Glossary of Wrestling Terms

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


A

  • Arm-drag – An arm-drag is a wrestling move where a wrestler hooks their opponent’s arm, and then throws themselves backwards to the mat, using their momentum to flip their opponent to the mat.
  • Attitude Era – The Attitude Era was a period in the late 90’s in which WWF rebranded itself in an “extreme” way to win the ratings war against WCW. Storylines became more violent, women were treated as sex symbols, rather than legitimate wrestlers, and the general content of WWF’s flagship Monday Night Raw show became more titilating and shocking in an effort to claw back the number one spot. Thanks to performers like The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, and others, as well as gimmicks like TLC matches and bra and panties matches, WWF won the ratings war, and WCW went out of business in 2001. The Attitude Era came to an end in 2002, when the WWF lost a lawsuit against the World Wildlife Fund, and had to rebrand as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). The change in branding also heralded a greater emphasis on wrestling, rather than shocking storylines.
  • Authority – The Authority figure (or figures) in a wrestling promotion is the character(s) in charge of the promotion – often referred to as General Managers or Commissioners, and occasionally CEO. Their role is mostly to arrange matches; they will also be involved in storylines, arbitrating disputes, adding stipulations to matches, and sometimes acting as an antagonist in a feud.
  • Axe-handle – A move where a wrestler knots their fingers together, as if holding an axe with both hands, raises their hands above their head, and then hits their opponent.

B

  • Babyface/Face – A “good guy” wrestler. A babyface is usually beloved by the audience, and will give high-fives during their entrance. Babyfaces usually follow the rules (e.g. will release a submission hold almost immediately if the opponent grabs the rope or taps out), tries to keep their matches fast-paced, and will use exciting, often high-flying moves.
  • Backdrop/Back Body Drop – A backdrop is a wrestling move where a wrestler will crouch in front of their opponent, grab them, and then stand up quickly, throwing the opponent over their head. This move is very often used against an onrushing opponent.
  • Backslide – A backslide is a pinning move in wrestling, where a wrestler will stand back-to-back with their opponent, hook their opponent’s arms, and then lean forward and drop to their knees. This will cause the opponent to slide down the wrestler’s back, and hit the mat with their shoulders. The wrestler holds their opponent in place by the arms, causing a pin. Like a roll-up, it is quite rare for a backslide pin to end a match, though.
  • Battle Royal – A match involving multiple wrestlers – battle royals often have as many as fifty competitors. Battle royals can start with all the competitors in the ring, but can also start with just two wrestlers in the ring, introducing an additional random competitor at set intervals during the match. Wrestlers are eliminated when they are pushed or thrown over the top rope, and both feet land on the ground below. The winner is the last wrestler left in the ring.
  • Belly-to-belly suplex – A type of suplex that starts with both wrestlers facing each other; the wrestler performing the move wraps their arms around their opponent’s middle, and then performs the throw. Often with a belly-to-belly suplex, the opponent is thrown to the side rather than overhead.
  • Body-slam – A body-slam is a wrestling move where a wrestler, facing their opponent, picks them up – usually with one hand on the opponent’s shoulder, and the other between the legs – and then slams them, back first, to the mat.
  • Booker – A booker is the person responsible for arranging matches in “real life”. A booker usually works closely with (or is) the writers to put together matches and cards. In smaller promotions, the booker may also appear as an authority figure.
  • Bra and Panties Match – The female equivalent of a tuxedo match, a bra and panties match is a wrestling match between female competitors, the goal of which is to strip your opponent down to their bra and panties.
  • Burial – The opposite of a push. When a wrestler is being buried, they will typically go on a losing streak, have less involvement in storylines, and generally be depicted in a poor light.

C

  • Champion’s Advantage – In a championship match, where the holder of a championship is fighting to retain their title, the champion typically can only lose their title by submission or pinfall. Therefore, if a championship match ends by count-out or disqualification, the champion retains their title, even if they were counted out or disqualified.
  • Championship – Like other sports, professional wrestling has championships, and like other combat sports, the award for these championships is a belt, usually a wide leather strap that closes at the back, and has a large, metallic plate at the front, bearing some sort of design to represent the promotion, and the name of the title. The terms championship, belt, and title can be used interchangably. Championships typically change hands if the champion loses a match that is specifically designated as a championship match; although a championship can be vacated if the holder retires, leaves the promotion, or occasionally, a champion can be stripped of their title for some reason. If a championship is vacated, or if it is a brand new title, there is usually a tournament to determine who wins the championship.

    Bigger wrestling promotions typically have a “World” championship, which top-level, main event contenders compete for; a mid-card championship (like WWE’s United States and Intercontinental championships) which up-and-coming wrestlers compete for; and then tag team and womens’ championships, and sometimes a cruiserweight championship, for smaller wrestlers (typically those under 200 lbs or so).

    Championships play a large part in storylines, whether directly or indirectly; a feud may arise between a champion and another wrestler because the other wrestler feels that they should be champion; or alternatively, wrestlers may feud over who deserves to be the number-one contender for a title.

    A title holder will typically carry their belt around with them, either strapped around their waist, or over their shoulder, as both a status symbol, an accessory to taunt other wrestlers with, and often an impromptu weapon.

    Currently in The NXT Wrestling Fan’s coverage, NXT has three championships – the NXT Championship, the NXT Tag Team Championship, and the NXT Women’s Championship.

  • Clothesline – A clothesline is a move where a wrestler hits their opponent, usually at chest or neck height, with an arm outstretched, parallel to the ground.
  • Count-out – Another way to lose a wrestling match is to be counted out. Obviously, a wrestling match should take place within the ring. Sometimes, a wrestler may be thrown out of the ring, or may leave the ring to escape their opponent, or to catch their breath. When this happens, the referee will start a count; if the referee reaches 10 without the wrestler returning to the ring, that wrestler has been counted out, and has lost the match. If both wrestlers are outside the ring for the count, they are both counted out, and both lose the match.
  • Crucifix Pin – A crucifix pin is a pinning move in wrestling where a wrestler is hanging horizontally off their opponent’s shoulders, with their legs wrapped around one arm, and their arms wrapped around the other. The wrestler then flips their opponent to the mat, and holds their opponent’s shoulders to the mat, with their arms stretched out horizontally, hence the name. While a standard crucifix pin is a quick move similar to a roll-up, it can be performed with more force, which is called a crucifix bomb, or crucifix driver.

D

  • DDT – A DDT is a type of wrestling move where one wrestler, facing their opponent, will wrap an arm around the opponent’s head, and then fall backwards, driving the crown of their opponent’s head into the canvas.
  • Developmental Promotion – Wrestling companies are referred to as “Promotions”, and a Developmental Promotion is similar to a minor league baseball side – young wrestlers will join a developmental promotion to gain experience before being ready for national television. Developmental promotions typically are not televised nationally, and do not tour.
  • Discus clothesline – A discus clothesline is a variation where a wrestler twirls around to clothesline their opponent, mimicking the movement made when throwing a discus.
  • Disqualification – Performing an illegal action during a match can lead to losing the match via disqualification, or DQ. Illegal actions include:
    • Not releasing a submission hold within a count of 5 when the opponent is touching the ropes
    • Hitting your opponent in the crotch (AKA a “low blow”)
    • Use of a weapon or other “foreign object” to attack your opponent
    • Egregious hair-pulling or eye-gouging
    • Attacking the referee
    • A third party attacking your opponent

    Disqualification for any of these offenses is at the referee’s discretion; the referee may choose to merely issue a warning, especially for hair-pulling, eye-gouging, or failing to release a submission hold.

  • Distraction Finish – A distraction finish is when a wrestler loses a match because of something happening outside the ring. This is often a heel, or someone the wrestler is in a feud with, deliberately trying to make the wrestler lose. Sometimes, a heel’s manager or valet will distract the heel’s opponent to help them win. Often, the loss will be to an opportunistic pin, like a roll-up.
  • Draw – In the event of both wrestlers being counted out, disqualified, or otherwise unable to continue, the match ends in a draw. The match also ends in a draw if time runs out, although this rarely happens unless there are storyline reasons for it. Live televised shows will often have an announced time limit for each match.

E

  • ECW – Extreme Championship Wrestling (originally Eastern Championship Wrestling), or ECW, was a hardcore wrestling promotion based in Philadelphia in the late 90’s. The switch from “Eastern” to “Extreme” came after Paul Heyman joined the company, having left WCW. ECW worked for a while in cooperation with the then-WWF, but filed for bankruptcy, after losing talent and market share to WCW and WWF during the Monday Night Wars/Attitude Era. Most of ECW’s remaining assets and employees were bought/hired by WWF. ECW was later resurrected by WWF as a stable, and also a short-lived brand.
  • Entrance – How a wrestler enters the ring. This may include music, video shown on arena screens, props, crowd interaction (e.g. high fives), fireworks, or a light show. Jobbers typically do not get an entrance.

F

  • Fall – A referee’s decision about who has won or lost the match, whether it is by pinfall, by submission, or by disqualification.
  • Feud – A feud is the wrestling term for an extended storyline between opposing characters. It will usually involve trash-talk in the ring, or in promos and packages; often, a series of matches; and sometimes surprise attacks backstage or in some other location outside the ring (e.g. in the arena car park). Feuds are often used to push new wrestlers, and can often last for weeks. A related term is “program”, although program refers more to the series of matches, rather than the surrounding storyline.
  • Finisher – A finisher is a specific move used by a given wrestler as their “signature” move; usually a hard-hitting, powerful, and/or impressive move that is intended to end the match, whether by leading to a pin, or by causing the opponent to tap out. Finishers will often have their own specific names, especially for more popular wrestlers – for example, Bray Wyatt’s finisher is a move usually called the Swinging Reverse STO, but in his case it is called the Sister Abigail. He embellishes the move – another common feature of a finisher – by kissing his opponent on the forehead afterwards.

G

  • Go Away Heat/Go Home Heat/X-Pac Heat – Go Away Heat is when the audience just do not care about a wrestler, and simply do not want to see them, regardless of their abilities. This can happen if the wrestler delivers consistently poor performances, either on the mic or in the ring, or if the wrestler is being pushed too hard by the promotion. One of the more extreme examples of this involved a wrestler named X-Pac in the early 2000’s.

H

  • Handicap match – A handicap match is a wrestling match where one side is outnumbered; e.g. one wrestler takes on two wrestlers, two wrestlers take on three wrestlers, etc.
  • Heat – Heat is a term used for a negative reaction. Heat can be the desired reaction elicited by a heel – when they trash-talk a babyface opponent, for example – or can be genuinely negative reaction backstage, where a wrestler might not be given matches or storylines purely because they are unpopular in the locker-room, or have otherwise gotten in trouble with the promotion’s writers, bookers, or management.
  • Headscissors – A headscissors is a wrestling move where a wrestler will catch their opponent’s head between their legs, and then use their legs to flip the opponent over, slamming them back-first onto the mat.
  • Heel – A “villain” wrestler. Hallmarks of a heel include attacking their opponent before a match has officially started, ignoring or trash-talking the audience, and acting arrogantly, taunting, and trying to slow things down during a match.
  • High-Flying Move – A high-flying move is generally any wrestling move that involves climbing onto the top rope or turnbuckle, and jumping off, towards your opponent.
  • Hot Tag – The hot tag is a specific circumstance in a tag-team match. Often in a tag-team match, one member of a tag team, usually on the babyface team, will be stuck in the ring for a long time, and be isolated and beat on by the heel team, so that they can’t make a tag. That team member is referred to as the “face in peril”. Eventually, the face in peril will somehow make it to their corner, to tag one of their partners, and the wrestler tagged in will seem invulnerable for a few moments, landing moves and beating on their opponents, regardless of the circumstances. Such a tag is known as a Hot Tag.

I

  • Irish Whip – A basic wrestling move where one wrestler shoves their opponent into the ropes, and the opponent sling-shots off the ropes and across the ring.

J

  • Jobber – A wrestler with no established character, whose sole job is to lose a match.
  • Jobber Squash – A squash match where the wrestler being squashed is a jobber.

K

  • Kayfabe – Kayfabe is a wrestling term that refers to the “fictional universe” or continuity in which wrestling happens. “Keeping kayfabe” means that a wrestler sticks to their established character, even in interviews or other situations outside of a wrestling show. Related terms are “shoot” – which can be used as a verb or a noun to refer to an event or action that breaks kayfabe – and “work” – which refers to a match or promo deliberately scripted to be part of kayfabe.
  • Knees up – Getting your knees up is a common counter to a high-flying move. If a wrestler is about to execute a move from the top rope onto a prone opponent, a common counter is for the opponent to raise their knees up, so that the wrestler doing the move lands on them, rather than on the opponent’s body.
  • Knockout/technical knockout/ref stoppage – If one wrestler is unconscious, injured, or just too beat up to continue, the referee will stop the match, and the wrestler still standing wins. Often, the referee will judge whether a wrestler is still conscious by raising the wrestler’s arm three times, to see if they can keep their arm up, or whether it flops back down. Another way of judging consciousness is by a 10-count; if a prone wrestler hasn’t gotten to their feet by the end of the count, they have lost the match.

L


M

  • Main Event – The Main Event of a wrestling show is usually the last match of the show. This match typically involves the most popular wrestlers in the promotion, and is often part of a major storyline, or a title match.
  • Manager – A wrestler’s manager is a character who will accompany the wrestler to the ring, and will speak on their behalf, although they usually will not get physically involved.

N

  • No contest – If, for some reason, both wrestlers are unable to compete, the ref can end the match as “no contest”, which is pretty much the same as a draw.
  • Northern Lights Suplex – A suplex variant where the attacking wrestler bends all the way back when slamming their opponent to the mat, and is often followed up by a bridging pin attempt.
  • Number-One Contender – The number-one contender to a title is a term for the wrestler who is next-in-line to get a shot at that title. Being the number-one contender to a title can be earned by winning a lot of matches; often, it’s earned by winning a tournament or battle royal organized for that specific purpose.
  • NXT – Currently a 2-hour live show shown on network television, NXT used to be a 1-hour taped show that was made available via the WWE app. NXT was the brain-child of Triple-H, a former wrestler, and son-in-law of WWE owner Vince McMahon. NXT served as a developmental promotion for WWE, featuring mainly young wrestlers starting off their careers, or wrestlers who had been signed from independent wrestling promotions who were seen as not yet being ready for “prime time”. NXT occasionally featured crossovers with the “main roster” shows (Smackdown and RAW) – main roster talent would appear in NXT if they were doing a show in the area anyway, and NXT talent who were judged to be ready for a “call up” would join the main roster. NXT began its life as an online “reality” show, which was eventually merged with WWE’s Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) developmental promotion.

O

  • Over – In wrestling, Over can mean winning – e.g., a booker might tell a wrestler “tonight, you are going over the jobber” – or it can mean getting the desired response from the audience. For a babyface, that might mean that they elicit cheers from a crowd; while for a heel, it could mean getting booed. A wrestler can put their opponent over by losing to them, by doing a good job selling their moves, or by their actions in promos.

P

  • Package/Video Package – A pre-recorded promotional video segment shown between matches.
  • Pinfall – One way to win a wrestling match is to pin your opponent to the mat long enough for the referee to count to three. Both of the opponent’s shoulders must be touching the mat. Often, the wrestler performing the pin will raise one or both of their opponents legs and hook them with their arm, to gain more leverage. The referee punctuates their count by slapping their hand on the mat. The count can be broken if the opponent gets their shoulders off the mat by arching or jackknifing their body (known as “kicking out”), or by grabbing or otherwise touching one of the ropes.
  • Pop – In wrestling, a pop is a positive reaction from the audience. A cheap pop is getting a positive reaction from the audience in an easily predictable way, e.g. by praising the local sports team, or by complimenting the audience.
  • Powerbomb – A powerbomb is a wrestling move where a wrestler, facing their opponent, lifts their opponent so that their opponent’s legs are on their shoulders, and then slams them, back first, to the mat.
  • Promo – A live segment, generally from backstage, showing either an interview or some interaction between wrestlers.
  • Push – Not referring to the physical act of pushing someone, a push is when a wrestler is being heavily promoted by their promotion. This can involve promos and packages of the wrestler being shown during a show, increased storyline involvement, appearances in main event matches, and title shots.

Q


R

  • Referee – You cannot have a wrestling match without a referee (although you can have a wrestling match without wrestlers). The referee is there to enforce the rules of the match. Referees typically wear black-and-white striped shirts or a polo shirt with the promotion’s branding, and have very little peripheral vision. The referee signals the start and end of a match, and the referee’s decisions are final; however, a referee can only make decisions on what they see.
  • Ring – The elevated, square stage in which wrestling takes place, which usually measure twenty feet by twenty feet. The base of the ring consists of a steel frame, with storage space underneath for props (such as tables, kendo sticks, and solid steel folding chairs), and a “floor” made of wooden planks, covered with foam padding, covered with canvas. There is typically a large spring in the middle of the ring, beneath the floor, to give the ring its bounce. Each corner of the ring has a padded steel post, which supports the ropes. The floor surrounding the ring is typically covered by some form of padding. The perimeter of the ring is called the apron, which, in wrestling lore, is the hardest part of the ring.
  • Roll-up – A quick, opportunistic pinning move, where a wrestler will knock into the back of their opponent’s legs, rolling them onto the mat with their shoulders down, and legs in the air. Usually viewed as a very cheap way to win a match.
  • Ropes – A wrestling ring is surrounded by three ropes, arranged vertically around the ring, attached to the ring posts by turnbuckles. The ropes, from top to bottom, are called the top, second, and bottom rope.

S

  • Sell – Selling a move is the term used to describe how an opponent reacts to a wrestler’s move to convince the audience that the move was “real”.
  • Shining Wizard – A Shining Wizard is a wrestling move, usually used on an opponent who is down on one knee, where a wrestler will step up on the opponent’s raised knee, then deliver a blow to the opponent’s head with the knee or shin.
  • Spinebuster – A move where a wrestler, facing their opponent, picks them up, usually around the waist, and slams them forward onto the mat, back-first. This move can also be performed by grabbing your opponent’s thighs, and thus flipping them onto their back.
  • Splash – A splash is a wrestling move where a wrestler jumps on a prone opponent, lying on their back, landing stomach-first on them. This can be done by the wrestler simply jumping from a standing start, but more typically the wrestler will jump from the top rope, or the top turnbuckle.
  • Squash/Squash match – Usually a short match, in which one wrestler totally dominates the other, and wins quickly and easily – although a heel will sometimes take their time with a squash match, to show how evil they are. Also used as a verb (e.g. “Mason Ryan absolutely squashed Enzo”).
  • Stunner – A stunner is a wrestling move where a wrestler, with their back to their opponent, will grab their opponent’s head – with one hand usually on top of the opponent’s head and the opponent’s jaw resting on the wrestler’s shoulder – and drop to a sitting position on the mat. Stone Cold Steve Austin famously used a variation (the “Stone Cold Stunner”, where he would kick his opponent in the chest before delivering the stunner) as his finishing move.
  • Submission – Another way to win a wrestling match is to cause your opponent to submit. This is done by applying a hold to your opponent that causes enough pain that your opponent signals that they give up by tapping either you, or the mat. This is known as “tapping out”. A submission hold can be broken by touching one of the ropes.
  • Submission Wrestling – A style of wrestling where the wrestler targets a specific body part, with strikes, submission holds, shoving the body part into a ring post, and other moves, with a view to wearing their opponent down and eventually getting them to tap out, once the wrestler has applied their finishing hold. When a babyface uses this strategy, it is described as being smart wrestling, but when it’s done by a heel, the commentators call it sadistic.
  • Superplex – A superplex is a suplex that is performed from the top turnbuckle.
  • Suplex – A type of wrestling throw where a wrestler grabs their opponent in some way, then lifts them up using their hips, and slams them to the mat, either back- or shoulders-first.
  • Survivor Series – One of WWE’s pay-per-view events, a Survivor Series match is an elimination tag team match, usually featuring four- or five-person teams. Being an elimination match means that when a wrestler is pinned or submits, they are eliminated from the match, but the rest of their team continues on. Once all the members of one team are eliminated, the other team is declared the winner.

  • T

    • Tag-team/Tag match – A match between two or more teams of wrestlers. Traditionally, a match will feature two tag teams, with two members each. Only one member of each team is allowed in the ring at a time; team members can only switch places by “tagging” each other – touching each other while the member on the outside is holding on to the tag rope attached to that team’s corner. Each team has a corner, and in two-team matches, the corners are generally diagonally opposite each other across the ring. When a tag is made, the wrestler who is tagging out has a five-count from the referee to leave the ring. Like regular matches, a tag-team match typically ends when a member of one team pins a member of the opposing team, or makes them submit.
    • Tornado DDT – A tornado DDT is a variation where a wrestler will jump around their opponent, often using one of the ropes as a springboard, before grabbing their opponent’s head, and executing a DDT.
    • Triple Threat – A triple threat match is a sudden-death match with three competitors. The first wrestler to pin either one of the other wrestlers, or make one of them submit, is the winner. A triple threat match is always a no-disqualification match, as if one of the wrestlers was disqualified, then nobody would win the match.
    • Turn – In wrestling, a turn is the term used to describe when a wrestler changes “alignment” – either a heel becomes a face, or vice versa. Typically, a heel to face turn will occur over a longer period of time, as the heel slowly realizes that they are wrong/evil, whereas a face to heel turn is often a surprise, where the wrestler will literally turn on an ally or tag partner. A turn may also occur when a wrestler returns after a hiatus (due to injury, or other circumstances), in order to get the crowd interested in seeing them again.
    • Turnbuckle – A metal part on the ring post that each rope is attached to. The turnbuckle can be adjusted to increase or decrease the tension of the rope. Also an extremely fun word to say. Try it now. Turnbuckle.
    • Turnbuckle pad – The removable pad on each turnbuckle. If the turnbuckle pad is removed, touching the exposed turnbuckle can incapacitate anyone who even barely touches it.
    • Tuxedo Match – The male equivalent of a bra and panties match, a tuxedo match is a wrestling match where both (male) competitors compete while wearing tuxedos. The aim of the match is to get your opponent out of his tuxedo.

    U


    V

    • Valet – A character who usually doesn’t speak, and will accompany a wrestler to the ring as either muscle to intimidate the wrestler’s opponent, or as eye-candy. Unlike a manager, a valet is more likely to get physically involved in a match or in other situations on the wrestler’s behalf.
    • Victory Roll – A victory roll is a pinning move where a wrestler jumps onto their opponent’s shoulders, then throws themself forward, grabbing their opponent’s legs as they roll forward, and ending up with the shoulders pinned to the canvas.

    W

    • WCW – World Championship Wrestling, or WCW, was, for a time in the late 90’s, the WWF’s biggest competitor. Their Monday-night show, Nitro, was in direct competition with WWF’s Raw, and for 83 consecutive weeks, received higher ratings. However, due to a combination of the WWF’s Attitude Era storylines, compelling wrestlers such as The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin, poor writing on WCW’s part, and the fallout from WCW’s parent company, Time Warner, merging with AOL, WCW “lost” the ratings war, and went out of business in 2001.

    X


    Y


    Z

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