The Pro Wrestling Terminology Dictionary
Originally created 4/07

Angle – Another word for storyline. In a perfect world, it is the reason that a match or matches take place. The most common angle is Heroic Face vs. Evil heel. Ex. The angle between Ric Flair and Carlito is building slowly.

Babyface – The hero or good guy in a match. The crowd is supposed to cheer for the babyface, who is often referred to simply as a face. Ex. The top babyface on Raw is John Cena.

Blading– When a wrestle or in some cases a referee uses an outside object, typically a razor blade, to willingly draw blood from the forehead. It is typically done to create the illusion that the blood was drawn as a result of a horrific blow to the head. (syn: gig, blade job, juice…). Ex. When Ric Flair blades his hair turns red.

Blind Tag– a tag in the match seen by the referee but not by the opposing tag team in the match. Ex. Kendrick made a blind tag and was able to hit Deuce with a surprise dropkick.

Blown up– when a wrestler gets tired or out of breath during the course of a match. Ex. The Ultimate Warrior blows up running to the ring sometimes.

Booker– the person who creates the angles, matches and storylines for a given wrestling promotion. WWE calls them head writers. Ex. Stephanie McMahon is the WWE’s top booker.

Botch– a mistake or spot that does not go as planned. Ex. Jeff Hardy botched a lot of moves during his first stint in WWE.

Brawler– a wrestler who focuses primarily on punching, kicking and big slams as opposed to more technical or submission moves. Ex. Triple H is a great brawler.

Build– the rising action in a wrestling match or a wrestling angle. A match with a good build is the Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart Iron Man match.

Bump– A staged fall. When a wrestler has a move performed on them, it is the fall they take as a result. Ex. Batista took a bump when he was chokeslammed at Wrestlemania.

Bury– to make another wrestler look foolish or inadequate in a very real sense not necessarily for the sake of storylines. Ex. WCW was buried in the Invasion angle by rarely wining a match.

Calling a match– (1) the play-by-play commentary for a match. Ex. Jim Ross calls matches on Raw. (2) Planning out the spots and transitions in a match while the match is in progress. Ex. Kurt Angle claims to call all his matches.

Canned Heat– a pre-recorded crowd reaction. Ex. At first Goldberg’s chants were canned heat.

Card– the line up of matches on a wrestling show. Ex. The card for most shows features 6 to 8 matches.

Chain Wrestling– sequencing technical or mat wrestling maneuvers typically used as a feeling out process in the early stages of a match. Ex. In the indies, chain wrestling is typically used to begin a match. Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe often begin matches with chain wrestling.

Chemistry– the rapport between two or more wrestlers. Ex. Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat had great chemistry.

Cover– to attempt a pinfall. Ex. After the Pedigree, Triple H usually goes for the cover.

Dark Match– a match contested in front of a live crowd at a television taping only for the live audience, and not shown during the television program. Ex. Before being signed to a contract, wrestlers get tryouts that are dark matches.

Face-in-peril– In a tag match where a babyface wrestler gets beat down for a portion of the match until he can make the hot tag. Ex. Ricky Morton always played the face-in-peril in the Rock n Roll Express’s matches with the Midnight Express.

False Finish– a pin count or submission hold that almost results in a fall or tap out in order to heighten the drama in a match. Ex. When Kurt Angle hooks the Ankle Lock without the heel hook, it is likely a false finish.

Feud– An issue between two wrestlers, tag teams or stables, the reason that they are interacting with and wrestling one another on more than one occasion. Ex. Edge and John Cena have been feuding for a long while.

Finish– (1) The end or end sequence of a match. Ex. The finish of the Wrestlemania Main Event was John Cena making Shawn Michaels tap out. (2) Another name for the move that a wrestler or wrestlers use to win a match (finisher). Ex. The finisher in the Main Event at Wrestlemania was the STF-U.

Gate– the gross sum total of box office receipts for a given wrestling event. Ex. Wrestlemania did a great gate.

Get Over – the actions a wrestler takes to make himself more popular. Ex. John Cena’s rapping caused him to get over.

Gimmick– (1) a wrestler’s character in the ring. Ex. The Undertaker is a very successful gimmick. (2) any plunder or foreign objects used as weapons. Ex. Hitting someone with a steel chair is the most common gimmick.

Going home– the final transition in the match towards the finish. Ex. The most famous sign of going home is when Hulk Hogan would Hulk up.

Going Over– When one wrestler defeats another. Ex. At Wrestlemania V, Hulk Hogan went over Randy Savage.

Green– inexperienced. Ex. MVP and the Miz are two green wrestlers.

Hardcore– a wrestling style emphasizing the use of weapons and extreme violence over any other style of wrestling. This is called garbage wrestling by some. Ex. Mick Foley in his prime preferred a hardcore style.

Hardway– when someone bleeds without intentionally cutting themselves. Ex. Terry Funk’s punches sometimes caused a wrestler to bleed hardway.

Heat– (1) The negative reaction drawn by a heel wrestler. Ex. Edge gets great heat from the crowd. (2) a real life altercation or issue. Ex. Randy Orton had heat with the office for trashing his hotel room.

Heel– The villain or bad guy in a match. The crowd is supposed to boo and hate the heel. The heel will typically cheat to win. Ex. In his career, Ted DiBiase was almost always a heel.

High Spot– A big move, a High Spot is executed in a match as a turning point or to draw a large pop from the crowd. Ex. Most ladder matches end with a very big high spot like jumping off the ladder through a table.

Hope spot– when a wrestler, typically a babyface, makes a false comeback while the heel is controlling the match, causing the fans to think the tables are about to be turned in favor of the babyface. Ex. A sleeper will typically lead to a hope spot where the face elbows the heel in the stomach to escape.

Hot Tag– usually the beginning of the go home spot in a tag team match when a member of the babyface team after a prolonged beat down by the heels finally makes a tag to his partner to turn the tide in the match. Ex. After playing the face-in-peril, Ricky Morton would make the hot tag to Robert Gibson.

Hulking up– This refers to a wrestler getting a superhero-esque burst of strength in the late stages of a match in which they are immune to punishment and it eventually leads to the win. In Japan this is typically referred to as Fighting Spirit. Ex. After Hulk Hogan took an opponents finisher, he would often hulk up.

Indie/Indy– Short for independent. A professional wrestling company other than WWE or TNA that’s primary business income comes from live gate or occasionally DVD sales. Ex. Ring of Honor is currently the biggest indy.

Internet Wrestling Community (IWC)– (1) writers and fans who congregate online to opine/read about pro wrestling shows, workers, news and rumors, while sharing their opinions with others on the Internet (2) a bunch of holier than thou morons that profess to be the be-all-end-all authority on all things related to the world of professional wrestling, but are really a small, but vocal minority. Ex. Pulse Wrestling is a major site in the IWC, and site contributor Flea created the “IWC 100” list ranking the top members of the IWC, most recently as of January 1, 2004.

Jobber– a wrestler used for the expressed purpose of putting and getting other workers over and making them look good. Also known as “enhancement talent.” Ex. The Brooklyn Brawler is a well known jobber.

Jobbing– Losing a match. Ex. Every Brooklyn Brawler match ends with him jobbing (or “doing the job”).

Juicing– (1) Bleeding (see blading) (2) Taking steroids Ex. The wrestler got much smaller once he stopped juicing.

Kayfabe– acting as though the staged aspects of wrestling is real; staying “in character” to an extraordinary level. Ex. In kayfabe he is a good guy, but in real life he’s a wife beater; or Paul Bearer keeps/respects kayfabe better than most current wrestlers.

Kick out– when a wrestler escapes from a pinning predicament. Ex. A pin early in the match will usually result in a kick out.

Lucha Libre– Literally meaning “Free Fighting,” it is the Mexican version of professional wrestling. The style prominently features arm drags, head scissor takeovers, and high risk dives to the outside of the ring. The wrestlers wear colorful masks and outfits, and selling moves is typically not the primary concern. Ex. Rey Mysterio and Psicosis are Lucha Libre wrestlers.

Main eventer– a wrestler who is at the top of the card. He is typically the promotion’s champion or the top challenger for the championship who ideally draws the most money/biggest audiences. Ex. Triple H is a Main Eventer.

Manager– this is not an actual money or financial manager but a person, typically a former wrestler, whose gimmick is to play that role. He or she will often perform as a mouthpiece for younger inexperienced wrestlers to help them get over. Ex. Jim Mitchell is a well known manager of wrestlers including Abyss.

Mark– Originally this meant a fan that does not know that wrestling is scripted, similar to the mark of a con artist or carnival worker. Today the term has evolved to mean any fan willing to buy a ticket, DVD, t-shirt, foam middle finger, shot glass etc… i.e., one who accepts the product at face value. Ex. In one way or another, if you’re reading this (or if you wrote it), you’re probably a mark.

Mark out– this is a term used by “smart” marks and wrestlers alike to refer to a moment or event that makes them feel like a young fan again. Also known as marking for something. Ex. I mark out for Bryan Danielson because he’s such a good worker.

Mid carder– a person in the middle of a card, sometimes the holder of the secondary championship in the promotion. It could also be tag team wrestlers or wrestlers in the midst of a push towards the top of the card. Ex. Jim Duggan was a career mid carder.

MOTY– Match of the Year. Ex. Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat was everyone’s MOTY in 1989.

MOTYC– Match of the Year Contender/Candidate. Ex. Edge vs. Mick Foley from Wrestlemania 22 was a MOTYC.

Muta Scale– a term exclusively used by smart marks to explain how much a person bleeds during a match, on a scale of 0.0 for no blood to 1.0 for most blood. It refers to a match in the early 90s in which Keiji Mutoh/Great Muta bled buckets against Hiroshi Hase. Ex. Recently, in ROH, both Jimmy Jacobs and Colt Cabana have reached 1.0 on the Muta Scale.

No-sell– when someone does not react to a move in a way that makes it convincing or real-looking. Sometimes it is done for the sake of the character in the case of Hulk Hogan or Undertaker, other times wrestlers will not sell moves because of other reasons.

Over– the amount of popularity a wrestler has. Ex. The Undertaker has been over for a long time.

Over-booked– a wrestling match or angle that is choreographed or written to be more complicated than necessary, i.e., relying too much on run-ins, ref bumps, interference and other non-wrestling related elements. Ex. Vince Russo is notorious for over-booking angles everywhere he’s ever worked.

Over-sell– When a wrestler makes a move look especially more dangerous than it really would be. Ex. Booker T getting pinned by the Pedigree almost two full minutes after taking the move at Wrestlemania 19.

Pacing– The tempo or rate of action in a match. Ex. Kurt Angle wrestles at a very fast pace.

Payoff– Typically the end of an angle. Also known as a blowoff. Ex. The payoff to the Donald Trump-Vince McMahon angle was Bobby Lashley beating Umaga and Vince getting his head shaved.

Pop– (1) the positive crowd reaction that a wrestler receives from the crowd. Ex. Shawn Michaels got a big pop. (2) The crowd reaction when a wrestler first comes through the curtain either positive or negative. Ex. The crowd popped at the bong which heralded The Undertaker’s entrance.

Promoter– the person responsible for getting fans interested in a wrestling company, usually the person with the money backing the company. Ex. Vince McMahon is the WWE’s promoter.

Promo– an interview performed by a wrestler to put an angle over. Ex. The Rock is one of the best promo men ever.

Psychology– The theory behind what a wrestler is doing during his match. Also the actions that a wrestler takes to draw the fans into the story of the match. Ex. Ric Flair working the leg during a match to build to the figure four leg lock finishing move is good psychology.

Puroresu or Puro– the Japanese version of professional wrestling. Some of the biggest stars are no-nonsense wrestlers (Jumbo Tsuruta, Toshiaki Kawada) others are colorful masked characters from the world of anime (Jushin Liger, Tiger Mash). Puroresu tends to focus on a mix of hard strikes and painful submissions. The juniors work a more fast paced style with high risk dives. Finishing maneuvers and finishes to matches are held in the highest regard. Ex. Tajiri is a Puro wrestler who spent a lot of time in America.

Push– when a booker decides to give a wrestler a shot at a higher point on the card by getting more high profile matches, more high profile opponents, and more importantly, wins. Ex. Mr. Kennedy got a big push as a result of his Money in the Bank win.

Ref bump– when the referee is knocked out during the match allowing the rules to be temporarily suspended since there’s no one there to enforce them. Ex. When the ref is bumped in a Triple H match he might go for a sledgehammer.

Rest hold– a maneuver, typically a chinlock or sleeper, used so one or both competitors can get their wind back or regain their bearings during a match. Ex. Randy Orton uses a chinlock as a rest hold, sometimes too often.

Road agent– a person backstage, typically a former wrestler, who helps the wrestlers put together their matches and work on their finishes. They also help with promos and angles. Today in WWE, they are called producers. Ex. Pat Patterson has been the agent/producer for most Royal Rumble matches.

Rub– when a wrestler higher up on the card appears with or wrestles with someone lower on the card to give them more legitimacy in the eyes of the fans. Ex. CM Punk got a rub from DX at Survivor Series.

Run-in– when the ally of a wrestler, typically a heel, interjects him or herself into the match to attempt to cheat the babyface out of victory. Ex. The Horsemen used to run-in for Ric Flair.

Screw job– when a finish to a match goes against what one or both of the wrestlers are told in advance. Ex. The Montreal Screwjob where Bret Hart lost the title to Shawn Michaels because Vince McMahon told the ref to ring the bell, even though Hart went into the match with the understanding that he would win.

Selling– making any aspect of wrestling seem believable whether it be moves in the ring or outlandish comments on the microphone. Ex. The wrestler fell backwards, selling the force of the punch.

Shoot– (1) When the line between “fake wrestling” and “real wrestling” becomes blurred. It could be wrestlers legitimately hitting each other or applying legitimately painful submission holds full force. (2) A wrestler being brutally honest, whether it be about the inner workings of wrestling or their honest opinion on any number of subjects Ex. See the Ring of Honor Straight Shooting Series.

Smart – a wrestling fan that thinks they understand the inner-workings of the wrestling business, especially those that make online dictionaries of wrestling terms.

Smart mark or “smark”– a wrestling fan that is a combination smart and mark, thinking they know what really goes on behind the scenes yet also unafraid to mark out for things they enjoy about the product.

Sports Entertainment– WWE’s version of professional wrestling with theoretically an emphasis on character and storyline over in-ring action/technique.

Sports Entertainment Finish– a finish that does not involve a wrestler hitting his finish and getting a clean victory; see screw job, swerve, overbooked.

Spot– (1) any staged event or series of events in a match. When spots are linked with logical progression it creates a compelling entertaining match. (2) someone’s status in a promotion’s pecking order. Ex. The wrestler didn’t want to be out of action too long for fear of losing his spot.

Spot fest– a match with a series of big moves and moments without much storytelling or payoff. Wrestlers who participate in spot fests regularly are known as being spotty.

Stable– a group of wrestlers with a common goal that have each other’s back in a storyline sense. Also known as a faction. Ex. The New World Order or the Four Horsemen.

Stiff– a punch, kick, or move that legitimately hurts. To hit someone with a “real” punch or kick. Ex. Samoa Joe works stiff.

Strap, the– A title belt.

Swerve– when an angle seems to be building towards a certain payoff but takes a surprising and different direction.

Tag team– two wrestlers who work together as a unit to win matches against another team of two.

Tag Formula– the standard set up of the tag match in which the babyfaces get an early advantage only to succumb to underhanded tactics by the heels who engage in a prolonged “heat segment” on one member of the babyface team. The babyface in the ring teases a number of “hope spots” where he might get a tag to his fresh partner on the side building anticipation of that eventual tag. After a double knockdown spot the babyface usually makes the “hot tag” and he and his partner hit a double team maneuver for the victory, or the heels steal a win sometimes through additional underhanded tactics.

Tap out– To submit via tapping the mat.

Technician/Technical wrestler– a wrestler whose offense is made up of primarily technical wrestling maneuvers, submission holds, and suplexes. Ex. Chris Benoit.

Transition– the logical segue from one spot in a match to another.

Turn– when a wrestler changes attitudes from heel to face or face to heel. Ex. Steve Austin turned heel by joining the Alliance.

Tweener– a wrestler who is neither purely a face or purely a heel.

Work– something in wrestling that isn’t real. The opposite of a shoot.

Worker– a wrestler who truly gets the inner workings of eliciting a crowd response, making the fans suspend disbelief and get close to believing what they see is real. They can sometimes do as little as possible in terms of actual wrestling but have the crowd in the palm of their hands.

Work rate– the ability a wrestler has to put on a good match.

Worked shoot– an angle made to seem like it is real or a shoot, but in reality is a work like everything else in wrestling.

WWE style– A wrestling style with emphasis on shorter matches with big finishes as opposed to body part psychology or chain wrestling. It instead features a lot of brawling, punching and kicking building towards the finish.

Thanks to Big Andy Mac and Pulse Glazer for doing most of the research and writing for this list.