Introduction to Charting the Territories

This blog is going to take a look back at pro wrestling territories in a way that hasn't been done before. There are numerous web sites, blogs, message forums and social media accounts dedicated to covering the history of professional wrestling. There are even a couple of databases with scores of information. But I want to present the information in such a way that you can look at ONE piece of data and instantly understand that wrestlers' place in the grand scheme of things; or as Arn Anderson once famously spoke of, their spot.

As you look at wrestling cards over the years, one thing is abundantly clear. Wrestlers who are always in the main event are there for a reason. Usually it's because they put asses in seats. It also doesn't hurt if they're a good "worker". And let's be honest, every now and then good old-fashioned nepotism comes into play. But over the long run, if someone travels from Tampa to Dallas to Minneapolis to Calgary to Amarillo and is more often than not competing in main events, it's because they are a great "professional wrestler".

I thought that if I could create a statistic that measures the position of a given wrestler on the various wrestling cards they are booked on, then that could quantify the wrestlers' place in the promotion. As I dug deep into the archives of several great online resources and examined wrestling cards over the years, I came up with a way of doing just that. At times it's more art than science, but as long as I strive for a high degree of consistency in how it's calculated, it should hold up to the sniff test.

So I present to you ... the Statistical Position of a wrestler Over Time, or ... SPOT. For a given point in time, a wrestlers' SPOT is a number between .000 and 1.000 that quantifies their average spot on the cards over a several week period of time. To calculate SPOT, we look at a wrestling card (I try to use what was booked/advertised by the promotion ahead of time) and rank the matches in order of perceived importance. Generally speaking, a newspaper ad or program lists the main event first, and then the rest of the matches in descending order, so this step is often easy (but not always, there are some nuances to it). Once I have done that, I apply a little bit of statistical magic to come up with a number between .000 and 1.000. I won't bore you with the formula, but here's a hint ... the main event gets 1.000. After doing this for all the cards a wrestler is booked on over a specific period of time, I take the average of all these numbers to generate their SPOT for that point in time.

There are no hard and fast cut-off points when looking at a wrestlers' SPOT. Different territories have different booking philosophies and strategies, so I don't say things like "if their SPOT is xx or higher they're a main eventer" or "anything below xx is a preliminary wrestler". The higher their SPOT, the higher their status in THAT territory at THAT time.

I will examine territories one at a time, covering a one-year period for a specific territory before moving on to another territory and/or year. There will be one introductory post where I look at the territory as a whole at that point in time, looking at their approximate geographical boundaries and the towns they promoted in most frequently. From there, I will make 4 posts, each covering a three-month period, that ranks wrestlers by their SPOT for that quarter. I will document the comings and goings of wrestlers during the quarter and list outside names or attractions passing through the territory (the World champion, women wrestlers, nationally-known stars, etc.), plus a listing of managers where available.

The earliest year I will cover (for now) is 1966. The latest year I will cover is 1983. After '83, due to the expansion of the WWF, the remaining territories did a lot of talent-sharing and boundary-crossing and things become messy.

To start things off, I will look at four different territories in 1966. They are Western States Sports (Amarillo), Heart of America Sports Attractions (Central States), Championship Wrestling from Florida and World Championship Wrestling (Australia). While I will normally focus exclusively on U.S. and Canadian territories, Australia featured a good bit of U.S. based talent. All four of these will be added in the month of November. Going forward, I will probably do a "year in the life of one territory" per month.

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