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Professional Wrestling federations tend to end up with more wrestlers than they know what to do with. They tend to sign people simply so that the competition can't, snatch up hot young talents in hopes of figuring out how to put them in the show later, or hire guys as a favor to somebody in the office. For most professional wrestling organizations, the "A Show" is where only the big name talents compete on the show. Naturally, the average wrestling fed can't squeeze all these guys onto their main "A Show", so they eventually put together a B Show.

The A Show is the show that draws — or is supposed to draw — the biggest ratings. The "A Show," then, will have most of the storyline developments (or the most dramatic Soap Opera-esque storylines) and have most of the championship title changes. Often, the biggest star of the A Show will be booked as the champion, holding the most prestigious title, and many times the best matches of a given calendar year happen at these events.

In contrast, a B Show is a very different experience from an A Show. A B Show has few angles going on at any one time, and what angles do appear are much simpler and largely character-driven. Instead, you'll simply see a few matches – some Squash Matches, and some memorable encounters from those trying to get noticed – with video packages in-between recapping the latest angles from the A Show. They're considered something of a loss-leader in the wrestling world, put on largely so that the wrestlers can keep themselves sharp and the promoters can watch carefully to single out wrestlers with potential, rather than with any eye to ratings and revenue. While some promotions such as CMLL and AAA run actual B Shows outside of their main venues and some promotions have entire "B Markets", fans in the USA are used to organizations like WWE taping their "B Shows" at the beginning of an A Show, to minimize the costs involved.

That is to say with larger organizations with large rosters, there are often two events going on on a single evening. While the A-Show (which may or may not be a live event or television taping) is going on in one city, the B Show will be taking place in another city sometimes hundreds of miles away. The B-Show, then, is comprised of younger wrestlers, often up-and-coming stars who are currently middle- and lower-level talent in a wrestling promotion, although well-known wrestlers making a comeback, finishing a career or making a special appearance will often participate, as will local wrestlers who compete for local or regional organizations. Additionally, there may be one or two A-show stars who appear at these shows, so as to draw fans (and thus anchor the show) and to help guide newer, up-and-coming wrestlers. note  These shows are not always taped, although it's always been said the cameras may sometimes be rolling, either to capture an unexpected title change, development or — most importantly — to use as an evaluation tool for the wrestlers. Almost always, a championship match — usually for a secondary or tag team title –- will be contested as the "main event," although this has also included battle royals and special "gimmick matches" pitting a wrestlers in the promotion's current No. 2 or 3 feud, and sometimes the flagship title is contested between the champion and a challenger who normally may not receive this opportunity on an A-Show. These shows often have a unique experience and flow to them, and very often B-Show wrestlers are able to develop their skills enough to be promoted to the A-Show. So, in many ways, the wrestling at a B-Show is often very good, if not excellent, and the same goes for C-Shows (for organizations that sometimes have a third group of wrestlers who compete at yet another event).

In the case of B Show made of matches cut from the A show, they often start off with appearances from draws who didn't wrestle on the A show's last airing or special events such as debuts and first title defenses but usually regress to showcasing talents the company simply has nothing for at the moment. A wrestler who manages to develop a B Show following in this case can easily find himself promoted to the A Show; however, most B Show regulars who find themselves on the A Show play a different role entirely. B Shows taped entirely separate from the A or indeed "B Markets", will usually maintain their special attractions.

Not to be confused with Big Show... unless you're looking for a Dope Slap by his Giant Hands of Doom.


Examples

  • Championship Wrestling Superstars/Global Wrestling/North Florida Championship Wrestling/United States Class Wrestling/American Championship Wrestling/Southern Professional Wrestling was the B-show to Championship Wrestling from Florida. That B-show went through a LOT of names.
  • All Japan Pro Wrestling's general B-show is the creatively titled B-Banquet, with the archive showcase Royal Road Club serving as a B-show of sorts to their Samurai TV A-show King's Road.
  • In the Memphis-based/CWA/Jarrett territory, the B-show had the same name as the main show (Championship Wrestling), but focused on house show matches from a few weeks earlier. It usually aired in markets like Tupelo, MS and Jackson, TN that got the main show in from Memphis and needed their own show to promote the local house shows.
  • For years, the syndicated WWF shows were All-Star Wrestling and Championship Wrestling. They were pretty much equal until the Summer of 1984, when they moved tapings from Pennsylvania to Brantford, ON and Poughkeepsie, NY respectively. At that point, Championship became the clear B-show. A few months before that, Superstars of Wrestling was added as the C-show featuring a mix of original content and matches aired on the other shows. At the start of the Fall '86 TV season, all 3 shows changed names and the A & B shows switched to big arenas that changed each month. Championship Wrestling became Superstars of Wrestling (yup), All-Star Wrestling became Wrestling Challenge, and Superstars of Wrestling became Wrestling Spotlight.
  • Power Pro Wrestling was the B-show to Mid-South Wrestling/Universal Wrestling Federation. At first, it aired a mix of old matches, house show matches, and matches from other territories featuring wrestlers who were coming to the territory soon. In October 1986, it switched to the same format as UWF, with original matches taped specifically for TV, plus the added twist of being taped at the Cowtown Coliseum in Ft. Worth Texas every week so they could promote the idea that country stars might drop in after performing next door at Billy Bob's Texas ("The world's largest honky tonk!"), as well as positioning the show as an alternative to World Class Championship Wrestling out of Dallas/Ft. Worth, which the promotion was now competing against directly.
  • WWE has had several B-Shows throughout the years:
    • Heat was WWE's B Show of the 2000s. It's no longer aired on television, but was viewable on WWE.com for quite a while, until it was canceled completely. Long before Heat, the WWF aired Shotgun Saturday Night, which was unique in that it was set up in incredibly intimate venues (and when we say "intimate venues", we mean places like bars and subway stations). Eventually this became prohibitive, however, and was replaced with a standard B Show.
    • It also existed in other forms depending on the market. There was a custom version for NY stations called WWF NY, though SSN would still air on another NY station. Markets not airing the show on Saturday night got Shotgun or Shotgun Challenge. Canada got Canadian Superstars. Eventually, they were replaced with Jakked and Metal, which had the same matches in different order with different commentary and recaps intended for different aged audiences.
    • WWE had Raw as an A show and Smackdown as its B-Show, but Smackdown grew in ratings to the point it eclipsed Raw and became a separate A show with its own B show, Velocity, to match Raw's Heat. WWE NXT served as a kind of B-show to both after Heat, Velocity and WWECW were taken off air, its emphasis on talent straight out of developmental and/or the independent circuit (the "Rookies" are competing for a shot on an A-Show). More to the point is WWE Superstars, a show which started on WGN but now airs online, which features either three or four matches taped before RAW and WWE SmackDown (originally it featured a match each from the RAW, Smackdown, and ECW brands).
    • As of April 2014, the hierarchy goes something like: RAW (A-Show; it's three hours long and it's where all the major story lines are set up and moved forward), Smackdown (B-Show; it's an hour shorter than RAW and often fills up that time with recaps of events on RAW), Main Event and Superstars (both C-Shows that run just one hour and are only available online or via the WWE Network, mostly featuring low-card talent rarely seen on RAW or SD). NXT doesn't really fit into it at all, as it's so disconnected from the primary WWE product.
    • As of The New '20s, RAW and Smackdown serve as the A-Shows, with Main Event as the B-Show, showing recaps from Raw and Smackdown in-between wrestling matches with mid-card talent and rookies.
    • NXT has NXT LVL UP, which also doubles as a replacement for 205 Live, which is meant to get developmental talent not quite ready for wrestling on the main show TV time and experience.
  • WCW Saturday Night used to be WCW's flagship show, but was demoted to B Show after WCW Monday Nitro was created to compete directly with the then-WWF. Unlike most B Shows, it still had quite a few storylines going on at any one time with a more old-school sensibility than Nitro, to the point where, by the time of its demise, it seemed to be almost a separate promotion from mainstream WCW.
    • WCW Thunder counted as a B Show too by virtue of the fact that all of the top-card wrestlers- which Nitro's angles would revolve around- refused to appear on it. That, and Thunder was so poorly produced that it's hard to believe that WCW cared about it at all.note 
      • Thunder came about because of an aborted arc: the plan with Starrcade 97 was that the nWo would win control over Nitro and WCW would be forced to retreat to the newly created Thunder. It bombed, though, when the company tested out the idea of "nWo Nitro" right before a PPV and it was a giant clusterfuck of bad ratings, largely because they made the move to remodel the set ON THE AIR, causing about 40 minutes of said remodeling to drive away viewers in droves (and the few who stuck through it turned to Raw during the three to four 20-minute circle jerk sessions involving Hulk Hogan).
  • TNA Xplosion, which is syndicated in a handful of markets. It in fact predates TNA's A show, iMPACT. Xplosion was created when TNA was running weekly pay per views and existed mainly as an advertisement for them. iMPACT started as the weekly program with the move to monthly pay per view, with Xplosion still around but not even broadcast in the USA anymore.
  • Dragon Gate's "Prime Zone" webcast and "Infinity" television show are sometimes referred to as "B Shows", since they air matches from other events.
  • 19'Oclock was an odd example, as it was more an experiment in streaming that ended up being one of Ice Ribbon's primary ways of reaching an international audience, though it was eventually discontinued in favor of just showing Ice Ribbon's primary roster.
  • Pro Wrestling Sem is a cross between B show and spinoff for/of Pro Wrestling NOAH. Inspired by Mitsuharu Misawa's trip to German based westside Xtreme wrestling, it mostly featured younger wrestlers competing against each other on teams headed by Naomichi Marufuji and KENTA in smaller buildings than NOAH's usual fare. It mostly lost purpose and stopped happening after KENTA left.
  • CZW's Dojo Wars is another cross between a B show and an outright spinoff. It primarily features students from the CZW\WSU dojo competing with each other or fighting wrestlers from other schools.
  • All Elite Wrestling has AEW Rampage, a one hour show that airs on Fridays, and is typically taped after and treated as an extension of the A Show AEW Dynamite.
    • AEW formerly had two more B-shows in AEW Dark and AEW Dark: Elevation that were shown on YouTube. Both these shows were cancelled in May 2023 after AEW was given a third cable show called Collision on Saturday nights. This wasn't intended to be a B-shownote , more like a soft roster split to keep certain wrestlers as far away from each other as possible, but after a hot start Collision ratings fell to about the same level as Rampage (or about a third of what Dynamite does), firmly cementing it as another B show.

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