Saying any variation of "Wrestling's fake". That cat has been out of the bag for decades now and ridiculing wrestling for being "fake" isn't any different than suggesting that someone shouldn't watch scripted TV shows or read books that are in the fiction section. Some fans and wrestlers alike will get seriously upset at the use of the word "fake" because it is usually used as an insult to imply (especially to the minds of impressionable children) that nothing you see is real, that people don't get legitimately injured, that the things wrestlers do aren't potentially dangerous, and that there isn't a tremendous amount of skill in what they do. While it's true that the story lines are planned out, the match results are pre-determined and the wrestlers aren't actually trying to hurt each other, anyone who has even a passing knowledge of professional wrestling's inner workings knows that it does require a lot of skill and is very, very dangerous. They tend to prefer the terms "scripted", in that match results are known beforehand and "staged", in that both/all of the wrestlers in the ring are performers working together to put on an entertaining show, rather than as competitors trying to hurt each other for money. In some circles, even the word "scripted" is a berserk button, as the large majority of wrestling promotions don't use scripts and the large majority that do are farm leagues working with rookies who have not yet learned to improvise. So if you want to refer to wrestling as "not real" in a way that doesn't piss off wrestlers and wrestling fans while not making yourself look like a complete Jerkass in the process, "Staged" is the proper word.
Don't call pro wrestling "WWE" unless you are specifically talking about the promotion itself, especially if you're referring to a wrestler that has never worked for that promotion as a "WWE Star". While it is the only mainstream wrestling company left (at least in North America), there are plenty of other wrestling promotions out there besides WWE.
Don't call every wrestling move a "body slam". Non-wrestling fans in particular often refer to the splash as a body slam, to the annoyance of many a fan. Mixing up the names of moves in general or resorting to Buffy Speak to describe them is also frowned upon.
Claiming that wrestlers "just know how to fall" or otherwise don't get injured. Fans that are aware of the concept of selling and can probably tell you about a number of real injuries that have occured.
If you're chatting with fans of the "territory days" (60's, 70's, & 80's), you'll get heated but largely respectful arguments over the merits of Ric Flair, Harley Race, Verne Gagne, Nick Bockwinkel, Bruno Sammartino, and Bob Backlund. If you value your life, do not include Hulk Hogan in the aforementioned group.
Claiming every wrestler is on steroids is not advised. It's true that the WWE favors large, muscular men and that steroid use has been a major problem in pro wrestling since at least the 1980s, but not every wrestler works a style or look that favors insane musculature, and not all of those who do have muscular physiques use steroids.
Wrestlers aren't all drug addicts, and those cases of real addiction are more tragic than anything. It's part of the price they pay with their bodies for the work they do and the lengths they go to for entertainment. All wrestlers (at least in WWE) now undergo drug testing and are severely punished if they are caught suing an illegal substance.
Don't make fun of the concept of tights. Seriously. Not even the briefs. Don't.
Around Lucha Libre fans, don't make fun of the concept of masks. Seriously. Don't.
Around shoot/strong-style fans, don't say that matwork is boring or that there is too much kicking. For your sake, don't.
The greatest female wrestler of all time? If it isn't Lita or Trish Stratus, fans don't want to hear it. And if it's Eva Marie, prepare to get torn to shreds. You might be able to get away with saying The Fabulous Moolah if you're a pre-90s wrestling fan. Unless, of course, you're talking to joshi fans, in which case, don't you dare suggest that any of the above can hold a candle to Manami Toyota, Aja Kong, Lioness Asuka or Akira Hokuto.
A number of wrestling fans believe that Natalya Neidhart is Bret Hart's daughter. If you try to make this claim on a message board or some other place filled with wrestling fans, you'll most likely get reminded that she's actually his niece (hence their different last names), and that her actual father is Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart.
While on the subject of the Harts, don't say that "Sting stole Bret Hart's Sharpshooter." Sting began using the hold (originally called the Scorpion Deathlock) as his finishing move several years before Bret did (Bret was a tag team wrestler when Sting broke into the business). And the hold was actually invented by Japanese wrestler Riki Choshu.
Saying anything positive about WCW or TNA, especially TNA, will probably get you a verbal ass whipping. The only exception is stating that they had/have a great roster of talent. The real issue is what they did/do with said talent. This goes both ways too. Such an "ass whipping" can bring an immediate counter-attack from long-time fans, who will start in on the glory days of the Monday Night Wars for WCW or of the X-Division in TNA. And will mostly likely call the WCW/TNA basher a "sheep", mindlessly bashing anything that isn't WWE programming.
While it's okay to say that he's not your favorite commentator (depending on who your "favorite" is), just don't say that you don't like Jim Ross.
The following entry is a list of the Unacceptable Targets in professional wrestling. Most Smart Mark fans will not tolerate any negative comments about the following wrestling figures, even if it's as minor as "I don't like this person":
Other wrestlers are mixed bags, but there are still some rules on what you can and cannot say about them:
Few people will ever say anything negative about Vince McMahon's overall revolutionizing of the business, running of the company up until The New '10s, and his heel character "Mr. McMahon". Defending Vince's recent handling of WWE, however, or the face version of Mr. McMahon, is not advised.
You can talk positively about Triple H if it's about his wrestling career from 1997 to 2001 or how great he is at running NXT But never ever say anything positive about his 2002-2005 heel run aka. the "Reign of Terror", unless it's about the very few times he put someone else over during that period.
Whether or not you are a fan of Doink the Clown's heel run, never say that he was a better face than heel. It's actually best you refrain from saying anything positive about his face run. The same can be said of R-Truth.
You might be able to get away with talking positively about Lex Luger's work in WCW, but definitely not his time in the WWF.
The Sin Cara gimmick is very much a Love It or Hate It affair, but even the gimmick's biggest critics rarely ever consider Místico to be a bad wrestler, just that he had a hard time adapting to WWE's format. Hunico isn't seen quite in the same positive light as Mistico, but most people agree he was a much better Sin Cara.
Kane is one of WWE's biggest legends and should rarely be talked about negatively (unless you're talking about Katie Vick, but fans won't usually have him take the blame for it). But don't talk positively about "Corporate Kane", and never, ever say you're a fan of his tag team with the Big Show.
Randy Orton is very much a Base-Breaking Character, but fans will universally agree on two things thing: the "Eddie's in Hell" comment was offensive and tasteless, and he should not have won the World Heavyweight Championship from Christian immediately following the latter's first title win at Extreme Rules. Anyone who says otherwise will be torn apart.
Batista may not be the most popular wrestler on the internet, but most fans will at least tolerate those who like him — but never, ever say that he deserved to win the Royal Rumble in 2014 over excluded-from-the-match Daniel Bryan.
The Shield are a sacred stable to WWE fans, and criticizing them is not advised in any way. It's a different story for their individual members: while it's very ill-advised to say anything negative about Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose, despite a recent wave of backlash, is still liked by most fans, Roman Reigns is near-universally hated.
The only rule on JBL is that you shouldn't talk positive on his return to commentary in 2012.
You can say Jeff Jarrett was a good wrestler in WCW and WWF, but it's best not to talk positive about his running of TNA and GFW.
Mark Henry: On one hand, don't you dare say you liked his angle with Mae Young. On the other, do not say you didn't like his 2011 "Hall of Pain" run or his "fake retirement" promo from 2013.
LayCool: The careers of Michelle McCool and Layla are generally looked at positively and their work as a duo gets mixed reactions (with most of the criticism being due to the former's marriage to the Undertaker), but never talk positively about the "Piggie James" storyline.
Paige falls firmly under the Love It or Hate It category, but there are two things about her that are pretty much universally hated, her offensive and tastelessTake That! towards Charlotte's late brother Reid Flair in a promo and her real-life relationship with the reviled Alberto Del Rio (while the latter is ultimately a personal matter, the relationship has caused so many professional and personal scandals for both that many agree that it could cause big time problems for everyone.)
A small, but vocal portion of the online fanbase will become enraged if you say that Chris Benoit doesn't deserve to be in the WWE Hall of Fame. Even though his accomplishments in the ring definitely warrant a Hall of Fame induction and saying otherwise is not a good idea, these fans are either unable or unwilling to accept that killing his wife, son and finally himself undoes all of the good things he did in his career in the eyes of the public. Many of these fans will try and defend or excuse his behavior due to the fact that he was discovered to have severe dementia after his death, and some adamantly believe that Benoit was innocent and framed by Kevin Sullivan, his wife's ex-husband, even though there is little-to-no proof that either claim could be true. But we shouldn't discuss that here.
Between 2006 and 2014, John Cena was easily the most hated man in wrestling (at least in the adult male demographic; kids and women loved him), but his 2003-2004 run as the Doctor of Thugonomics and his work from 2015 onwards should not ever be trashed. And even those who don't like his in-ring work tend to respect the time he puts in with the Make A Wish Foundation.
WWE NXT and the WWE Cruiserweight Classic tournament are both considered Sacred Cattle among hardcore wrestling fans. Say something even slightly derogatory about them. Go ahead, we dare you. Though you might get a pass for mocking the former if you're specifically referring to its old "fake elimination tournament" format.