Professional wrestling, or pro wrestling, is a form of sporting theatre which contains strong elements of mock combat and catch wrestling. Matches are prearranged by the promotion's booking staff and contain choreographed content and scripted outcomes. Its origins date to 19th-century carnival sideshows and music halls, as part of displays of athleticism and strength. Modern professional wrestling usually features striking and grappling techniques, which are modeled after diverse sets of wrestling and pugilistic styles from around the world.
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Professional wrestling is especially prevalent in Japan and North American countries. In Brazil, it was very popular from the 1960s to the early 1980s, where it was called Telecatch. High-profile figures in the sport have become celebrities or cultural icons in their native or adopted home countries. Although professional wrestling started out as petty acts in sideshows, traveling circuses and carnivals, today it is a billion-dollar industry. Revenue is drawn from ticket sales, television broadcasts, branded merchandise and home video. Recently, internet programming has also been utilized, adding to the aforementioned methods. Broadcasting, known on the internet as streaming, of live and past events is foremost in internet-related revenue earnings. Pro wrestling was instrumental in making pay-per-view a viable method of content delivery. Annual shows such as WrestleMania, Bound For Glory and the Royal Rumble are among the highest-selling pay-per-view programming each year. Home video sales dominate the Billboard charts Recreational Sports DVD sales, with wrestling holding anywhere from 3 to 9 of the top 10 spots every week. Billboard's 2008 year-end sales show World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) holding 14 of the top 20 for the entire year.
Currently, the largest professional wrestling company worldwide is the United States-based World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). World Wrestling Entertainment absorbed many smaller regional companies in the late twentieth century, as well as its primary competitors in early 2001, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) & Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). Other popular professional wrestling company's are Total Nonstop Action (TNA) and Ring of Honor (ROH). In Mexico, the top promotions are Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre and Asistencia Asesoría y Administración. In Japan, it is New Japan Pro Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling, and Pro Wrestling NOAH. In South Africa, the top promotion is World Wrestling Professionals.
Several documentaries have been produced looking at professional wrestling, most notably, Beyond the Mat directed by Barry W. Blaustein, and Wrestling with Shadows featuring wrestler Bret Hart and directed by Paul Jay. There have also been many fictional depictions of wrestling; in 2008, Mickey Rourke's Oscar-nominated performance in The Wrestler was widely acclaimed. Rourke's role depicted an aging past-his-prime wrestler struggling with drugs, health, money and personal relationships, but above all his relationship with pro wrestling.