There have been a couple of threads recently that have been discussing the territories. AS someone who grew up watching and loving that era I thought a primer might be called for since most posters on the forum were not around in this important time of the sport. The territories basically grew up around media markets, and thrived off low cost/ highly rated television that the local stations loved because they could sell ads. Some of the territory shows dominated their ratings.
I will simply list the Major American territories (there were other smaller territories) and years of exsistence, list their operating area, and list some of the top stars (of course I will miss some of these but this is a start, feel free to add significant ones I missed). I realize you could probably find all this via wikipedia or other sites but here it is in one place, as a good primer for those interested in this era.
Pacific Northwest (1925-1992): Oregon/Washington: Dutch Savage, Buddy Rose, Roddy Piper, Billy Jack Haynes, Tony Borne.
Big Time Wrestling (1968-1981): Northern California: Pat Patterson, Ray Stevens, John Tolos
WWA/ NWA Hollywood (1959-1982): Southern California: Freddie Blassie, Edouard Capentier, Gory Guerrero
Western States (Amarillo)(1969-1981): West Texas: The Funks, Ciclone Negro, Bob Backlund, Karl Von Steiger
World Class: North Texas (1966-1990): Gary Hart, The Von Erich's, Stan Stasiak, Freebirds, Chris Adams, Skandor Akbar
Southwest: Southern Texas (1978-1985): Tully Blanchard, Dale Valentine (Buddy Roberts), Manny Fernandez
Tri-State/Mid-South/UWF: (1950-1990) Louisiana, parts of Oklahoma, and Arkansas: Bill Watts, Junkyard Dog, Butch Reed, Ted DiBiase, Mr Wrestling II, Magnum TA
Central States (1948-1988): Parts of Missouri, all of Iowa and Kansas: Harley Race, Pat O'Connor, Bulldog Brown, Orville Brown, Bob Sweeten
NWA St. Louis (1959-1989): Parts of Missouri: Ted DiBiase, Lou Thesz, Ric Flair, Harly Race, Gene Kiniski
WWA Indiana: Indiana, Illinois (1964-1991): Dick the Brusier, Wilbur Snyder, Baron Von Rashcke, Greg Wojokowski
NWA Mid America (1957-1980): Parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama, and Missisippi, even a little in Missouri: Jackie Fargo, Sputnik Monroe, Len Rossi, Don Kent, Luke Graham, Jerry Jarrett, Tojo Yammamoto
CWA/USWA (Memphis)(1977-1997): Parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama, and Missisippi, even a little in Missouri: Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee, Jimmy Hart, Dutch Mantell, The Fabulous Ones, Jimmy Valiant, Austin Idol
IWA (1978-1984): (Not truly a major territory, considered an outlaw promotion but very influential, and a good history read): Parts of Kentucky: Angelo and Lanny Poffo, Randy Savage, Ronnie Garvin, One Man Gang (then known as Crusher Bloomfield)
Contenintal (1954-1990) (which had a sub territory called Gulf Coast): East Tennessee, Alabama, The Florida Panhandle, Eastern Kentucky: Bob Armstrong and family, Jerry Stubbs, Ron and Robert Fuller
Championship Wrestling from Florida (1949-1987): Florida: Dusty Rhodes, Terry Funk, Kevin Sullivan, Bob Roop, Eddie and Mike Graham
Georgia Championship Wrestling (1944-merged into what became WCW): Georgia: Ray Gunkel, Mr Wrestling 1 and 2, JJ Dillon, Dusty Rhodes, Ole Anderson, Steamboat
NWA Mid Atlantic (1931-1988): The Carolinas, Virginia: Ric Flair, Blackjack Mulligan, Wahoo McDaniel, Masked Superstar, Jack and Jerry Brisco, Rip Hawk, Paul Jones
Big Time Wrestling (1959-1980): Michigan, parts of Ohio: The Shiek, Bobo Brazil, Fritz Von Erich, Johnny Valentine, Eddie Cretchman, Crybaby Cannon, Mark Lewin
WWWF (1952-nationalized in 1980): The American Northeast: Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, Spiros Arion, Killer Kowalski, Gorilla Monsoon, Antonio Rocca, Chief Jay Strongbow, Tony Garea
Some would call the AWA a territory, especially since it had only a couple of territories that recognized it's World Title. However most wrestling mags, and historians considered the AWA as a national company that split off the NWA in 1960, especially since the AWA booked shows all over the Western United States where they had television markets.
AWA (1960-1991): Minnestoa, Wisconsin, and individual cities like Chicago, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas etc...: Verne Gagne, Mad Dog and Butcher Vachon, Baron Von Rashcke, Nick Bockwinkle, The Crusher, Crusher Blackwell, Greg Gagne, Curt Henning
Awesome job on this post. The first wrestling match I can remember watching was a CWA match, but I can't remember who was involved in it. That was while visiting grandparents in Arkansas.
Later on when cable TV became more common I found WWF and JCP, and was hooked by both. The NWA in particular intrigued me because they would often reference matches in all kinds of international destinations. I would find out more about wrestling outside the USA through the Apter Mags (what we had to use before that newfangled contraption called 'the internet', and that's the way it was, and we liked it! Now get off my lawn!).