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The Ultimate Glossary of Professional Wrestling Terms You Need to Know

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Image Credit: Miguel Discart/Flickr

If you decide to get into the world of professional wrestling, you’ll quickly find that fans on message boards, forums, and even in the crowd will use a lot of terms that don’t make a lot of sense to an outsider.

There are tons of these terms that get thrown around in the world of wrestling, and we’ve used our years of wrestling fandom to figure out which terms are most important and which can safely be ignored.

Next time you attend a local wrestling show, you’ll at least sound like you know what you’re talking about.

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A

Agent: Serves a role similar to a producer. The person who helps the wrestlers plan out a match, work out the direction of stories, and let the wrestlers know what the powers that be (see booker) want (i.e. who’s going to win or lose).

Angle: A storyline or a particular event that pushes a storyline forward.

B

Babyface: Often shortened to just face, this is the good guy or girl. This is the person the crowd is supposed to root for.

Blading: When a wrestler intentionally cuts themselves to add blood to a match. Also called gigging, juicing, and getting color.

Booker: The person in charge of writing the storylines, setting up the matches, deciding who win and loses, and making the other major decisions that decide which direction the promotion will go. The booker is similar to the writer in a movie or TV show. He or she “books” the shows.

Botch: A mistake during the wrestling event. It could be either a missed move, a move that hits too hard, or a mistake in a speaking segment.

Bump: When a wrestler falls to the ground or mat. Often used to describe anytime a wrestler takes a move. When a move looks particularly painful, people might say it looked like a “bad bump.”

Burial: When the promotion attempts to lower the status of a wrestler in the eyes of the fans. This could entail making them say dumb things, having them lose frequently, having opponents not lose to their signature moves. Often, fans will complain that their favorites are being “buried” when they don’t like the direction a promotion is going with them.

Business: Wrestling. Fans and performers will often refer to wrestling as simply “the business.”

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C

Carry: When a better, more experienced wrestler does most of the work in a match, helping the less experienced wrestler get through. Can be used negatively to say that one wrestler “carried” the other.

Clean: When a wrestler loses without any distractions or cheating. Will often be said in the context of getting pinned clean, a clean finish, or losing clean in the middle of the ring.

D

Dark Match: A match that doesn’t air as part of the broadcast and is only for the fans in attendance. Will often feature top stars to make sure fans stay until the end of the event.

Dirt Sheet: Newsletters and websites that report on the behind-the-scenes happenings in the wrestling world.

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F

Faction: The most commonly used term for a large group in wrestling that lacks a leader.

Finisher: The move a wrestler typically uses to end their matches. Popular examples are the Stone Cold Stunner, The Tombstone, The Rock Bottom, and so on.

G

Gimmick: 1. The character played by a wrestler. 2. A outside object used in wrestling.

Go Over: To win the match.

Green: A term used to describe an inexperienced wrestler.

H

Heat: 1. A negative reaction from the fans, which is desired by the bad guys. The term “backstage heat” is often used to describe wresters who are in trouble for something they did, or wrestlers who are upset with each other.

Heel: A bad guy or girl. They’re the antagonists of a wrestling show. They’re the opposite of a babyface (face) and are typically written to feud with the faces.

Highspot: A risky or dangerous move in a match. Will sometimes be used a negative when a match is described as having nothing but highspots. See spot.

House Show: A non-televised event where storylines typically don’t move forward. WWE typically calls these Live Events.

I

Indy: An independent wrestling promotion that typically features up-and-coming wrestlers. They typically operate at a local level rather than national or international.

IWC: An acronym for the Internet Wrestling Community. These tend to be hardcore fans who post on messaged boards and social media.

J

Job: To lose is a wrestling match. Often phrased “he or she did the job.”

Jobber: A wrestler who is brought in for the primary purpose of losing. More kindly referred to as enhancement talent.

K

Kayfabe: Presenting wrestling as if it were not predetermined. When a wrestler goes out of character, it’s often called “breaking kayfabe.”

M

Manager: A non-wrestler character who often helps and speaks for a wrestler. They usually accompany the wrestlers they work with to the ring for their matches, and with heels, they tend to interfere.

Mark: A fan who acts as if wrestling isn’t staged. Often used to describe fans who don’t follow the backstage part of wresting and follow kayfabe.

N

Near-fall: When a wrestler almost pins his opponent for a count of three, but the opponent kicks out at the last moment.

No-sell: To take an opponents move without properly reacting.

O

Over: A term used to describe a wrestler that is receiving his or her desired reaction from the crowd. This means hells will be booed and faces will be cheered. The act of working towards this called “getting over.”

P

Pipe Bomb: A speaking segment that’s designed to look like the wrestler is going off script (shooting) and breaking kayfabe. CM Punk made this term popular with his aptly-named pipe-bomb promo.

Potato: A strike to the head that makes real contact.

Promo: A speaking segment such as an interview or monolog that’s designed to tell a story or get the fans excited for a match.

R

Receipt: When a performer really strikes his or her opponent in exchange for a trike that lands too hard. (See potato and stiff.)

Repackage: To give a performer a new gimmick.

Rest hold: When wrestlers use headlocks or other holds to take a break in the middle of a match. Can be used negatively when a match has too many rest holds.

Rub: When a more popular wrestler is paired with someone less popular in order to help them get over.

Run-in: When another wrestler adds his or herself to a match in progress. Often leading to a disqualification.

S

Sell: The act of taking a move from an opponent and reacting to it in a way that’s believable to the audience.

Shoot: To go off script during an interview or to actually fight with an opponent during a match. Is a form of breaking kayfabe.

Smark: A smart mark. A fan with inside knowledge of the backstage happenings of wrestling, but who has never been in the business themselves.

Smart: Typically used to describe fans with inside knowledge of the wrestling business.

Stable: Different from a faction, a stable is typically smaller in terms of members, and has a clearly defined leader. Will always feature three or more wrestlers.

Stiff: Using excessive force in a more or strike that may hurt the other performer.

Swerve: A change in direction in a storyline that’s meant to surprise fans.

T

Turn: When a wrestler switches from babyface to heel or vice versa.

V

Valet: Slightly different than a manager, a valet is typically there to accompany a wrestler to the ring. Is usually an attractive female.

W

Work: The opposite of a shoot. Following the script. Can also be used to describe tricking the audience.

X

X-Pac heat: When the fans boo a wrestler not because they’re heels, but rather because they want them to leave. Also called go away heat.

X Signal: A hand gesture the referee puts up when a wrestler is actually injured.

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