as most of the matches set up in the promotion were Tag matches. 

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