Wrapping Your Head Around Wrestling Terminology
September 25, 2003 by Mark Rose
Normally I use these columns to air my opinion on a situation or people in the wrestling business whether it's positive or negative. This time around i'm going to try something different. Instead of discussing any organizations or wrestlers or anything like that i'm going to talk about some wrestling terms. A lot of these terms have been used for years by people associated with the industry. And with the fan's knowledge of the business increasing (a debatable point) due to the internet and with the business being more open than it has been in the past by a lot of fans as well.
Ever get confused reading a message board or a report or even chatting with some fellow wrestling fans by stuff they say? I'm sure we all have at some point.
Wrestling has some unusual terms for things that even date back to its days as a side show in Carnivals back in the early 20th century. There are some also listed on the site in the info section and i'm going to mention some that are there and some that aren't. Anyway enough babbling for now I do that way too often. Let's get to some terminology.
Angle: An angle is an event or series of events that occurs between wrestlers. Basically something that occurs as part of a storyline involving wrestlers. For example using Kane attacking Linda McMahon on RAW was an angle to set up for Shane McMahon to fight Kane at Unforgiven.
Babyface/Face/Baby: A wrestler who is considered to be a "good guy" or crowd favorite. Basically most wrestling storylines and angles are Good vs. Evil. The face is the guy who is the good guy. Goldberg right now is the #1 Face on RAW and Kurt Angle would be considered the #1 Face on Smackdown.
Blading/Blade/Blade Job/Gig/Geek/juice/juicing:In wrestling blood is used to help a match be considered more believable or more violent and exciting. Blood helps the effect of "gimmick matches" like cage matches seem more dangerous. Using a razor blade to cut yourself to draw more blood is known as Blading. Blading is most often done by the wrestler himself but there has been occasions where a manager/valet would do it for the wrestler and even the referee has been used for blading. When done properly it ban effective but improperly it can be dangerous. The most infamous blading incident is the "Mass Transit" incident that occured when New Jack bladed Erich Kulas (17 years old) in ECW. Kulas was a replacement in that match wrestling as Mass Transit.
Blown up/Blow up: To become physically exhausted during a match. Sometimes when wrestlers get too "Blown Up" while working they'll use a double knock down or use a hold like a sleeper or facelock or any other submission hold to rest. For example during the famous 60 minute Iron Man match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels you'll notice Bret and Shawn using some double knockdown spots and submission holds to rest for a minute or two. They would do it that when they got too tired after working a fast pace for a few minutes and that's what is called "Blown up"
Bury: To book a wrestler in such a way that they lose drawing power, popularity or status. For example many of the wrestlers on the RAW roster have been "buried" as a result of always losing high profile matches, particularly when they work with Triple H. Chris Jericho and especially Rob Van Dam are good examples of this.
Booker: A Booker is the person who runs the wrestling organization in terms of what talent they use, and how they use them. The Booker would decide who wrestles who and who wins. And with that ultimately determining who they are going to use as their star workers. With larger organizations it is often more than one person. For example Paul Heyman and Tommy Laughlin (Tommy Dreamer) did most of the booking for ECW.
Boys/The Boys: A term often used in the wrestling industry to describe the wrestlers themselves distinguishing them apart in the organization from people who work in other capacities.
Broadway/Going Broadway: A match that ends in a time limit draw.
Bump: When a wrestler takes a fall as part of a match. Mick Foley (as Mankind) being thrown off of the top of the Hell in a Cell would be considered as a well known big "Bump".
Canned Heat/Heat Machine: Using recorded crowd noise and cheering played through the sound system to make the crowd seem more lively and into the match on a wrestling TV show. The best examples I can think of are WCW Worldwide's TV show when it was on. You'd hear a lot of cheering and see the crowd just sitting there quietly. Goldberg's chants are also often done using "Canned Heat"
Carny: Carnival terminology. Most of the words that I am discussing in this article date back to the days when wrestling was mainly a part of a carnival side show act. Carny is also a language used by wrestlers to talk to each other around people not associated with the business so they wouldn't understand what they were saying. Often used to keep the secrets of the business.
Clean Finish: A match at that ends with the result not being due to interference or by any other form of cheating or illegal move.
Dark Match: A wrestling match that occurs during a wrestling television show taping or before the start of a PPV. This is often used to get a crowd warmed up, to try out new talent in front of a larger audience, and also to test the broadcast equipment. Most wrestlers in the WWE work several "Dark Matches" before they appear regularly on RAW or Smackdown.
Gas/on the Gas/Gassed up: A term used to describe the use of steroids to make yourself bigger and more muscular. Prime examples of this are Hulk Hogan, Scott Steiner and Triple H.
Dusty Finish:Occurs when the finish of a match is done with a second referee coming to the ring to make the three count and declare a winner after the original referee has been "knocked out". The original referee then "wakes up" and reverses that decision. This type of finish was not invented by Dusty Rhodes but he used it very often while he was the Booker for WCW and as a result it is has name become associated with the use of it.
Feud: A series of matches and events between two wrestlers. Usually starting with some sort of angle and ending with a match or another angle.
F-Bomb/Dropping the F-Bomb: When a wrestler uses a certain four letter swear word starting with F and having the same last 3 letters as truck. Very rarely does this make it through on WWE television. Especially shows like Smackdown, Heat and Velocity that are all pretaped.
Gimmick/Gimmicked: This term is used to describe a few things in wrestling. A wrestler's persona or character is often called his gimmick. A gimmick can also be used to describe a weapon or object used during a match. Gimmicked is used to describe an object that is altered for use in a match for example a gimmicked table is pre cut to break more easily.
Go Home: This is an instruction wrestlers get either from each other or from a referee to finish a match.
Green: A term used to describe someone who is inexperienced. Usually it makes reference to the fact that someone needs improvement or makes quite a few mistakes. La Resistance is considered to be very green mainly due to mistakes they make in the ring like recently when they didn't throw Spike Dudley far enough to go through a table. Spike ended up taking a horrible fall hitting his head on the side of the table and then on the concrete as a result of their mistake. The term green is very common in many other sports as well.
Heel: The "bad guy" wrestler or "villain". A heel is booked so that the fans dislike him/her usually to help the face become more popular with the crowd. The top or main Heel on the RAW roster would be considered Triple H. The top on Smackdown would be Brock Lesnar.
Gusher: A deep cut that bleeds a lot. Usually this is caused by a mistake while blading but sometimes it is intentional.
Hardway: A term used to describe a wrestler bleeding not due to blading. This is sometimes accidental. Often in hardcore style gimmick matches like barbed wire matches it's a natural part of the match.
Heat: Heat is used to describe two things in the wrestling business. Crowd reaction both positive and negative is referred to as heat. Someone who gets a good reaction you would say has really good Heat. Heat is also used to describe when a wrestler or any other backstage personnel is angry at someone else. For example Raven was recently angry with the Sinister Minister Jim Mitchell on NWA TNA when he cut Raven's head quite a bit while shaving him after a Hair vs Hair match. It would be said that Raven "had heat" with him.
Highspot: A move that is or is perceived to be very dangerous. Usually used to describe aerial moves like Moonsaults, 450 splashes, etc.
Hope Spot/False Comeback: When the face is being dominating in a match and then makes a brief comeback controlling the offense but then has his comeback stopped shortly afterwards. Used usually to increase crowd excitement.
Hot Tag: A term used to describe when a face wrestler finally manages to tag in his fresh and rested partner after being dominated and beaten up for an extended period of time by the heel team. Again often used to increase crowd excitement.
Kayfabe: A carny word that means "fake". This is generally used to describe the act of keeping the secrets of the wrestling business. Exposing the inner workings or secrets of the wrestling business is said to be "Breaking Kayfabe". It is also used to describe the carny language wrestlers use to communicate with each other to avoid giving away the secrets of the business. Wrestlers also use the word Kayfabe to say to each other to warn them that an "outsider" to the business is coming near to let them know to keep quiet or change the topic of discussion to prevent giving away inside info or expose any secrets of the business.
House Show: An event that is not being taped to shown on television or PPV.
Hulking up: A term to describe a face who is making a comeback while after no selling the heel's offense for a bit. Hulk Hogan did this in almost every match he ever had and that's why the term bears his name.
Job/doing a job/put over: Terms used to describe losing a wrestling match. When someone is booked to lose a match they are said to being "doing the job" or "putting over" their opponent.
Jobber/Jabroni/Enhancement Talent/Ham and Egger: All of these are terms to describe a wrestler who is used often to put over other wrestlers. They lose very frequently to put over more established stars. Funaki is an example of a jobber on the Smackdown roster. Steven Richards is an example of a jobber on the RAW roster.
No Sell: When a wrestler gives a move or a strike by another wrestler no reaction as if it didn't hurt him. Usually to give the appearance that they are "invincible". Wrestlers who have done this a lot in their matches are Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, the Undertaker, and Goldberg.
Light/Lightly: When a wrestler is working light or lightly it means that their punches, kicks, or moves are very soft and not very believable.
Mark: A term that was originally used to describe someone who believes in the legitimacy of the wrestling business. It is now more frequently used as a derogatory comment or insult to describe a gullible fan. It can also be used to say you are a fan of or appreciative of something in the wrestling business. For example a big fan of Steve Austin would be considered a Steve Austin mark. This term is also used to describe someone who is the victim of a con artist.
Paper: A term used to describe giving away free tickets to make a crowd larger. Often used to make crowds larger for televised events.
Plant: A wrestler or someone who works for the wrestling company who is placed in the audience to pose as a fan and is used in a wrestling angle.
Pop: A big reaction in the crowd either cheering or booing. It is used more often to describe cheering than it is for booing.
Rest Hold/Rest Spot: A wrestling hold that is applied that is very light and allows for the wrestlers to take a rest or a breather usually after a high spot or after several minutes of fast paced action. For example a chinlock, a headlock, or usually any submission can be used for this purpose. A double knock down can also be used to accomplish this.
Potato/Stiff: To legitimately hit an opponent with a lot of force either with a punch or kick or even an object. This is often by accident but can be on purpose.
Promo/Cutting a Promo: A term used to describe an on screen interview with a wrestler.
Push: When a wrestler is being elevated to a higher spot on television or into major matches he is said to be getting a push.
Ref Bump: A term used to describe when the referee gets knocked out usually allowing the heel to cheat unnoticed or to allow for outside interference to go unnoticed.
Rat/Ring Rat: A woman who attends a wrestling show with the intention of meeting and sleeping with a wrestler. "Rats" will often seek out the wrestlers after a wrestling show hanging out near hotels, bars or other local attractions.
Road Agent: The person/people who run House Shows backstage, they also assist the bookers with putting together a television program. Dean Malenko, Pat Patterson, Fit Finlay, Arn Anderson, Tim White, Jerry Brisco, Tony Garea, Michael Hayes, Johnny Ace, Bruce Pritchard and William Regal all currently work for the WWE in this capacity.
Shoot/Shooting: Any events that occur in wrestling that are not considered to be part of the storyline and are actually "real". This can refer to a legitimate fight breaking out between wrestlers, sometimes even just one move by a hot tempered wrestler. It can also be in a verbal sense where a wrestler is discussing something in reality and not created in the wrestling business. True "Shoots" or "Shooting" does not happen very often on WWE television. They will however often take elements of something that is real or is based on reality and use that to make a wrestling angle seem like a "shoot".
Screw Job: A match that ends with an ending that is not enjoyed by fans. This is usually a match that ends due to interference, or not by pinfall or submission.
Sell/Selling: The art of acting as if you are legitimately hurt by a wrestling hold or move. Some moves do hurt legitimately but the ones that don't really require a wrestler to "sell" the hold in order to make it seem effective and believable to the audience.
Shooter: A term used to describe a wrestler than can handle himself in a real fight. Usually this refers to a wrestler to has a lot of legitimate martial arts training or real fight experience.
Showing Light: To unintentionally expose the fans to a move that didn't connect. Usually a result of flawed execution on the part of the wrestler on the offense.
Smart/ Smart Mark/ Smark: A term used to describe a wrestling fan who has a lot of knowledge of the inner workings of the wrestling business. Or in some cases they just think they do.
Sports Entertainment: This a term made popular by the WWE as they use it to describe what their product is instead of calling it professional wrestling. It is also used as a term to describe some of the non-wrestling aspects of the business such as promos, angles, skits, etc.
Spot: A move or series of moves that takes place in a wrestling match. A blown or missed spot is often referred to as a "botched" spot.
Squash: A match where one wrestler completely dominates the other often with the opponent getting in little or no offense whatsoever. Often using a jobber to "put over" someone to help start them on a "push".
Stretch/Stretched: Describes the art of a wrestler physically dominating another legitimately. Often using stiff holds and moves to accomplish this. To be stretched is to be injured either legit or as part of an angle requiring the wrestler to be carried out by medical personnel.
Swerve: Swerve has three definitions in the wrestling business. It can be a prank a pro wrestler plays on another worker. It is also used to describe a false report leaked to the press by a wrestler or a promoter. It is also used to refer to a finish of a match that often shocks the fans and sometimes even wrestling insiders.
Work Rate: This is a term used to describe the in ring performance of the wrestlers. It doesn't take into account any aspect of a wrestling other than the physical action. Examples of wrestlers who are considered to have a strong work rate are Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Chris Jericho.
Turn: When a wrestler changes from being a face to being a heel or vice versa. Turns are often used to change a gimmick or help a wrestler get more heat.
Tweener: A term used to describe a wrestler who is not a face and is also not a heel but actually has characteristics of both. The character of Stone Cold Steve Austin is perhaps the best example of this at least it was when it really started getting popular.
Work: This is the term used to describe aspects or events of the business that aren't real. That basically covers almost everything you see in pro wrestling.
Well I hope this wasn't too long and boring and I certainly hope this helped a few people who were wondering what some of these things meant. By no means am I a professional wrestling expert nor do I claim to be. With that said I can make mistakes and if you see any here please e-mail me at [email protected] . Or hey e-mail as well as if there was a term or anything you'd like me to explain or try to explain. You can also feel free to e-mail me if you want to compliment me or anything I write or even if you want to tell me what an idiot I am lol. I don't mind feedback whether it's positive or negative. I welcome it. That's what helps me learn. I usually respond to every e-mail I get but if you've ever sent me a question or a comment or anything I never responded to it might be because i'm stupid and I deleted it with some junk mail. Feel free to resend to it to me and tell me i'm an asshole for not responding lol. That'll get my attention for sure and I would definitely respond.
by Mark Rose..
Sources of info I used (other than my own knowledge) to write this came from Pro Wrestling Between The Sheets, http://www.pwbts.com they have a great wrestling terms section. Also I used an article posted by Buck Woodward on 1wrestling.com, http://www.1wrestling.com on May 1,2002 entitled "List of Wrestling Terms and vocabulary.
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