Follow TV Tropes

Following

Useful Notes / Professional Wrestling Jargon

Go To

When the death of Kayfabe sometime in the 1990's pulled back the curtain on the choreographed nature of the business, most if not all of its secrets were laid bare. Now that there is no attempt to pass the event off as anything but a choreographed athletic exhibition, there's something of a cottage industry in retelling the stories behind old wrestling matches and storylines. This likely started with Dave Meltzer publishing the sport's premiere behind-the-scenes news publication The Wrestling Observer' Newsletter starting in 1980. It is much more prevalent today in the podcasting era, where many of Wrestling's most prominent stars and backstage minds are now cashing in by presenting their accounts of wrestling's most famous moments, as well as reviewing today's product. These men and women tend to use backstage lingo or insider terms in their broadcasts. While most dedicated fans know these terms, an outsider or new fan may not. Here is a collection of the varied and rich backstage lexicon of Professional Wrestling.

Advertisement:

  • A and B shows: Split touring crews of a promotion. In the pre-90's WWE and the larger territories, promotions would split their roster across two or even three shows, both to promote a larger number of events and ensure the same areas didn't see the same talent too often. When WWE was syndicated programming, the two crews would have separate television shows (WWF Superstars and WWF Wrestling Challenge). Unlike a brand extension, assignment to A or B shows was not permanent and would change based on storylines. A circuit of towns that was almost entirely B-shows was referred to as a "buttermilk run," particularly in the southern territories.
  • Ace: A term mostly used in Japan for a wrestler designated as the face of the promotion. Not necessarily the same as the top champion. The term comes from Riki Choshu's period of booking in the late 80s which was described as a "deck of cards;" his top wrestler was the "ace" and could beat any other wrestler on his own, but another "high card" wrestler (top guy) could work circumstances in his favor (cause or exploit an injury, or even develop a counter to a big move) and obtain a stronger "hand."
  • Advertisement:
  • Agent: Individuals working directly under the booker or promoter, often former wrestlers or managers. For live events, agents are responsible for ensuring wrestlers are at the building on time, make their entrance at the right times, and hit the necessary time cues for their match. For televised events, agents go over matches with wrestlers, and ensure they are in position for their actions to be picked up on camera. WWE refers to its agents as "Producers", and AEW calls them "Coaches". Can be used as a verb to describe the agent doing his/her job, e.g. "agenting a match".
  • Angle: Not to be confused with Kurt Angle, an angle is a professional wrestling storyline. It is the purpose behind the match. it is the reason two wrestlers are fighting or "feuding". This can be over just about anything, but typically revolves around professional jealousy, a desire to claim a title belt, or a personal issue.
    • The term angle refers to the overall feud, and to the individual vignettes, interviews and backstage pieces filmed and presented as part of the storyline.
  • Attitude Era: A time when WWE (Then WWF) shifted its program to adult-oriented content, which included an increase in the level of depicted violence, profanity and sexual content. Typically considered to be from 1997-2003, give or take. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was the star of this era, and it is typically considered to begin with his "Austin 3:16" promo. The Rock, The Undertaker, Triple H, and Mick Foley were the key stars for the WWF at this time.
  • Advertisement:
  • Authority figure: A person who, in storyline (and occasionally real life), represents the interests of the wrestling promotion. They may be referred to as a commissioner, president, or general manager. In territorial days, this was often a babyface role, even when acting (reluctantly) against the promotion's babyfaces, and represented the promotion's kayfabed interest in fair play. In modern days, due to the success of the Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon storyline, the role is often a heel one.
  • Babyface: Often shortened to "Face", this is the "good guy" or "hero" character in a pro wrestling angle or match. Faces usually fight according to the rules and are valiant despite overwhelming odds, as opposed to Heels who cheat, distract, use outside interference, or revel in their dominance over their opponents.
    • A 'White Meat' babyface is a wrestler who plays the good guy role to the hilt, with smiles, pure intentions, and earnest sportsmanship, but they can also be a bit bland and 2-dimensional. Ricky Steamboat was a career white meat babyface, as well as a young Rocky Maivia (before the audience soured on him and he switched to being a cocky heel).
  • Belt: A professional wrestling championship or title, represented by a gaudy belt made of leather and precious metals/stones, typically gold (in kayfabe at least; they're more likely to be cubic zirconia and gold plate over white metal).
  • Bicycle: In the territorial days, the term "bicycle" signified that there would be a time delay between a TV show airing in its home market and in affiliated markets ("the tape traveled on a bicycle"). This meant that the program for different markets would feature different matches at different times, and things like title changes would have to account for this. This term wasn't exclusive to the wrestling industry, as game shows (ie. The Hollywood Squares) and other syndicated programs also used this method; it wasn't until satellite transmission became a going thing in the 1980s that this term became obsolete, as using satellites meant production companies could transmit their shows to affiliates and be aired much sooner (the reason they had to do this was because syndication firms couldn't afford the system the Big 3 networks used, that being telephone lines leased from the Bell System/AT&T to send signals to affiliates).
  • Blade: The act of using a small, concealed razor or utility blade to inflict a cut and draw blood for the purposes of making a match look more brutal. Also the instrument of performing the action. The process can also be referred to as "to blade", "blading", "gigging", or a "blade job".
  • Blow Off: The final match of a feud, usually at a major Pay Per View event.
  • Blow Up: To become physically exhausted during a wrestling match.
  • Blue Eyes: British term for a Face wrestler.
  • Booker: In filmmaking terms, a booker is a combination of a screenwriter, director, and producer in a wrestling organization. Bookers come up with, or 'book' matches, storylines and characters, and determine the length, content, and finishes to wrestling matches. They can also be involved with recruiting wrestlers, or arranging for guest appearances from another promotion.
  • Botch: A noticeable accident during the course of a match. Can be as harmless as a slip and fall, or it can be something that leads to significant injury. In the 1990s and early 2000s these were met with a "You fucked up!" chant, assuming no one involved is badly hurt. As the PG Era wore on, the chants vanished. Can also be used for a match that has completely fallen apart; the much less PC term "abortion" was once used instead.
  • Breaking the field: A disorienting effect caused when the floor cameras are positioned opposite to the hard camera in the stands, causing action to be reversed when the director switches from the hard camera to the floor cameras or vice versa. Hallmark of a poor television production. (Though there can be extra floor cameras for showing a replay from a different direction where it's easier to see what happened.)
  • Broadway: Traditionally a match that goes to an hour-long time-limit draw. These matches were common in the NWA territory days where the NWA World Heavyweight Champion toured between the territories and wrestled the territory's top guy. Since the NWA didn't want to put the belt on the territory star, but the territory didn't want their top star to look weak, this was often the compromise; they would wrestle for an hour (then the time limit of world title matches) and go to a draw. Popular usage has come to lead to the term describing any time limit draw usually by denoting how long said match went, such as "15-Minute Broadway", "30-Minute Broadway", etc. The term is almost obsolete in modern wrestling for many reasons. Matches are largely not presented with time limits, rarely go longer than ten minutes, and rarely end in a draw.
  • Bruno spot: A main-event match programmed above what would normally be considered a main event match in its own right, such as a title match. Refers to Bruno Sammartino's position in the WWF from 1977-1981, where he would wrestle infrequent programs that were billed above champion Bob Backlund's title defenses.
  • Bump: A wrestler falling and landing in a manner to both avoid injury and heighten the sense of impact from an opponent's move. In most of the world, bumping is done "flat-back" (squarely across the back, with arms out and chin tucked in, to protect the head and give a wide impact zone), and "flat-back" bumps are one of the first things taught to new wrestling students. Most wrestling rings have some manner of give and padding to make bumps easier to take. In Mexico, due to the intricate highspots done by wrestlers, the ring has little give for better balance, and flat-back bumps are discarded in favor of out-of-the-ring gymnastic tumbles.
  • Bury: To hold down a wrestler or talent by forcing them to lose matches, talking about them unfavorably to the fans (such as in promos or on commentary) or backstage, or putting them in unimportant matches in an unfavorable spot on the card. The act of burying someone is highly subjective and hotly debated amongst wrestling fans and other wrestlers. Fans are very quick to accuse a promotion of burying a favorite talent the moment they lose a single match or are put into an angle with someone the fans believe is beneath that performer's level. A good example of burial is the WWE-produced documentary "The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior" which WWE produced at a time when the Warrior was not on favorable terms with the company and an easy target. After WWE mended fences and The Warrior passed away, the DVD was removed from the WWE shop and is not available on the Network.
  • Calling spots/Calling the match: When one wrestler indicates to his opponent what action to perform. This may be verbally (with some care, as for TV the ring is frequently mic'ed; some wrestlers such as Sid Eudy and John Cena are infamous for being particularly loud while calling their spots) or with body language. Traditionally, the heel calls the match, although a more experienced or prominent babyface may opt to do so instead.
  • Card: The order of matches in a given show. Also used to describe the hierarchy of star quality of the talent. You have your top stars often vying for the main belts, and then the 'mid-carders' who are your strong, often veteran workers who can be relied to give entertaining matches but haven't transcended to top-level status, while the 'undercard' are your least popular/experienced talent, often used to job to the bigger stars.
  • Carny: A pig-Latin style language used to disguise words by adding "-iz" to random syllables, so that "time" becomes "tizime", for example. Professional wrestling was a common sideshow at carnivals in the early 20th century, and acquired a similar culture. Wrestlers once used carny to call spots and otherwise disguise working; the language has fallen by the wayside in recent times.
    • Also used as an adjective to refer to an older culture of wrestling, where wrestlers would constantly "work" the marks, never drop their personas, and were willing to do anything for a couple of bucks.
  • Carry: Also known as a 'Carry Job', where a skilled worker is able to make an inferior partner look good, sometimes by calling every spot for both wrestlers during a match. Bret Hart famously carried newcomer Tom Magee (an impressive bodybuilder and martial artist but awful wrestler) to a match so good Vince McMahon thought Magee could be the WWF's next Hulk Hogan. Note that Bret lost his match against Magee, so 'skilled worker' does not necessarily mean 'winner of the match', and even a low-ranked Jobber can carry a star to a good match. A common expression used to describe skilled workers is "[Wrestler] could carry a broom to a three star match".
    • Also note that 'inferior' here is not just 'incompetence' or 'inexperience', but can be due to many things, like intoxication (Bret Hart, again, carried Davey Boy Smith in their SummerSlam 1992 match when the latter was completely zonked out after smoking crack the previous night), or just sheer difference in talent and experience (Shawn Michaels called the entirety of Ric Flair's retirement match, despite the latter's seniority).
  • Cheap Heat: Drawing a crowd reaction in a way that is seen as not being conducive to drawing actual money. Cheap heat can include things such as knocking a town or a local sports team, or attacking people who are not involved in a planned match, such as officials or valets.
  • Comeback, The: Part of what is considered the classic four-part match structure: The shine, the heat, the comeback, the finish. The comeback is the part of the match where the face begins to turn the tides and regain their momentum before the finish.
  • Color: Blood, usually intentionally drawn with a blade, but can sometimes be done the "hardway". Typically used in the phrase "get color" which is the process of drawing blood.
  • Crowbar: A wrestler that has a reputation for being stiff and difficult to work with. The most classic examples would be the Road Warriors in their early years, as they weren't anywhere close to fully trained when they started and would simply beat up their opponents.
  • Curtain Jerker: The wrestlers in the first match of a show (typically a PPV). Can also be derogatory, referring to wrestlers whose matches are inconsequential and just meant to pad out the time (though many modern PPV open with strong matches with decent build).
  • Cut off: The action of a heel taking over the match from the babyface at a given point (typically between the shine and the heat segment).
  • Dark match: Traditionally, a non-televised main event match added to an arena TV taping (which would otherwise see squash matches with a few "marquee" matches featuring mid-card competitors) to increase attendance. Nowadays, is used for any non-televised match at a TV or PPV show. WWE has traditionally used pre-show untelevised matches to ensure all attendees are seated prior to the show going live, and their competitors have largely followed suit.
    • The term "dark match" comes from the Memphis territory. Their 90 minute live studio show would be cut to 60 minutes to air in affiliated markets such as Nashville, Tupelo, or Louisville. "Dark" segments were those which would only be seen by the Memphis audience, and great care was taken to ensure that promos aired outside of Memphis wouldn't refer to matches or storylines from the "dark" segments.
  • Dirt Sheet: Also referred to as a "scandal sheet" or a "rag". Term for a type of publication that sprung up in the 1980's which would break kayfabe to report on the backstage developments of professional wrestling promotions such as planned angles, match outcomes, and talent being hired or fired. The Ur-Example would be Dave Meltzer's The Wrestling Observer Newsletter which was the first such publication to gain widespread notoriety. Before the internet, these types of publications were cheaply produced and distributed as subscription-based newsletters which were not widely read except by the most dedicated fans. These fans would be christened "smart marks" or "smarks". The proliferation of the internet and the death of kayfabe after the 1991 steroid trial changed the nature of these publications and their distribution. Today a cottage industry of wrestling insider websites and podcasts exist, and wrestling fans are in on the scripted nature of the business to a much greater degree than they were before the early nineties. The term "dirt sheet" still refers to these publications, though it is largely The Artifact at this point.
  • Double Cross: Has the same meaning in regular parlance, meaning a betrayal within a tag-team, stable, or even between friends, sometimes involving an authority figure corrupting one party.
  • Double Turn: An angle where the face and heel wrestlers or teams will have effectively switched alignment in the course of the match or angle. One of the best historic examples would be the submission match between Bret Hart and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIII. Double turns are regarded as very difficult to pull off, and are rare for that reason.
  • Draw: A wrestler's real or imagined ability to convince a crowd to pay money to see them. This is the core of how the business works, wrestlers need to convince people to come see their matches in person, or on television or pay-per-view. Frequently used standalone, or in the term "Draw money" which means the same thing.
  • Drop: A verb used to describe losing a championship title to someone. (e.g. Jon Moxley dropped the AEW Championship to Kenny Omega)
  • Dusty Finish: A finish named for its inventor Dusty Rhodes note , wherein one wrestler, typically a babyface, wins a match only to have it reversed after the match on an obscure technicality (double-pins, a foot under the rope, etc.) This was used mostly back in the days when champions would tour different territories to challenge the locals, usually putting their title on the line. The local would pin the champ, only for the decision to be overturned, thus giving a reason for the champ to retain the title and resume touring, while giving the audiences some satisfaction in seeing their hero in a sort-of victory. This was once a pretty standard practice, but was dropped by the wayside after the advent of television shows, where audiences noticed the same finishes occurring over and over again.
  • Face–Heel Turn: When a good guy (babyface) wrestler switches sides and becomes a bad guy (heel).
  • Face in peril: The member of a face tag team who is dominated by the heel team for an extended period of time, a tactic often used to get the crowd behind the face team and prepare for a hot tag. This wrestler is often said to be "playing Ricky Morton", after the wrestler regularly used in this role by The Rock 'n' Roll Express.
  • Fallout show: A promotion's first televised show after a pay-per-view event. New storylines are often introduced, and consequences of the PPV explained.
  • Feud: When two wrestlers fight several times over an issue or title, or when two wrestlers do a lot of build up to one single match, usually over a title.
  • Finish, The: Part of what is considered the classic four-part match structure: The shine, the heat, the comeback, the finish. The finish is the end of the match, typically with one wrestler beating another, but there are other options like a double countout or no contest.
  • Freebird Rule: An unofficial "rule" allowing a stable with three or more members to challenge for and defend a tag team title with any two of its members. Named after The Fabulous Freebirds, who popularized this concept.
  • Future Endeavored: Fired. Comes from WWE's standard message for announcing releases, in which the company without fail "wishes [wrestler] well in their future endeavors."
  • Garbage wrestling: A common synonym for "hardcore" wrestling; a style based more on brawling, weapons, and highspots than traditional working styles.
  • Gimmick: A character portrayed by a professional wrestler. This includes the character's moves, mannerisms, appearance, entrance music and promo style. Many wrestlers have several gimmicks throughout their careers until, if they're lucky, they find one that resonates and they stick with it through their career.
    • Also can refer to merchandise; often in the context of (in an independent promotion) merchandise directly sold by the wrestler or someone in his employ.
    • Can also, as a verb, be used in the context of altering a prop for visual effect. For example, gimmicking a table consists of sawing partially through it on the underside for a better breakage.
  • Go/Going Home: Enter the final sequence of the match (comeback or finish). Typically refers to being called as an audible, for an injury, a missed time cue, or other sudden reason.
  • Go-home show: A promotion's last televised show before a pay-per-view event. Promotions will typically not run house shows in the days immediately before a PPV, allowing the wrestlers to literally go home and rest up for the PPV.
  • Going into Business (for Themselves): A wrestler who, for real, decides to ignore the script or refuses to cooperate with their opponent and does their own thing (e.g. leaving a match halfway, intentionally hurting another wrestler, performing a dangerous spot without conferring with their partner). This is regarded as the highest form of unprofessionalism in wrestling, as wrestlers need to be able to trust each other to be able to work together and protect each other. Wrestlers who go into business for themselves are often quickly, sometimes permanently ostracized by the industry.
  • Go/Going Over: To win a professional wrestling match. The opposite is to "put" someone over (see: Job).
  • Going wide: Using the fixed-angle wide camera with no zoom for an extended period during a match. This is commonly due to an accidental cut or a wardrobe malfunction.
  • Good hand: A wrestler regarded as skilled by other wrestlers. This isn't a synonym for "worker," as the emphasis isn't on action, but rather for being easy for other wrestlers to work with. This involves things such as not being too stiff, being in the right place for spots, and providing the right amount of assistance to the other wrestler. A particularly good hand can be referred to as a "night off." Can also be a form of damning with faint praise, as while other wrestlers may enjoy working with a good hand, a good hand may not have the necessary charisma or ringwork to be a star.
  • Gorilla position: The area backstage immediately before the entrance ramp, or the senior agent placed there. The agent is responsible for cueing entrance music, and sending wrestlers out at the appropriate time, as well as ensuring they have any necessary props (weapons, championship belts, etc.) before hitting the ring. Named after the late Gorilla Monsoon, who fulfilled this role at many WWF TV tapings. Since communications technology was not readily available back then, the position also allowed Monsoon to signal the referees to wrap up a match by waggling his glasses. WCW called it the "Jody position", after Jody Hamilton, who often served in this role at its tapings; AEW calls it the "Dusty position" after Dusty Rhodes, late father of company cofounder Cody Rhodes.
  • Green: Inexperienced, a rookie wrestler.
  • Goozle: To choke, grab, or attack another wrestler by the neck. Sometimes the setup to the chokeslam.
  • Guzzle: To completely dominate a match at the other wrestler's expense.
  • Hardcam/Hardcamera: A fixed camera, typically positioned in the audience seats so that it can look down and capture the whole ring. Not only is this the most common view for home audiences, when wrestlers are delivering promos, they will often look directly at the hardcam. Floor cameras will generally be positioned on the same side of the ring as the hard camera, maintaining a consistent field of vision. Hardcams are also useful because a show can disguise an empty arena by having the live audience seated opposite the hardcam.
  • Hardway: Drawing blood legitimately, without the use of a blade, either intentionally or by accident. When someone bleeds the "hardway" they typically had a cut or gash inflicted by a strike or a weapon and split open. Sometimes done intentionally, more often than not a mistake. Also used as a verb, to "hardway" someone is to strike them and draw blood. Brock Lesnar's forearm strike that split open Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 34 is a good example of someone being busted open the hardway.
  • Heat: Heat can simply refer to a wrestler's ability to get a reaction from the fans. However, heat is usually used to describe the ability of a Heel (see below) to make the crowd hate him or her, with other kinds of heat being given other names. This is not a bad thing. Far from it. The more heat a heel has, the more the fans dislike them and want to see the babyface beat them, and is basically how the heel draws money.
    • Babyface Heat refers to a babyface's ability to get people to like them and react loudly to them.
    • Backstage Heat refers to legitimate anger between two pro wrestlers, or between any of the myriad backstage personalities, performers, and executives behind the show. This can lead to fights, disciplinary action such as de-pushes, suspensions, or even to people getting fired if the issue is detrimental enough.
    • A variant of Backstage Heat is Locker Room Heat, where wrestlers are unpopular with some or all of the other wrestlers in a promotion, but typically for things that wouldn't warrant disciplinary action (see The Miz being hazed in his rookie year for being a 'reality star' rather than a legitimate wrestler).
    • Canned Heat is pre-recorded crowd noise edited into broadcasts or played over speakers.
    • Bad Heat, sometimes referred to euphemistically as the wrong kind of heat, is when a match outcome or a character so offends the paying audience that they are effectively booing the product rather than the heel. This is exceptionally dangerous, as it can be mistaken for legitimate heel heat, and potentially damage a market if that heel returns in a leading role. For example, in the mid-90s when the Gangstas (a group of black wrestlers) debuted in Smoky Mountain Wrestling (a southern promotion with mostly white audiences), their racially charged promos drew loud boos, leading the promotion to think they were getting over as heels, but effectively killed live attendance in return meetings. If it gets really bad, sometimes to the point where the entire venue is about to riot and assault the wrestlers (see, again, the Gangstas), it's called Nuclear Heat.
    • A variant to Bad Heat that is so prevalent it has its own category is Go-Away Heat, more famously known as X-Pac Heat, which is when a crowd legitimately hates a person on a wrestling show as opposed to hating the character a wrestler performs as and how it is presented in the context of the angle or match. This can happen for a variety of reasons.
      • Overexposure - this was how X-Pac became the Trope Namer, by regularly winning midcard and upper midcard matches against more interesting opponents without actually doing anything or evolving, despite being a talented performer.
      • A gap between push and the fans' perceived level of a wrestler's performance or entertainment value - this is the problem Roman Reigns has been/was facing.
      • A real-life incident causing the fans to choose a side and rally against the wrestler they think was wronged, such as the case when Lita cheated on Matt Hardy with Edge and the fans turned on Lita and Edge. Edge managed to turn this heat to his advantage to become a top-line star, while Lita's career tanked as a result of it.
  • Heat machine: Recorded crowd noise (cheers, boos, or chants for particular wrestlers) piped into the arena's PA system, used to encourage similar reactions among the live attendants. Can also refer to similar effects added in post-production. Can often become a thing of derision; such as when at one WCW PPV, referees were attempting to clean debris from the ring with loud cheers occurring at regular intervals. Largely a thing of the past.
  • Heat, The: Not to be confused with Heat, but related to it. The Heat is part of what is considered the classic four-part match structure: The shine, the heat, the comeback, the finish. The heat is the part of the match where the heel cheats to gain an advantage.
  • Heel: The "bad guy" or "villain" in a professional wrestling match or angle.
  • Heel–Face Turn: When a bad guy (heel) wrestler switches sides and becomes a good guy (babyface).
  • Hooker: An archaic term, and the title of early NWA champion Lou Thesz's autobiography. What shooters are to performing wrestlers, hookers were to shooters; not only could they wrestle, but they knew how to hurt or maim someone.
    • The term's meaning changes with the times. Before the National Wrestling Alliance and for sometime afterwards, all champions such as Thesz would be hookers, in case someone tried to go into business for themselves. As the NWA territories became established so did the "hooking" practice of baiting fans into lasting a certain amount of time in the ring with a wrestler for a cash prize. In this case the "hooker" would know at least one hold that could quickly subdue an unexpectedly tough challenger, to prevent the promoter from having to pay up while also having the theatrical skills to let the suckers think they stood a chance. With the collapse of the territories, hooker tends to refer to someone a promoter or booker puts someone they don't like in a match with specifically to get them hurt (see policeman below).
    • British wrestlers often used the similar term "ripper," which not only connoted an ability to harm opponents in the ring, but also a legitimate mean streak and willingness to hurt others. Arguably the most famous "ripper" would be AWA wrestler Billy Robinson.
  • Hope Spot: Often used in a Face-In-Peril situation, this teases the Ricky Morton's attempt to get the hot tag and let his partner take over to kick ass, only for the attempt to be quashed by the heel team.
  • Hoss: A large wrestler with a well-built body, but often with little technical wrestling ability, sluggish in-ring style and sometimes not much charisma. Can be used as both a positive and a negative term.
  • Hot shotting: Effectively, running the promotion in fast forward with rapid-fire can't miss angles, title changes, heel/face turns. While this can quickly burn out a booker, talent base, and paying audience, sometimes it's regarded as a necessary risk in order to build fan interest.
    • It can also refer to booking that is built at the spur of the moment and without a long-term plan. This can often lead to matches or angles that are developed out of nowhere and end just as quickly, leading to wrestlers who don't gain sustained pushes or satisfying payoffs (see Kofi Kingston's sudden push to the WWE Championship, and just as sudden loss).
    • Note that hot shot booking may not necessarily be bad. A wrestler may get injured or fall ill and derail an ongoing angle, perhaps even at the last minute before a show or pay-per-view, and something needs to be done to replace said wrestler.
  • Hot tag: The key moment in a tag team match. Typically, the heel team will isolate one wrestler from his partner, and then wear him out for an extended period of time. When the wrestler tags his fresh partner, typically this is the comeback for the babyface team.
  • House: The paid live attendance for an event. As wrestlers have almost always been paid a percentage of the gate receipts, the term carries significant usage.
  • House show: A live event not aired for television. House shows were once the bread and butter for wrestling promotions, with TV acting as a loss leader and advertising medium. Nowadays, they take a back seat to pay-per-views and television revenue.
  • IWC: Internet Wrestling Community, the various websites, discussion boards, etc., where fans discuss wrestling.
  • Job: A loss in a wrestling match. The act of losing can be referred to as "jobbing", "to do/doing the job", "doing the honors", "doing the favors" or "putting someone over".
  • Jobber: Also referred to as "job guy", "carpenter" and "enhancement talent", this is a pro wrestler whose primary purpose is to lose matches. These performers are important, as they are needed to build up new stars by giving them ring experience and someone to win matches against. Oftentimes Jobbers are some of the more experienced wrestlers in a promotion and work with young talent, sort of on the job training. The Brooklyn Brawler served in this role for a long time in WWE, and is still a trainer and agent behind the scenes.
  • Jobber to the Stars: Can mean two different things depending on who's using it.
    • Historically, it was used to refer to wrestlers who were so low on the totem pole they didn't always make it onto the shows, but who were still a step above the generic doughy no-entrance no-gimmick full jobbers. Unlike a normal jobber, who strictly worked television tapings, a jobber to the stars would work underneath on house show tours. They were usually given at least a little bit of time to shine in their matches, and might occasionally win matches against full jobbers or each other. The position was often given to young wrestlers seen as potential future superstars who needed more experience, and to veterans who the company didn't want to push anymore but who were valuable for their ability to make their opponents look good. The vast majority of jobbers to the stars would be considered babyfaces, as they would be used to build up the heel side of the roster in preparation for matches with higher-up babyfaces. Well known jobbers to the stars include Special Delivery Jones, Barry Horowitz, and The Gambler. This usage is falling off as the role itself isn't used much anymore.
    • In more modern times, it's used to refer to wrestlers who always seem to be in or near the main event scene, but can't ever quite seem to win the big one. They may even be given a 'transitional' title reign, but in the long run they'll always come out looking inferior to the true superstars (The Rock, John Cena, etc...). Kane is a great example.
  • Kayfabe: The art of presenting professional wrestling as a legitimate athletic competition. Up until the 1980's kayfabe was kept at all times, wrestlers never appeared out of character or acknowledged their lives outside of the ring. These days kayfabe refers more to the in-world context of specific parts of wrestling performance, e.g. someone suffering a "kayfabe" injured shoulder doesn't actually have an injured shoulder, they are pretending to for the purposes of a story line.
  • King's Road: A style of Japanese pro-wrestling that emerged from AJPW in the 90s. It took the in-ring fantastical storytelling of American pro-wrestling, and stripped it of all gimmicks, feuds, or angles, as well as elements such as blading and submission holds being discarded. Matches could only be won by pinfall, and the narratives typically involved 'fighting spirit' and surpassing one's limits. Unfortunately, this translated to an escalation of dangerous stunts to increasingly raise the stakes, with wrestlers constantly resorting to using moves that dropped their opponents on their heads and necks. After Mitsuharu Misawa, one of Japan's biggest wrestling stars, died in the ring likely due to prolonged use of this style, it has since been largely phased out. See also 'Strong Style', the competing style of Japanese wrestling at the time and has had greater longevity.
  • Live-to-tape: For a TV production that isn't filmed all the way live, live-to-tape recording means that the show is recorded ahead of time, but it is recorded in order and with gaps for commercial breaks; the live audience is effectively seeing the same show that will air on TV later. The alternative is a "clip show."
  • Main event: The primary ticket or PPV-selling match of a wrestling card. Often the last match of the card; WWWF/WWF/WWE house shows have historically put the main event before the intermission, giving the top wrestlers a chance to get out of the building without being mobbed, as well as allowing the promotion to use the main event finish to sell tickets for the next month's event (i.e., if a top heel was counted out walking to the back, next month's event could be a steel cage match, preventing such an escape).
  • Mid-carder: A wrestler who is over enough to be considered a popular wrestler, but is not over enough to consistently work main events. Mid-carders typically hold the majority of a promotion's secondary titles.
    • A related term is upper mid-carder, referring to a mid-carder who can transition to the occasional main-event programs, or even back again. Chris Jericho and The Miz famously spent most of their careers as upper mid-carders, even though they main-evented several major events and won the main titles before.
  • Monday Night Wars: A period of time when WCW's Monday Nitro went head-to-head with then WWF's Monday Night: RAW for ratings supremacy, starting in 1995 with the debut of Nitro. WWF started out strong, but lost ground as the nWo storyline took off. At one point WCW won the ratings battle for 83 weeks, before ultimately losing out and closing in 2001. The final episode of Monday Nitro aired on March 26, 2001.
  • Money mark: Usually an insult. An independent wrestling promoter who runs a promotion to get himself over as a wrestling star or player in the wrestling business, rather than as a legitimate promotion. It is widely, though not totally, accepted that this was Dixie Carter's reason for buying and operating TNA for many years.
  • Muta Scale: An informal measure among some fans of the amount of blood shed in a match. The scale starts at 0 (no blood), with 1.0 Muta being equivalent to the blood loss of The Great Muta in an infamous 1992 NJPW match with Hiroshi Hase. A small handful of matches have been rated above 1.0.
  • New Generation: A shift in WWE (then-WWF) programming starting after the steroid trial in 1993. After Hulk Hogan left the company, WWF turned to wrestlers like Bret "Hit Man" Hart, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Razor Ramon, Diesel, Lex Luger, and Yokozuna to become its top stars. The New Generation era focused on smaller, more athletic wrestlers and moving away from the cartoonish gimmicks of the 80s "Rock and Wrestling" era. The New Generation Era is considered to be from 1993-1997, before WWF transitioned to the Attitude Era.
  • No-Sell: Not reacting to an opponent's move, as if it didn't hurt them at all. Unplanned No Selling is considered a major dick move for making the other guy look weak and/or undermining kayfabe, but it can be used legitimately to convey that a wrestler is just that tough.
  • Office, The: (1) The promotion, promoter, booker, or non-wrestling staff in general. (2) A squeeze of a wrestler's or referee's forearm by a wrestler; can be used as a signal to signify the wrestler is selling and not legitimately hurt after a rough move, tell another wrestler to lighten up on a hold, or various other meanings.
  • Outlaw promotion: An archaic term for an independent promotion, coming from the days when wrestling was a de facto monopoly. "Outlaw" shows generally featured weaker talent and wackier characters and angles.
  • Over: How popular a performer or match is with the crowd.
  • Overbooked: Too much stuff going on in a wrestling match. Either too many gimmicks or stipulations in the match, or too many people involved in the match.
  • Paper: Complimentary tickets to televised shows, allowing for the appearance of a larger crowd than would pay to see such an event. Historically, nearly all TV shows gave tickets away free of charge (although many would have long waiting lists for such events), as TV events were shot in small venues and would feature multiple tapings per one attendance with few "marquee" matches. With weekly traveling TV productions, promotions such as WWE are typically able to charge full freight for live attendance to their programs.
  • Pillmanize: To "break" a wrestler's ankle, arm, or neck by placing it between the seat and headrest of a steel chair, and then stepping or jumping on the chair. Named for Brian Pillman, whose real-life ankle injury in a 1996 auto accident was sold for storyline purposes as the result of an attack of this type by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
  • Plant: A wrestler, stagehand, or actor, usually seated in the front row, who poses as a fan. Sometimes the subject of an attack by a heel; also occasionally "randomly selected" from the crowd to take part in a match or storyline. For example, on the April 16, 2007 episode of Raw from Milan, Italy, Santino Marella was a fan who Vince McMahon selected as a Challenger for Umaga's Intercontinental Championship. The unknown Marella scored a surprising upset and won the WWE Intercontinental Championship with an assist from Bobby Lashley. But in reality, Marella had been wrestling since 2002 and had been in WWE's development system since 2005.
  • Plunder: The assortment of weapons and paraphernalia wrestlers can/will use in a match, including but not limited to tables, chairs, trash cans, kendo sticks, chains, fire extinguishers, bags of flour, barbed wire, and thumbtacks. Many of these weapons are either found around or underneath the ring, and are almost always gimmicked (unless some production crew screws up).
  • Policeman: A tough wrestler who can physically punish an opponent in the ring for slights against the promoter or locker room.
  • Pop: A sudden loud cheer from the crowd, usually for a babyface wrestler making an appearance, a comeback or scoring a win. When it gets cranked Up to Eleven, it's called a Road Warrior Pop.
  • Potato: A stiff or painful punch, delivered intentionally or accidentally.
  • Popcorn match: Historically, the match after the intermission in an arena show. This would typically be a slowly-worked match with no key gimmick or top star, encouraging the fans to take their time at the concession and merchandise tables. Can be something of a rehab assignment, giving an injured wrestler an easy night's work.
  • Powder/Powdering Out: A wrestler escaping a ring, often after sustaining attacks from an opponent.
  • Pre-show: A free TV program aired before the start of a pay-per-view event, also known as a kickoff show. Usually shown either via streaming on the promotion's website or social media outlets, or on a promotion's normal TV outlet. Serves the same purpose as a pre-game show for televised sports, and often features preliminary matches.
  • Program: An extended feud with multiple meetings, designed to reach a desired conclusion and set the wrestlers up for new programs with other wrestlers.
  • Promo: An interview, skit or monologue delivered by a wrestler in-ring, backstage, or in a vignette. Delivering or performing a promo is known as "cutting a promo". If the promo has a specific target, that person is said to have had the promo cut "on" them by the wrestler who delivered it. Ex: "The Rock cut an epic promo on Billy Gunn."
  • Promoter: The head of a wrestling company or federation. The boss. The man in charge. The equivalent of a film/television Executive Producer. The most famous example of a Promoter would be Vince McMahon, owner of WWE.
    • The term promoter can also refer to live event promoters, responsible for booking house shows and TV arena shows in the buildings under their control. These individuals arrange the times and dates with the building managers, and arrange local advertising in exchange for a piece of the gate. For example, WrestleMania III at the Pontiac Silverdome was promoted by Zane Bresloff, who would later promote live events for WCW. In territory days, some promoters (in this sense of the term), such as Paul Boesch in Houston and the Tunneys in Toronto, had their own local specialized TV, and would often feature wrestlers not associated with the talent office they were aligned with.
  • Pullapart: Two or more brawling wrestlers being pulled apart and/or held back by a crowd of 'security guards' or referees. Typically done outside of matches during a storyline segment.
  • Push: Putting a wrestler in a position to succeed and draw money. This is typically done by having the wrestler win matches, putting them in favorable angles where they look good, and giving them high profile matches against quality opponents in highly visible settings. Typically means to have the pushed wrestler win the world title.
  • Push/Pushed to the Moon: When a performer is pushed very suddenly and very quickly to a prominent spot on the card. Possibly even the world championship. Same as Strapping the Rocketship (see below) to a performer. Sometimes this is done to a new character or a newly-signed free agent to establish them as a major player. The phrase "pushed to the moon" is often used derisively in hindsight when this happens to a character but they failed to get over.
    • Example: In spring 2017, Jinder Mahal was pushed to the moon, receiving a WWE Title reign that lasted until November of that year. (Long by 2017 standards.) This was largely because WWE had a major tour of India planned, and wanted to have a champion of Indian descent holding the belt. Once the tour was over, Mahal lost the title and has slipped back into midcard obscurity, as he failed to get over with fans. His reign was marked by lackluster or offensive promos, mediocre matches, a failure to win matches cleanly, and the perception that he had been elevated beyond his abilities.
  • Receipt: A stiff or shoot punch delivered in response to the same, or to an insult.
    • An insult or promo delivered in response to an insult.
  • Ref bump: When a referee is knocked over during a match, usually by accident, and often leaving them unconscious for several long minutes. With the ref out, the heel can use underhanded tactics without consequence, and the face can't win the match legitimately.
  • Resthold: A hold, such as a side headlock or reverse chinlock, that can be applied with little effort, and has little context in the match's storyline. Restholds are used when wrestlers need a moment to catch their breath, or can't think of what to do next. Frequent use of restholds are a sign of a poor worker.
  • Rib: A practical joke played by one wrestler on another. A frequent occurrence on the road and in the locker room.
  • Ribbing on the square: A practical joke meant to make a point; a wrestler on the receiving end of one of these has typically offended the wrestler playing the prank or the rest of the locker room in some manner.
  • Ring General: Not to be mistaken for a Four-Star Badass, a ring general is a very skilled, very experienced, and very respected worker, and are often locker room leaders. Ring generals are known for their professionalism and reliability to produce quality matches while keeping their opponents safe, and even though they may not be main eventers or title holders, they will often be the ones calling the shots and setting the pace in a match against younger, more popular wrestlers. Famous ring generals include The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Ric Flair, and Bret Hart. Less famous but no less respected ones include Christian, Dustin Rhodes, and Christopher Daniels.
  • Road Warrior Pop: A crowd reaction named for The Road Warriors. An extremely loud pop, usually louder than the typical pop for even the top babyface. The Road Warriors were usually tremendously popular wherever they went, and would almost always generate the loudest pop, or crowd reaction, of the night with their entrance.
  • Rock and Wrestling: Basically, The '80s. Wrestling exploded with the proliferation of cable and pay-per-view. Regional promotions (territories) began to vanish as WWF and NWA/WCW quickly emerged as the two largest promotions in the country, fighting for dominance. WWF took the lead with stars like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Andre The Giant, The Ultimate Warrior, and "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. WCW built around established, primarily southern stars like Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes; as well as developing new talent such as Magnum TA (whose career was cut short in a horrific car accident) and Sting. Staple events Wrestlemania and Starrcade were both created during this time, as were secondary events Survivor Series and the Great American Bash.

    WWF aggressively bought out many territories during this time, such as Calgary Stampede, Maple Leaf Wrestling, Houston Wrestling and World Class Championship Wrestling. WCW (based mostly off of Mid Atlantic Wrestling) consumed Georgia Championship Wrestling, Mid South Wrestling, and Championship Wrestling from Florida. The only other major promotion was Verne Gagne's AWA which managed to limp into the next decade, until finally dying in 1991 after losing most of its top-tier talent to WWF. Both companies entered a Dork Age following the boom, and wouldn't truly emerge until the Attitude Era.
  • Run-in: Any time a wrestler who is not announced to be in the match appears, typically to interfere and help a wrestler who is participating.
  • Ruthless Aggression Era: Typically seen as lasting from 2003-2008, this era of WWE programming followed the Attitude Era. It is marked by the decision to split the enormous WWE roster into two separate brands (Raw and Smackdown). The SmackDown Six emerged on the "blue" brand led by Paul Heyman creatively. Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle, Edge, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero became the brand's centerpieces. This era also saw the emergence of the famed Ohio Valley Wrestling (then a WWE developmental territory/school) Class of 2001. Headlined by John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, and Dave Bautista; most of this group would go on to become major main event players for the company for the next decade-plus.
  • Sandbag: Not providing the necessary assistance for a "lifting" move such as a bodyslam or a suplex. Can be done unintentionally out of inexperience or a mistime, or if intentional, it's a spot, a rib, or deliberate non-cooperation (which is extremely unprofessional).
  • Schmoz: A chaotic brawl between a crowd of wrestlers, usually to close out a show and leave it as a cliffhanger for the next episode or Pay-Per-View.
  • Screwjob: An unfair ending to a match, often involving cheating and/or an authority figure to cause some distraction that costs a wrestler (often a babyface) the win. Done right, it can keep heat on a program for a bigger rematch. Done poorly, or done too often, can kill interest in the feud or promotion. It can also be a shoot (real life), where a change to the finish of the match is made between the promoter and one of the participating wrestlers without telling the other. Considered incredibly unscrupulous and unprofessional, the most famous example would be the Montreal Screwjob, but a lesser known and earlier example would be the match between Wendi Richter and The Fabulous Moolah, where Richter was screwed out of a finish and stripped of her Women's Championship because she refused to sign an extension to her contract unless she was properly compensated (she was being paid far less than some of her male counterparts despite being almost as big a draw).
  • Scripted: For a long time, something of a dirty word in the wrestling business. In the past, both matches and promos were largely improvised by the talent, with broad direction given by the booker. Beginning in the 1980's, some wrestlers such as Randy Savage would begin planning matches move-for-move, and even rehearse them with their opponents ahead of time. Nowadays, nearly all matches and promos are planned in such a manner, in order to meet tight time restrictions on the television product.
  • Shine, The: Part of what is considered the classic four-part match structure: The shine, the heat, the comeback, the finish. The shine is where the face comes out to gain an early advantage and demonstrate that they are the superior competitor, thus establishing the heel's need to cheat and employ underhanded tactics.
  • Sell: Pretending to be hurt to make a wrestling move look painful, or to convince the audience that a performer is suffering an injury where none exists.
  • Shoot: To fight for real with real attacks and holds. This can be done intentionally, such as a performer throwing "shoot" punches to try and inflict believable damage for the purposes of the performance (such as getting color the hardway, see multiple above). It can also be done when two wrestlers have a personal issue. It can be done by mistake, a wrestler not pulling their punches, or an opponent not preparing to take a move or blow correctly.
    • Also to use personal or real life issues in a promo or interview either for humor or to make the content more vicious. Such as when AJ Lee told the Bella Twins that it was unfortunate that talent wasn't "sexually transmitted", as the Bellas were dating John Cena and Daniel Bryan at the timenote  and were not perceived to be great wrestlers in their own right.
    • Anything that involves a pro wrestler publicly breaking kayfabe is a shoot, including positive things, such as an interview where Jimmy Jacobs praises his hated enemy Delirious.
  • Shooter: Someone who has a legitimate fighting background. Shooters are revered even amongst wrestlers as tough guys as someone that even they don't want to fight in Real Life. In the old days most pro wrestlers were legitimate amateur wrestlers, some with impressive pedigrees. Verne Gagne was a two-sport All-American for example. Brock Lesnar was an NCAA and UFC Heavyweight Champion. Kurt Angle won an Olympic Gold Medal (with a broken freakin' neck). Some guys were just tougher than nails and nobody wanted to fight them, most notably Haku/Meng, who was one of the few people André the Giant was legitimately afraid of.
  • Sickness, The: Refers to the multitude of drug addictions and premature deaths (particularly of prescription drug overdose and/or heart attacks due to steroid-induced left ventricular enlargement). For a "fake" sport, professional wrestling has a very real and very horrifying body count.
  • Snug: If being 'stiff' is to deliver legitimate strikes, then being 'snug' is to put on legitimate submission holds.
  • Spot: A move predetermined to happen in a match, including the reaction by the opponent. While the outcomes of pro wrestling matches are decided in advance, most of the action is improvised, with the exception of spots at key moments.
  • Spot show: A house show performed in a location that is not a regularly scheduled town. Typically involves (or involved, the term is more or less synonymous with "house show" nowadays) a subset of a touring crew working a shorter card.
  • Squash Match: A quick and overwhelming victory.
  • Stiff: A punch or move that hurts more than it should for being performance. Someone whose moves are this way is said to "work stiff" or be a "stiff worker", either as a deliberate choice to enhance the danger and seriousness of the fighter, or just by accident. Stan Hansen was a notoriously stiff worker, mostly because he was so blind without his glasses that he couldn't see his opponent to pull his punches.
  • Strap the Rocket Ship to (Performer): To give a performer a huge push, typically involving a World Title win and lengthy reign. This is usually only used in reference to a young wrestler's first big main event push. Once this process is complete a performer will either have proven themselves as a main event draw; or they will return to the midcard to regroup and have their character adjusted.
  • Strong Style: A style of wrestling that incorporated realistic/stiff martial arts or MMA-style strikes, kicks, and submission holds while eschewing the high-flying, bombastic moves. Originating in the 90s from Japan's NJPW, whose wrestlers often came from legitimate martial arts backgrounds, the style has influenced and permeated throughout the wrestling world. See also "King's Road/Royal Road", a style from NJPW's rival company AJPW.
  • Stooge: A wrestler, manager, or road agent who acts as a "spy" for the promoter, informing them of any indiscretions committed by the wrestlers on the road. Longtime WWF manager Mr. Fuji, who was very much one of these, was often called "Fuj the Stooge" on WWF TV by opposing babyfaces, and former road agents Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson would become the on-air "stooges" during the Attitude Era.
  • Stretching: The act of physically harming aspiring wrestlers in the ring, both to drive off uncommitted wannabes and humble future trainees. Usually by way of holds meant to strain or other cause discomfort. Not done so much anymore, out of legal fears and the fact that many wrestlers nowadays are not trained shooters.
  • Take liberties: To shoot, or inflict actual pain on someone during a match in a manner that was not agreed upon beforehand. This is not the same as working stiff or working strong, or a botch that causes injury. This is to beat up the other performer and hurt them legitimately for no reason, typically while limiting or negating their ability to fight back. This is considered a dick move of the highest order. When John Layfield beat up the Blue Meanie at the ECW One Night Stand pay per view in 2005, he took liberties with the Blue Meanie. This is still a step below "going into business for yourself" which also involves going against the previously decided finish.
  • Territory system: Refers to the system of promoting professional wrestling in the United States until the rise of national wrestling promotions. This was a de facto monopoly in which each promoter held exclusive rights to promote wrestling in a given area of the country. With the exception of the AWA and the WWWF (from 1963 to 1971), these promotions recognized the NWA World Champion.
  • Transitional Champion: Someone who wins a title from one performer to pass it to another who couldn't beat the old champion for whatever reason. Usually because they were both babyfaces. Sometimes because a champion had a looming injury or suspension and there wasn't time to build a match with the other performer, so they drop the title to their current opponent. Bill Goldberg's 2017 WWE Universal Title win is an example; there wasn't time or interest in building a feud between then-champion Kevin Owens and Brock Lesnar, so Goldberg beat Owens and lost the title to Lesnar a month later at WrestleMania.
  • Underneath: The bottom half of a wrestling card, typically working matches before the intermission. Wrestlers working underneath are the lowest full-time wrestlers in a promotion, typically only ranking above part-time TV jobbers. In the territory days, underneath matches would have shorter time limits and restrictions from the booker (no two men on the floor at the same time, no color) in order to not eclipse the top wrestlers.
  • Work: The opposite of a shoot. The art of constructing believable storylines and matches to further the fictional story told in pro wrestling.
    • Work is also a wrestler's ability to perform in the ring. And can also refer to any performer's ability to immerse the audience in the product. The best wrestler may not always be the best worker.
  • Worked Shoot: An angle or promo designed and executed in such a way as to attempt to convince the viewers it was real, spontaneous or unplanned. CM Punk most famously delivered a worked shoot promo (the "pipe bomb") on Raw on June 27, 2011 about the state of WWE and why he was planning to leave it.
  • Wrestler's Court: A Kangaroo Court proceeding backstage, with respected veteran wrestlers as "judge", "jury", and "prosecutor". Wrestler's court was used to mediate disputes between wrestlers or punish behavior considered unruly to the locker room, usually by some sort of compensation in terms of gifts and/or favors. Wrestler's court is now considered very controversial, as many feel it was often used as a tool to haze younger wrestlers, and has largely been phased out since around the beginning of the PG Era in the late 2000s.
  • Wrestling Psychology: In-ring acting ability, which includes both portraying a consistent attack strategy, and ability to sell the other guy's blows. Good psychology is what make a match look more like a believable competition, and less like two guys taking turns hitting each other until one of them suddenly loses.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report