The AWA documentary we watched in class really opened my eyes to a lot of things. I didn't know too much about the history of wrestling before the WWF. I always assumed that wrestling began with the WWF and I never bothered to either confirm or refute this assumption.
It was interesting to see the different organizations that owned different territories and how they coexisted with one another. They each had their own champions along with their championship belts. Because they all stayed within their limits, they were able to gain success. Nowadays, whenever there is some kind of competition the answer is usually to the buy them out, as Vince Jr. is known to do.
Verne Gagne was a name I had never heard of either. If it weren't for Verne and the AWA, wrestling as we know it would be completely different. In addition to being, arguably, one of the greatest wrestlers, Verne knew how to make other wrestlers great. I now know that he is responsible for a lot of the legends of the WWF/WWE. When Hulk Hogan was struggling to find his place, like many others, Verne gave him the tools to become the legend that he is today. All of the familiar names from the WWF that I started out watching were products of Verne's AWA.
I also thought it was unfair that the wrestlers would use the AWA as a springboard to get into the WWF. A lot of them had no intention of staying with the AWA long-term. I don't know if they really appreciated the fact that Verne made a lot of the wrestlers who they are. Even though Verne was losing a lot of his talent, he was always optimistic and never thought of throwing in the towel. In order to survive he had to become stubborn and keep the belt within his tight circle. It's really amazing to see how long he was able to last when he not only had to compete with the WWF, but compete against all the talent that he developed.
I realize that there is so much more to wrestling than I had originally imagined. I now have an appreciation for Verne Gagne and the AWA. The contributions that Verne made to wrestling definitely influenced its development to what it is today.