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In professional wrestling, the independent circuit or indie circuit is the collective name of independent professional wrestling promotions which are smaller than major televised promotions (such as WWE or TNA). It is roughly analogous to a minor league for pro wrestling, or community or regional theatre.
Specific promotions on the independent circuit are referred to as indie promotions or indies. A wrestler is said to be in the indies or working the indies if he or she is wrestling in one of the independent promotions, or working the indie circuit if he or she is performing in different independent promotions.
The indie scene in the United States dates back to the days of regional territories. When a promoter ran opposition in even one town controlled by a National Wrestling Alliance sanctioned territory, they were often called an "outlaw" territory. This is considered by some to be a forerunner to indies since some stars of the past got their start in these low quality local rivals to the big regional territories.
The modern definition of the independent circuit came about in the middle to late 1980s and fully formed and flourished after 1990. These promotions initially sought to revive the feel of old school territorial wrestling after former territories either went national, such as WWF, went out of business, or eventually did both, such as WCW. Several indies did in fact manage to tour different towns within a region and maintain a consistent schedule.
After Vince McMahon, seeking regulatory relief, gave in 1989 testimony in front of the New Jersey State Athletic Commission where he publicly admitted pro wrestling was in fact a sports-based entertainment, rather than a true athletic competition, many state athletic commissions stopped regulating wrestling. This obviated the need for complying with many expensive requirements, such as the need for an on-site ambulance and trained emergency medical personnel at each bout. After the business was thus exposed and deregulated, just about anyone could be a promoter or a wrestler since no licensing beyond a business license was then required. Many thought they could save money by holding shows in lesser towns and smaller arenas with little to no televised exposure, leading to many shows being held only once a week or once a month in local towns.
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