Get Ready to Pin Down the Basics: Your Complete Starter’s Guide to Wrestling

Federations, countries, stars and everything you need to know about wrestling is here to introduce you to this fascinating form of entertainment.

Get Ready to Pin Down the Basics: Your Complete Starter’s Guide to Wrestling
Álvaro Arbonés

Álvaro Arbonés

Wrestling is more alive than ever. Thanks to the internet, smaller federations, and consistent growth over the years, this blend of sport and theater has established itself as a legitimate form of entertainment in popular culture. However, like many forms of popular culture, it can be challenging to know where to start when it comes to watching wrestling. That’s what we’re going to clarify here. We’ll explore the main federations, what sets them apart, where you can watch their content, and who their top stars are. The rest is diving headfirst and catching up because it’s all about diving headfirst and filling in the gaps gradually.

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If we have to talk about wrestling, it is essential to start with WWE. The company led by Vince McMahon is one of the oldest and most well-known in the world, having established in the minds of many what wrestling is. Not for nothing, legends like Hulk Hogan, The Rock, and John Cena emerged from here. Based in the USA, with strong ties to Saudi Arabia, it has an international roster but a distinct style: prioritizing spectacle over sport and catering to a family-friendly audience.

Currently, their top star is Roman Reigns, who holds the company’s highest title: the Undisputed Universal Champion. He is also part of The Bloodline storyline, still unfolding, and considered one of the greatest stories ever told in WWE.

Apart from Roman Reigns, other prominent current names in WWE include Gunther, the current Intercontinental Champion, and Asuka, the Raw Women’s Champion. While there are other big names in WWE like AJ Styles and Seth Rollins, it is these three, along with some of their female wrestlers such as Bianca Belair or Iyo Sky, and the Raw Tag Team Champions Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn, who continue to showcase the best of WWE: a perfect blend of well-developed personal conflicts and excellent wrestling.


Being a young federation doesn’t mean it can’t compete in wrestling, as demonstrated by AEW. Founded and led by Tony Khan, AEW was established on January 1, 2019, and aims to be the opposite of WWE. While McMahon’s company prioritizes entertainment over wrestling, Tony Khan’s company puts wrestling above entertainment. This doesn’t mean there are no stories and promos; they do exist and are very good, but they are developed less through conversations and more through what happens in the ring.

It’s difficult to define who is currently at the top in AEW, but it’s not unreasonable to say that it’s MJF. Real name Maxwell Jacob Friedman, he is a technical prodigy with astonishing acting skills. At just 27 years old, he has become the AEW World Champion in a federation known for having some of the best wrestlers in the world. It’s no wonder his iconic phrase is “I’m better than you, and you know it.”

In any case, AEW is the federation where wrestling is the most important aspect. Here, you can find a mix of professional wrestling, classic wrestling, indie wrestling, and puroresu, with some of the best wrestlers in the world calling AEW their home. Jon Moxley, Bryan Danielson, Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, and Chris Jericho are among the names regularly competing here. Additionally, with talent-sharing agreements with AAA and NJPW, and a constant focus on providing opportunities for young talent, AEW showcases numerous other great wrestlers on their shows, such as Adam Page, Jay White, El Hijo del Vikingo, and Katsuyori Shibata. This solidifies AEW as the current home of wrestling.

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We can call it wrestling, we can call it lucha libre, and it may seem like we’re talking about the same thing, but not exactly: lucha libre has its own identity, and that is well known in AAA. Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide, also known as Caravana Tres Veces Estelar, is led by Marisela Peña Herrada and is characterized as, if not the most important, certainly the most well-known wrestling federation in Mexico. With a history dating back to 1992 and business relationships with numerous international companies, AAA is the home in Mexico for most wrestlers with international aspirations.

If someone stands out in AAA, it’s El Hijo del Vikingo. Trained by King Vikingo, he won the AAA Mega Championship on December 4, 2021, and has successfully defended it since then on seven occasions against some of the best wrestlers in Mexico. Furthermore, his recent appearances in the United States, particularly in AEW, where he competed against Kenny Omega, the former AAA Mega Champion, and other wrestlers, have only elevated his status as a superstar.

AAA indeed has multiple stars of importance beyond El Hijo del Vikingo, and one who has shined the most in the past year is Fénix. By unifying the AAA World Heavyweight Championship and the Latin American Championship, he became the first Triple Crown Champion in the company’s history. Other wrestlers such as El Cuatrero, Dralístico, and Bandido are also prominent names who have excelled in the federation, showcasing the immense talent and deep-rooted love for a purely Mexican wrestling style within AAA.


In Japan, where they have puroresu (professional wrestling), the largest promotion is called NJPW (New Japan Pro-Wrestling). With a style they define as Strong Style, characterized by open-handed strikes, elbows, and more realistic-looking moves influenced by MMA, NJPW offers a much more technical and realistic approach compared to the more fantastical and acrobatic world of lucha libre. It’s no coincidence that the company was founded by Antonio Inoki, a man who popularized wrestling and MMA in Japan. Currently, NJPW is led by Takami Ohbari, who has expanded the company’s international relations, particularly with AEW and AAA, albeit to a lesser extent with WWE.

Choosing a single name as the main face of NJPW is literally impossible. At the very least, we would have to highlight Sanada, Will Ospreay, and Kazuchika Okada, also known as The Rainmaker, as the three pillars on which the company stands. These three men belong to three different factions, each with a distinct style, but they share one thing in common: all three could be considered the best professional wrestler in the world, and it would be difficult to argue against it.

Indeed, NJPW thrives on the battles between factions, which sets it apart from other promotions. CHAOS, Bullet Club, United Kingdom, Los Ingobernables de Japon, Just 5 Guys, House of Torture, and now even the Blackpool Combat Club, previously only present in AEW, are constantly in conflict. There are constant betrayals, wars between groups, and internal power struggles within the factions. Unlike other promotions where the focus is often on individual members, in NJPW, the destiny of the group and the subgroups within them are of utmost importance. This unique emphasis on faction dynamics gives NJPW a distinct identity within the world of professional wrestling.

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Stardom has undoubtedly proven that wrestling is not just for men. While AEW and WWE have a solid roster of female wrestlers, only Stardom has provided them with a platform where they can shine just as brightly as their male counterparts. World Wonder Ring Stardom, founded and directed by Rossy Ogawa, is a women’s-only puroresu promotion. As a sister promotion to NJPW, it embraces a similarly hard-hitting style of wrestling and incorporates group-based storytelling. However, unlike NJPW, the spotlight here is solely on the women.

Currently, the reigning queen of Stardom is undoubtedly Tam Nakano. Holding both the World of Stardom Championship and the Wonder of Stardom Championship, the leader of the Cosmic Angels exhibits a visually stunning and surprisingly hard-hitting style. She seamlessly combines classic wrestling techniques with her own technical prowess, making her a particularly skilled wrestler whose matches are enjoyed for the grace and subtlety of her movements.

Apart from Tam Nakano, Stardom can proudly boast of having some of the best female wrestlers in its roster. Names like Giulia, Mina Shirakawa, Natsupoi, Kairi, and Mayu Iwatani easily stand among the top wrestlers today, regardless of gender. This makes Stardom a promotion that is truly worth following. Not only does it provide excellent women’s wrestling, which unfortunately remains relatively rare even in 2023, but it also delivers outstanding wrestling overall. Stardom sets a high standard for the quality of its matches and showcases the incredible talent and skill of its wrestlers.

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Álvaro Arbonés

Álvaro Arbonés

Cultural journalist and writer with a special interest in audiovisuals and everything that can be played. I'm not here to talk about my books, but you can always ask me about them if you're curious.

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