Professional Wrestling

"Tonight, the arena is sold out. A dozen shades of gray will square off in a pageantry of war. The opponents are unlikely in the real world, but in the amphitheater of our imagination, they're well matched. The punk rockers will battle the mountain men.note  The black separatists will fight the post-apocalyptic warriors. The gang-banger will rumble with the aristocrat. The futurenote  will struggle with the past, and the living will duel with the dead. In the end, just like a good Soap Opera, no issues will be resolved; the story is "To Be Continued". The combatants will live to fight another night, in another town. Is wrestling fake? Absolutely. It's as fake as your imagination, as phony as your daydreams."
Steve Allen, The Unreal Story of Professional Wrestling

Professional Wrestling, as the term is understood today, is a form of scripted "sports entertainment" in which athletes face off in loosely choreographed matches with pre-determined outcomes, in a manner resembling a type of freestyle combat loosely based on Greco-Roman wrestling. Modern professional wrestling derived from "Lancashire catch-as-catch-can", a grappling style developed by carnival promoters in late 19th century Britain, which soon gained popularity in America as a legitimate form of athletic competition. By the early years of the 20th centurynote , the sport had evolved into a "work" where the winners of bouts were determined ahead of time by the organizers. From this arrangement, a system gradually evolved of numerous territorial wrestling leagues across the US, cooperating under the auspices of the National Wrestling Alliance (which the WWE, WCW, ECW, and almost every major promotion in North American and some outside of it were affiliated with at one point), which sponsored the world championship and other titles, picked the champions, and arranged for the top talent from the territories to go on tour and gain national exposure. In 1963 the Capitol Wrestling Corporation, once the NWA's New England territory, split from the group, rechristened itself the Worldwide Wrestling Federation (later the WWF/WWE), and over the following decades expanded on a national scale to create the wrestling industry as it exists today.

Pro wrestling is usually full of concepts from different types of shows. Each match is roughly choreographed (though not usually in much detail since wrestlers don't have much rehearsal time, let alone for whole matches, given that they wrestle twenty-eight days per month on average—most of a match's details will be improvised, with only the beginning, the end, and few key "spots" in between specifically planned; the mark of a good wrestler is being able to make match flow naturally despite the lack of more than a rough outline of the plan). World Wrestling Entertainment's programs remind one of nothing so much as a Soap Opera for guys, complete with all the emotion, melodrama, and occasional comic relief that the phrase implies. Other organizations, such as Ring of Honor, strive for a more gritty, realistic presentation, but still incorporate many soap opera elements.

The history of pro wrestling is a bit convoluted; until the late '80s/early '90s, promoters claimed that wrestling was a legitimate sport, and attempted to hide the fact that it was scripted at all costs. The truth is the performances are as standardized and stylized as Japanese Kabuki theatre, or Commedia dell'Arte — each match is a miniature set piece, using stock characters, "plots" and "twists". This has become more obvious in recent years with the increased sense of theatre provided by the major promoters and programs. As more and more wrestling fans grew wise to the fact that wrestling was scripted and choreographed, promoters had no choice but to reveal the secret that everybody already knew by that point anyway. Vince McMahon went so far as to televise a speech on an episode of Monday Night Raw, in which he promised to "stop insulting (fans') intelligence" and referred to Raw as an "action-adventure" series.

All wrestling organizations will have a "booker", or person who decides which wrestlers are going over on any given "card" or event. The larger wrestling organizations will have full booking teams, made of bookers (who help wrestlers lay out the matches) and scriptwriters (who tell the bookers the companies' long-term goals with the storylines). These are often called the "creative teams", or simply just "creative" (as in "Creative has no ideas for your character at the moment"). Booking wrestling matches and storylines is a difficult skill; most of the boom times for wrestling can largely be accounted for through good booking of matches. Poor booking can be disastrous: WCW was literally destroyed through terrible creative decisions, first under the stewardship of Vince Russo and a few others, then through the WWE's terrible "Invasion" vanity trip.

However, as many Sitcom plots (and Botchamania) have implied, Professional Wrestling is very real in the sense that mistimed inexperience can leave someone seriously injured. Professional wrestlers are like stuntmen; they're acting out a scene, but physically, and with the chance of injury, not to mention they get no second takes. And whatever you may have heard, they do hit each other, although their moves are generally designed to seem much more devastating than they are, and they avoid harm whenever they feasibly can without it looking too obvious. A professional wrestler literally puts his life in his opponent's hands several times in a single match; the slightest misstep could result in a broken bone, a broken neck, paralysis, possibly even death. Don't Try This at Home.

If you see a word you don't understand, it may be helpful to refer to these links:

Now has a Useful Notes page that attempts to debunk the nasty stereotypes about the business. Not that it will work.

Thanks to the various wrestling related Tropes that have been named, it now has its own page.

We are always open for new pages about wrestling. See this page for a list of page requests.

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    Tropes Examples A-Z 
  • 10-Minute Retirement: The cliche is true. Old wrestlers never retire. Even if they're not that personally invested in pro wrestling, even if their knees turn to powder, even if have a profitable side-business going (like Sting), they'll be back. Every time.
    • "Retirement" matches in professional wrestling rarely stick. Furthermore, declarations of retirement often give way to part time work in the business part time or otherwise become less extensive than initially suggested more times than not. (Sometimes for money reason, sometimes just for the love athletes have for their sport)
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality:
    • None of these televised wrestling matches seem to end when the show goes to commercial. But if they did, it would be really aggravating.
    • This story will continue shortly, but first, a disco interlude!
    • A common tactic of the Southern promotions: "We'll keep the tape machines rolling, and if this match finishes while we're in commercial, you'll see what happened!" (See above, with the few exceptions below.)
    • It happened ONE time on an early edition of WWF Raw when Mr. Perfect beat Rick Martel during a commercial break. They quickly replayed the finish when the show resumed.
      • It also happened on a 2011 episode of Smackdown when Mark Henry was legitimately injured during a match and they had to improvise a countout finish.
      • Although, since the advent of the WWE App showing the match continuing through the break, there have been a couple of instances of this happening (Though usually with lower-tier talent).
      • Kofi beat Cesaro during an ad break in 2014 as part of promoting the WWE Network. Only people watching the live stream saw the finish of the match.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: It's quite common that wrestlers, usually the heels, will insult or intimidate interviewers for asking obvious questions.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: All the time.
  • B Show:
    • With non-televised events (often known as "house shows"), a B-Show roster is comprised of middle- and lower-level talent of a wrestling promotion, and can sometimes include well-known wrestlers making a comeback, finishing a career or making a special appearance. These shows will perform either in smaller markets – often, new ones being tested – or in established markets on the same night that the A-Show roster is performing in another market. Secondary individual title matches, or sometimes matches for the tag team titles, are often considered the main event, although 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.
    • Xplosion to Impact, Thunder to Nitro. People often cite Smackdown as a B-Show compared to RAW, but it's more like a second A-Show in terms of this trope.
    • The modern ECW was almost a middle ground of this trope while ECW was a WWE television brand. It had its own storylines and World title and was considered an actual brand that is given PPV time, but its main purpose was to get talent ready for the A shows by giving them television experience and having them work with seasoned veterans such as William Regal, Tommy Dreamer, Finlay, etc.
      • A context now given to WWE Developmental Program WWE NXT in Florida.
    • Velocity and Heat were B Shows to Smack Down! and RAW respectively.
    • WWE Main Event and WWE Superstars are both considered the B show to both Smackdown! and Raw. WWE NXT could be thrown in there too, even though these days it's a show for their developmental talent.
    • Back in the day, WWF Wrestling Challenge was considered the B show to WWF Superstars of Wrestling, in that most of the major angles began on and title changes were aired on Superstars, although Challenge would always air noteworthy segments.
  • Backhanded Apology: Standard part of the Trash Talk.
  • Backyard Wrestling: A profession not widely respected among traditional promotions but many of wrestling's biggest stars started out this way, such as The Hardy Boys. More literally, some "falls count anywhere" matches have ended up in actual backyards.
  • Badass
    • Take your pick, Stone Cold, Taz, Goldberg, Lesnar...
  • Badass Grandpa:
  • Balls of Steel:
    • This trope was used once when Chyna was wrestling Road Dogg and he wore a cup.
    • Part of indy wrestler The Human Tornado's gimmick was that he absolutely no-sold all groin shots - in fact it was more likely that his opponent would hurt him/herself trying one.
    • Azusa Kudo, of FMW, was able to shrug off any and all groin shots due to his gimmick being a post-op transsexual.
  • Bears Are Bad News: "The wrestling bear" gimmick goes back to at least the 1930s with Ginger. Usually the matches are actually against the bear's trainer, who will use the bear to threaten the heels who mess with him, but some men such as Willie Williams and Kamala actually did wrestle the animal itself. Williams won.
  • Beauty Is Bad: Female wrestlers who are pretty usually have to work extra hard to prove themselves as wrestlers and even then they will get hated purely because they are pretty. God help them if they have ever done even a bit of modelling. Women wrestlers who aren't conventionally beautiful usually get a free pass and are considered wrestlers regardless of whatever experience they have. This can sometimes cross over into the men's divisions with the guys getting called "gay" and "pretty boys".
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • Used to varying degrees with woman wrestlers. WWE and TNA's women never bleed on purpose, by contrast Japanese women brutalise each other just as much as the men. Averted occasionally, particularly in 2002-03 in WWE where there were a lot of women's hardcore matches and the likes of Victoria and Trish Stratus bled quite a lot. Roxxi in TNA is another aversion.
    • Also somewhat averted in a 2010 TNA match between Daffney and Tara, which was a First Blood Match. Only somewhat because at the conclusion of that match there was only a tiny trickle of blood.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Originated in WWE (WHAT?!) by Stone Cold Steve Austin (WHAT?!), this has become a fan chant (WHAT?!) at WWE events. (WHAT?!)
  • Blasphemous Praise:
    • WWE billing Triple H as "King of Kings," seeing as how it is a title normally given to Jesus.
    • Some people started bringing signs saying "Foley is God." He expressed his preference for them not to do that so the signs changed to "Foley is Good," which became the title of his second memoir.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: See:MacGuffin entry below.
  • Brains: Evil; Brawn: Good:
    • Most face/heel rivalries in Professional Wrestling play out like this, with most of the drama centered around the heel cheating and tricking his way to victory against a more powerful and/or skilled babyface. Whereas a heel who's legitimately skilled gets cheered a lot of the time, the heel still gets booed because the fans know he doesn't "deserve" to keep winning and are waiting until he finally gets demolished.
    • Prominent examples (as heels, of course):
      • Ric Flair
      • Chris Jericho
      • The Miz
      • Jerry Lawler was pretty much the Ric Flair of Memphis.
      • Triple H is a perfect example of both. As a heel, he can't win a match clean to save his life, yet as a face, all he needs are his fists and maybe a sledgehammer in order to take out the rest of the roster.
    • A variant specific to tag team matches, and forming the standard psychology for most of them: The heel team is more skilled at actual tag team wrestling, isolating one face and utilizing numerous (often illegal) tag team maneuvers. This builds tension for the Hot Tag, whereupon the fresh babyface finally tags in and demolishes the heels singlehandedly.
  • Breakup Breakout: Though the USA, WWE in particular, is notorious for its attempts to invoke this trope often backfiring.
  • C-List Fodder: Despite this trope involving almost exclusively lower-tier stars of a promotion, it's not as bad as one might think it may be. Often, these shows are run in smaller (or new) markets, are almost always anchored by one or two bigger-name stars (to draw fan interest and guide the younger wrestlers), and provide opportunities for the lower-rung wrestlers to work and improve skills. Secondary and tag team titles are often contested, often with lower-tier wrestlers getting opportunities they would never get on the A Show, as are unique stipulation matches. Matches against local talent are often contested as well. And the cameras may be rolling, as to capture an unexpected storyline development or title change but more often than not to allow promoters and trainers a chance to evaluate their wrestlers and use it as a learning tool. With all of this in mind, being "C-List Fodder" isn't always a bad thing.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Whether from a single catastrophic injury or years of wear and tear, a wrestler's retirement is almost inevitably due to one of these: Hayabusa (botched springboard moonsault into a broken neck), Darren Drozdov (botched running powerbomb into a broken neck), Steve Austin (botched piledriver into a broken neck), Ted DiBiase (neck injury), Bret Hart (multiple concussions), the list is almost endless.
    • While real-life career-ending injuries frequently happen, the use of "career-ending" injuries is sometimes used in kayfabe, often to build drama with the involved wrestlers. If such is the case, it will be to allow the wrestlers time off - often to heal from actual injuries or to simply take time off. One example is Ricky Steamboat, who suffered a "career-ending injury" in late 1986 as part of his feud with Randy Savage.
  • Cat Fight: Something of a staple of women's matches in the U.S. Audiences love to see a match degenerate into hair-pulling and screaming.
  • Catch Phrase: Some wrestlers can keep a crowd engaged for nearly half an hour on nothing but catchphrases alone. Sometimes the crowd almost seems to force a catchphrase on a wrestler. Some wrestlers, like Vickie Guerrero only have one catchphrase; some, like Daniel Bryan have multiple catchphrases but one completely overshadows the rest, while others like "Stone Cold" Steve Austin have many equally well-known catchphrases. Many wrestlers, such as Ron Simmons and Daniel Bryan, are more known for their catchphrase than anything else about them.
  • The Character Died with Him:
    • Sadly, this is starting to become true as of late, as professional wrestlers nowadays seem to have very short lifespans: an enlarged heart, fibromyalgia, prescription pill and cocaine addiction, PCS, neck, back and knee surgeries all contribute to wrestlers in their forties having the bodies of 70-year-olds. Hence why many of the greats from the 1980s have already departed.
      Shane Douglas: Once again I sit here at my computer to write my epitaph of a close friend, co-worker, and pioneer. I guess that, due to the sick nature of our business, this will be a never-ending responsibility.
    • Wrestling has had a number of high-profile deaths that seem to come out of nowhere, most notably Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero. Certainly fans are now conditioned to expect any wrestler to die at any time.
    • Not to mention the fact that, tragically, accidents can happen when stunts are performed in a ridiculously unsafe manner.
    • To their credit, the WWE has worked hard in making their company more safe, from eliminating chair shots to the head (which wrestlers like Shelton Benjamin have stated can cause headaches for up to a week) to a stricter drug policy.
      • According to WWE themselves, Triple H and The Undertaker (two of their biggest names) were both fined after Triple H hit 'Taker in the head with a chair during their match at WrestleMania XXVII. To put this in perspective, at the time of that event, Triple H was an executive vice president in the company as well as the son-in-law of the owner while Undertaker was their most veteran performer with among the largest amounts of influence (in his biggest storyline match (and about his only one left!) every year — The Pursuit To End The Streak). So they took the health of their performers so seriously, they were willing to fine people that would be otherwise untouchable and who they would otherwise be adverse to insulting.
    • After the passing of Randy Savage, a report was put out that showed over 25% of performers from WrestleMania VII in 1991 were dead. At 58, Randy Savage had lived over 10 years longer than the other deceased.
    • CM Punk lampshaded this trope on the 7/11/11 edition of RAW:
      CM Punk: In the real world, the WWE has always gotten a mention or two for two reasons— the first one being that CM Punk is speaking his mind; the second one is because somebody died.
  • Cheap Heat: It's real easy to come out, act like an arrogant prick, mock the local sports teams and get booed.
  • Chickification:
    • Happens to women wrestlers often when promoted from a indie promotion to a major one and or because of a poorly-executed gimmick change.
    • Chyna started in the WWF looking very manly, and could hold her own with male wrestlers such as Kane, X-Pac, and Chris Jericho. Over the years, she had more and more surgery to make herself look more feminine and moved towards fighting women. She's now out of the wrestling business and makes a living as a porn actress, which is just too telling.
    • The women's division itself in the WWF/E at one point went through this. Many members of the female roster weren't actual trained wrestlers, but rather models/actresses who then became wrestlers, and, as a result, were rarely the best in-ring performers (Trish Stratus is known for averting this). In the 2010s, though, (especially during the 2015 "Divas Revolution"), WWE appears to be averting the trope. In mid-late 2015, there have been many shows with multiple Divas matches, whereas at one point, the company could go multiple shows with no Divas matches.
  • The Consigliere: Managers, while reluctant to actually set foot in the ring (usually), act as hypemen and ringside plants. Unfailingly cowardly, they will either interfere in matches or jeer the babyfaces from the safety of the commentator table.
  • Cool Old Guy: Any wrestler who's in their late 40s or older, but can still kick ass and take a beating. Embodied by the one and only Funker himself, Terry Funk.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The technical term for this in pro wrestling circles is a "squash match". Not nearly as common nowdays as it was in the 80's, when most televised matches consisted of a star wrestler pitted against a hopeless "jobber"/"enhancement talent" who would be destroyed in a matter of minutes without offering any offence at all. Still occasionally happens in modern times, especially if a wrestler is being given a "Goldberg push."
    • Perhaps the two biggest examples are WrestleMania 1 where King Kong Bundy beat SD Jones in 27 seconds (although the announcers said the match ended in under 10) and SummerSlam 1988 where Ultimate Warrior defeated The Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental Championship in under 2 minutes to end a 15 month championship reign.
    • The difference here is that a wrestler can be curbstomped and still "win", such as when Batista totaled Chris Benoit on Monday Night Raw but was disqualified for refusing to relent while Benoit was tied up in the ropes or Paul Burchil's literal curb stomping of Mr. Kennedy. They do not lose as much credibility this way and at times makes the curbstomper look incompetent for ultimately being unable to do their job (win matches) correctly.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: When a wrestler performs a finisher during a match, it isn't always enough to end it despite the beating their opponent may have already taken beforehand, yet if a wrestler performs a finisher outside of a match the victim often stays down for a very long time.
  • Demoted to Extra: The pro-wrestling term for this is "getting buried".
    • Random shifts in alignment can also cause this. The theme of "a wrestler well-respected by fans who would honestly prefer to cheer someone who does high risk moves than boo them" would become a staple of the Sports Entertainment genre.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable:
    • Hulk Hogan defeating Andre The Giant at WrestleMania III was viewed as this.
    • Whether or not Bill Goldberg has ever been pinned cleanly is up for debate (mostly due to the issue of semantics regarding the word "cleanly").
    • The Undertaker at WrestleMania. Started at Wrestlemania VII and went to XXX.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The Montreal Screwjob is the most infamous example. The "Dusty Finish" is probably the most common.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: Can happen alongside Breakup Breakout.
  • Do Not Call Me Paul: Triple H and The Big Show have both said this to fans that have called them by their birth names. If you meet a wrestler, it is considered proper etiquette to address them by their ring name. According to some sources, this even applies to new wrestlers— if Undertaker introduces himself to you and says "I'm The Undertaker," don't call him "Mark" or "Calaway." Call him "Undertaker."
  • Double Standard: Many, usually invoked by heels, such as the "Piggie James" angle. People were outraged at Michelle and Layla making fun of Mickie's weight and anyone who called Mickie overweight on the IWC was immediately vilified. Yet many people started cruelly calling Michelle "Skeletor" on the internet and calling her underfed and a stick insect. Anorexia is just as big a problem as obesity and Michelle has struggled with anorexia in the past.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The pro wrestling term for this trope is called Popular Heel. CM Punk, The Road Warriors, Chris Jericho, and on and on and on... some wrestlers are so good at what they do that their villainous actions are ignored, and the crowd cheers for them anyway.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Most wrestlers go through several looks or gimmicks before hitting superstardom. A select few are so dramatically different it's hard to believe they're the same person. See Scott Hall's Hulk-like physique and mustache in AWA, or "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's long blond hair in World Class Championship Wrestling.
  • Easily Distracted Referee: It is a job requirement for any referee in pro-wrestling to be easily distracted, and exacerbating the circumstance is that a referee will rarely make a call based on something he didn't see (even if he's detained with one wrestler in a one-on-one match, there's a sound of steel hitting flesh somewhere behind him, and suddenly the other wrestler is unconscious— Eddie Guerrero would take advantage of this fact many times during his career).
  • Engrish: Japanese promotion names such as Wrestle And Romance (later Wrestle Association R) and Big Mouth Loud. American wrestlers/promoters/reporters who never learned Japanese often find themselves speaking in broken English when they're with Japanese wrestlers.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Thanks to The Rock.
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: Known to fans as "Evil Foreigners" and not all evil foreigners are heels, Kaientai turning face but still being evil.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • Rosey, Super-Hero In Training.
    • Also, in WCW for a short time, Lance Storm held the Saskatchewan Hardcore International Title.
    • Terri Runnels also ran the Terri Invitational Tournament in 1999.
    • TNA. That is all.
    • Terri, Jacqueline, and Ryan Shamrock: the Pretty Mean Sisters.
  • The Gambler:
    • Kinda. Wrestling had a performer called The Gambler, but he wasn't very lucky.
    • An old gimmick of Kevin Nash in was that of "Vinnie Vegas," a fast talking conman and gambler. His finisher (now used as one of The Undertaker's Five Moves of Doom) was "Snake Eyes" (dropping your opponent face-first onto a turnbuckle).
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Submission artists employ this tactic all the time. They will use a variety of locks and holds that target a specific part of the human body until their opponent can no longer make use of the limb in question. Not actually referring to Triple H's quad tears.
  • George Jetson Job Security:
    • In the USA, the major promotions treat their talent as "free agents" and so can fire and hire them much easier than most other employers (though they often get away with working these "free agents" just as hard as any employee).
    • Also true In-Universe. Some wrestling characters have been "fired" in kayfabe and rehired several times ("Stone Cold" Steve Austin is probably the best example— he's been arrested on WWE television many times). Even if the storyline is that they are absolutely and permanently fired, there's a pretty good chance it's not going to be their last match or appearance.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The Great Khali, for all his poor wrestling ability, was massively popular in his home land of India.
  • Good Is Dumb:
    • Generally played straight, although occasionally subverted. Batista, who turned face when he heard his stablemates plotting against him and who displayed above average keenness as a face, is the biggest of those (Triple H even told Flair, during said plotting, that Batista isn't very smart).
    • The most egregious example? Sting, who is commonly referred to as "The dumbest man in wrestling." Although, he's averted it mightily over his years in TNA.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Naturally, since hamminess is any wrestler's stock in trade.
  • Harpo Does Something Funny: The format of most wrestling promos.
  • Hello, Nurse!: The main purpose of valets was distracting referees at first but they later became more physically involved in matches.
  • Hope Spot: Spot being a professional wrestling term, there is bound to be at least one of these on any given wrestling show. Oh sure, we known Kurt Angle is unlikely to lose to Eugene since he's already been announced to be in an upcoming match against WWE Champion John Cena, posters and pre-orders all ready but that doesn't mean Eugene is not going to get any two counts before its over.
  • Hot-Blooded: The exception here for a long time were the Japanese fans, known for politely sitting with their hands clasped and maybe giving light applause every now and then, unless your were Inoki, Chigusa or something. The wrestlers by consequence tended to scream and no sell more than elsewhere to make up the difference.
  • How Much More Can He Take: Its generally agreed that "legit" professional wrestling matches started to fall out of favor in 1876 after a Collar and Elbow style match between Jacob H Martin and James Hiram McLaughlin went on for six hours without a decisive winner at Whitney's Opera House in Detroit, Michigan on June 29th of that year. By working matches, you could keep long matches interesting and ensure they never went on that long without depriving anyone a winner.
  • Ho Yay: While virtually everything about wrestling is this, special mention should go to old video packages meant to showcase tag teams to female audiences.
  • HSQ: Often exclaimed by the crowd chanting "HOLY SHIT!" or "E C DUB!"
  • I Have the High Ground: High fliers often use the ropes to propel themselves into some pretty awesome moves.
  • Incoming Ham: Any wrestler with entrance music. Bonus points if that music opens with said wrestler's catch phrase, or some kind of loud sound effect (Steve Austin's easily being the most prominent example).
  • Invincible Hero:
    • A complaint most infamously leveled against Hulk Hogan, and later at John Cena. Tends to get invoked against any Face champion who is dominant enough, though.
    • Triple H, from 2002-2005. Ditto for Jeff Jarrett from 2003-2006, so much that fans called him "Triple J" and chanted for him to "DROP THE TITLE!" whenever he appeared.
    • The Ultimate Warrior is arguably the prime example of this trope. He only has a handful of clean losses on record. Not even Hulk Hogan could stop him (without cheating).
    • Bill Goldberg plays the trope straight, but was rarely vilified for it. In fact, his 170-plus-match winning streak in WCW was one of the reasons the company was so popular.
  • Improbable Weapon User: There is no farm implement, piece of furniture, musical instrument, or article of clothing that hasn't doubled as a weapon at least once (probably twice — nothing original in wrestling):
  • It's Personal: Okay, try finding a promotional package for any given wrestling event that does not hype a personal feud.
  • Just Friends:
    • This trope often plays out between a valet/manager, the wrestler who is romantically entangled with said valet, and a 3rd person who is often the wrestler being managed by the valet or someone who keeps rescuing the valet from attacks by opponents of the boy/girlfriend.
    • Triple H, Kurt Angle and Stephanie McMahon name dropped the trope several times when Triple H became jealous of the attention Kurt and Stephanie were paying each other when Kurt kept saving Stephanie from The Rock. Of course, it resulted in a triple threat match with The Rock for the WWF Championship, at SummerSlam in 2000.
  • Large Ham: Mostly the wrestlers, but more than a few of the announcers are guilty of this, especially when dealing with a wrestler or faction they show particular favoritism towards. If a wrestler can't talk, he is often given a manager who can.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Wrestling on TV is seemingly made of this, with the males are Mr. Fanservice and Walking Shirtless Scene, and the females are Stripperific and/or Ms. Fanservice.
  • Leotard of Power: An older wrestling costume design that still shows up nowadays every once in a while.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Have you seen the build-up to some of these high-profile matches? CMLL's Super Libre, ROH's Fight Without Honor and EVOLVE's End Of Evolution are more so agreements to not fight like Gentlemen.
  • Living Legend: Bruno Sammartino was called "The Living Legend." Larry Zbyszko appropriated the name as "The New Living Legend" during a feud. Chris Jericho referred to himself as a living legend during his Undisputed WWF championship reign after he unified the WWF and WCW world titles. Other wrestlers/workers who have been labeled (unofficially) as such: Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Jim Ross, John Cena, The Rock.
  • Lovable Rogue: The Rock, Ric Flair, Eddie Guerrero at the end of his life.
  • Made of Iron: Pretty much anyone who steps in the ring. After all, just cause the action is staged doesn't mean the hits don't hurt like hell (which is a common misconception among the "You know it's fake, right?" crowd). A wrestler who can't take a lot of punishment is in the wrong line of work.
  • Masked Luchador: See Cool Mask.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Three-way matches, called, depending on the promotion and stipulations, a "Three Way Dance" or a "Triple Threat."
  • Monster Clown: Doink The Clown's shtick while a heel.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless:
    • Somewhat surprisingly, you don't have to have tremendous physical strength to execute a number of non-luchador moves. Part of this is the fact that a large number of moves require (or are more safely performed with) the cooperation of the person getting slammed or what have you.
    • Take Shawn Michaels, for instance. He looked pretty scrawny compared to most other main-eventers, but he could still execute a scoop slam on the 270-pound Triple H. Stacy Keibler, ditto.
    • Triple H is a great example. During his career, he's stood roughly 6'4, weighing around 270 pounds and is as muscular as almost any other wrestler you can think of. Despite this, he doesn't use power moves and isn't billed as being any stronger than the average male wrestler.
    • Cesaro averts the trope. He's roughly average-sized (but extremely toned) for a wrestler, but was at one point able to lift The Big Show for a scoop slam over the top rope to win a Battle Royal.
    • Taz(z) is an aversion as well. A stout 5'9, 230 or so pounds, he was known as The Human Suplex Machine, and would make a habit of throwing around men much larger than he.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: "Foolish child! I am the eater of worlds!", "I'm the Boogeyman, and I'm coming to get ya!"
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast:
    • Abdullah the Butcher, The Boogeyman, The Undertaker, Psicosis, Kane, The Dungeon of Doom... it never ends.
    • Santino Marella was smacked around legitimately by Jim Cornette for ignoring this meme on the second guy — for which Cornette was fired.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Mention you like wrestling around a group of people, and someone will tell you the not-so-surprising news that wrestling is fake. Played straight, as they will seriously think you're not aware of this.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Employed against faces to build heat, and against heels when they get their comeuppance.
  • No Such Thing as H.R.: A contract dispute with the boss? A love triangle with another wrestler and his girl? Suspicions of trying to stage a hostile takeover of the company? There's only way to settle something like that... in the ring!
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: The mantra of Gorgeous George and practiced by heels everywhere.
  • Oh Crap!: Typically seen when the Heel finally comes face to face with a Face he's been trying to avoid... or when just about anyone goes one on one with The Undertaker (although, in kayfabe, many wrestlers attempt to avert the trope against Undertaker, so as not to allow him to be fueled by their fear).
  • Older Than Dirt: Wrestling is the oldest game/sport in the world. Modern Professional Wrestling is at least older than television, with some arguing it to be as old as radio. There is evidence of worked matches as far back as the mid 1800s though until 1920 its impossible to tell just how much was legit or worked.
  • Painted-On Pants: Traditionally associated with lady wrestlers but it has become more common on men as time goes on.
  • Pec Flex: Trust us. This trope is pretty popular in professional wrestling.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Mini-Estrellas, Mexican promotions CMLL and AAA having the most famous rosters of them with Mascarita Sagrada being particularly popular. Anyone under a certain height, most commonly 153 CM, can be a Mini-Estrella. Often times a young mini-estrella will hit a growth spurt and have to leave the division but sometimes short adult, such as a dwarf, will become popular enough to face larger wrestlers too. AAA even had a "mascot" division made up of tag teams of a large wrestler and a mini version of himself or sometimes a small wrestler and a larger version of himself.
  • Popularity Power: Wrestling runs on the fans taking an interest in you rather than liking you. It's an old expression among wrestlers that "it doesn't matter if the fans love you or hate you, as long as they care". John Cena is arguably the codifier for this concept.
    DDT: For you gamers out there, I was playing Diablo II the other day and fought the main boss (named Diablo, oddly enough)...I had the fight well in hand. That is, until Diablo got all pissy and broke script, shooting on me with a vicious lightning attack that nearly laid me out legit. I ended up running away so I could suck down some healing potions. Since I was the top face of the promotion, though, I came back and beat the tar out of Diablo for trying to do a Paul Roma '95 on me. I've since been told after the battle that Diablo mouthed off to the bookers backstage and was quickly fired for his unprofessionalism in doing the job. If you're wanting to know where you can see Diablo, look in shareware the indies.
  • Power Stable: Usually a group of bad guys who get together to help each other win matches, though they can form for other reasons, such as Drew Gulak's campaign to sanitize CZW or Right To Censor enforcing censorship on the WWF.
  • Power Trio: While they have probably always existed in Professional Wrestling to some capacity, it was the Mexican UWA who oversaw Lucha Libre Internacional that introduced a division and title for "tercias matches" or trios, which was quickly copied by other organization all around the world.
  • Prejudiced For Pecs:
    • Professional wrestling is notorious for the difficulty "small" (as in averaged sized) people have making a break in it. Perhaps the most famous example is Jushin Thunder Liger, whom dojos in Japan refused to train after deeming him 'diminutive' despite his height being the national average. A later example would be the Minnesota Stretching Crew, both members of which had the same strength and weakness as performers (highly athletic, charisma deficient) with Shelton Benjamin having the higher work rate of the two. Brock Lesnar was larger though, so he got pushed immediately after their breakup and got to go over Shelton multiple times when they were at odds.
    • Being a big dude is half the battle. On his podcasts, Steve Austin said that someone once advised him: "This business is all about big upper bodies. So long as you're still in proportion, no one will care", and Hogan was once quoted as saying, "big arms equals big paychecks." Look at all the stars from the late 80s and early 90s, and they've all got wide shoulders, big chests, huge arms and—with the exception of a few—not-great legs. Since the business used to be about Greek-style godlike humans (albeit with porn-caliber acting) going to war, most of the guys where big, over the top, and blond-haired. That all changed due to the Attitude era and the influence of ECW, though you can still see it today with guys like John Cena and Rob Terry.
    • That's why Vince McMahon is always trying to get Cena over, and why Vince put on a shit-ton of muscle when he got into the ring for the first time.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: The basis of Hulk Hogan's comeback spot, Sting too. Also used by many monstrous/supernatural wrestlers, such as Kane and The Undertaker).
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: For all we know, WWE may have INVENTED this trope. Just ask The Rock ("If ya suh-mellllll....what the!") or Booker T ("Can you dig it....SUCKA?!) or especially the guy who stamped his whole goddamn meal ticket with this trope ("MMMMMisterrrrrr....Kennedy....KEN-NE-DY!"). It's also a pretty good bet that, at least in WWE, every heavyweight champion will state that he's the "World. Heavyweight. CHAMPION" at least once during his reign.
  • The Quisling:
    • Usually local heels who sides with an Foreign Wrestling Heel.
    • Also, any executive character who sides with a major heel group. Eric Bischoff's heel turn to the NWO on the November 18, 1996 WCW Monday Nitro is likely the first example of this.
    • In CHIKARA, Derek Sabato did this TWICE, as the liaison for the BDK and again for GEKIDO.
  • Rage Quit:
    • Via intentional disqualification (or count out) by the (usually) Heel champion who knows the (usually) Face challenger has them beat. Often leads to a "Title changes hands via DQ (or count out)" stipulation being added to a rematch so as to prevent this.
      • For some reason, Batista comes to mind...
  • Reality Subtext:
    • Wrestlers' real-life issues often provide fodder for their self-based characters' wrestling storylines. One of the most famous examples is the Matt Hardy/Edge feud: Edge stole Matt's girlfriend (Lita) while he was out with an injury (and subsequently released by WWE); when Matt returned, his first feud was with Edge, and much ado was made of the Edge/Lita/Matt triangle.
    • His brother Jeff's drug issues were also used as the basis of Jeff's feud with the Straight Edge CM Punk.
    • The entire Montreal Screwjob.
  • Redemption Demotion: Hey, you're a good guy now and people like you. Too bad you're losing your push as a result.
  • Redemption Promotion: Hey, you're a good guy now and people like you. You're getting a push.
  • Reformed, but Not Tamed: This happens a lot in Darker and Edgier programming where a wrestler who started as a heel will immediately turn into a face due to his popularity with the crowd, but they will still behave the same way they started as a heel. A noticeable example is "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in the late 90's after Bret Hart turned heel at WrestleMania 13. He still get into fights with the faces and will give anyone a Stunner no matter who they are.
  • Ring Oldies: Ric Flair, Terry Funk, Bob Backlund, Abdullah the Butcher...
  • Rule of Cool: If a snapmare was applied the way wrestlers do it in an uncontrolled environment, it would cripple most people. A reverse chinlock can snap tendons in the neck. In professional wrestling these moves are about as effective as a noogie.
  • Rule of Funny: The purpose of "exoticos" in Lucha Libre, who are more about demasculizing the opponent than hurting him. Several moves such as Delirious's face wash work entirely on this rule.
  • Rule of Three: In pro wrestling, the number three comes up in many instances. A three-count is necessary for a win, many moves are done in threes (triple suplexes, for example). Also, many times, a wrestler will perform three identical strikes in a row as a filler sequence before being countered or transitioning into a follow-up sequence.
  • Self-Deprecation: The Hurricane may be a parody of the almost cartoonish characters of the 80s.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy:
    • It's common for guys and girls in the business to be told they won't succeed or they can't draw for whatever reason, so they don't get booked in storylines or get to have matches, so they don't get over. Sometimes the bookers will throw them a bone and say, "Okay, prove to us you can be a hit with fans," and throw them into a match with no build up and no significance, often against someone it's clear they won't beat (like a midcard champion) so the crowd has no reason to care about the match and will go dead during it, making the bookers think they were right and the wrestler will never be hot, proving they shouldn't get a push, and because the wrestler doesn't get a push they can't get the fans' interest, meaning it's extremely hard for them to break out of this cycle.
    • Aside from happening with individual wrestlers, this same effect can also happen with entire divisions and styles of wrestling - such as Cruiserweight divisions, Women's divisions, or lucha-style wrestling in the USA.
  • Serious Business:
    • There is absolutely no situation that cannot be resolved with a wrestling match on PAY PER VIEW! ORDER NOW!
    • Kayfabe, in the old days, was major Serious Business, with at least one instance of a wrestler losing a court case because he would not break kayfabe, even under oath.
    • Then there's the Fan Dumb. Everything from what qualifies as a "world title" to how seriously wrestling should take itself. The fact that wrestling draws upon the framework of a sport while actually being entertainment creates a lot of this thinking, since fans often try to see some kind of order or hierarchy that doesn't exist.
  • She's Got Legs:
    • Often used with the female manager/valet — which see Miss Elizabeth in the 2-on-3 match at SummerSlam for when used minimally for maximum effect. Taken to the extreme during the Attitude Era (and similar on WCW) with Stacy Keibler (42 inches of "'nuff said").
    • In a rare male example, an anecdote exists that cites the reason for WWE's Mike Mizanin switching from capri shorts to trunks: Vince Mc Mahon thought he had nice legs that he should show off.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Hulk Hogan may have been the Ur-Example, as his Big Damn Heroes moments after matches would inevitably lead to his, not that of the face he had ostensibly run out to save, music being played. The Kliq are pretty much the Trope Codifiers.
  • Spot Monkey: Term to describe a wrestler who does moves simply because they look cool rather than because they make sense at any given moment. They are also known for selling poorly.
  • Slut-Shaming: Zig-zagged sometimes. "Slut" and variations on it are popular chant against heel divas, like in the cases of Eve Torres, Stephanie McMahon, and Lita. At other times, the heels will be prudes (like Right to Censor or Molly Holly) and the faces will be defiantly stripping for the audience.
  • Tag Team: Every tag team match ever, starting with Tiger Daula and Fazul Mohammed vs. Whiskers Savage and Milo Steinborn in Houston, TX on October 2, 1936 and continuing all the way to today. In Mexico it is less "tag" though, as simply touching the floor allows a partner to come in.
  • Take That: Especially during the Monday Night Wars. Most shoots contains these (but not all).
  • Talk Show with Fists: Although "Buddy Rogers' Corner" predated it, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's segment "Piper's Pit" is easily the Trope Codifier and the standard against which all others are compared.
  • The Theme Park Version:
    • In relation to amateur wrestling and mixed martial arts.
    • Literalized by WCW starting in 1993 with the infamous "Disney tapings," when they did huge TV tapings for their syndicated weekend show WCW Worldwide, at a studio at Disney World in Orlando. These tapings served to give away title changes and other storyline developments months in advance, exposing the business and essentially etching everything in stone. This also meant that WCW drew ZERO dollars at the gate.
    • TNA took this even further, doing both their weekly TV show AND their "PPVs" at Universal Studios, also drawing ZERO dollars at the gate.
  • There Are No Female Wrestling Fans
    • And if there are, the assumption is that they're shrieking fangirls who don't know a Sharpshooter from a suplex.
    • Completely and utterly averted and destroyed with All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling. During the '70s and '80s, tag teams like the Beauty Pair and Crush Gals enjoyed massive mainstream popularity among girls to the point where arenas were packed mainly with screaming girls.
    • Also the majority of Hardy Boyz fans were screaming young girls, demonstrated by the massive pops they got whenever they removed their shirts during matches. The likes of Lita and Trish Stratus also proved to draw in hundreds of female fans.
    • Likewise, most wrestler fansite owners are female. Even official ones.
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet: The baby face angrily stomps out to the ring and demands the heel to get his bitch ass out there.
  • Tonight In This Very Ring: Basically short hand for "Soon, you are going to see something we did not advertise prior!"
  • Underwear of Power: You want a list? Too many to count.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Triple H appears to have it since becoming COO of the company. Spike Huber, who was married to Dick The Bruiser's daughter, had it until the divorce, after which Bruiser blacklisted the guy out of the business.
  • Unnecessary Roughness
    • Closed fist, choking, eye pokes, biting, strikes to the groin, using the opponent's clothing for leverage, not giving a clean break from the ring ropes and using foreign objects are grounds for disqualification in professional wrestling.
    • Chikara takes it a step forward with the "castigo excesivo" rule allowing the referee to disqualify based on anything deemed "excessive punishment".
  • Unrelated Brothers: Edge and Christian, The Dudley Boys (who even claimed to be "Twin brothers from different mothers"), etc.
  • Wag the Director: Savvy wrestlers who can no longer work without risk of permanent injury can cultivate other opportunities as a trainer, commentator, or — most ominously — booker. The SOP goes as follows:
    1. pack the roster & booking committee with friends and relatives
    2. bury the undercard with completely ridiculous matches and gimmicks
    3. keep a select few guys protected and book them into the main event constantly
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Most wrestlers.
  • Watch Where You're Going!: Two wrestlers go for a Clothesline or Cross body splash at the same time. Double Knockout ensues.
  • Wild Card: The pro wrestling term for this trope is called Tweener, which previously served as the Trope Namer.
  • World of Badass: Unless you are a referee, announcer or something.
  • World of Ham: Wrestling is home to so many enormous slices of ham. When someone as hammy as John Cena looks fairly normal by comparison, you know you're in a World of Ham.
  • Wrestling Doesn't Pay:
    • The audience isn't the marks, we're the marks — old wrestler's joke.
      Bob Holly: I think wrestling today would be better if Eric Bischoff had managed to buy out WCW and keep it going. Competition is good for the industry and was definitely better for the wrestlers. For a few years, we were in a position to get paid better. I still don't feel we were ever paid entirely fairly. Both companies were making so much money that they could have afforded to pay the boys a lot more...
    • Some try to make their personas more interesting by incorporating a second job. Sometimes it is real, such as Paul Bearer the mortician; sometimes it is just for show, such as Honkey Tonk Man; and sometimes the job pays so poorly that they apply for food stamps, like Jesse Neal.
      Paul Bearer: The promoters are the ones who actually prostitute the young talent. They know how much the kids want to wrestle, and will have them drive for hours, set up their ring and not even offer then a hamburger muchless gas money. It is a damn crying shame, taking advantage of the unknowing just to pad their pocketbooks.
  • You Have to Have Jews
    • Notoriously averted. World Wrestling Entertainment has (at least in recent years) gained a reputation for welcoming athletes of all ethnic backgrounds, except that it's one of the most goyish entertainment franchises in history. In the past 20 years or so, Goldberg (in WCW and WWE) and Raven (Scott Levy) (in ECW and TNA to a degree) are the only prominent Jews to really have reached main event status. Scotty Goldman (a.k.a. Colt Cabana) famously quit the company after enduring anti-Semitic harassment from his trainer, and Paul Heyman has been outspoken in his condemnation of latent anti-Semitism in the wrestling business.
    • Although in this case there is a sensible reason for this, as wrestling events normally occur on Friday, Saturday & Sundays nights, Jews who follow Shabbat simply tend not to become professional wrestlers as they can only work 1/3 of the shows other wrestlers do.
    • However, when Paul Heyman was doing color for Raw in 2001, he made references to being Jewish nearly every week. Perhaps the best was when J.R. asked him if he'd ever had BBQ sauce on a bagel. Or when Paul insisted on calling Albert (Matt "Tensai" Bloom, who himself is Jewish)'s finishing move the Meshuginator every week. He once called Molly Holly a shiksa (a derogatory Yiddish word for a non-Jewish woman, which Molly is.) Jerry Lawler once remarked in the mid 1990s that he thought judo was what bagels were made from. Heyman was also referred to as a "Creative Rabbi" in the Universe 3.0 trailer for WWE '13.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle:
    • Has become a standby for Money in the Bank winners. The big fan-favorite face has just retained his championship title in a grueling effort against all odds - and, often enough, against multiple opponents. Thinking the battle is finally over, he lifts the belt triumphantly above his head to the delirious cheers of the crowd. But....not so fast, bucko! An ominous entrance theme blares over the P.A. and the face's mortal enemy - the promotion's most dastardly heel - struts into the arena carrying his Money in the Bank championship opportunity contract, which he has acquired either fairly or not. The big main-event match starts all over again as the heel cashes in his contract and - following a brave but futile effort by the exhausted face - gets a pinfall to become the new World Champion.
    • Only a couple of people have announced before hand when they would cash in the briefcase and stick to it; the first person being Rob Van Dam, who had a legitimate full-length title match with John Cena at ECW One Night Stand. The second; none other than John Cena, who cashed in his briefcase for a full-length title match with CM Punk on the 1000th episode of WWE Raw. He also became the first to cash in the briefcase and not win the title. Daniel Bryan said after he won Money in the Bank that he would wait and cash it at WrestleMania. Then he became the punching bag for Mark Henry during his feud with The Big Show, and at TLC after Henry's and Show's match cashed his contract in, claiming that the experience had made him realize he may not even make it to WrestleMania, and therefore passing by opportunities presenting themselves right then was foolish.
    • Inverted when CM Punk did this to Edge using the Money in the Bank contract. This time it was the face using the contract at the opportune moment. Punk later lampshades this, stating that had he done it to anyone but Edge, he would have been perceived as the bad guy. Edge had won a title using the exact same tactic twice, so this was seen as karma coming back to bite him.
    • And then hilariously averted in 2011, also by CM Punk, when Alberto Del Rio came down to cash in his contract, CM Punk kicked him in the back of the head before the referee had the chance to ring the bell.

    A Sample Of Pro Wrestling Promotions By Region 



  • Dominican Wrestling Federation [Inactive - 1988-2004]
  • Dominican Wrestling Entertainment [Active - 2008- ]
  • IWA [Defunct - 1994-2012]
  • WWC(Long running Puerto Rican Promotion. [Active - 1973- ]
  • WWL [Active - 2012- ]



  • AAA [Active - 1992- ]
  • CMLL (Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre) [Active - 1933- ]
  • IWRG [Active - 1996- ]
  • LLI\UWA [Defunt - 1975-1995]
  • LLF [Active - 2000- ]
  • Toryumon [Active - 1997- ]


    Pro Wrestlers And Other Industry Figures With Pages 

    Stables and Tag Teams 

     PPVs And Other Events 

     News and Opinion Sources 

    Professional Wrestling in Various Media 

Anime and Manga

Card Games

  • WWE Raw Deal

Comic Books

Fan Fic



Live-Action TV


  • Momoiro Clover Z, an obscure Japanese Idol group whose gimmicks revolve around professional wrestling and Toku, they're even appearing on an actual match as Keiji Mutoh's allies. In return, several NJPW casts also appear as guests in their live concerts.


Tabletop Games

  • WWE: Know Your Role
  • Supers game Aberrant
  • Lucha Libre Hero
  • GURPS: Ring Dreams (a Japanese-only scourcebook about women's professional wrestling)


  • The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

Video Games

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

Alternative Title(s):

Pro Wrestling