Backyard wrestling (BYW), also referred to as yarding or backyarding, is a form of professional-style wrestling, typically in a low-budget environment, such as a backyard. Although not legitimized, backyard wrestling is often organized into federations. Most backyard wrestlers are merely emulating modern wrestling, though a small percentage have experience from enrolling in wrestling school or from referring to how-to guides on the web.
Professional wrestling in the U.S. entered a boom period during the The Attitude Era, where wrestling became increasingly focused on adult-oriented content, including an increase in the level of depicted violence on-screen. Meanwhile, the independent promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling became well-known for their violent "Hardcore matches" which featured items such as thumbtacks, barbed wire, and other improvised weapons used as foreign objects. Wrestlers such as Mankind became popular for their high-risk stunts, which exerted a strong influence on the wrestling fan base. This rise in violence was not without controversy, and WWE began airing advertisements stressing the dangers and seeking to deter fans from duplicating the actions seen in their ring.
In addition to actual backyards, backyard wrestling can occur in spaces including parks, fields, and warehouses. Initially camcorder-filmed events were shared person-to-person; increasingly public-access television and the internet have come to be used. It has also broken into the media with several Best of Backyard Wrestling volumes produced, two video games entitled Backyard Wrestling: Don't Try This at Home and Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighborhood, and a 2002 documentary entitled The Backyard, showcasing backyard wrestling under a more mainstream light as it follows several wrestlers and federations from all over the world, detailing the different styles and portrayals of backyard wrestling. In an interview, the director Paul Hough compared The Backyard to Beyond the Mat, but with yarders.
In May 2015, Global News ran a story on the VBW, a backyard wrestling organization in the Pacific Northwest who produce professionally edited wrestling episodes for public streaming services. The segment, hosted by sports director and anchor Squire Barns, follows the crew as they prepare for the release of the organization's biggest event, Yardstock 2015. In 2016, A-List Productions released a 2-hour documentary titled The Link, chronicling over a decade of backyard wrestling beginning in the early 2000s with participants across the United States, Canada, and the UK, as well as their footprint in the professional wrestling business to this day.
Since the creation of YouTube, many companies have gotten their rise in popularity, such as KBW Wrestling, CHW Backyard, and Extreme Showdown Wrestling, as well as countless other federations to help carry out the modern generation. This new era has a more professional approach, with many using editing software and obtaining proper professional wrestling training and gear. These companies have a more global reach towards their audience with the help of the internet as opposed to the DVDs of the past.
In recent years, backyard wrestling has adapted a more technical, storytelling approach in its style as opposed to the hardcore tone of the past, with the more popular "crossover" era taking shape of the genre. Mega events such as the popular "Best in the Yard", "King of the Yard", "When Worlds Collide", "BYW Mania", "Wrestleution", and "Civil War" are spectacles in the backyard wrestling community.
On July 4, 2019, Game Changer Wrestling (GCW) hosted a pay-per-view (PPV) event entitled "Backyard Wrestling", that streamed LIVE on FITE TV, taking place at an undisclosed location in New Jersey, with many independent wrestlers who once were backyard wrestlers returning to their roots. The following year on July 4, 2020, they held Backyard Wrestling 2 at another undisclosed location, featuring several different wrestlers from the previous year.
- MTV's True Life: I'm A Backyard Wrestler
- Squire's Take: low budget backyard wrestling
- The Ricki Lake Show: "Backyard Bloodbath!"
Films and documentaries
- The Backyard
- Best of Backyard Wrestling Vol. 1-6
- CNN News: Backyard Beatdown (2006 Hardcore vs Non)
- Traces of Death V: Back in Action
- Backyard Dogs
- NWF Kids Pro Wrestling: The Untold Story
- ''The Link, documentary
- Backyard Wrestling (2002)
- Death Death Documentary (2007)
- The Backyard Wrestler - The Life and Times of Aston Crude (2020)
- Backyard Wrestling: Don't Try This at Home
- Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighborhood