The Definitive Guide To Wrestling Terminology

Adopt these into your everyday vocabulary so you don't sound like a jabroni. Suck it!

The whole world of pro wrestling – the presentation of scripted events as real, and fake characters as real, and feigned impacts as real.

Real, like actually real, qualifications or injuries. Kurt Angle is a legit Olympic champion, while Val Venis was never a legit porn star.

A fan who buys into the kayfabe world wholesale, and doesn’t accept or acknowledge that anything is scripted. More of a rarity than wrestling naysayers would have you believe.

The character that a wrestler “plays” is their gimmick. These are sometimes remarkably close to their real personas, and sometimes outright silly (the Undertaker isn’t really dead).

If a wrestler’s gimmick hasn’t worked out, but the wrestler shows talent, they might be repackaged with a new gimmick.

An angle is a storyline designed to make events more dramatic – feuds, revenge, fallings-out, all the soap-opera elements that mean the big guy hitting the bigger guy is so much more than that.

Within the narrative of wrestling, a face or babyface is the “goodie” – the hero the audience get behind. The Rock was a face for the majority of his career, for instance. 

The “baddie” – they’ll be more ruthless, more morally flexible, more prone to brazen cheating, and will generally thrive on audience boos. They're what makes wrestling worth watching.

When a face becomes a heel or vice versa. Usually played to great dramatic effect, often coming hand in hand with a betrayal of some kind.

The noun for when wrestlers who aren’t meant to be there suddenly sprint into the ring and join in the action. It’s awesome!

The conclusion of an ongoing angle, usually involving fan gratification via the comeuppance of a heel or a title changing hands.

Monster face/monster heel
A completely unbeatable opponent, often something of a giant. Brock Lesnar, Kane and Andre The Giant all had periods as monster heels.

To react to a maybe-not-that-forceful hit as though it were a lot more forceful. Refusing to acknowledge hits to build up your badassness is called no-selling, and reacting excessively, drawing attention to the unreality of it all, is overselling.

Negative reaction from fans, encouraged by heels. Boos can be louder than cheers, you know?

Cheap heat
When the heel encourages booing from the crowd by bringing up irrelevant, non-wrestling stuff, like slagging off the city the match is taking place in.

A verb, meaning to lose (well, be scripted to lose) a match.

Also known as “enhancement talent”, wrestlers brought in to lose and make others look good. If a new face is coming in and needs a good reputation quickly, jobbers come in very handy.

A team or affiliation – for people of a certain age, D-Generation X would be the most memorable. Suck it!

A short, one-sided match meant to build up how badass someone is.

Anything pre-planned.

Legitimate attacks, genuinely trying to hurt each other. Often the result of real rivalries, and scripted drama spilling into reality. The opposite of work.

To fuck a move up.

To fall to the ground.

Phantom bump
To fall to the ground without actually being hit. To fuck it up.

Ref bump
Any time the referee takes a hit and is put out of action (which usually leads to a bunch of illegal-in-the-ring behavior).

When a wrestler is starting out, they might need to be carried, or guided, through their first few matches by a more experienced one.

Go home
When the match has gone on and entertained people long enough, the planned loser will give the planned winner the okay to finish it off, or go home.

In the more extreme forms of wrestling, blading is secretly cutting one’s forehead open as blood makes everything more dramatic. The blade itself is known as a gig.

Bust open
To start bleeding.

Feed a comeback
Generally before a face wins there’ll be a period where they’re getting pounded – it adds to the dramatic nature of their later victory. Every hit they take before things change is feeding a comeback.

Dark match
A dark match is an untelevised fight before the main event, to warm the crowd up and sometimes try out new wrestling talent.

Hot tag
In a tag team match, if a face is getting the shit beat out of him by both opposing heels, the hot tag is when they finally get to tag their partner who comes in blazing and lays some smack down.

Get over
To have the fans buy into you, whether as a face or a heel – essentially to become part of the narrative.

A wrestler’s reputation being lowered and lowered through participation in storylines that really don’t make them look good. Usually the result of behind-the-scenes disagreements. The opposite of a push.

The rise of a wrestler in fans’ eyes via their involvement in important events, key victories, reputation-enhancing alliances etc. The opposite of burial.

To go limp in a throw rather than to go with it. Sandbagging kind of fucks up the throw. It’s something you’d only do if you had a shitty attitude.

A shocking/upsetting ending to a match or storyline, often involving cheating. The Montreal Screwjob remains one of the most infamous.

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