Professional Wrestling is very much Serious Business, as any issue, no matter how heinous, threatening, or illegal, can be settled by getting into the ring and fighting it out. In some of the more extreme cases, this can get handwaved, as the commentators will explicitly say that a wrestler "declined to press charges" in order to get his hands on the other wrestler at the Pay-Per-View this Sunday, only $34.95, call your cable or satellite provider to order now!
In Mexico Lucha Libre (as they call it) is more or less a religion.
Oh yes. They actually have a wrestling "mafia" who ensure that match stipulations are enforced. For example, if you lose a "Loser Leaves Town" match, they will make sure that you never wrestle in that town again.
This is referring to the athletic commission in Mexico City, which has retired wrestlers in major roles to help make sure that stipulations in what are essentially stage productions of professional fights are followed to the letter.
The masks. Once a luchador has put on a mask, he NEVER takes it off. And if he's forced to take it off, he can NEVER put it on again (unless he's under Vince McMahon's protection, apparently).
The best example for the mask has got to be legendary Mexican wrestler El Santo, a massively popular guy who wrestled for nearly 50 years, stared in 52 films and had his own comic book, all with his mask on. He removed his mask publicly only once, a year after retirement. He died a week later at the age of 66.
Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio Jr once had a ladder match to determine which man would be granted custody of Rey's son, Dominic, whom Eddie claimed was biologically his. Oh yes.
Lampshaded when the social worker looking after Dominic in the storyline declared that they were both nuts for trying to settle the matter that way.
Kayfabe, at least until the late nineties, was Serious Business for wrestling promoters, many of whom would - as standard - forbid heels and faces from associating with each other in public. Some promoters and wrestlers have gone to insane lengths to keep kayfabe, believing that the industry would collapse if the illusion was broken. WCW was most infamous for its promoters going so far as to lie to their own wrestlers in order to get Enforced Method Acting.
Here's one typical (but ultimately tragic) example of how far promoters would go to keep kayfabe in the early nineties: booker Kevin Sullivan had made his wife (Nancy Sullivan, then known under the ring name "Woman") the (fictional) manager of Chris Benoit. To keep the illusion of this partnership alive, he ordered Nancy and Benoit to travel everywhere together. While they were on the road, they fell in love and Woman left Sullivan for Benoit. Oops!
Ever since then, it has been joked that Sullivan "booked his own divorce". Less funny when you realize that he ultimately also booked his own wife's death.
Triple H broke into Randy Orton's "home", scared a bunch of women (including Orton's "wife"), fought with Orton and caused a lot of destruction, tossed Orton through a window, beat him up some more, and ended the show by getting "arrested". Guess what happened the next week? Triple H was "out on bail", and Orton... declined to press charges in order to get his hands on the other wrestler at the Pay-Per-View in three weeks, only $49.95, call your cable or satellite provider to order now.
This is hardly a brand-new trope. Back in the early 1980s a wrestling promoter with Stampede Wrestling named J.R. Foley ran for mayor of Calgary as part of his shtick. He even took part in debates, making sure to wear cowboy clothes and not one of his usual Hirohito or Hitler costumes (he managed the Big Bad). He came in last.
This is basically the exact setup used to create the foundation for the Brie Bella/Stephanie McMahon match. Brie quits WWE after Stephanie won't stop giving Nikki a hard time, she shows up in the audience one episode of RAW, provokes Stephanie, gets slapped, and Brie has Stephanie arrested. Later on Stephanie gives Brie her job back but Brie only agrees to completely drop the charge against Stephanie if she takes her up on a match at SummerSlam 2014.
There were the feuds between Big Bossman against both The Big Show and Al Snow respectively. In the latter, Boss Man killed Snow's dog and fed him to it as a "Pepper steak." In the former, he went through extreme lengths to ruin Show's life. He mocked him on his father's death, destroyed his father's pocket watch to Show, showed up at his father's funeral, ran the Big Show over, hooked the casket up to the back of his car, and drove off with it with Big Show latched onto it while riding it like a sled. He went on to interrogate his mother to admit that Show was "a bastard and his momma said so" and then caved Show's head in with a hammer. Both of these were settled with a single match in the ring and just accepted that victory as being better than having not had their lives ruined.
Arguably, his 2012 feud with John Cena, as it boils down to Kane hating the message behind Cena's t-shirt ("Rise Above Hate").
Arguably, his next feud with Randy Orton, as it boils down to Kane hating Randy Orton for shaking Kane's hand after a match and stopping Kane from becoming The Devil's Favourite Demon once again. Or something.
There must be a honourable Shout-Out to the traditional British form of the sport, which was a cheap and cheerful form of the game as far removed from the glitzy razamattaz of the American version as it is possible to get. British pro wrestling usually took place on a Saturday afternoon and was screened just before the football results on the Saturday sports show. It was hosted in exotic locations like Batley Town Hall in Yorkshire, and wrestlers with names like Giant Haystacks, Big Daddy and Kendo Nagasaki would pound and pummel each other in front of an audience largely composed of old grannies, possibly the most vicious audience known to man. Kendo Nagasaki, a masked villain, would dread being thrown out of the ring, as the grannies were lethal, kicking, pinching, bruising and bashing, and some going to the lengths of sharpening a ferrule on their umbrellas so as to draw blood when they poked him with it.A long-time star of British wrestling, Mick McManus, belonged to a hardcore tendency who even scorned stage-names and personas, deeming them poncey affectations, preferring to fight with the names God and their parents gave them. The name of Kent Walton, ITV's legendary wrestling commentator, will bring back memories of those long-gone 1970's Saturday afternoons to British people of the right age...
Another British association with the game: Louis Theroux, a long thin geeky reporter sent out to investigate all things weird and American in order to decode them for British TV viewers, once covered pro wrestling. Although blessed with exactly the wrong sort of body for pro wrestling, as well as nerdy glasses, Louis signed on at a "boot camp" for aspiring talent run at the WCW 'Power Plant' (this was c.1999), their base for training up-and-coming wrestlers – the only one immediately recognizable among the group seen there was future WCW and WWF/E midcarder and tag-team specialist Chuck Palumbo. Louis' decision was brave particularly because he'd already encountered and tried to interview chief trainer 'Sarge' at a WCW show, where he tentatively raised the topic of match-fixing – which can be a Berserk Button for old-school wrestling insiders. At the time, Sarge merely looked extremely uncomfortable and quickly retreated from the interview, but when Theroux showed up at the Power Plant he was putting himself in Sarge's hands. This resulted in a Drill Sergeant Nasty session of severe verbal abuse and punishing physical exercises that left him exhausted, humiliated and constantly wanting to throw up, with an incensed Sarge demanding that he retract his alleged suggestion that the sport was not athletic – though he'd actually explicitly acknowledged the athletic ability of the wrestlers, despite querying the nature of the match outcomes. A purple-faced Theroux then dropped that line of investigation, but gained some genuine respect from the pros for sticking with the course. Hilariously, someone has since made a video starring computer-game avatars of Theroux and Sarge, in which Louis belatedly takes his revenge...
The reason for the Edge vs. Booker T match at [WrestleMania X-8? Edge took Booker's role in a shampoo commercial.
Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett had matches with the custody of Kurt's children on the line (Jarrett is married to Kurt's ex-wife Karen in real life) and a match where the loser had to move to Mexico.
Angle still insisted that Sharmell wanted him bad, and it would take yet another victory by Booker T to finally vanquish Kurt. It’s amazing the kinds of problems that can be resolved by pinning someone’s shoulders down for three second.
Pro wrestling can be Serious Business for the fans as well, and when this mixes up with Powder Keg Crowds, results are not nice. In Mexico, crowds were tense after beloved wrestler El Santo was beaten and humiliated by three rudos, but when his own son El Hijo del Santo betrayed him and joined his enemies, shit hit the fan on the stadium. The crowd went nuts and started throwing beer bottles and whatever they could get their hands on, not only to the wrestlers but also to other fans, all while women cried and frenzied men jumped the barricades to dismantle the ring. The wrestlers and ring crew had to fly away while the entire arena was ravaged, and mass hysteria spread throughout the city to the point it took eight days to contain the riots.
A similar riot happened in the Sumo Hall in Tokyo when Big Van Vader debuted. Antonio Inoki had just ended his match against Riki Choshu when guest host Takeshi Kitano presented Vader and ordered him to crush Inoki, which he did thoroughly. The fans were infuriated and a riot rose in the arena, where the crowd threw garbage, chairs and pieces of barricade to the ring and even set the estadium on fire. Such an incident caused that New Japan Pro Wrestling were forbidden to use the Sumo Hall for years.