Wrestling Vocabulary

For a new wrestling fan, or the wrestling-curious, jumping into a conversation between two veteran viewers often goes like this…

(Curtain rises on a conversation already in progress between OLD FAN #1 and OLD FAN #2. Just then, NEW FAN enters and approaches)

NEW FAN:
Hey what are you talking about?

OLD FAN #1:
We’re chatting about the push Kofi’s getting right now on the Road to WrestleMania and how we hope they don’t hotshot the angle.

OLD FAN #2:
Yeah, i’d like to see them give Kofi the gold and let us see if he can really be a draw. Funny to think just a few years ago he was a jobber, and even before that he was Kayfabe-Jamaican. What a weird gimmick. What do you think?

NEW FAN:
Uhhhhhh….. Could you say that all again, but, slower?

(fin.)

There is a language specific to discussing wrestling. Here at Much Ado About Wrestling, we strive to teach a new vocab word each episode, but there are simply too many terms and phrases to smarten you up on for us to explain each episode. So, we’ve created this glossary of sorts of common wrestling jargon. We hope that this reference will help your transition into fandom go smoothly.


| A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

#


24/7 Rule
A condition that allows a championship to be defended in an impromptu match any time, anywhere, so long as a referee is present. Examples include the WWF Hardcore Championship, and the DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship.
Watch: Crash Holly defending under 24/7 Rule at Fun Time USA


A

Ace
Japanese term for the marque performer of a wrestling company. It’s American counterpart is a “Top Guy.”

Agent
An employee who travels with the wrestlers and acts as a liaison between the wrestlers and management. In WWE, they’re referred to as Producers, and are often responsible for working with the wrestlers to come up with match finishes.

Angle
An ongoing story-line.

Apron
In a wrestling ring, the flat portion of the mat that extends beyond the ring ropes. In Kayfabe, moves performed on the apron are more impactful since this is the “hardest part of the ring.”

Authority Figure
A character who’s in-story responsibilities include day-to-day operations of the company, and matchmaking.
Synonyms: General Manager, Commissioner, President, COO.


B

Babyface
The role of the good guy, hero, or protagonist in a wrestling angle or match.
Synonyms: Face 
Antonyms: Heel

Backstage Segment
A dramatic element of wrestling programming, where home viewers, live viewers, and commentators witness the goings-on of wrestlers backstage, but in storyline other wrestlers are unaware.
Watch: CM Punk meets Steve Austin in a backstage segment

Backyard Wrestling
Type of wrestling often performed by non-trained wrestlers without a ring or in other dangerous circumstances. Popularized in the late 90s, and prompted the WWE’s visual signature “Do Not Try This At Home.”
Watch: This National Enquirer TV news piece from the 90s about backyard wrestling

Battle Royal
A match type where a large number of wrestlers occupy the ring simultaneously, with the winner being the last person to be thrown over the top rope to ringside, with both feet touching the floor. Used historically in territory wrestling shows as a main event when lacking a true drawing performer.
Watch: This battle royal from an episode of Raw in the early 90s

Being The Elite
A YouTube series that blends kayfabe angles and behind-the-scenes for members of the Elite wrestling faction. Pre-cursor to All Elite Wrestling.
Watch: Being The Elite

Big 4
The four original and most prestigious WWE produced pay-per-view events: WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, and The Royal Rumble.

Blading
To secretly cut oneself above the hairline, producing blood-flow for dramatic effect. An ever-increasingly rare practice in prominent promotions.
Watch: Eddie Guerrero blading in a match with JBL. Caution, there’s lots of blood.

Blind Tag
1. In a tag match, when a tag is made without the consent or awareness of one partner.
2. In a tag match, when a tag is made without the opponent’s awareness.

Blow Off
The final match in a feud.

Blow Up
As a wrestler, to become legitimately exhausted during a match.

Bomb
A wrestling throw, where the opponent is typically lifted into the air and then thrown flat on their back. The most popular variant of the bomb is the Powerbomb.

Booker
The person responsible for writing out the match card. To book is to determine the storylines and match outcomes.
Synonym: Promoter

Botch
To accidentally perform a maneuver incorrectly. To screw up your performance.

Brand Split
The dividing of the WWE talent roster into separate touring and performing entities, or brands. First appeared in 2002 and phased out after 2011, reappearing in 2016. Current brands are Raw, Smackdown, and NXT.

Breaker
A wrestling throw that involves the wrestler typically slamming an opponent’s neck or back against a part of the wrestler’s body, usually the knee, head or shoulder.

Broadway
A match that ends in a 60-minute time limit draw. More frequently used during the territory days and Bronze Era of wrestling.

Bump
1: A controlled fall on the mat or ground.
2: To perform a controlled fall on the mat or ground.

Bury
To lower the status of a wrestler in the eyes of the fans.

“The Business”
Insider term wrestlers use when describing the collective art form of pro wrestling.

Busted Open
To bleed profusely.

Buster
A wrestling slam that results in the opponent landing face or head first on the mat. Typical variants are the brainbuster or the facebuster. The Spinebuster, however, is not in the family of “buster” moves, due to it’s focus on slamming the back.

Burning Hammer
A wrestling move where an opponent is laid out on a wrestler’s shoulders face up and dropped head first to the mat. In Japanese wrestling, this move is treated as a legendary super-finisher that is rarely kicked-out of.


C

Call In The Ring
To determine the action and sequencing of a match on the fly. Wrestling’s answer to improvisation. Calling a match is the opposite of planning spots, though a match can contain both.

Card
The listing of matches that make up an evening of pro wrestling, boxing, MMA, or other combat-based programming.

Catch-As-Catch-Can
Literally, wrestling where all holds are permitted. More commonly, referring to the popular British style of wrestling, dating back to the carnival circuit, and focusing on transitions between submission holds.

Chain Wrestling
Sequencing of wrestling moves that blend into each, and feature multiple reversals. Often used at the opening of a match, ending in a standoff and applause break from the audience, as a way to dramatically communicate that the wrestlers are evenly matched and technically proficient.

Chair Shot
A spot where one wrestler strikes another with a folding chair. Chair shots can be protected, where the wrestler taking the move puts his hands or arms in front of the chair to take the impact, or unprotected, where the chair makes direct contact usually with the head. Unprotected chair shots are banned from WWE.

Unprotected
Protected

 

Champion’s Advantage
Referring to the rules of a championship match, where the title can only change hands on a pinfall or submission finish, meaning a champion retains on a DQ, Count-out, Draw, or any other finish.

Cheap Heat
Gaining boos from the audience by insulting them directly. Usually obtained with insults specific to the town.
Watch: Elias get’s the cheapest heat possible in Seattle.

Cheap Pop
Gaining cheers from the audience by praising them directly. Usually obtained by specifically praising the town.

Chop
A wrestling strike where one wrestler hits the opponent’s neck or chest with the edge of their hand. Popular in wrestling matches for their dramatic sound and red marks left on the opponent.

Clean Finish
A match ending where the victor defats the loser without any interfering, controversy, or cheating.
Antonym: Dirty Finish

Color
Blood. To get color is to bleed during a match.

Comeback
A dramatic element of a wrestling match, the moment after prolonged offensive drought when the babyface executes a number of offensive maneuvers.

Comedy Wrestling
A genre of wrestling that focuses less on execution of athletic moves, and more on campy in-match storylines.

Corpse
As a performer, breaking character by laughing during a moment when your character shouldn’t laugh.

Count-Out
A possible match finish, where one or more competitors are located ringside and are unable to re-enter the ring after the referee’s count of either 10 or 20 seconds.

Crimson Mask
The visual of a wrestler who obtains a cut on the forehead or hairline, causing blood to cover the entire face, as if they were “wearing a crimson mask.”

Cruiserweight
Weight class in wrestling for any wrestler under 220 or 205 pounds. Usually has a higher focus on high-flying moves and faster paced matches.

Curtain Jerker
A wrestler known for being in the opening match of the card. Excels at building the energy of the crowd, similar to a warm-up comic.

Cutter
A wrestling move type where a wrestler puts the opponent in a 3/4 front headlock and drops to the mat, crunching the opponents neck or head. Popular variations are the Stone Cold Stunner, the Diamond Cutter, and the RKO.


D

Dark Match
A wrestling match that is not televised on an otherwise televised event.

DDT
A wrestling move where the wrestler puts the opponent in a front headlock and then drives their head into the mat. Created and popularized by Jake Roberts.

Deathmatch
A match type and style of wrestling where the elements of hardcore styled wrestling are expressed through ultra-violent means such as C4, barbed wire ropes, and light tubes.

Developmental
Label for any promotion that is seen as a feeder system to a larger promotion. A training ground for new wrestlers rather than a promotion seeking to make money.

Dirt Sheet
Pejorative term for a wrestling magazine or website that reports on professional wrestling in a non-kayfabe way.

Dirty Finish
A match ending where the victor defeats the loser through means of cheating, interference, or general controversy.

Divas
Archaic term for WWE female wrestlers. Typically characterized as an era by focusing more on sexual charisma than in-ring workrate.

Dive
A type of arial wrestling maneuver where a competitor jumps through or over the ropes onto an opponent ringside.

Double Turn
A dramatic storytelling element where two wrestlers swap their babyface/heel characterization over the course of a promo or match.

DQ
A match finish type, where a wrestler is disqualified. Common means of disqualification include the use of weapons, interference from other wrestlers, or attacking the referee. Typically, championships cannot change hands due to DQ.

Draw
A wrestler who’s popularity brings in an audience either in ticket sales, television rates, or merchandise sales.

Driver
A wrestling maneuver base where the opponent is dropped head-first from a fully vertical base. The most well-known variants are the Piledriver and the Death Valley Driver.

Drop
To lose a championship title.

Dropkick
A common wrestling move where a wrestler jumps into the air and simultaneously kicks the opponent with two feet.

Dusty Finish
A match finish type where one wrestler appears to win a match, only to have the match result overturned or restarted due to some technicality. Named after wrestler and promoter Dusty Rhodes.


E

ECW
Extreme Championship Wrestling, a defunct wrestling company that ran from 1992-2001 starting as a Philadelphia-based territory of the NWA and finishing as a nationally televised independent promotion, focused on hardcore wrestling and “extreme” counterculture. Paul Heyman acted as booker and owner. Some of the promotion’s most notable stars included Raven, Sabu, Taz, Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, and the Dudley Boyz.

Enforcer
A wrestler character type, usually a silent and strong character who acts as a bodyguard or insurance policy for a small and brash wrestler. Also know as a heater.


F

Face
Shortened version of Babyface, the good guy in a wrestling match.

Faction
A group of 3 or more wrestlers who are aligned for a singular purpose. The typical make-up includes some combination of one singular star, one enforcer, one up-and-coming star, and one tag team unit.
Notable examples: The Four Horsemen, N.W.O, Bullet Club.

Fall
The technical way that a match ends. A finish typically includes a fall.

Falls Count Anywhere
A match type where pin falls or submissions are counted both inside and outside of the ring.

False Finish
A dramatic element of a match where a wrestler kicks out of a pin attempt after a finishing move or similar sequence that could otherwise logically end a match.

Feud
An angle continued or revisited over a prolonged amount of time.

Finish
The method and manner in which a pro wrestling match ends.

Finisher
A move specific to each wrestler that is frequently used as the finish of a match. In storyline, finishers are more impactful and devastating than normal moves.

Five Star Match
Term for a superbly wrestled match. Can refer to the star rating of wrestling journalist and editor of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer, but can also be used in a general sense.
Read: This list of the top-rated matches as rated by Dave Meltzer

Foreign Heel
A stock character type that hails from a foreign country and hates the home country of the promotion as a way to gain cheap heat for themselves and cheap support for their opponents. The performer does not need to be of the nationality for which they portray, and could simply be characterized as a “sympathizer” rather than foreign-born. Some notable Foreign Heels include The Iron Sheik, Muhammad Hassan, and Yokozuna.

Foreign Object
Term for any illegal weapon introduced into a match giving the bearer an unfair competitive advantage.
Listen: This Mountain Goat’s song “Foreign Object”

Freebird Rule
A story-line rule allowing three members of a tag team to hold a tag team championship simultaneously, as long as any two members are active competitors in any title defense. Named after “The Fabulous Freebirds.”

Future Endeavor-ed
Insider term for being fired from the WWE. “We wish them the best in their future endeavors,” is the common language used in official press releases announcing these terminations.


G

G1 Climax
An annual tournament hosted by NJPW over the course of many shows, with the winner obtaining the right to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Title at WrestleKingdom.

Gaga
An overabundance of campy dramatic elements.

Garbage Wrestling
Pejorative term for poorly structured or performed hardcore or deathmatch wrestling.

Giant
A stock wrestling character, known for being taller or larger than most other wrestlers and usually being silent to add to mystique. Some notable giants include Andre the Giant, The Big Show, The Undertaker, or Braun Strowman. Giants with a tinge towards the supernatural are often referred to as “monsters.”

Gimmick
1. A wrestler’s specific character.
2. A match with a stipulation is a gimmick match.
3. To make an item illegitimate.

Go-Away Heat
Boos from an audience that are aimed at the performer rather than the character they portray.

Go Home
To begin the final dramatic sequence of a wrestling match.

Go Over
In booking, to be chosen as the winner of a match.

Go-Home Show
The last free televised show before a Pay-Per-View event. Often used to sell the Pay-Per-View rather than further story-lines.

Going Into Business For Yourself
Changing the scripted outcome of a match without permission, on the fly during the match.

Gold
Nickname for a championship title. NWA’s Heavyweight Title is commonly referred to as “Ten Pounds of Gold.”

Gorilla Position
The area directly behind the curtain where management watches and orchestrates a wrestling event, named after former wrestler, announcer, and producer Gorilla Monsoon.

Grand Slam Champion
A career accomplishment where a wrestler wins the 4 main titles in a promotion. Usually includes a world title, two secondary titles, and a tag team title. A modern Grand Slam champion in WWE has won either the WWE Championship or Universal title, the Intercontinental Title, the US Title, and either the RAW or Smackdown Tag Team Titles.


H

Hard Camera Side
The seating area where the camera filming a wrestling event’s mastershot is located. This is the camera that most wrestlers look into during promos, and where the most important moments of a match are cheated-out to.

Hardcore Wrestling
Wrestling genre that includes the use of weapons and a lack of traditional rules like count-outs or disqualifications.

Hardway
A non-planned instance of a wrestler bleeding. The opposite of blading or getting color.

Heat
1. An intense reaction from the audience, usually desired by the performer portraying the heel. The opposite of a pop.
2. Out of story-line anger in the locker room aimed at one wrestler for their conduct.

Heel
The role of the bad guy, villain, or antagonist in a wrestling angle or match.
Antonyms: (baby)face.

Hell In A Cell
1. An annual WWE Pay-Per-View since 2009.
2. A WWE-specific cage match variant, where the cage extends beyond the ringside area, and has a roof.
Watch: The Hell In A Cell match between The Undertaker and Mankind, which provided arguably some of the most re- watched moments in wrestling history.

Highspot
A sequence in a match containing a move perceived as or legitimately dangerous.

Hot Tag
A dramatic element of a tag team match where a member of the face team is able to tag in their fresh partner after a prolonged sequence of being beaten-down by the heel team.

Hotshot
To re-write a wrestling story-line to get to it’s conclusion faster, either for business, creative, or injury purposes.

House
The number of people attending a wrestling event live.

House Show
A touring wrestling event that is not televised. Used primarily to test out new angles or wrestlers.


I

Impact
1. The flagship weekly television program for the Total Nonstop Action promotion
2. The independent wrestling promotion started in 2002, formally known as Total Nonstop Action, founded by Jeff Jarrett and currently run by Anthem Sports and booked by Don Callis. The company was notable for holding the NWA Championship for some time, the usage of a six-sided ring, and the x-division. Some of it’s most notable stars through it’s run include AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Sting, Booby Roode, Bully Ray, Broken Matt Hardy, Christopher Daniels, Gail Kim, Bobby Lashley, EC3, and Christian Cage.

Impact Test
Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test, a computerized test that WWE currently requires wrestlers to pass in order to compete on their programming. Notable wrestlers of the 90s such as Mick Foley and Rob Van Dam have been said to fail this test.

Independent Contractor
The terminology for how WWE considers their wrestlers, as opposed to being full-blown employees of WWE. This distinction prevents the rise of a wrestler’s union, and means the WWE does not provide benefits, health insurance, tax relief, or travel compensation.
Watch: John Oliver talk about independent contractors

Independent Promotion
A wrestling promotion that operates on a local level as opposed to a national one. Independent promotions typically don’t sign wrestlers to exclusive contracts and don’t have nationally syndicated television programming. To WWE, “the indies” refers generally to any other wrestling promotion.

Indy Darling
A pro wrestler who is popular among fans of non-televised or independent wrestling promotions.

Interference
A dramatic element of a match where a non-competitor strikes or distracts one of the competitors in the match, often leading to a dirty finish.
Synonyms: Run-In

Interview Segment
A type of scene on a wrestling television show, where a wrestler is interviewed somewhere backstage, usually to tease action in the ring that will take place later in the evening. This can be subverted, by having an impromptu attack take place mid-interview from a wrestler entering from off-camera.
Watch: Dusty Rhodes deliver a classic promo during an interview segment

Ironman Match
A match type where the winner is determined by having the highest number of falls scored in a set amount of time, normally 30 or 60 minutes. Dramatically, an Ironman match is often used as the conclusion to feuds that feature previous lengthy matches or time-limit draws.

IWC
Internet Wrestling Community, a catch-all term for fans who discuss wrestling on the internet and are on the pulse of behind-the-scenes goings-on.


J

Jobber
A wrestler known for losing to other wrestlers in a way that makes them look good. To job, is to lose . A freelance jobber is often referred to on-screen as “local talent.”


K

Kayfabe
Holdover term from wrestling’s carny days, the convention of presenting staged events as authentic. The suspension of disbelief that makes pro wrestling an art form. Comes from crude Pig Latin for “Be Fake.” To keep kayfabe is to stay in character.

Kick-Out
To use leg strength while being pinned to move your shoulders off the mat.

King Of The Ring
An annual tournament and Pay-Per-View in WWE from 1985-2002 and again in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2015. Typically, this event was won by a wrestler looking to transition to main event status.
Watch: Steve Austin with the most infamous moment from King Of The Ring
Watch too: Shane experiencing non-gimmicked glass at King Of The Ring


L

Ladder Match
A match type where the winner is the first person to climb a ladder and retrieve a championship belt, briefcase, or other item hanging high above the ring. The use of the ladder as a weapon is considered legal.

Lariat
A wrestling strike where one wrestler runs at an opponent and hits them with a stiff curled arm to the neck or chest, forcing them to the ground. The most notable variant of this, is the Clothesline.

Legit
On-air descriptive term for wrestlers who at one time previously were competitors in non-scripted combat sports.

Loser Leaves Town
A match stipulation where the loser is storyline fired. Holdover from the territory days when a performer’s contract for a specific region was coming to a close, as a way to explain their absence. In modern times, this is still used to write off a performer who needs to take time off for any reason.

Lucha Libre
A wrestling style predominant in Mexican wrestling. Literally translates to “free fight. Known for it’s focus on high-flying moves, quick pace, masked wrestlers, and lack of gender or size gap in ring psychology.

Lumberjack Match
A match type where the ringside area is populated of wrestlers not officially in the match, who act as a barrier who are legally allowed to force a match competitor back into the ring if they attempt to leave. Similar visually to a stereotypical “gang fight” in popular culture.


M

Main Event
The last match on a wrestling card or the attraction that people most paid to see.

Manager
A non-wrestling character type that acts or speaks on behalf of another wrestler, and is used in storyline to help gain additional heat.

Mark
Holdover term from wrestling’s carnival days, meaning a paying customer who isn’t inherently aware of the scripted nature of wrestling. To mark out, is to be wrapped up in the drama of a moment of a wrestling match that you temporarily forget that it’s scripted.

Mask
A common character identifier in Mexican wrestling that prevents the audience from seeing the true identity of the performer. A masked character can be passed down through generations from performer to performer, similar to multiple actors taking turns playing James Bond.

Mask Vs. Hair
A match stipulation popularized in Mexican wrestling, also known as “luchas de apuestas,” where the loser of the match typically must un-mask, shave their head bald, or make other various displays that bring them intense shame.

Match
A competition between two or more wrestlers, used as the basic dramatic building block of wrestling events and what storylines build towards. The match is the equivalent of a scene in a play or movie, or a game in sports.

Monday Night Wars
The period between 1995-2001 where WWE and WCW ran opposing programming on Monday nights, resulting in a swell of wrestling popularity in the mainstream cultural lexicon. The victors in these weekly “battles” were usually determined through the Nielsen Ratings. The war ended when WWE bought WCW in 2001. WWE’s brand split has been viewed as a way to have an internal version of this brand-focused competition.
Further Reading: “The Masked Man” David Shoemaker writes about the end of the war

Money In The Bank
1. An annual WWE Pay-Per-View since 2010.
2. A WWE-specific match type that resembles a ladder match with the added stipulation that the winner receives a briefcase that entitles them to one impromptu match for any championship for one year.

Mouthpiece
A manager, valet, or wrestler who takes over promo and interview duties for a wrestler who’s not particularly strong as a verbal actor.


N

Near-Fall
A pin attempt where the pinned wrestler kicks out at the last possible moment.

New Japan Pro Wrestling
A Japanese wrestling promotion founded in 1972 by Antonio Inoki. It is the largest wrestling company in Japan, and the second largest currently in the world. The promotion is known for its focus on strong-style wrestling, it’s openness to working with other promotions, and it’s lack of over-the-top storylines. The current booker is Gedo, and some of it’s most notable stars through it’s history include Inoki, Great Muta, Tiger Mask, Vader, Keiji Mutoh, Shinya Hashimoto, Masahiro Chono, The Great Sasuke, Jushin Thunder Liger, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazuchica Okada, Kenny Omega, and Hiroshi Tanahashi.

Nitro
WCW’s flagship weekly three-hour show on TNT. Ran from 1995-2001 and was prominent in the Monday Night Wars.

No-Sell
To provide little to no reaction to the offensive maneuver of another wrestler.

NWA
The National Wrestling Alliance. The dominant promotional body of the territory days of pro wrestling. Formed in 1948 and continuing in it’s original format until 2012, the NWA oversaw talent exchanges between various regional territorial promotions, and through a governing body determined the overall World Champion. Most notable American promotions were at one time affiliates of the NWA. Currently, Smashing Pumpkins lead singer Billy Corgan owns the rights to the NWA and has been promoting the NWA Championship throughout various promotions and showcasing it on the YouTube program “Ten Pounds of Gold.” Some of the most notable wrestlers of the NWA’s heyday included Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, Terry Funk, The Rock N Roll Express, Lou Thez, and Buddy Rogers.

NXT
The third brand of WWE. Originally a reality-show based program, NXT transitioned to a developmental promotion in 2012. NXT is based out of Florida, with HHH as booker, and runs weekly television on the WWE Network with quarterly Supercards called “TakeOvers.” NXT is known for it’s presentational style focused on a lack of gimmicks, dark lighting, and adherence to traditional wrestling storyline conventions. Some of the notable stars through their history include Seth Rollins, Adrian Neville, Paige, Finn Balor, Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura, Johnny Gargano, Tomasso Ciampa, Tyler Breeze, Asuka, Bayley, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks.


O

Over-Sell
To provide too much reaction to the offensive maneuver of another wrestler, often a sign of legit disrespect.


P

Parts Unknown
A place that mysterious or monstrous wrestlers are said to be billed from, in order to build mystique.

Pay Per View
A wrestling event that occurs monthly or quarterly that is thought to be the conclusion of storylines established on weekly televised programming. The term comes from the price of admission to watch, but is now antiquated in WWE where all Pay-Per-Views are included in the price of a WWE Network subscription.

Performance Center
A WWE-owned complex in Florida, where new wrestlers are trained and experienced wrestlers rehab from injury. The Performance Center is where NXT is based out of.

Piledriver
A wrestling maneuver where a standing wrestler holds their opponent in an upside-down position and drops to a seated position, driving the opponent’s head into the mat. This is possibly the most famous classic wrestling move, and also the most legitimately dangerous. The traditional Piledriver is currently banned in WWE, and would results in a disqualification in Mixed Martial Arts.

Pinfall
The most common way to finish a wrestling match, by pinning your opponents shoulders to the mat for a referee’s count of three seconds.

Pipe Bomb
On-air terminology for a promo delivered in a worked-shoot style that is presented as a performer going off-script to air grievances. Popularized by CM Punk.
Watch: CM Punk’s famous Pipe Bomb before the legit end of his WWE contract.

Plex
A wrestling throw that involves a wrestling lifting their opponent and falling or bridging to slam their opponent’s back into the mat. The most common variant is the Suplex.

Pop
The audible reaction a wrestler’s entrance, match finish, wrestling move, or theatrical moment receives from the audience.
Watch: Steve Austin get a gigantic pop

Popcorn Match
A match who’s purpose on a wrestling card is to provide simple to understand entertainment. Usually these matches are short, and “digestible” like popcorn.

Potato
To accidentally hit an opponent with a real punch or strike.

Powder
A wrestler takes a powder when they roll out of the ring to regain their composure, allowing other wrestlers to take center stage in the ring. Wrestling’s answer to a character in a play going off-stage.

Pre-Tape
A segment on wrestling television that doesn’t take place live, but rather is filmed and edited in advance.

Promo
1. A wrestling soliloquy, where a wrestler vocalizes his acting objective.
2. To cut a promo, is to perform a wrestling soliloquy.
Watch: Scott Steiner shows us how NOT to do a promo

Psychology
The dramatic unfolding of a match. A wrestler who has good psychology is known for making any action of a match look believable.

Push
To move a wrestler into a more prominent starring role on the show.

PWI 500
An annual list from Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine that ranks the best 500 wrestlers in the world. The list historically favored kayfabe in their rankings, but has since blended a mix of kayfabe and critical rankings, such as when mid-card wrestler Dean Malenko was ranked number one in 1997.


R

Raw
WWE’s flagship weekly 3-hour television show, currently airing on USA network, and running since 1993. Formerly known as “Raw Is War,” Raw is one of the two brands in WWE’s brand split, and is known for historically having bigger marquee names and more over-the-top story segments, and its red color scheme.

Receipt
A real strike or move performed as payback for an earlier move performed incorrectly or too stiff.

Referee
In storyline, the official enforcing the rules of the match. In reality, also responsible for communicating timing cues and general notes from the backstage production team to the wrestlers in the ring.

Ref Bump
A dramatic element of a match, where a referee is temporarily incapacitated and unable to perform his duties by either accidental or intentional contact.

Rematch Clause
A storyline contract clause that entitles a wrestler who’s recently lost a championship to a rematch.

Repackage
To re-introduce a wrestler who’s been off televised events for some time with a different or tweaked gimmick.

Rest Hold
A wrestling move that doesn’t incorporate much movement, such as a headlock or arm wrench, that allows the performers to communicate or conserve their energy. It can also be used to gain heat for a heel character who is perceived as intentionally giving the audience a “bad match.”

Rib
A prank. To do a rib is to pull a prank on another person.Someone known for pulling pranks is a ribber.

Ringside
The area directly between the outside of a wrestling ring and before the fans.

Ring General
A wrestler known for shouldering the duties of calling the majority of the action in the ring.

ROH
Ring of Honor. A wrestling promotion that formed in Baltimore in 2002 and founded by Rob Feinstein. ROH is known for its focus historically on mat-based wrestling, “code of honor” handshakes at the beginning of matches, identity as an “all-star show of the indies,” and for producing a number of future WWE stars. Currently, ROH is a global syndicate of Sinclair Broadcasting and booked by Delirious. Some of the notable stars through it’s history include Bryan Danielson, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, The Briscoes, Tyler Black, CM Punk, Adam Cole, Claudio Castagnoli, Austin Aries, Nigel McGuinness, Kevin Steen, El Generico, Jay Lethal, and Dalton Castle.

Rope Break
A dramatic element of a match where a wrestler in a submission hold or pin attempt makes contact with a ring rope, thus forcing the opponent to break the submission hold or risk being disqualified by the referee.

Royal Rumble
A match type variant of a battle royal, where two wrestlers start the match with a new wrestler entering every 60 seconds. A wrestler is eliminated when they are thrown over the top rope and both feet touch the floor. The winner of the Royal Rumble typically earns the right to challenge for a World Title at WrestleMania. Can also refer to the WWE Royal Rumble “Big 4” Pay-Per-View event as a whole, where the Royal Rumble match takes place.

Run-In
A dramatic element where a wrestler comes from the backstage area mid-match to interfere.


S

Sault
An aerial wrestling move type where a wrestler incorporates a backflip in some fashion. The most common sault is the moonsault.

Schmoz
A match or segment that ends in some sort of controlled chaos, rather than a definitive decision.

Screwjob
1. A storytelling device where the match ends in controversy with one wrestler unfairly losing.
2. The Montreal Screwjob is an infamous incident from Survivor Series 1997 where the scripted finish of a match between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart was changed without Hart’s knowledge, as a way to take the Championship off him without convincing him to lose it before he departed to work for a rival company.

Secondary Title
A singles championship title that is not as prestigious in storyline as the World Title. Some notable secondary titles are the WWE Intercontinental Championship, the WCW United States Championship, and the ECW Television Championship.

Sell
To make an opposing wrestler’s offense look good and believable.

Senton
An aerial wrestling move type where a wrestler incorporates a front flip and lands on their opponent back-first. The most popular Senton is Jeff Hardy’s Swanton Bomb.

Shoot
To perform a legitimate wrestling maneuver or say something out of character during a promo.

Signature Move
A specific move that a wrestler performs regularly, but does not lead to the finish of a match as frequently or is perceived as devastating as their finishing move.

Skin The Cat
To hang onto the top rope when thrown over, and following it by lifting your legs over your head to return to a vertical base inside the ring. Used to dramatic effect in battle royal type matches.

Slam
A wrestling maneuver that involves one wrestler picking up their opponent and using momentum to bring them back to the mat. Some popular slams include the Chokeslam, Body Slam, and Running Powerslam.

Smackdown
A weekly television program from WWE, founded in 1999 and currently airing on USA Network with a move to Fox coming this calendar year. Smackdown is one of the two brands in WWE’s brand split and is known for its focus on in-ring action, historical categorization as a “b show,” and it’s blue color scheme.

Smark
Pejorative term for a wrestling fan who thinks they know everything that is going on behind the scenes, yet is still a “mark.”

Spanish Announce Table
A Spanish-language commentary booth typically situated next to the lead English announce team. Known for being the table that usually takes the impact of a big spot or bump first in an event.

Splash
An aerial wrestling maneuver where the wrestler lands on his opponent chest-first and does not incorporate flips. Some notable splash variants include the Frog Splash or Crossbody.

Sports Entertainment
WWE’s term for “Pro Wrestling.” Coined to erase negative popular stigmas of “rasslin,” and to avoid paying state athletic commission fees by admitting publicly that the product is performance art instead of regulated competition.

Spot
A planned dramatic moment within a match, usually of the high-risk or prop-based variety.

Spotfest
Derogatory term for a wrestling match that is primarily made up of spots and lacks substantial technical wrestling.

Spotmonkey
A derogatory term for a wrestler known to rely on spots to get their match over with the crowd.

Springboard
A type of aerial wrestling maneuver classification, where the offensive competitor begins the move by jumping from the ropes away from the turnbuckles.

Squared Circle
1. Term for a wrestling ring.
2. Moniker of the popular pro wrestling subreddit.

Squash
A short match where one wrestler dominates the opponent from beginning to end. Used often to establish a new wrestler as skilled.

Stiff
A move performed with more actual force behind it than usual.

Stipulation
Any condition given to a match that the wrestlers are fighting for, beyond a championship title.

The Streak
The undefeated streak for the Undertaker at WrestleMania that took place between WrestleMania VII and WrestleMania XXX, where The Undertaker was defeated by Brock Lesnar.

Street Fight
A match type that is characterized for being a “fight” rather than a “wrestling contest,” and usually involves no disqualifications, falls counting anywhere, and an emphasis on brawling and weapons. It is used dramatically in feuds with an abundance of “bad blood” involved, and visually presents wrestlers in a more casual wardrobe of jeans and t shirts.

Strong Style
A wrestling style that incorporates combat striking and aims to tell a logical, realistic-looking, competitive story. Popularized and commonly found in Japanese wrestling.

Subject To Change
Terminology in wrestling event promoting, that allows for changes in the story-line without having to give money back to customers.

Submission
1. A match finish type where a wrestler loses by verbally giving up or signaling as much by tapping their hands to the mat vigorously.
2. Any move that is a lock or hold used in the hopes of making the opponent tap out.

SummerSlam
An annual Big 4 WWE Pay-Per-View since 1988, that occurs, as the name suggests, in the Summer. Known as the premier event during the non-WrestleMania focused months.

Super Finisher
1. A type of wrestling maneuver where a finisher is performed from the top rope to the mat. 2. A dangerous wrestling move that is seldom used by a wrestler and brought out for special moments.

Supercard
A wrestling event that features multiple high profile matches, appearances, or mainstream media attention. The premiere annual event for a wrestling promotion, a season finale of sorts.

Superkick
A wrestling maneuver where one wrestler delivers a straight kick to the face of their opponent who oversells. A popular variant of the superkick is Shawn Michael’s Sweet Chin Music.

Supernatural
A wrestling stock character type, that refers to any character who incorporates magic or mysticism into their feuds. Some notable supernatural wrestlers are The Undertaker, Bray Wyatt, or Broken/Woken Matt Hardy.

Superstar
WWE’s term for “wrestler.”

Survivor Series
An annual Big 4 WWE Pay-Per-View since 1987, known for taking place on or around Thanksgiving and for feature a number of 5-on-5 elimination styled matches.


T

Tables Match
A match type where the first wrestler to put their opponent through a table, wins.

Tag Team
1. A pair of wrestlers who function as a unit.
2. A tag team match involves one member of each team fighting in the ring at a time, as the “legal man,” and the other member standing on the ring apron. The legal man changes when the wrestlers tag each other by making contact. Upon any tag or pin attempt, both wrestlers are allowed to enter the ring for a short amount of time at the referee’s discretion.

Talk Show Segment
A segment on a televised wrestling show where one wrestler acts as host to other wrestlers to either further their own story-line or someone else’s. Some notable talk show segments include Piper’s Pit, The Highlight Reel, MizTV, and The Barber Shop.
Watch: Roddy Piper does some bad guy stuff with a coconut on Piper’s Pit

Technician
A wrestler known either in kayfabe or in reality for their mastering of multiple wrestling holds and moves. Usually, technicians are known for their ability to have a good match with anyone.

Territories
The collection of regional wrestling promotions popular before the rise of WWE, and mostly overseen by the governing body of the National Wrestling Alliance.
Read: This map of the territories during their heyday.

The Road To WrestleMania
The time annually in WWE between The Royal Rumble and WrestleMania, where all story-lines are building to WrestleMania.

Theatrics
Wrestler-specific movements that distinguish their version of a common maneuver from everyone else’s versions. When The Rock adds theatrics to a common elbow drop, it becomes The People’s Elbow.

Thunder
WCW’s secondary weekly television program, airing on Thursday nights on TBS between 1998-2001.

Titan Tron
WWE term for their jumbo-tron at the top of their entrance ramp. Jokingly named after Titan Sports, the parent company of WWE.

TLC
A match type variant of the traditional ladder match, where the use of tables and chairs as weapons is also legal.

TNA
Defunct name of the active wrestling promotion Impact Wrestling. Standing for Total Nonstop Action, TNA started as an NWA’s flagship program following the close of WCW. The “TNA years” of Impact’s history now reference the time where the company was run by Jeff Jarrett, Dixie Carter, and Panda Energy.

Top Guy
The most popular, prominent, and financially important wrestler in a promotion, regardless of their story-line status as a championship title holder or not.

Transitional Champion
A champion who holds the title for a short amount of time between two long title reigns, often used to transition the title between babyface wrestlers without having them wrestle each other.

Triple Threat
A match type where three wrestlers compete simultaneously, with the procurer of the first fall typically named the winner.

Turn
To switch between being a face or a heel. Often used for shocking dramatic effect.

Tweener
A wrestling stock character who is between a heel and face. Wrestling’s answer to the anti-hero.


U

Unsanctioned Match
A wrestling match type that the promotion is kayfabe against staging. Usually one performer has a kayfabe injury or condition, forcing them to sign a contract for the match stating the promotion is not liable for their safety. Used in particularly personal feuds.


V

Vacant
The state of an active championship title without an active title holder.

Valet
Term for a female wrestling manager.

Vignette
A produced video package shown to the audience, typically to hype or introduce a new wrestler.
Read: This piece about the vignettes leading to Chris Jericho’s WWE debut.

Video Package
A dramatic video recap of a wrestling feud, shown on a pay-per-view directly before that feud’s match as a way to bring casual or new fans up-to-speed on the story. Wrestling’s version of “previously on…”
Watch: The video package for the main event of WrestleMania X-7

Vince McMahon
Owner, booker, and chairman of WWE. The most infamous person and character in professional wrestling. The Walt Disney of wrestling.


W

War Games
A match type created by Dusty Rhodes and popularized by Jim Crockett Promotions and WCW, where two rings are placed side-by-side with steel cages around them. Typically, two teams of five wrestlers face off in a timed staggering entry format, and the match ending only by a pinfall or submission after all parties have entered the match.

WCW
World Championship Wrestling. A defunct wrestling promotion that ran from 1988-2001 when it was bought by WWE. The promotion moved from being part of Jim Crockett Promotions and the NWA to being an independent company owned by Ted Turner’s Turner Broadcasting System. WCW’s identity focused first on being southern-styled mat based wrestling in opposition to WWE’s overly-dramatic wrestling. In the mid-90s the focus shifted to presenting an edgier program that blended kayfabe wrestling with insider characters spearhead by the popular N.W.O faction. WCW’s lasting legacy is tied to being part of the Monday Night Wars and coming close to putting WWE out of business. Eric Bischoff was WCW’s most notable booker, and some of their big stars included Ric Flair, Sting, Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash, Goldberg, Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page, and cruiserweight standouts such as Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, and Chris Jericho.

Weddings
A dramatic wrestling element where two wrestlers attempt to have a public wedding in a wrestling ring, often leading to stylized melodrama.

Work
Insider term for any performance of pre-determined story-line pro wrestling.

Worker
Insider term for a wrestler. A good worker is typically someone proficient in a number of wrestling maneuvers who’s good at selling for other wrestlers.

Workrate
The amount of actual wrestling maneuvers in a match as opposed to overly dramatic moments. A match with a high workrate often more closely resembles the presentation of an actual athletic sporting contest.

World Title
The most prestigious championship in a large or global promotion.
SAT-Styled Analogy – Winning a World Title in wrestling is to winning any other title in wrestling as winning a Major in golf is to winning any other tournament in golf.

WrestleMania
WWE’s flagship Supercard event and annual Spring Pay-Per-View since 1985. Often considered the “Super Bowl of Wrestling.” colloquially referred to as “The Grand-daddy of them all.”

WrestleMania Moment
A significant victory or dramatic performance used as a touchstone for a performer’s body of work. In a way, having a WrestleMania Moment to a wrestler is like winning an Oscar to an actor.

Wrestler’s Court
A backstage kangaroo court often used to settle differences or correct professional behavior of performers, and has been cited as having wildly different levels of sincerity attached to it. In most “court cases,” Mark Calaway (The Undertaker) has proceeded as Judge.

Wrestle Kingdom
New Japan Pro Wrestling’s supercard event taking place annually in January since 2007. Before Wrestle Kingdom, this supercard was known by many names but commonly called the “January 4th Tokyo Dome Show.”

Writer
The term for non-wrestling personnel in WWE who are tasked with creating dialogue for performers backstage or in-ring promos or segments.

WWE
Founded in 1952, (formerly Capitol Wrestling, World Wide Wrestling Federation, and World Wrestling Federation) World Wrestling Entertainment is a media pro wrestling venture and publicly-traded company considered the forefront in the industry, and run by Vince McMahon. Notable stars throughout their history include Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Mankind, Steve Austin, The Rock, HHH, The Undertaker, Kurt Angle, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Batista, Edge & Christian, The Hardy Boyz, The New Day, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Chris Jericho, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, The Miz, AJ Styles, Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair, Lita, Chyna, and Trish Stratus.

WWE Hall Of Fame
WWE’s list of honored wrestling personalities, active from 1993-1996 and again from 2004 to the present, with new inductees being selected from an unknown internal process and inducted at a ceremony during WrestleMania weekend.

WWE Network
The subscription-based streaming service and video library for WWE, established in 2014. Home to original programming, it is replacing the Pay-Per-View model of wrestling. If you’re reading this close to a Pay-Per-View event, it means you could probably sign up for the WWE Network for one month for free.

WWE Universe
Company-wide and on-camera name for the fan base of WWE.


X

X Division
Impact Wrestling’s answer to a lightweight or cruiserweight division, the X Division doesn’t have a weight limit and focuses on lightning quick athletic performance, innovative aerial moves, and the Ultimate X match type.

X Signal
A gesture where a referee crosses his arms in the air, signaling to the backstage production team that a performer is legitimately injured.
Watch: A fan caught video (ie, it’s loud) of an injury, where the ref’s throw the X signal.


Y

Young Boy
Term in Japanese wrestling for wrestlers who are in training.