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It also waned due to Gotch's retirement in 1913, and no new wrestling superstar emerging to captivate the audience's attention.
Following the retirement of Frank Gotch, professional wrestling—except in the Midwest where legitimate wrestlers such as Michigan's "Poison Ivy" took on all comers at State Fairs—was losing popularity fast.
Wrestling exhibits during the late 19th century were also shown across the United States in countless "athletic shows" (or "at shows"), where experienced wrestlers offered open challenges to the audience.
It was at these shows, often done for high-stakes gambling purposes, that the nature of the sport changed through the competing interests of three groups of people: the impresarios, the carnies, and the barnstormers.
Through the interest in money-making among the three groups, wrestling became a business-oriented entertainment venue, distinguishing itself further and further from its authentic amateur wrestling background.
Wrestling performers were arranged in a pyramid hierarchy of fame and money, based strictly on athletic talent.
The scripted nature of the art has made critics view it as an illegitimate sport, particularly in comparison to boxing, mixed martial arts, amateur wrestling, and the real sport itself, wrestling.
No major promoter or wrestler denies that modern professional wrestling has predetermined match outcomes.
In the United States, in the First Golden Age of professional wrestling in the 1940s–1950s, Gorgeous George gained mainstream popularity, followed in the Second Golden Age in the 1980s–1990s by Ric Flair, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Sting, The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Kurt Angle, and Triple H.Wrestling's popularity experienced a dramatic tailspin in 1915 to 1920, becoming distanced from the American public because of widespread doubt of its legitimacy and status as a competitive sport.Wrestlers during the time recount it as largely faked by the 1880s.The lowest were the journeymen, young performers with promise and some skill, but who relied mainly on showmanship to gain fans.The actual wrestlers, called "shooters" because of their ability to "shoot", or fight real matches competitively, were more successful and less common.
Throughout the 1990s, professional wrestling achieved highs in both viewers and financial success during a time of fierce competition among competing promotions, such as WWF, World Championship Wrestling, and Extreme Championship Wrestling.