Push (professional wrestling)
In professional wrestling, a push is an attempt by the booker to make a wrestler win more matches and become more popular or more reviled with the fans depending on whether they are a heroic character ("face") or a villain ("heel"). It is not uncommon for a push to be accompanied by a turn or a change in the wrestler's gimmick. Pushing is usually done for new wrestlers. This is essentially the opposite of a burial (or depush), which in contrast to the high profile of a push is typically done with little or no fanfare. Sometimes the fans generate the push for a wrestler themselves when their approval for the wrestler's work generates a positive reaction from them that is not anticipated.
A push can also be attributed to a political shift in the promotion's offices. Cowboy Bill Watts, whose promotions always consisted of an African-American main event heroic character, began pushing Ron Simmons, a midcarder, to main event status and eventually to the WCW World Heavyweight Championship upon being put in charge of World Championship Wrestling (WCW). In WWE, following the fallout from the Signature Pharmacy Scandal, smaller and less muscular wrestlers such as CM Punk and Jeff Hardy began to get pushed and Vince McMahon confirmed the paradigm shift by mentioning that today's fans are drawn by charisma and not size.
Sometimes, a wrestler that bookers are high on and are pushed to excess and/or against the wishes of the fans, resulting into a negative reception. Some examples include:
- In the Memphis territory, a legendary promoter, Nick Gulas, began to push his son George to a main event spot despite having little in-ring experience and no athletic background. The fans quickly turned on him and the promotion, but Nick Gulas continued to push him despite the negative backlash and financial losses. In the end, Nick's insistence on keeping his son at the top of the card led to a hostile split of the territory.
- In the defunct WCW promotion, a group of new and younger wrestlers known as The Natural Born Thrillers enjoyed a long and steady push and winning titles despite getting no crowd response and repeatedly going over established talent.
- In WWE, when the company was being built around fan favorite John Cena, who had begun to shed his edgy, freestyle rapping anti-establishment persona which was popular in favor of a more motivational "against all odds" one, was met with a negative reaction by the fans to the point where he became one of the most booed wrestlers in the promotion.
- Roman Reigns is currently going through this with a vast majority booing him and cheering Triple H and Seth Rollins during their feuds, despite the latter two being booked as villains.