Griffin Kaye’s Wrestling Terminology For Dummies 

Want to learn professional wrestling terminology and speak like a fluid pro wrestling fan (for whatever reason)? Well, now you can!

Attitude Era – A debated time period from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. A publicly and economically prosperous time for the company, characterised by increased violence, sexualisation of the promotion, and hectic and action-filled booking. Commentator Jim Ross later described the product as having an “attitude, a hunger, [and] an aggressiveness,” the company ushered in new highs in revenue and ratings from this style as a result. 

The defining figure was the beer-drinking, middle finger-raising, anti-hero “Stone Cold” Steve Austin whilst groundbreaking figures such as the innuendo-spilling D-Generation-X, pornstar Val Venis, and pimp with accompanying hoes The Godfather. 

The Attitude Era’s talent-packed roster. (Photo courtesy of DEADLOCK Podcast)

Audible – Terminology for an improvised reaction to an event. Calling an audible can be in reaction to an injury (such as Eddie Guerrero calling an audible to change a scheduled win to a loss in his WWE in-ring debut after breaking his arm) or to alter a match finish (such as The Rock repeating the finish No Mercy 2001 against Kurt Angle after a botched referee count). 

Babyface – Babyface, or face for short, is the term for the ‘good guy’ that the fans are supposed to cheer for, often portrayed as heroes. Famous faces over the years have included Hulk Hogan, John Cena, The Rock, Ricky Steamboat, and Daniel Bryan. 

Blading – The term for producing blood, which professional wrestlers do with a small razor blade kept about their person. A staple of wrestling for decades, this can create sympathy for a bludgeoned babyface or a sense of comeuppance against the villain. Perhaps the wrestler most synonymous with blading was former NWA and WWE champion Ric Flair

Now widely known, the practice has in more recent years – prior to the emergence of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) – faded away with Benjamin Richardson stating in 2016 in Whatculture Magazine that “As the secrets of the industry have been revealed, the art has transformed into a forgotten relic of wrestling’s murky past.” Indeed, when Batista chose to blade in 2008, he was severely punished with a $100,000 fine.  

Rock Star Gary
Ric Flair after a bladejob, something he was the most iconic at doing. (Photo courtesy of Rock Star Gary)

Booker – The man behind the scenes who ‘creates’ the match by picking the outcome, winner, result, finish, etc. Different bookers have unique philosophies, highlighted by World Championship Wrestling’s Vince Russo who had a car-crash, trash TV approach of booking against Smoky Mountain Wrestling’s Jim Cornette who favoured a throwback, traditional style.  

Kevin Sulivan was outed as the booker of WCW in the mid-90s when, during a match, Brian Pillman broke character, declaring “I respect you, booker man!” 

Botch – A term helped in popularity by the fame of Botchamania, a botch is when something planned is messed up, per se.  

The term can be used in regards to moves such as Brock Lesnar’s failed Shooting Star Press at WrestleMania XIX or Owen Hart’s tombstone piledriver that broke Steve Austin’s neck. It can also be used for promos, (such as Sid’s at the first In Your House), debuts (The Shockmaster), finishes (the main event of WrestleMania VIII), and all matters of things.   

Brawl – A match with little psychology, punch and kick heavy, and perhaps using weapons. Seen by some as a slovenly match type, it grew to prominence out of Extreme Championship Wrestling, where booker Paul E. Dangerously used a brawling style to hide the wrestling ability deficit of wrestlers on the roster. 

Bret’s Rope – An in-joke, unofficial nickname for the middle rope of the ring when a wrestler stands to perform a diving move. The term originates from Bret “The Hitman” Hart, who very rarely used the top rope, instead diving from the second for his signature pin-point elbow drop. 

The term was popularised by the pro wrestling YouTube channel OSW Review. 

Burial – When a wrestler is deliberately hampered in a way making them look extremely stupid or weak. These derail the popularity and credibility of talents.  

Well-known burials are often seen as the forte of both Triple H and John Cena. Cena memorably came back from a two-on-one disadvantage and a DDT on the concrete to beat The Nexus in their first major PPV appearance.

Many stars over the years have been buried, some as a punishment for their actions. Baron Corbin lost his Money In The Bank briefcase over a public disagreement with a WWE doctor whilst Mickie James was ridiculed for gaining weight, nicknamed “Piggy James”. In more recent years, the WWE has deliberately booked wrestlers in a poor and damaging way when leaving, trying to hurt their prospects as highlighted by The Revival’s involvement in an angle with itching powder.  

Card Subject to Change – Card subject to change expresses how advertised matches may be changed. A legal out for WWE, allows for alterations to the matches at the last minute. 

Braun Strowman stepped in last minute to replace Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 35 after “The Big Dog” withdrew to shield during the COVID-19 pandemic whilst Mr Perfect turned face to team with Randy Savage at Survivor Series 1992 after The Ultimate Warrior departed from the company

Cash-in – A wrestler can win the Money In The Bank briefcase at the eponymous event which grants them a shot at the world title at any time. The cash-in is when a wrestler voluntarily gives away their briefcase for a shot at the title. 

There have been a number of unsuccessful cash-ins from the likes of Damien Sandow and Austin Theory but the majority are successful, with three wrestlers able to cash in multiple times: The Miz, CM Punk, and Edge – although Punk is the only person to have actually won the Money In The Bank match more than once. 

CM Punk (mentioned below) cashing in on Edge in 2008. (Photo courtesy of TheSportster)

CM Punk – The aforementioned CM Punk is a former WWE and AEW wrestler, multi-time world champion and a cult favourite. Today, his name has gained a new life as a fan chant to signal disapproval of in-ring events, a defiant chant considering the sticky relationship between WWE and Punk. 

Cruiserweight – A weight division with a scalable weight requirement. The cruiserweight division was innovated by WCW with a brand of young, high-flying talents including Billy Kidman, Rey Mysterio, Jr., and Chris Jericho. 

Curtain-jerker – The opening match at a wrestling event.  

Dark match – A non-televised match.  

The reasons for these can vary, from a try-out for new wrestlers (such as the famous Kurt Angle vs Owen Hart match), a way to get unused wrestlers on the card (such as the dark match featuring the likes of Tito Santana, Tatanka, and Jim Duggan at SummerSlam 1992) or simply a bonus for the live audience (such as Roddy Piper vs Ric Flair at This Tuesday In Texas). 

Deathmatch – The word “death” here is misleading as a deathmatch does not involve death of any kind. A deathmatch instead is a hardcore match in which weapons such as barbed wire, thumbtacks, and fire may be used.  

These matches are a staple of Japanese wrestling including in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling where the match types have become linked to wrestlers such as Terry Funk, Cactus Jack, and Atsushi Onita.  

Dirt sheet – A publication that reveals behind-the-scenes details on the wrestling business. These are outside of storyline, and not produced by wrestling promotions. The most famous dirt sheet writer is Dave Meltzer, editor of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter for nearly four decades.  

Divas – A now-outdated and passe term for women wrestlers. The term was used in the WWE, now the subject of mockery and ridicule for its sexist undertones. The divas division was exemplified by shoddy wrestling (as a result of hiring untrained models), short matches, and one-dimensional storylines.  

The term went out of fashion in the mid-2010s with the advancement of greater female performers, including the Four Horsewomen, a member of which was Becky Lynch who remarked: “When I came into WWE, what I said to myself was, I wanted to change the term from ‘divas’ to ‘women.’” 

Double turn – A rare series of events that flips the roles of the wrestlers from which they had entered. The wrestler who had entered as the face turns heel and vise versa.  

The most famous example is also one of the most important moments in WWE history. This occurred at WrestleMania 13 when facing Bret Hart turned heel as heel Steve Austin turned face after Bret refused to let go of an unconscious Austin, continuing the assault as “Stone Cold” left bloodied and beaten but without quitting. The double turn set the stage for the wrestling golden age of the Attitude Era.  

Bleacher Report
Wrestling’s most famous double turn was Steve Austin versus Bret Hart at WrestleMania XIII. (Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report)

Dusty Finish – A match finish in which the initial decision is overturned. The most common formula is that the referee gets knocked down by the heel champion, the heel is later pinned by the face to which the crowd passionately react until the decision  is reversed so the face wins via disqualification; champion’s advantage lies with the champion who thus retains. 

This is named after booker and wrestler Dusty Rhodes, who often employed the booking technique, most famously doing so at Starrcade 1985. Rhodes beat Ric Flair by pinfall and won the NWA title but a few days later, this was overturned due to interference on “The Nature Boy”’s half so Rhodes won by DQ and Flair retained.  

Finisher – The recognisable manoeuvre with which a wrestler finishes a match.  

Randy Orton has the RKO, Rey Mysterio has the 619, and Brock Lesnar has the F-5.  

Foreign object – The name for various bits of weaponry, named as such due to their international origins; the kendo stick was inspired by Singapore’s Michael P. Fay case, for example.  

Freebird rule – Named after The Fabulous Freebirds, this rule allows multi-man teams to defend their titles with a revolving line-up. Even if A and B win the titles, C can also be a titleholder who defends the strap. 

Groups such as The New Day, The Shield, and The Undisputed Era – all champions – have all utilised the rule in recent years. 

General manager – In storyline, the person who runs the show. The general manager sets up matches, makes announcements, and – in most cases – has a character that pushes their own agenda.  

These have included the good: William Regal, Eric Bischoff, and Vince McMahon to the bad: Mike Adamle, Sgt Slaughter, and Nick Bockwinkel. 

Reddit How2Wrestling
William Regal has been an authority figure twice, including as NXT general manager. (Photo courtesy of Reddit / How2Wrestling)

Generation – Term to reference the lineage of wrestlers and their families, including second- and third-generation talents.  

Upon debuting in 1996, The Rock was billed as the first third-generation wrestler, whose father Rocky Johnson and grandfather Peter Maivia were also previously on the WWE roster. 

Gimmick – Terminology for ostentatious and pompous, larger-than-life characters or match types. These are inherently linked to the art of professional wrestling, especially with the cartoonish presentation of content on WWE programming.  

Gorilla Position – The gorilla position is the code name for the direct backstage area behind the curtain of the entrance. TheSportster notes that: Certain officials, including former WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, would be wearing headphones behind a desk giving directions. For instance, it’s a known phenomenon among internet fans that Vince McMahon is instructing the WWE commentators to say what he wants them to say.” 

The location was named after former wrestler and commentator Gorilla Monsoon, who – as a multi-talented wrestling mind – spent a large quantity of his time in this area. 

Green – A term used to describe inexperienced and sloppy wrestlers, largely aimed at rookies.  

Some acclaimed wrestlers started out green but subsequently improved (such as Sting, described by Jim Cornette as one of the “worst rookies I’ve ever seen,”) or some wrestlers remain green such as Nathan Jones, so incompetent that WWE plucked him from a scheduled WrestleMania match. The term has been used on television too, including in WCW when Chris Jericho kept referring to rival Goldberg as “Greenberg”. 

Heel – A heel is the typical villain, the ‘bad guy’ who the audience boo and detest.

Arguably, heels are far more nuanced and varied than babyfaces as heels can be such due to their status as cowardly so-called chickenshit heels (Ric Flair, Owen Hart, The Miz…), unbeatable monster heels (Vader, Brock Lesnar, Kane…), anti-American foreign nationals (The Iron Sheik, Rusev, William Regal…), aristocratic heels (Ted DiBiase, Alberto Del Rio, Rick Martel), and traditional heels (Harley Race, Greg Valentine, Ray Stevens…) amongst others.  

The Mirror Sports Illustrated
Two of the greatest heels in pro wrestling history: Harley Race and Ted DiBiase. (Photo courtesy of The Mirror / Sports Illustrated)

Hoss – A well-built, hard-hitting brute. These are often powerhouses, who have a reputation as being tough as nails who batter their opponents with power moves and strikes. 

Go-to hosses include Stan Hansen, Gunther/WALTER, Sheamus, Vader, JBL, and Kenta Kobashi.  

Indy – A shortened term for an independent promotion. Independent promotions are largely without sponsors, have only regional popularity, and minimalist production.  

The most famous example is ECW. Extreme Championship Wrestling started out as Eastern Championship Wrestling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but by the end of the decade, the anarchic promotion was within the top three most famous wrestling companies in North America. Colt Cabana, Chris Hero, and Nick Gage are amongst the more famous indy wrestlers. 

Iron man – Used to refer to someone with great stamina, who can compete for lengthy periods.  

An Iron Man match is a match with a set time limit – normally of 30 or 60 minutes – in which wrestlers try to score as many points as possible, by pinfall, submission, disqualification, or count-out. The first Iron Man match on a grand stage was at WCW Beach Blast 1992 when Ricky Steamboat beat Rick Rude 4-3 whilst the WWE’s first took place at WrestleMania XII in 1996 when Shawn Michaels beat Bret Hart for the WWE title after the match went to overtime. Kurt Angle is seen by many as the king of this match concept with barnstormers against Chris Benoit, Brock Lesnar, and Samoa Joe. 

Elsewhere, an ‘iron man’ has different connotations in the Royal Rumble match where it refers to the longest-lasting man in the match. Sometimes, these men have won the match, for example, Ric Flair in 1992 and Rey Mysterio in 2006 – both of whom lasted over an hour.  

Job – Terminology for a loss, more often referred to as ‘doing the job’.  

Wrestlers with the sole purpose of jobbing to bigger stars are often known as ‘jobbers’ in insider wrestling verbiage but can be known by a long list of names (such as enhancement talent, journeymen, or local competitors). ‘Jobbers’ were a huge part of programming during the 80s and 90s, with notable jobbers such as The Brooklyn Brawler, “Iron” Mike Sharpe, and Barry Horowitz. Although fading away from the mid-1990s onwards, jobbers have not faded away into the ether. 

Conversely, wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan have become infamous for refusing to sell, with “The Hulkster” adjusting match results at Royal Rumble 1990 (winning a Royal Rumble over Mr Perfect despite already being world champion), World War 3 1995 (mid-match rebooking so he was never eliminated and thus never actually lost the match), and SummerSlam 1993 (refusing to put over Bret Hart despite previous agreement as he “wasn’t in his league,” as Bret later recalled).  

The Brooklyn Brawler: one of wrestling’s most popular jobbers. (Photo courtesy of Fansided)

Kayfabe – Perhaps the single most important term listed, kayfabe is the presentation of professional wrestling as a legitimate event – reality rather than a scripted show. Kayfabe is the promoting of suspending disbelief in the modern age, only acknowledging what the storyline dictates. Kayfabe concealed wrestling’s pre-rehearsed nature for decades until towards the end of the 20th century.  

In the past, wrestlers made tremendous efforts to preserve kayfabe such as Mr Wrestling who “saved wrestling,” as written in Ric Flair’s To Be The Man book. In 1975, the man behind the mask Tim Woods was seriously injured in the infamous plane crash. However, he had to return to the ring early, sacrificing his body as otherwise it would be leaked that the face Mr Wrestling was on the same plane as heels such as Ric Flair and Johnny Valentine, thus breaking kayfabe. Despite cracked and bruised ribs, a concussion, and unable to walk unassisted, he wrestled shortly after to dispel any involvement with the incident.  

Manager – Managers are people accompanying wrestlers to the ring, often involving themselves in the matches. Managers’ services to wrestlers in real life can be for reasons such as to perform promo duties, give a recognised face with the wrestler for legitimacy, or give greater character development to the wrestler. 

Some of the most famous managers include Bobby Heenan and Jimmy Hart – cornerstones of the manager boom in the 1980s. Some are synonymous with their clients such as the relationships between Paul Bearer and The Undertaker and Miss Elizabeth and Randy Savage. Managers have largely fallen off the map today although are going through somewhat of a revival in AEW. 

Metro UK
(Photo courtesy of Metro UK)

Mark – A term used for people overenthusiastically believing in pro wrestling, buying into storylines. 

A ‘smark’ is instead a portmanteau of ‘smart’ and ‘mark’ and is the opposite; a term for those too in the know. 

Mid-carder – A wrestler who never reached beyond the mid-card. Although a fixture perhaps of the Intercontinental or United States title scene – the secondary titles – they are deemed uncredible contenders for top stars. Although maybe talented wrestlers, they are booked in a way making them unable to break the glass ceiling. These wrestlers may have a reputation as reliable workers, a strong in-ring hand but just never at the top of the hill. 

X-Pac, Tito Santana, and Frankie Kazarian are all examples.  

New Generation Era – A debated era of pro wrestling history from around the early-mid 1990s to the mid-late 1990s.  

This time is generally ridiculed; bad gimmicks, a lack of starpower, and terrible booking marked an era of despair for the WWE as they moved away from the golden years of the 1980s. With Diesel at the helm, it was one of the lowest points in WWE history with business “plummet[ing] pretty seriously,” in the words of Bret Hart. Simply put, business was in the toilet.  

Over – Terminology for becoming popular and beloved.  

In 2014, Daniel Bryan organically ‘got over’ with the fans – even if it seemingly got in the way of WWE’s plans – and earned a WrestleMania main event out of it, all from crowd support. Ironically, at the same time WWE failed to get Roman Reigns over, who the crowd solidly rejected, illustrated by his loud boos after winning the 2015 Royal Rumble.  

Pay-Per-View (PPV) – A special super-card event which provokes the audience to pay in order to watch.  

WrestleMania, for instance, is the biggest PPV of WWE’s calendar and Starrcade was the biggest for the NWA/WCW. 

Pearl Harbour – Term for a pre-match brawl in which one opponent attacks the other from behind. 

This term was coined by commentator Gorilla Monsoon, who often used it on commentary. It refers to the Japanese bombing of the United States’s Pearl Harbour naval base, in what was seen as an unjustified attack – and triggered US involvement in the Second World War. 

Piledriver – A wrestling manoeuverer in which an opponent places their opposition’s head between their legs whilst standing before lifting and falling onto their backside; planting their opponent’s head into the mat. The move was a fixture of wrestling in the latter half of the 20th century.  

Variations include the jumping piledriver (performed by Bret Hart and Paul Orndorff), tombstone piledriver (performed by The Undertaker and Fit Finlay), cradle piledriver (performed by Jerry Lynn and Minoru Suzuki), the suplex piledriver (performed by Scott Steiner and Brain Cage), and the tag spike piledriver (performed by The Brainbusters and FTR) amongst other iterations. 

The move has been banned by the WWE, with some workers having exclusive use of the move, ever since serious injuries to Taz in ECW but more significantly Steve Austin at SummerSlam 1997 at the hands of Owen Hart. AEW have revived the move with Toni Storm using the Storm Zero piledriver as her finisher. 

A tombstone piledriver, shown here when Owen Hart delivered the move onto Steve Austin, a career-ending injury ensuring the slow phasing out of the move in WWE. (Photo courtesy of Whatculture)

Pop – A positive cheer from the crowd. 

During his time as commissioner, Mick Foley became associated with the ‘cheap pop’, in which he would gain unearned cheers for simply referencing the city the event was in.  

Promo – Another incredibly important term, a promo is the name for a talking segment. Promos create characters, sell matches, and engage the audience – some believe promo ability in wrestling is actually more important than wrestling ability.  

CM Punk’s 2011 ‘Pipebomb’ promo was voted the greatest of all time in a Cageside Seats tournament whilst Steve Austin King Of The Ring 1996 ‘Austin 3:16’ promo is perhaps the most influential moment of the 1990s.  

On top of many wrestlers with great promo abilities – Ric Flair, MJF, Roddy Piper – there are also great talkers who are managers and thus talk on behalf of their wrestlers. This includes Paul E. Dangerously/Paul Heyman, who Mick Foley called in The Hardcore Diaries: “one of the greatest promo men in the history of our business.” 

NEO Sports Insiders
The highly influential Austin 3:16 promo at King of The Ring 1996. (Photo courtesy of NEO Sports Insiders)

Push – Terminology for when a wrestler is given a large swell of support from a wrestling company, often referring to being given a more high-profile card placement or a large number of wins. 

Pushes, especially in WWE can be abrupt (such as Jinder Mahal in 2017) or can be stopped abruptly (such as EC3 in 2019). 

Rib – Insider terminology for a practical joke played on another wrestler. Tall tales of ribs are endless, a big part of wrestling in the 20th century.  

These pranks are often backstage, with some of the most notorious perpetrators including Owen Hart, Mr. Fuji, and Mr. Perfect.  

Yet not all are behind the camera, with Daniel Bryan ‘ribbing’ William Regal on an episode of Superstars in 2010 by having production instead play Regal’s “Real Man’s Man” theme from a previous gimmick. Sometimes even wrestlers are named as part of a rib, such as Akeem “The African Dream” – a WWE gimmick to mock the NWA’s “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. 

Roll-up – A form of pinning manoeuvre where the pinned opponent remains conscious but unable to kick out due to the pressure on their shoulders. The opponent is often taken by surprise by this, with the inflicting wrestler sometimes using the ropes or grabbing the tights whilst performing a roll-up. 

There are a plethora of roll-up types including the school boy, the O’Connor roll, and small package. Roll-ups have dictated the results of important matches with a select few examples including Bret Hart vs Owen Hart at WrestleMania X, The British Bulldog vs Bret Hart at SummerSlam 1992, and The Hurricane’s shock victory over The Rock on Raw in 2003.  

Rubber match – Often the third of a trio of matches, a rubber match is a deciding contest after differing results previously. 

When Brock Lesnar wrestled The Undertaker at Hell In A Cell 2015, it was a rubber match as the two had each won a match against the other; Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XXX and The Undertaker at SummerSlam 2015.  

Run-In – When an involved wrestler emerges from the entrance as a distraction ploy or to attack an enemy wrestler. The technique is used regularly to advance storylines or to protect a wrestler in a finish.  

When Mankind won the WWE championship in 1999, he did so with the help of a Steve Austin run-in, with “Stone Cold” smashing The Rock with a chair and putting Foley on top. In ECW, 911’s gimmick was to intervene in dull or heatless matches and hit multiple chokeslams on the wrestlers.  

Steve Austin running in to help Mankind win the WWF championship on Raw in 1999, striking his opponent The Rock with a steel chair.
(Photo courtesy of Sportskeeda)

Ruthless Aggression – An era generally viewed from 2002-2008, with key features including a greater focus on wrestling ability, two divided Raw and SmackDown rosters, and the development of younger talent. 

Talents defining the era include the SmackDown Six (Eddie Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Edge, Chris Benoit, and Kurt Angle) and the Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) Four (Batista, John Cena, Randy Orton, and Brock Lesnar).  

The name was derived from a line in an in-ring promo by Vince McMahon. 

Sandbag – When a wrestler deliberately goes limb and heavy, thus making it harder for them to be lifted by their opponent.  

Wrestling famously depends on the cooperation and communication between the wrestlers so this is potentially dangerous, often done in protest to make their opponent look bad. 

Hulk Hogan, never the most athletic athlete, famously sandbagged The Undertaker’s chokeslam twice at Judgement Day 2002. Elsewhere, in AEW, Thunder Rosa recently came under fire for apparently sandbagging Marina Shafir, shortly afterwards walking out with the word adorned onto a shirt.  

Schmoz – A hectic, chaotic cluster of wrestlers brawling in one location, often to end a match inconclusively.  

These angles occur quite regularly to hype multi-man affairs or huge PPV matches. One of the most memorable was in 2001 when a tag match ended in a schmoz leading to one of the most iconic show endings in WWE history as “the old “Stone Cold”,” returned to fight off The Alliance. 

Screwjob – When a promotor ‘screws’ a wrestler, going behind their back to rig the result of a wrestling match, either in kayfabe or shoot.  

The most famous is the 1997 Montreal Screwjob, an event replicated in kayfabe many times since. When WWE champion Bret Hart was about to leave WWE for WCW, he had the belt forcibly removed when Mr. McMahon orchestrated a finish, unknown to Bret, where he lost the match despite not tapping out. Less well known is the 1985 screwjob when Fabulous Moolah beat Wendi Richter, despite Richter kicking out, for the Women’s belt after Richter had asked for a pay rise in her next contract. 

Shawn Michaels locking Bret Hart in the sharpshooter prior to the Montreal Screwjob incident. (Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Sell – The way in which a wrestler registers and reacts to moves being hit on them. To still imply wrestling as a legitimate event, selling is integral, not just for the wrestlers but also referees, commentators, and other figures in order to emphasise, promote, and engage viewers.  

Some wrestlers have become renowned for their selling with some of the most notable sellers being Dolph Ziggler and Mr. Perfect, who flung themselves around the ring to make their opponents look dominant. Conversely, some wrestlers are famous for no-selling, barely registering the offense of their opponents such as Road Warrior Hawk and Hulk Hogan. 

Shoot – When an aspect of wrestling is actually true and legitimate. Fairly rare, there is sometimes deliberate blurring of storyline/reality or sometimes this is an impromptu reaction to an unplanned event.  

This can include shoot promos (such as CM Punk’s pipebomb), shoot fights (such as JBL beating up The Blue Meanie at ECW One Night Stand 2005), or shoot reactions (such as heel Michael Cole showing very real concern for commentary Jerry Lawler after his heart attack in 2012). 

Although some have followed, perhaps no shoot gimmick was better than “Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman, so unpredictable and outrageous that even his fellow wrestlers did not know when Pillman was in character or not. Pillman once jerked Bobby Heenan, taking “The Brain” but surprise and prompting Bobby to respond: “What the fuck are you doing?” live on air. Pillman even asked for his release to be convincing, so, to follow the storyline, he was given release papers with the agreement of returning but chose to sign elsewhere. 

Spot – A planned routine or moment taking place in a match. These are mostly major risks and moves, created to be memorable and breath-taking. 

When this goes wrong, it is known as a ‘blown spot’.  

A wrestler referred to as a ‘spot monkey’ – a derogoratory term – is someone cited as having little psychology but is rather someone who just does big spots, perhaps wrestling in so-called ‘spotfests’. The likes of Darby Allin, Jeff Hardy, and Rob Van Dam have been described in such a way. 

Squash – A one-way, single-sided beatdown.  

Used more heavily over previous decades, squash matches get over the immense power, skill, and ability of one star, easily handing a loss to their opponent in just a few minutes.  

Squash matches mostly involve jobbers and are a key part in building new stars, mostly notably Goldberg. One of the most memorable squash matches saw the debuting Big Van Vader destroy Japanese icon Antonio Inoki within minutes. Only Inoki’s second loss in a decade, Vader’s squash caused a riot within Sumo Hall.  

Stable – A team of more than two people, sometimes instead referred to as a faction although a stable normally involves a manager whereas a faction does not. 

The wrestling business has historically been dominated by stables, including in the late 20th century. The Four Horsemen, New World Order, and D-Generation-X are the best known.  

POST Wrestling
The Four Horsemen, arguably the most revered stable in wrestling led by Ric Flair (in green), managed by J.J. Dillon (bottom).
(Photo courtesy of POST Wrestling)

Terry Funk – Professional wrestler and hardcore icon who wrestled into his 70s and worked across six decades.  

A certified legend of the business, “Middle-Aged And Crazy” Terry Funk’s name is forever associated with retirements. Although he first retired in 1983, he came out of retirement many times, last wrestling in 2017 in his early-mid 70s.  

Retiring at least seven times, Funk infamously wrestled his ‘final match’ at career tribute show WrestleFest before returning to the ring within 11 days.  

Transitional move – A move performed to set up another.  

Fans complain that moves that used to be deathly and now transitional moves that would rarely actually end a match, such as the DDT, superkick, and superplex.  

Tussle – Terminology for wrestling, more specifically grappling.  

The word has more comedic effect than grappling, with Vince McMahon wanting to call WrestleMania The Colossel Tussle prior to a proposed name change from Howard Finkel.  

Unsanctioned – A match kayfabe not signed off on. The wrestling promotion is therefore not subject to injury, with the stipulation making the match seem more gritty and realistic.  

The wrestlers often walk into these unsanctioned matches in street attires. Despite being ‘unsanctioned’, these matches can still be for title belts (such as Chyna wrestling Ivory at WrestleMania X-7). 

Famous unsanctioned matches include Shawn Michael vs Triple H at SummerSlam 2002 – Michaels’s first match in years, and Britt Bakers match vs Thunder Rosa on AEW Dynamite: Saint Patrick’s Day’s Slam.  

Wrestling News
Britt Baker opens a bag of thumbtacks in the St Patrick’s Day Slam Lights Out match against Thunder Rosa. (Photo courtesy of Wrestling News)

Vanilla midget – A term popularised by Kevin Nash to describe the new, popular influx of young talent. Specifically, flippy wrestlers of small stature and without true or refined gimmicks. 

When sub-5’10 workers Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit became world champions, Nash referred to it as “the end of the business,” accusing vanilla midgets of being death to the wrestling industry as they were unrealistic and unmarketable.  

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