Glossary of professional wrestling terms

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Professional wrestling has accrued a considerable nomenclature throughout its existence.[1] Much of it stems from the industry's origins in the days of carnivals and circuses.[2] In the past, professional wrestlers used such terms in the presence of fans so as not to reveal the worked nature of the business.[1][2] In recent years, widespread discussion on the Internet has popularized these terms.[1] Many of the terms refer to the financial aspects of professional wrestling in addition to in-ring terms.[2]


A wrestling event where a company's biggest draws wrestle.[1]
A group of a wrestling promotion's top stars who wrestle at an A-show.[1] (compare B-team)
To suddenly discontinue a feud, angle, or gimmick due to a lack of fan interest, usually without explanation.[1]
A term typically only used in Japanese puroresu for a wrestler designated as the face of the promotion. Not necessarily the same as the top champion. Examples of modern aces include Hiroshi Tanahashi in New Japan Pro Wrestling and Suwama in All Japan Pro Wrestling.[3][4]
Agent (also producer)
A management employee, often a former wrestler (though it can be a current wrestler), who helps wrestlers set up matches, plan storylines, give criticisms on matches, and relay instructions from the bookers. Agents often act as a liaison between wrestlers and higher-level management and sometimes may also help in training younger wrestlers. They are referred to by WWE as "producers".
A cooperative relationship developed between two or more wrestlers, whether wrestling as a tag team or in individual matches. Alliances are often formed for the specific purpose of retaining titles between the members of the alliance, or to counter a specific foe or group of foes. The formation of an alliance can be a storyline of its own.[5]
A fictional storyline. An angle usually begins when one wrestler attacks another (physically or verbally), which results in revenge.[2] An angle may be as small as a single match or a vendetta that lasts for years. It is not uncommon to see an angle become retconned due to it not getting over with the fans, or if one of the wrestlers currently involved in the angle is fired.
Apter mag
An old-style professional wrestling magazine that sticks to kayfabe articles.[1] The term refers to the magazines at one time connected to journalist Bill Apter, such as Pro Wrestling Illustrated.[1]


A wrestling event featuring the middle and lower-level talent of a wrestling promotion. Sometimes includes well-known wrestlers making a return or finishing up their career.[1]
The group of wrestlers on a B-show.[1] Frequently, the B-team will wrestle at a venue the same night wrestlers on the A-team are wrestling in a different event, although a promotion will sometimes schedule an event with B-team wrestlers to test a new market.
A wrestler positioned as a hero, who the crowd are typically cheering for in a match. Often simply known as a face.
The Shield performing a beat down on Kane
Beat down
A situation in which a wrestler or other performer is the recipient of a one-sided beating, usually by a group of wrestlers.[1]
A wrestler intentionally cutting themself to provoke bleeding. Also known as "juicing" or "gigging".
Blind tag
A tag made in a tag team match where the wrestler on the apron tags his partner unbeknownst to them or without their consent. It can also refer to such a tag where the tagger's opponent is unaware a tag has occurred, leaving them open to a blindside attack. Most often occurs when the partner in the ring is thrown against the ropes or backed into their own corner.
Blown spot
A missed spot.
Blow off
The final match in a feud.[1] While the involved wrestlers often move onto new feuds, sometimes it is the final match in the promotion for one or more of the wrestlers.[1]
Blow up
To become exhausted during a match.[1]
To determine and schedule the events of a wrestling card. The person in charge of setting up matches and writing angles is a "booker".[1] It is the wrestling equivalent of a screenwriter. A booker can also be described as someone who recruits and hires talent to work in a particular promotion. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa defined a booker in 1956 as "[...] any person who, for a fee or commission, arranges with a promoter or promoters for the performance of wrestlers in professional wrestling exhibitions".[6] Booking is also the term a wrestler uses to describe a scheduled match or appearance on a wrestling show.[1]
To attempt a scripted move or spoken line that does not come out as it was originally planned; a mistake.
Broadway (also Going broadway)
A match that ends in a time limit draw.
To fall on the mat or ground.[1][7] A flat back bump is a bump in which a wrestler lands solidly on their back with high impact, spread over as much surface as possible.[1] A phantom bump occurs when a wrestler or referee takes a bump without a plausible reason (usually due to a botch or other mistake).[1]
Burial (also bury)
The worked lowering (relegation) of a popular wrestler's status in the eyes of the fans. It is the act of a promoter or booker causing a wrestler to lose popularity and credibility by forcing them to lose in squash matches, lose continuously, allow opponents to no-sell or kick out of said wrestler's finishing maneuvers, or participate in unentertaining or degrading storylines. It can be a form of punishment for real-life backstage disagreements or feuds between the wrestler and the booker, the wrestler falling out of favor with the company, or the wrestler receiving an unpopular gimmick that causes them to lose credibility regardless of their win-loss record.
Professional wrestling; instead of "profession" or "sport".[2]
Bust open
To start to bleed, usually from the head after being hit with something like a chair, and typically after blading.


An event featuring the lowest level of talent in a promotion, most notably rookies and entry-level talent. Often used as a derogatory adjective.
To instruct the other wrestler of what is going to happen in the match.[1]
The lineup of the matches that will be staged at a given venue for a given performance.[1] The card is generally performed in a roughly inverse order to the way in which it might be printed for posters or other promotional materials. The major matches between well-known opponents may be for "titles" and are said to be "top of the card" or "headliners" while the preliminary matches between lesser-known opponents are said to be the "undercard".
A term for a wrestler whose purpose is to use their in-ring abilities to make their opponents look as good and strong as possible. This is different from an "enhancement talent" in that a wrestler is used as a carpenter because they are recognized as having great in-ring abilities and experience. Often (but not always) a carpenter is an older, more experienced wrestler, tasked with making less experienced wrestlers (often in the beginning stages of receiving a push) look like a credible threat going into their next program. In modern times, a carpenter is also used when a company is preparing to present a recent signee who may not be familiar to the audience, in an effort to help the wrestler best showcase their abilities.
The act of one wrestler guiding a typically less experienced performer through a match. Also refers to a match or angle in which a particularly skilled performer is able to make an inferior wrestler look good, or is perceived to be doing all the work.
Championship advantage
A reigning champion's right to retain a title, should he or she lose a championship match by countout or disqualification.[8] Also called "champion's advantage".[9]
Cheap heat
The incitement of a negative crowd reaction by insulting the crowd en-masse, typically by bringing up something unrelated to the wrestling business, usually used in a negative light.[1][2]
Cheap pop
The incitement of a positive crowd reaction by "kissing up" to the crowd. Heels often follow the same principle, but in reverse to get booed (see "Cheap heat" above).
Cheap shot
An underhanded tactic, such as a low blow or a foreign object to get an advantage over an opponent.
Clean finish
A match ending without cheating or outside interference, usually in the center of the ring. (Compare "screwjob")
Clean wrestling
Matches pitting two babyfaces with no storyline animosity against each other, both obeying the rules throughout. Such matches are characterized by an emphasis on displaying technical wrestling skill instead of working the audience and a general air of sportsmanship. Although a staple of British and Japanese wrestling, it is uncommon in North America. One notable "clean" match which took place in North America is Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI in 1990.[10]
Closet champion
A titleholder (usually a heel) who ducks top-flight matches, cheats to win (often by managerial interference), and—when forced to wrestle good opponents—deliberately causes themself to be disqualified (since titles often do not change hands by disqualification) to retain the title.[1]
The amount of bloodshed in a match.[1][11][12]
A match in which a wrestler is being dominated and then manages to turn things around and fight back successfully. Usually done by faces to earn sympathy. The expression "feeding a comeback" refers to something heels do to increase the dramatic impact of a comeback.[13] May become a false comeback if ended prematurely. Known informally as "Hulking up" in reference to Hulk Hogan's signature comeback trait.
Crimson mask
A face covered in blood, comparable to a mask.
An event which occurs when two or more rival promotions put together one card or wrestling event. Some promoters have used cross-promotion style angles to further interest. Cross promotion dates back to the early days of wrestling as challenges between rival promoters in the same area often occurred.


The Fabulous Rougeaus performing a double team maneuver
Dark match
A non-televised match at a televised show (compare house show).[1] A dark match before the show is often used to test new talent or warm up the crowd.[1] A dark match after the show typically features main-event level wrestlers, in order to sell more tickets and send the crowd home happy, without affecting TV storylines.
Deathmatch wrestling
The bloodiest and most violent form of hardcore wrestling, popular in Japan, Mexico, and some parts of the United States. In deathmatch wrestling many of the traditional rules of professional wrestling are not enforced and the usage of objects such as barbed wire, panes of glass, fluorescent light tubes, weed whackers, among others, occurs. Deathmatches are typically much bloodier and more violent than the typical wrestling contest.
Dirt sheet
An insider newsletter (or website) in the professional wrestling business. Sometimes written in a negative tone or as a means to "get dirt". Not to be confused with traditional news.[14]
Double team
A tactic used in a tag team match when both members of a tag team gang up on one of the opponents, or a move that involves two wrestlers working in unison.
Double turn
The occurrence when both the face and the heel switch roles during an angle or a match. Arguably the most famous example is that of Stone Cold Steve Austin versus Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13, where Austin entered as a heel and Hart entered as a face, but due to Austin fighting on through blood and passing out to a move by Hart, the two switched roles to end the match.
A wrestler or program that attracts the attention of the audience; someone fans are willing to pay to see. Derived from the term "drawing money", meaning the wrestler makes money for the promotion.[1]
To lose a match or championship (the loser agreed to drop the match to the winner).
Dusty finish
A finish in which the face appears to win a big match, but the decision is later reversed due to some sort of technicality, such as interference by other heels to save the heel champion, as, in most federations, the title could not change hands on such a disqualification. It can also refer to an ambiguous finish to a match where neither wrestler can be claimed the winner.[1] The "Dusty" in the term refers to Dusty Rhodes, who booked many such finishes in National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and later in World Championship Wrestling (WCW).[1]


Kane (second left) as enforcer for The Authority
A (typically larger) wrestler who accompanies another to matches and acts as a bodyguard.[1] This term was coined by Arn Anderson, whose nickname was "The Enforcer". The term can also refer to an individual who acts in a "special guest referee" capacity from outside the ring, ostensibly to maintain order.
A wrestler (typically a Mexican luchador) who competes in drag. Examples of exóticos include: Mexico's Pimpinela Escarlata, America's Goldust, and Japan's Yosuke Santa Maria
Extreme wrestling
A style of professional wrestling that makes frequent use of highspots and weapons. Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) is known for using this style. Prior to its acquisition by WWE, Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) was also known for this style, presenting it as an alternative to the WWE's and WCW's product.


Also referred to as "babyface". A wrestler who is heroic, who is booked to be cheered by fans.[1] Heels are the opposite of faces, and faces commonly perform against heels.
Face-in-peril (also "playing Ricky Morton")
In a tag team match, the member of a face team who is dominated by the heel team for an extended period of the match. The tactic can be used to help get the crowd behind the face tag team and is usually followed up with a hot tag. During the 1980s, Ricky Morton of the Rock 'N' Roll Express was typically in this position while teaming with Robert Gibson; so much so that "playing Ricky Morton" has become synonymous with the term.
Face of the company
A wrestler that represents the wrestling promotion that they are a part of, and frequently appears on merchandise, promotions and television adverts, amongst other things. They can be a top champion, or simply a recognisable wrestler. (Compare ace)
The ending of a match. A fall is obtained by gaining a decision in any manner, normally consisting of a pinfall, submission, count-out, or disqualification. In a two out of three falls match, or a Mountevans Rules match, a wrestler must gain two decisions to win instead of only one. (See near-fall)
Fallout show
The first televised show after a pay-per-view. (contrast with go-home show)
False comeback
A brief offensive flurry by a face, before losing momentum back to a heel after being dominated for several minutes.[1] Usually, it occurs before the actual comeback. Also known as a "hope spot"
False finish
A pinfall attempt which is kicked out of, usually after a finishing move or series of high impact moves, and usually kicked out of just before the referee counts to three. This builds crowd anticipation towards the actual finish.
A staged rivalry between multiple wrestlers or groups of wrestlers. They are integrated into ongoing storylines, particularly in events which are televised. Feuds may last for months or even years or be resolved with implausible speed, perhaps during the course of a single match.[1]
Fighting champion
A champion who defends his title often.
The planned end of a match.[1] (See Dusty finish and clean finish)
A wrestler's signature move that usually leads to the pinfall or submission.
Five moves of doom
A particular combination of moves that a certain wrestler tends to use in every match, often in the same sequence, usually ending with their finisher. This term is usually used pejoratively, though it was not originally intended so by Dave Meltzer, who coined the term in the 1990s to describe the finishing sequence of Bret Hart, and is most notably used today to describe the common finishing moves of John Cena.
Foreign object
A weapon that is not allowed to be used in the match. Usually found under the ring or ringside, in a wrestler's tights, or handed to wrestlers by managers, interfering wrestlers or (less commonly) audience members. If a foreign object is used behind the referee's back, it usually leads to a pinfall. However, the same object is typically less effective in a match where it is legal.
Free agent
Somewhat similar to professional sports, "free agent" is a term used to describe a professional wrestler who is not under contract to a single major promotion. A wrestler who is a free agent can appear for multiple independent promotions. The term is also used within the WWE promotion to describe certain wrestlers who are not exclusive to one of their brands, being able to appear and perform on any brand (e.g., John Cena, who became a free agent in 2017 and is their only active free agent).


Mike Rotunda used a tax collector gimmick as Irwin R. Schyster
Steroids,[1] or stamina (as in "out of gas").
Exhausted or out of breath during a match.
The blade a wrestler uses to cut themself.[1]
The character portrayed by a wrestler. Can also be used to refer specifically to the motif or theme evoked by a character, as indicated by their name, costume or other paraphernalia.
Glorified jobber (also Jobber to the stars)
A jobber who defeats "pure jobbers" as well as mid-card wrestlers in matches, but consistently loses to main event level wrestlers.
Go away heat
When a wrestler, heel or face, evokes a negative reaction not through their working of the audience but because the audience are not entertained by the wrestler and do not want to watch them perform. (See X-Pac heat)
Go home
To finish a match. One wrestler would tell the other to "go home" when it is time for them to execute the planned ending for their match. Referees may also tell the wrestlers to go home (usually after receiving word to do so from a producer backstage).
Go-home show
The final televised show before a pay-per-view event. So named because the promotion will often have no house shows (aka untelevised events) in the next few days before the pay-per-view, in order to give the wrestlers a chance to literally go home and rest up so they may bring their A-Game at the pay-per-view. (contrast with fallout show)
Going into business for him/herself
When a wrestler refuses to "sell" to their opponent to get themselves more "over".
A championship belt.
Go over
To beat someone.[1]
Gorilla position
The staging area just behind the curtain where wrestlers come out to the ring, named after Gorilla Monsoon.
Refers to a wrestler who is in the early stages of their career and, as a result, may be prone to making mistakes because of their inexperience.[1]
A deep cut that bleeds a lot,[12] usually caused by a mistake while blading, but can be intentional.[1]


Hardcore wrestling (also garbage wrestling)
A style of wrestling that emphasizes brutality and real violence with matches typically involving minimal technical wrestling, instead focusing on moderate brawling techniques and the use of weapons.
A wrestler bleeding by any means other than blading, typically from a legitimate strike or potato.
Head drop
A move which, as a result of a botch, causes the receiver to be dropped on their head, often resulting in a legit concussion or other injury such as a broken neck. Also, especially in puroresu, the term can refer to a bump which is intended to make a move appear as if the receiver landed on his or her head. In reality, the full force of the move is intended to be taken on the upper back and shoulders, though such moves still carry a high degree of legitimate risk with them.
Negative reactions from the live fans. When the heat is directed at a heel this is seen as a positive, as it means fans are reacting in the desired way. Also used to describe real-life tension or bad feeling between two wrestlers.
A wrestler who is villainous, who is booked to be booed by fans.[1] Faces are the opposite of heels, and heels commonly perform against faces.
The top-ring rope moves or the series of moves or maneuvers, along with fast motions among two, three, or more wrestlers, that will perceived to be risky and very dangerous.[1]
A popular, arrogant heel persona associated with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Batista, and The Miz. Refers to the real-world fame of the wrestler.
A wrestler with strong legitimate mat-wrestling abilities and an array of match-ending (or in extreme cases, career ending) holds known as "hooks", hence the name.[1] One of the most famous hookers in wrestling history was world champion Lou Thesz.
A wrestler who is physically large, but lacks other skills. A match between two large men who use plenty of stiff strikes is sometimes known as a "hossfest".
A rushed feud, climax of a feud, or big match on television instead of at a pay-per-view in order to get a short-term boost for business.[1] Also applies to angles or turns that are done for shock value rather than acting as a part of an ongoing storyline.[1]
Hot tag
In a tag team match, the face's tag to a fresh partner after several minutes of being dominated by both heels, usually immediately followed by the freshly tagged partner getting in a quick burst of offense.[1] Often the hot tag happens after several teases (where the other face is enticed into the ring, only to be stopped by the referee and the heels getting away with illegal tactics, or a legal tag being made while the ref is distracted, resulting in the referee forcing the fresh partner out of the ring because "he wasn't tagged in.")
The amount of money drawn at a particular event.
House show (also live event)
An untelevised event.


Impromptu match
A match that takes place, specifically on pay-per-views, that was not announced on the card before the event.
Independent promotion (also indie promotion)
A smaller wrestling company that operates at a local (rather than national) level and typically employs freelance wrestlers, as opposed to signing wrestlers to exclusive contracts.
A term used by WWE during their brand extension to reference a match between the Raw, SmackDown, or ECW brands.
Also known as cross promotion. A match or event involving wrestlers from two or more different promotions wrestling, usually against each other, on the same card.
The act of someone who is not part of the match getting involved; this may involve distracting or assaulting one or more of the participants in the match.
Invasion storyline
A storyline in which a group of wrestlers from one promotion appear in another promotion. In some cases, this happens suddenly without advance warning or notice, and usually involves the invaders attempting to take the promotion over.
Internet wrestling community; the community of social media users (some of them smarks) who discuss professional wrestling online on social media platforms. The WWE has referred to this community as the Internet sports-entertainment community.[15]


Jerk the curtain
To wrestle the first match of the card. Refers to the curtain separating the entranceway from backstage. A wrestler commonly booked in this position is a "curtain jerker".
To lose in a wrestling match, usually overwhelmingly in squash matches.
A wrestler who routinely loses in order to build the credibility of other wrestlers; also referred to as "enhancement talent".[1]
Steroids.[1] Also blood,[2][11] usually from the forehead.[1]
Jumping ship
To leave one promotion with intentions of performing in another.


The presentation of professional wrestling as being entirely legitimate or real. Prior to the mid-1980s, this was universally maintained across all wrestling territories and promotions.
To use the legs to kick or power out of a pin by using the force made to lift the shoulders off the mat.
King's Road
This term describes the style of wrestling All Japan Pro Wrestling uses. It is a fusion of the Japanese strong style and a more American style of professional wrestling. King's Road practitioners incorporated increasingly more stiff strikes and head drops during the 1990s.


Short-form of "legitimate". This term refers to real-life incidents or events that have not been booked or scripted and are therefore not part of the fictional and kayfabe presentation. It is often used to describe a genuine injury to a wrestler, as opposed to one scripted as part of a storyline. It can also be used to describe a wrestler with a genuine background in another combat sport (typically boxing, other wrestling codes or mixed martial arts) and so has proven 'real' fighting skills.
A wrestler who is not over with an audience and is perceived as a failure.
Local competitor
An unsigned wrestler that is usually put into squash matches with company wrestlers to build the other's momentum. Often used so known wrestlers from the promotion do not have to job.
Lock up (also link up)
A portion of a match, usually the very start of the match, where two wrestler join together in a collar-and-elbow tie up.
A wrestler who typically wrestles near the beginning of a show and does not participate in major storylines or matches. Often seen as being at the bottom of a promotion's hierarchy.
Lumberjack (m)
Lumberjill (f)
A wrestler, typically, who stands close to the ring, usually in a lumberjack match, in which he or she (and others similarly called upon) are to forcibly return to the ring any wrestler who attempts to leave or is expelled therefrom. Usually, in the case of a heel, he or she is actually helping one or more (rarely all) wrestlers.
Lucha libre
Mexican professional wrestling. Translates to "free fight" and is sometimes shortened to simply lucha, the Mexican style of professional wrestling is characterized by high-flying aerial moves, colored masks, and the rapid series of holds, strikes, and maneuvers.
The specific fusion style of Professional wrestling that could involve the high-flying acrobatic moves of lucha libre and the suplexes, strong martial arts strikes, physicality, and psychology of puroresu or strong-style wrestling.


Main event
The most heavily promoted, typically final match on a card.
Main eventer
A wrestler who wrestles in main events. Typically among the biggest stars in a promotion and considered to be a draw. Also called a "headliner".
A performer (usually a non-wrestler) who is paired with one or more wrestlers in order to help them get over. Typically managers are seen accompanying their wrestlers to the ring and are presented as having some sort of influence or sway over their wrestlers.
A wrestling fan who enthusiastically believes that professional wrestling is not staged, or loses sight of the staged nature of the business while supporting their favorite wrestlers.[16] Also sometimes used by industry insiders to describe a participant in the wrestling industry who believes that any aspect of the industry is more important than the money they can earn; for example, being preoccupied with holding a title belt rather than being paid more.[1] Although this term has lost most of its original meaning over time; the term has been also known to be related to people have little or no knowledge in about the backstage, the industry as a whole or overzealously defends a major company or product while ignoring all others. This sub term is called a "product mark". (e.g. WWE mark, TNA mark, ROH mark; etc.)
A wrestler whose job it is to feud with the future main event stars and help get them ready for the position. Other times, mechanics are the in-ring teachers helping younger wrestlers gain experience and ability.[17]
A wrestler who is seen as higher than a low-carder, but below a main eventer, typically performing in the middle of a show. Often wrestling for the secondary title of a federation. An "upper-midcarder" is a wrestler who can transition between the midcard and occasional main-event programs.[1]
Missed spot
A move or series of moves which are mistimed. Also called a "blown spot" or sometimes "mis-selling".[1]
Money mark
Someone who founds or invests in a wrestling promotion mainly to associate with wrestlers, often willfully or ignorantly disregarding financial risks a profit-focused investor would avoid.
André the Giant was a notable monster heel late in his career
Money match
A highly promoted non-title match at or near the end of a card, which is a main selling point for an event.[1]
An extremely powerful, seemingly unbeatable wrestler, either face or heel, who often wins matches in a quick, one-sided manner.
A manager who does the promos, or all the talking, for a wrestler possessing poor oration skills.[1]
Muta scale
An informal measure among some fans of the amount of blood lost by a wrestler during a match. The scale begins at 0.0 Muta (no blood), with 1.0 Muta being equivalent to the blood loss of Great Muta during an infamous 1992 New Japan Pro Wrestling match with Hiroshi Hase.[18]


An occurrence in which a wrestler's shoulders are pinned to the mat for a count of two, but the wrestler manages to escape before the referee's hand hits the mat a third time, which would signify a pinfall. "Two-and-a-half count" or other fractions used to denote even closer "counts", such as "two-and-three-quarters", are often used many times in matches to build excitement. Occasionally related to a "false finish".
No contest
A match that ends in a draw; has no winner. This is often the result of the winning conditions for a match being impossible or unlikely to occur due to the circumstances of the match.
To show no reaction to an opponent's offensive moves; a way to demonstrate endurance, appear invulnerable to pain, legitimately undermine an opponent or to illustrate masochistic tendencies. Compare sell.
A wrestler not showing up for a match.[1] No-shows can be staged for storyline purposes. Legitimate no-shows are less frequent, and the offender typically faces disciplinary action.
Nuclear heat
A higher level of heat, when fans are agitated to the point of being legitimately angry or upset.
Number one contender
The wrestler who is next in line for a championship match.


One definition describes it as being popular with the audience.[1] Another definition describes it as achieving the desired reaction from the fans. Babyfaces who are over will be cheered, and heels who are over will be booed. Sometimes particular aspects of a performer's presentation may be over (such as a specific move they perform or their ring entrance) without the performer themselves being considered over.
Open Challenge
When a wrestler issues a challenge to anyone on the roster without knowing in advance who his opponent will be. This is usually done to show a wrestler's return (such as Ryback's return on October 27, 2014) or to show a new wrestler or team being called up to the main roster or otherwise making their debut for a promotion (such as The Revival answering an open challenge issued by The New Day on April 3, 2017). Alternatively, it could be used to portray a babyface as being willing to take on all-comers (such as John Cena defending the WWE United States Championship in regular open challenges in 2016 and 2017).
To show too much of a reaction to an opponent's offense. The match between Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels at SummerSlam in August 2005 gained infamy because Michaels frequently over-sold Hogan's moves.


The Ultimate Warrior was popularly billed as being from Parts Unknown
To give out tickets to an event to make it look better attended than it otherwise would have been.
Paper champion
A weak or easily beaten champion, usually awarded the title by dubious means.
Parts Unknown
A vague, fictional location. Billing a wrestler as being from "Parts Unknown" (rather than from his real hometown or another actual place) is intended to add to a wrestler's mystique. In some territories, the phrase commonly was applied to masked wrestlers, such as Kane. In the post-kayfabe era, it is used less and less, and usually with a certain air of levity. Sometimes, wrestlers can hail from other similarly abstract places, for example Stardust being billed from "The 5th Dimension" or Damien Demento being billed from "The Outer Reaches of Your Mind".[19]
The culmination of an angle or storyline with the intention of providing gratification for the fans. Typically involves a face finally overcoming a dominant heel.
Philly pop
The act of a promotion bringing in a former ECW wrestler when in Philadelphia.
Holding a wrestler's shoulders to the mat for a three count, to win a fall.
Pipe bomb
A worked shoot promo where the wrestler giving the promo appears to break kayfabe. The wrestler, usually scripted to be extremely frustrated, can rip anything from their own circumstances, fans, other wrestlers, backstage personnel, even the company itself. Usually the wrestler dropping the pipe bomb can incorporate what fans are already thinking and complaining about. While appearing to be unscripted, backstage personnel are usually aware of them ahead of time and can be used to dramatically alter storylines. This was a term first used by CM Punk.[citation needed]
A wrestler or actor who poses as a fan, usually seated in the front row of an event.[1] Plants are a good tool for a heel wrestler to gain heat from the crowd,[1] although there is a rare instance where said plant attacks the heel wrestler. At major shows, the plant is often a lesser-known wrestler from the independent circuit.[1] Sometimes the plant might be a heel wrestler's kid portraying a young fan who is disappointed in front of the crowd in ways seen as truly mean. A good example is the WWE debut of Santino Marella in 2007.
Policeman (or police woman)
A wrestler, often a respected or feared shooter or street fighter, responsible for enforcing the promoter's will against recalcitrant wrestlers by performing unscripted or painful moves within a match, punishing or intimidating them for defying the management. In today's industry it is a largely outdated because such tactics are illegal if they can be proved. Typically it is only still used by dirt rags and outside commentators who believe one wrestler is deliberately placed in matches against more dangerous opponents and injured deliberately after disagreements with management. While allegations of this sort persist, including being made by wrestlers themselves, few have been proven. Also referred to as a "house shooter".[1]
A cheer or positive reaction from the crowd.
A strike to the head which makes real contact. A wrestler who endures one or more potatoes is likely to potato the perpetrator back, which is known as a "receipt".
John "Bradshaw" Layfield (right) cutting a promo
The act of forcefully exiting the ring.
A series of matches in which the same wrestlers face each other.
An in-character interview or monologue.[1] Often includes either an "in-ring interview" or (on television) a skit by wrestlers and other performers to advance a storyline or feud.[1] The act of performing a promo is referred to as "cutting", as in "cutting a promo". When the promo is aimed at a specific opponent (which can be an individual, team, stable or faction), it is said to be cut "on" the target.
Protected finisher
A finisher that is made to look strong by having opponents kick out of the following pin attempt only very rarely, for example, the Big Show's Knockout Punch.
Pull apart
A brawl so vicious that the combatants need to be pulled apart by others.
Put Over
An established wrestler behaving in a way so as to make a lower reputation wrestler look good or on the same level.
Japanese professional wrestling. The term can be transliterated as "pro-wres".
The worked rising of a wrestler's status in the eyes of the fans.


Rasslin' (also wrasslin', Southern style, or more specifically, Memphis style)
Originally, along with "grunt-and-groan", used by the mainstream media when presenting a derisive story on professional wrestling, which often stereotyped the participants and audience. Now refers to a style of wrestling popular in Memphis, Tennessee and as a result, the southeastern United States, which emphasizes kayfabe and stiffness, generally with fewer squash matches and longer feuds, hence the more recent "Southern style" or to be specific compared to the Jim Crockett or Georgia styles, "Memphis style".
A term for returning a particularly stiff move back to a wrestler.
Ref bump
A scenario where the referee of the match takes a bump and is knocked out and taken out of the match, temporarily or permanently. This usually occurs to allow a storyline to progress.
Rematch clause (also return clause)
When a champion loses his or her title to another, this may be invoked to procure a title rematch in the near future. This fictional clause is often ignored in storylines.
Ted DiBiase Jr. performing a rest hold on Daniel Bryan
To give a wrestler a new gimmick.
Rest hold
A loose hold applied during a match, during which wrestlers catch their breath or plan the next series of spots together.[1]
A practical joke played by or on a wrestler.[1]
Ring general
An experienced wrestler who knows how to work a match to its full potential.
Ring psychology
The process of wrestling a match in such a way that the crowd becomes emotionally involved in the show. Performing an engaging match requires acting skills and a good grasp of dramatic timing.[20]
Ring rat
Similar to a groupie, one who frequents wrestling events to pursue sex with wrestlers.[1][21]
Ring rust
A detriment to wrestling ability resulting from lack of practice during a hiatus.
The nWo performing a run-in during WrestleMania 31
Helping a less popular wrestler get over by associating them with a more prominent wrestler.[22]
The unexpected entry of a new wrestler(s) or returning wrestler in a match already in progress.[1] Run-ins are usually made by heels, typically to further a feud with a face.[1] This is usually done with a "beat down". Sometimes a babyface will do a run-in to stop a heel from overly punishing a weaker opponent, usually setting up a feud.
Rushed finish
A match finish which occurs sooner (and often differently) than planned. It is used when a wrestler is legitimately injured and cannot continue as planned, when the match is approaching its time limit (or a television segment is running long), or after a botch significantly changes the plot of the match.


To sabotage a throw by letting one's body go limp instead of cooperating, which makes the throw much harder, if not impossible, to execute. This move is typically done deliberately to make the attacker appear weak or unskilled, but can also be the result of a botch. Sandbagging can be dangerous, as many moves require specific actions by the target to lower the risk of injury.[1]
A crowd of wrestlers in a brawl, designed to end a match or angle.
A place where professional wrestlers are trained. These may be beginner schools with classes open to the general public, or high-end facilities operated by major companies (such as the WCW Power Plant, WWE Performance Center, TNA's Al Snow Wrestling Academy, or the New Japan Dojo) that accept students on an invitation-only basis.
An unfair and controversial finish, often involving cheating or outside interference.[1] A worked screwjob is part of the story, and is used to generate heat or sympathy. A shoot screwjob occurs when the finish is changed without informing the losing wrestler. One of the most famous screwjobs of all time happened at the 1997 Survivor Series, where Shawn Michaels won the WWF Championship from Bret Hart in what is now known as the Montreal Screwjob.
A person accompanying, or "seconding", a wrestler to a match.[23] Often a manager or a valet.
To react to an opponent's attacks in a manner that suggests to the audience that the attacks hurt.[1] Variations include "restoring", "medium sell", "big sell" and "death sell".[24] Compare no-sell and over-sell.
When a wrestler or personality deliberately goes off-script, either by making candid comments or remarks during an interview, breaking kayfabe, or legitimately attacking an opponent.
Shoot style
A style of professional wrestling that originates in Japan. Shoot style wrestling employs stiff strikes, realistic submission holds, and occasionally a round system or other specific rules and ways to win in an attempt to give professional wrestling a legitimate sports-like feel. Satoru Sayama and Akira Maeda in the UWF and Nobuhiko Takada in the UWFi popularized the style.
Signature move
A move a wrestler regularly performs, for which the wrestler is well known.[25]
Any part of a wrestling show that is not a wrestling match, such as a promo, a comedy sketch, or an interview.
Slow burn
A storyline that develops over a long period.
Short for "smart mark". Someone who has inside knowledge of the wrestling business, but is not speaking from their own personal experience with the business. Often used as a term of derision for know-it-all fans.[16]
Having inside knowledge of the wrestling business.[1]
A wrestler who wrestles a stiffer style, hits hard in safe places
Sports entertainment
The term the WWE uses to describe both its own product and professional wrestling as a whole. The term was first used by the promotion in the 1980s and is intended to acknowledge wrestling's roots in competitive sport and dramatic theater.
Any planned action or series of actions in a match.[1] A "high spot" is a particularly exciting move.[2] Other variations are the "comeback spot", "hope spot" and "take home spot". (See also: "missed spot")
The matches that could consist mainly or entirely of spots, along with many daredevil stunts and high impact moves, normally with little flow between moves and no logical transitions and with little or no story-telling.
Derogatory term used to denote a wrestler who is believed to only focus on high spots, whether they are acrobatic or not.
Squared circle
The wrestling ring.
An extremely one-sided, usually short match.[1] They generally feature star wrestlers against relatively unknown jobbers, usually to help get a gimmick or moveset over. An infamous example of this is the match between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg at the 2016 Survivor Series in which Goldberg won.
Stables can vary in size, from three-man units like The Shield (pictured) to large groups such as the Hart Foundation, with five. Both the Hart Foundation and the Shield had members hold tag-team titles while part of their stables.
A team of three or more wrestlers, usually heels (such as The Stud Stable), who generally share common motives, allies and adversaries within a storyline (or through multiple storylines). Stables sometimes have several members partake in more separate activities, such as Owen Hart and the British Bulldog having their own tag-team while also being part of the larger Hart Foundation.
Using excessive force when executing a move, deliberately or accidentally.[1]
Sting money
A term from the 1990s used to refer to a lucrative contract, such as the one held by Sting in WCW.[26]
Championship belt.
The act of causing physical harm to prospective professional wrestlers, usually by the means of submission holds. In the kayfabe period, this served the dual purpose of protecting the wrestling business from accusations of "being fake" and instilling humility in newer members of the locker room. A professional wrestling trainer notable for "stretching" his recruits was Stu Hart, in the infamous Hart Dungeon. Other wrestlers in various territories who were used to test potential newcomers were Danny Hodge, Bob Roop, and "Dr. Death" Steve Williams.
Any contact made by one wrestler to their opponent (e.g. punches, kicks, chops; etc.). The term is also used to describe a violation of WWE's wellness policy, with three strikes resulting in a wrestler being released from the promotion.
Strong style
A Japanese-inspired professional wrestling style that is worked, yet aims to deliver realistic performances, through strong martial arts strikes and worked shoots.[1]
Super finisher
A move rarely used by a wrestler, but almost always ends a match.[citation needed]
WWE's preferred term for a wrestler on its roster.
A sudden change in the direction of a storyline to surprise the fans. Often, it involves one wrestler turning on an ally in order to join a supposed mutual enemy. Swerves frequently start feuds between the former allies. This also refers to when a booker leads fans to believe that something is going to happen (or someone could appear) at a show, before doing something entirely different.[1]


Tap out
To submit to a hold by tapping on the mat (or the attacker's body), as in mixed martial arts, rather than verbally submitting, as was standard in professional wrestling until Ken Shamrock popularized tapping out in 1997. The tapout was introduced to professional wrestling shortly earlier by Tazz.[27] Tapping out may have also become more the norm thanks to the Montreal Screwjob.
To indicate a turn. A face teases a heel turn if he/she starts exhibiting heel behaviors and a heel indicates a face turn if he/she starts exhibiting face behaviors.
A "technician" is a wrestler who employs or masters so called technical wrestling style. Bret Hart is a commonly cited example of a great technical wrestler.[28]
The TitanTron (background) at Money in the Bank in July 2011
A video screen above the entrance stage area, used for showing entrance videos, backstage segments, and promos. A play on the name of Sony's JumboTron and Titan Sports, the then-parent company of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), the TitanTron was introduced as part of WWF's Raw set in the mid-1990s. The concept has since been adapted by other major promotions such as WCW who used the TurnerTron.
Title shot
The opportunity to face a reigning champion in a match in which their championship is on the line and can change hands.
Transitional champion
A short-reigning champion who serves to move the title indirectly from one wrestler to a third. They are usually used when the title is to be moved between two faces, to avoid requiring them to wrestle each other.
A switch in alignment of a wrestler's character. Turns involve a wrestler going from face to heel or vice versa.[1] There are two types of turns, the hard turn (which occurs quickly and acts as a surprise device) and the soft turn (a gradual shift in character).
A morally ambiguous wrestler who is neither a face nor heel (an in betweener),[1] also sometimes describes a heel who is usually cheered or a face who is usually jeered, especially when two faces or two heels face each other.


The state of two or more championships when merged by one champion.


The state of a championship not held by any wrestlers.
A person, usually an attractive female, who accompanies a male performer to the ring.[29] Usually serves to titillate or agitate the crowd, or to interfere in the match.[29]
Vanilla Midget
A derogatory term created by Kevin Nash to describe wrestlers who were good ring-workers but he believed to be too small or boring to ever succeed on a large stage.
Any piece of video footage featuring characters or events which is shown to the audience for the purposes of entertainment or edification. Usually meant to introduce a debuting character or to get a wrestler over before their TV wrestling debut.
Visual fall
A pinfall that the referee does not see, but the crowd does. It is usually followed by a late kickout when the referee eventually sees the pinfall and starts counting. It is used to heighten the drama of a match by showing that the pinning wrestler "would have had him".


Work (noun)
Anything planned to happen,[2] or a "rationalized lie".[1] The opposite of shoot.
Work (verb)
To methodically attack a single body part, setting up an appropriate finisher. Also, to deceive or manipulate an audience.
Worked shoot
The phenomenon of a wrestler seemingly going "off script", often revealing elements of out-of-universe reality, but actually doing so as a fully planned part of the show.[30]
Another term for wrestler. Often used in the context of describing skill level (e.g. "He is a good/bad worker").
The in-ring performance level a wrestler puts into their matches, judged by a combination of skill and effort. A wrestler considered talented in the ring has a "high workrate".
Wrestler's Court
A term used often to describe kangaroo courts held backstage with a congregation of wrestlers; this is often used to settle backstage disputes between performers.


X Division
A high-flying, high-risk, fast-paced style of professional wrestling which was originated in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). Rather than emphasizing the fact that most wrestlers who perform this style are under 220 lb (100 kg) by calling it a cruiserweight division, they decided to emphasize the high risk nature of the moves that these wrestlers perform, removing all restraints were placed on its wrestlers, allowing them to perform almost stunt like wrestling moves.
X signal
A signal used by referees during a match to indicate that a wrestler is unable to continue and may need medical attention. The referee will cross his arms and, if necessary, point to the injured wrestler. Since many fans are aware of the significance of the signal, it is now sometimes used in kayfabe fashion, to sell a storyline injury.
X-Pac heat
When fans boo a wrestler because they dislike the wrestler personally as opposed to the character he or she plays in the ring. Named after Sean Waltman, known as X-Pac, who was believed to have "overstayed his welcome" by some fans, and so was booed regardless of whether he was a face or heel character.[31]


Young boy
A rookie, particularly in Japanese professional wrestling. Also referred to as young lions for the trainees at the New Japan Pro-Wrestling dojo.


  1. ^ 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 aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz "Torch Glossary of Insider Terms". 2000. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved July 10, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kerrick, George E. (Summer 1980). "The Jargon of Professional Wrestling". American Speech. 55 (2): 142–145. doi:10.2307/3050508. 
  3. ^ Caldwell, James (April 1, 2015). "ROH news: New Japan's top star announced for ROH vs. New Japan tour, ROH releases "Field of Honor" details". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved June 11, 2016. 
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  5. ^ Nicholas Sammond, Steel Chair to the Head: The Pleasure and Pain of Professional Wrestling (2004).
  6. ^ Riley, Judge William F. (October 15, 1956). "United States v. National Wrestling Alliance (consent decree)". United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. As hosted at Wrestling Perspective. Retrieved September 17, 2011. 
  7. ^ Foley, Mick. Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks (p.65)
  8. ^ Ross, Jim (May 5, 2015). "Samoa Joe on Ross Report podcast tonight". JR's BarBQ. Retrieved July 30, 2016. 
  9. ^ Clapp, John (February 17, 2013). "WWE Champion The Rock def. CM Punk". WWE. Archived from the original on February 21, 2013. Retrieved July 30, 2016. 
  10. ^ Whatever Happened to Gorgeous George by Joe Jares, Tempo Books, 1974, p. 85.
  11. ^ a b Harley Race, Ricky Steamboat, Les Thatcher. The Professional Wrestlers' Workout & Instructional Guide (p.106)
  12. ^ a b Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Stone Cold Truth (p.90)
  13. ^ X-Pac on: Yokozuna. YouTube. 31 December 2014. 
  14. ^ Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Stone Cold Truth (p.83)
  15. ^ Benigno, Anthony. "WWE Raw results, April 13, 2015: Orton and Rollins make 'Extreme' decisions to shape Extreme Rules title match". Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  16. ^ a b "Grantland Dictionary: Pro Wrestling Edition". August 13, 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Pro Wrestling Primer: Glossary of terms". The Evil Eye Blog. 2009. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  18. ^ Mancuso, Ryan (September 11, 2006). "Complete Playbook: The Great Muta Vol. 2 Revenge of Muta Commercial Tape". Retrieved October 24, 2007. 
  19. ^ Cory Kilgannon (March 15, 2012). "From Inside a Bad-Guy Wrestler, a Brutal Artist Screamed for Release". The New York Times. Retrieved January 14, 2016. 
  20. ^ John Powell (June 18, 2000). "Booker T: Wrestling's consummate performer". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2008-06-17. 
  21. ^ Laurer, Joanie. If They Only Knew. pp. 192–93. 
  22. ^ Ross, Jim; J.R.'s Family Bar-B-Q® (December 24, 2013). "#RAW Christmas Feedback..." J.R.'s Place blog. Retrieved December 25, 2013. 
  23. ^ "AAA Triplemania 2017 today, complete lineup". Pro Wrestling Insider. Retrieved 18 December 2017. 
  24. ^ X-Pac on: Yokozuna. YouTube. 31 December 2014. 
  25. ^ Kaelberer, Angie Peterson (2003). The Hardy Boyz: Pro Wrestlers Matt and Jeff Hardy. Capstone Press. p. 44. ISBN 0-7368-2142-2. 
  26. ^ "The nWo". Legends of Wrestling. Season 1. Episode 28. 1 July 2011. 2 minutes in. Classics on Demand. WWE. 
  27. ^ Laurer, Joanie. If They Only Knew. p. 152. 
  28. ^
  29. ^ a b Jeff Clark (September 7, 2007). "The Luchagors Drop a Powerbomb". Stomp and Stammer. Retrieved 2007-10-02. 
  30. ^ The Masked Man (David Shoemaker) (June 28, 2011). "Punk'd". Grantland. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. 
  31. ^ "What is "X-Pac heat"?". 


  • Beekman, Scott. Ringside: A history of professional wrestling in America (Greenwood, 2006)
  • Foley, Mick (2000). Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-103101-1. 
  • Harley Race; Ricky Steamboat; Les Thatcher (2005). The Professional Wrestlers' Workout & Instructional Guide. Sports Publishing LLC. ISBN 1-58261-947-6. 
  • Kerrick, George E. "The jargon of professional wrestling". American Speech (1980): 142-145. JSTOR
  • Laurer, Joanie (2001). If They Only Knew. ReaganBooks. ISBN 0-06-109895-7. 
  • Mazer, Sharon. Professional wrestling: sport and spectacle (Univ. Press of Mississippi, 1998)
  • Murray, Thomas E. "The language of bodybuilding". American Speech (1984): 195-206. in JSTOR
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin; Jim Ross (2003). The Stone Cold Truth. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-7434-7720-0. 

External links[edit]