In the popular imaginary, pro wrestling is synonymous with WWE. Hardcore fans will go through painstaking lengths to explain to outsiders that WWE is to wrestling what American Idol is to music: The most mainstream, watered down and basic version of what the art form could be. Independent wrestling, meanwhile, is its own vibrant medium, filled with a colorful cast of characters demanding equality and artistic freedom.
While independent wrestling has largely been the subject of condescension and derision from the upper echelons of contemporary culture who often dismiss the genre as low-brow redneck entertainment, bursts of avant-gardism and social justice can easily be spotted by anyone willing to look.
We’ve collected some of the most important countercultural moments of indie wrestling from the past few years to show the vibrancy of a scene on the verge of a total revolution.