Where does one go to see wrestling? If you live in a big city then an arena of some kind like a civic center or sports venue. If you live in a smaller town then maybe an armory. I've mentioned before how I once saw a show at a rock festival at a vineyard, and I thought that was a weird place. That was absolutely nothing compared to some shows. See, wrestling can be held anywhere you can fit a wrestling ring(even that can be flexible) and some companies have taken that not as an opportunity, but as a challenge. I looked high and low, from the big guys to the smallest indies, to find some of the weirdest places wrestling has happened. I only had two rules for this list and they kind of go hand in hand. Rule number one: the matches had to have a crowd. It's one thing to get the wrestlers to show up somewhere weird, it's another to get fans to show up. Rule number two: the entire wrestling show has to take place at the venue. As I said this kind of goes hand in hand with the needing fans rule, but this is to exclude cinematic matches and one offs. Having the entire show at a weird place is harder to plan than just one match, and it makes these stand out more. I ultimately decided on these ten but wow has there been some strange wrestling.
zona 23 is a deathmatch show out of Mexico that often runs show out of an actual junkyard. When I first heard that the company wrestled in the junkyard I thought it was just a cute name. Nope! You've got people sitting on rusted old cars, piles of car parts, and the whole thing makes me want to get a tetanus shot. Admittedly, deathmatch shows are rarely in well known arenas. I mean tournament of death is always outside, and inside shows like Masters of Pain are in community centers that I hope get swept very well before little Timmy comes for his 4H meeting. A junkyard, however, just feels a lot more fitting for deathmatch than a nice field. Normal deathmatch shows only the wrestlers and maybe the first couple of rows of crowd are in danger, but everyone here has to have some level of concern, and God I wish that was me.
okay, so this is low on the list because it only technically qualifies. As I said, the entire show has to take place in a weird venue, and this was a one match show, therefore it counts. I still am not entirely sure how this one came to be, but Jeff Jarret and Dutch Mantell had a match at the Smithsonian with a full orchestra playing. It's incredibly strange, and I've seen matches in Japanese bathhouses. For me to find a wrestling match presentation surreal and bizarre it has to be truly weird. If this was longer than a one match show it would surely be higher on the list.
The first of three WCW entries on this list, what I find fascinating about this one is that WCW did it multiple times. WCW Bash at the Beach lasted for multiple years and I mean, sure, why not. People love wrestling, people love the beach, why not combine the two. This was often used as a reason to have women in tight bikinis, but me personally, I prefer the Baywatch crossover promotion to get people excited for the show. AEW has revived the show concept, but it was not actually outside. The biggest concern, and probably why AEW decided to have walls, is that oceans are cold. If you’ve never been to the ocean then let me just tell you every gust of wind is the coldest thing you will ever feel. Also, having a show on the beach is such a risky gamble because the weather can be incredibly fickle. It can go from sunny to awful in about 10 minutes. Thankfully though, no Bash at the Beach had to be cancelled.
yee, and I cannot stress this enough, haw. Cowboys in Gainesville, Florida has hosted shows by both Fest Wrestling and Micro Wrestling Federation. Cowboys is a saloon and as such there is fun cowboy feel to all shows held there. But also being a bar, there is a good atmosphere is everyone has a great, drunk time. Special shoutout goes to Su Yung and Veda Scott fighting on a mechanical bull.
6:mall of America
Hello again WCW my old friend. This one is probably the best known on the list but I think that has made us forget how weird it is. The entire first episode of Monday Night Nitro took place in the Mall of America. Apparently one of the main reasons was that malls were really popular in the 90’s, but so was laser tag and there was never laser tag wrestling(there should be). The other big reason of course is that Hulk Hogan’s restaurant Pastamania(yes really) was inside the Mall of America. This is still one of the most iconic wrestling TV episodes of all time between that Liger Pillman match and the surprise debut of Lex Luger, and the Mall really helps add to the atmosphere. What I like the most about it, however, is that the Mall of America is a place where people go to be entertained, and this was certainly entertaining. I’m sure anyone passing by had a great time even if they weren’t attending the show. The same cannot be said however for...
Who the hell thought this was a good idea? This is another iconic one being on an episode of Shotgun Saturday Night. The idea of a wrestling show at a train station, while certainly unique, seems just like a hassle more than innovation. A fun note before getting to the real reason we remember this episode, Shotgun Saturday Night used a slightly smaller ring than most WWE rings due to the smaller nature of the venues. We all remember Shotgun Saturday Night for just one reason, and that’s the Tombstone spot. Undertaker tombstones Triple H on the top of an escalator that Trips then slides down. It’s a great moment in WWE history and the only thing the show really contributed. As iconic and famous as it is, it’s still incredibly weird.
So a few shows have happened in barns, but I’m referring specifically to the Blood Shed. If you aren’t a deathmatch fan, allow me to tell you a story. In the Summer of 2020, ICW No Holds Barred had planned a multishow weekend called Deathmatch Circus. The first show was about to start and a torrential downpour of rain happened. The show was delayed ten minutes, then twenty, then thirty, and then ICW sent a tweet saying the show was moved to tomorrow, but to come back at 11 PM. At 11 we were all shocked to see a dirt pit surrounded by guard rails in a barn, and ICW Pit Fight was born. Future Pit shows would use a cage, but that late night bonus show booked in only 3 hours changed ICW and gave us the Blood Shed. Future shows held there would include iconic moments like John Wayne Murdoch hitting a Canadian Destroyer off the hayloft through a flaming pane of glass and Dan Moff yeeting Nolan Edward out a window. The latter gave us my favorite commentary line of all time “THERE ARE HORSES IN THAT FIELD!” ICW No Holds Barred would have been other recurring venues, but the Blood Shed will always hold a place in my heart.
Let’s wrap up the WCW Trilogy shall we? WCW held it’s Hog Wild shows at actual motorcycle rallies, and the crowds could not have cared less. I understand the idea behind this, but if NWO was meant to appeal to the cool edgy teens then Hog Wild was appealing to their dads. It’s certainly a cool looking set, but having a tepid crowd really brings down every Hog Wild show. The reason this is higher on the list than other WCW shows, however, is that the crowd is odd in addition to the venue. At Nitro and Bash at the Beach you have a normal crowd made up of all types of people, but Hog Wild is just bikers. Imagine a show that is just whoever happened to show up to church? I’m glad WCW is gone or that might try to steal that.
I almost put this at number one, but this is still one of my favorite wrestling shows I’ve ever seen. The utter energy behind Starrcave(get it) is addictive, as everyone is just happy to be in a cave. Breed Pro Wrestling put this show on, and unfortunately it’s their last show as of now. The show is in a cave commonly known as the Devil’s Ass, and seeing wrestling in a cave is just so thrilling. We get some good comedy spots, and some good serious wrestling. Personal favorites of mine include Chuck Mambo vs Mike Bailey and A-Kid vs Carlos Romo. The full show is now on Youtube and you owe it to yourself to see wrestling in a cave.(disclosure, Damian Dunne does appear in the second match of the show, I believe he is the only abuser who appears but it's possible I don't know about some of the more local talent.)
While it’s true I never thought I’d see wrestling in a cave, I never thought I’d see anything in a cave. The cave is what makes it shocking, while this seems like polar opposites. Once you open a cave to live events of any kind then why not wrestling. Libraries on the other hand are for book readings and small magic shows. Part of Milwaukee's library loud days series, this show was put on by Mondo Lucha, and I mean, ya it’s wrestling in a library. The audio on the live stream gets wonky, but just seeing this is crazy. And it’s not just some local guys either, DJZ/Joaquin Wilde is in it, and some other faces from the indie circuit. The show also had areas where kids could get their own promos with lucha masks and title belts, and the whole thing was just a fun event for the community. For being a place where wrestling isn’t just weird, but was thought impossible, Milwaukee Library takes the top spot on this list!
More than just being fun to look at, these shows are examples that what we think of wrestling has room to grow. Just as people innovate inside the ring, so can every aspect of wrestling be innovated. I love the sheer tenacity in all of these, and I encourage you to find wrestling shows that are out of the way and off the beaten path. Happy hunting!