Pro Wrestling: 5 pilgrimages fans absolutely must make

TOKYO,JAPAN - JUNE 29: Shinsuke Nakamura and Triple H celebrate the victory during the WWE Live Tokyo at Ryogoku Kokugikan on June 29, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
TOKYO,JAPAN - JUNE 29: Shinsuke Nakamura and Triple H celebrate the victory during the WWE Live Tokyo at Ryogoku Kokugikan on June 29, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

Pro wrestling has one of the most intense and devoted fandoms on the planet. Fans all have their favorite companies, shows and wrestlers, and will defend them to the bitter end. But it’s not just companies and wrestlers that define the business. It’s locations, too.

There are a few select places in the world that are closely identified with the wrestling scene. Some of them are more historical than anything else while others are at the heart of everything going on today. For fans, there are a few can’t miss stops on any wrestling pilgrimage.

Pro Wrestling in the United States

The United States has the biggest pro wrestling scene in the world. Naturally, WWE calling the US home is a big reason for that. But Ring of Honor, Impact, AEW and several other notable companies are also American.

These days, Florida in particular is the place to check out pro wrestling action. WWE is shooting all of their pandemic programming in Orlando while AEW is currently shooting in Jacksonville. Plus, there’s Disney World. That doesn’t have much to do with wrestling but it’s awesome.

Pro Wrestling in Japan

Pro Wrestling
TOKYO, JAPAN – JANUARY 23: Hiromu Takahashi and SHO compete during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling ‘Road To The New Beginning’ at the Ota City General Gymnasium on January 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images) /

If there’s a contender to take America’s crown as the de facto center of the pro wrestling world, it’s Japan. Companies like NJPW have been churning out some of the best wrestling on the plant for years. It’s just not as easy to watch in North America as WWE or AEW programming.

Dozens of major and independent promotions are based out of Tokyo, Japan, including NJPW. For any world traveling pro wrestling fan, Tokyo is an obvious destination. Add Yokohama to that list as it’s the home of AJPW.

Pro Wrestling in the UK

While the UK might not have any major worldwide companies like WWE or NJPW, that doesn’t mean that their wrestling scene is any less influential. Several current, major talents, including Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, Becky Lynch and Finn Bálor, got their starts there.

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London might be the be at the center of UK pro wrestling but that doesn’t mean it’s the only place fans will find it. There are independent companies across the UK. Plus, WWE has an extension of their developmental brand there call NXT UK.

Pro Wrestling in Europe

Pro Wrestling
TOKYO, JAPAN – NOVEMBER 04: Walter enters the ring during the Big Japan Pro-Wrestling ‘Ryogokutan’ at the Ryogoku Kokugikan on November 04, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

Most fans wouldn’t think of Europe as a hot bed of professional wrestling. The truth is that there is a pretty vibrant community of indie companies across the continent. Several superstars like Cesaro made their way from Europe to the US.

Oddly enough, it’s France, Germany and Denmark that appear to have the lion’s share of the companies. While Europe doesn’t really have one dominant promotion like WWE, WXW out of Essen, Germany is certainly one of the bigger ones.

Pro Wrestling in Mexico

If you’re looking for a country where professional wrestling is tied into its cultural identity, Mexico is the place for you. Luche Libre is the most identifiable wrestling that comes out of Mexico with AAA and CMLL being the most prominent companies.

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Most of the major companies are based out of Mexico City but there are promotions all over the country. CMLL is actually the oldest active wrestling promotion in the world, having been in operation since 1933.