If you're like me, you grew up with wrestling in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This period of wrestling is fondly looked back on as one of the best -- we saw larger-than-life athletes, matches that are still talked about today, and storylines that were so out of this world there's no way they could be done today.

Wrestling has been around for hundreds of years, but the 1980s really shaped it into what it is today.

If you're new to collecting wrestling, it can be a little daunting when you look around the proverbial room. To help combat the overwhelmingness of it all, I'll be taking you on a journey through pro wrestling.

Most of this information will be easy to follow for new fans, but if you've been around the squared circle once or twice this can still be a wonderful guide to help you swim through wrestling! This week we'll be looking at some of the companies who helped shape the wrestling world. These are companies collectors both old and new should know about, to help better their knowledge and personal collection.

World Wrestling Entertainment - formally World Wrestling Federation

In 1953, Jesse McMahon's Capitol Wrestling Corporation was formed. Ten years later, the CWC changed its name to World Wide Wrestling Federation, with superstars Buddy Rogers and Bruno Sammartino as their big names.

By the end of the 1960s, Vince McMahon joined the family business and began to create a wrestling empire. McMahon would go on to buy out his father's company, as well as several smaller companies, to create the World Wrestling Federation in the early 1980s.

This leads to what many consider the Golden Age of Wrestling. During this era, we see the creation of WrestleMania, larger-than-life wrestlers such as Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan, and a popularity surge that companies are still reaching for to this day. In 2002, WWF changed to World Wrestling Entertainment, after losing a lawsuit from the World Wildlife Fund.

All Elite Wrestling

On January 1, 2019, All Elite Wrestling made the historic announcement that they were the new game in town. Headed by Tony Khan, the company has grown exponentially in just under five years. The company has a number of notable athletes, including Kenny Omega, MJF, and Jon Moxley.

AEW has five current shows airing on both TBS and TNT, as well as a number of large pay-per-view events, including All In. The company has become as popular as WWE, and in some ways reminds me of the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling.

It is also worth noting that AEW now owns Ring of Honor, which was one of the more prominent independent companies for several years.

New Japan Pro-Wrestling

New Japan Pro-Wrestling is where some of the best of the best have performed. The Japanese company formed in January 1972 and is one of the best-known companies in the world. In 1973, NJPW aired their first television show and in 1983, Hulk Hogan became the first IWGP Heavyweight Champion and has remained relevant in some form since its inception.

Much like many wrestling companies, NJPW did see a decline in popularity in the early 2000s, but by 2010 the company was back on top, thanks to the now internationally renowned pay-per-view Wrestle Kingdom. Wrestlers such as Finn Balor, Kenny Omega, Kazuchika Okada, and Mercedes Mone, have all made their mark on the NJPW world.

Other Notable Companies

There are hundreds of wrestling companies across the globe. While they might not have as much of an impact on mainstream fandom, these are just a handful of places that still produce quality content and entertainers:

Impact Wrestling
National Wrestling Alliance
MCW Pro Wrestling
Women of Wrestling
Shine Wrestling
Strong Style Pro Wrestling
All Japan Pro Wrestling
Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide
Consejo Mundial de Luca Libre
Shimmer Wrestling
Irish Whip Wrestling

Defunct Companies

While there have been hundreds of wrestling companies that have come and gone, only two are worth noting for collectors; Extreme Championship Wrestling and the aforementioned WCW. Both would eventually succumb to WWE, with many of the notable staff and talent still active in WWE or AEW to this day.

WCW and WWE's Monday Night Wars is one of the most notable modern company feuds. Both brands had wrestling shows on competing networks at the same time for several years in the 1990s and early 2000s. The rivalry between WCW and WWE deserves its own article, so if that's something that would interest you let me know!

*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.