Professional Wrestling is a billion-dollar business complete with a line of toys, video game, apparel, and assorted other collectibles of your favorite Superstars.
Unlike most of our lists, which are opinionated journalistic pieces, this list is going to be a revelation that illuminates and educates you, enabling you to see more clearly. We are pulling back the curtain, so to speak, and teaching you what others pay to learn in wrestling school. Some of the younger wrestlers today may not even know some of these things you are about to be privy to. They say a good magician never reveals the secret of their tricks. Well, a former professional wrestler is about to tell it all.
This list will feature 15 Insider Pro Wrestling Terms That WWE’s Vince McMahon Does Not Want You To Know. The list will include around 30 insider terms scattered throughout the article. Some words have multiple meanings and uses while some instances have multiple applicable words.
There are some words that didn’t make it to the list. One of which is sell, which is the act of making the audience believe what they are seeing. When a wrestler gets slammed, they hold their back. That is selling the move. Another is over, which pertains to the audience’s approval or disdain for the performer. Hulk Hogan was over. Ric Flair was over. The Red Rooster was not over. Rib refers to the jokes wrestlers pull on each other behind the scenes. You should already know that pro wrestling is not a competitive sport where the combatants are trying to win. Vince McMahon told you that when he redefined wrestlers as Superstars and wrestling as sports entertainment. Now, here’s what you didn’t know…
In professional wrestling, shoot is when something that’s going on is real. Sometimes in life, emotions are high and tempers flare. One wrestler may be displeased with another so he shoots on him. This means he may be trying to hurt the other guy. Shoot or shooting means someone is genuine. Dusty Rhodes was not the late wrestler’s birth name. His “shoot” name was Virgil Runnels. The term is used in the widely popular shoot interview series. These are interviews with pro wrestling personalities where they reveal true events and feelings about the wrestling business. This article is a shoot on the inner workings of pro wrestling. The author might feel repercussions from within the industry for it but anyone who has ever produced a shoot interview has done far worse by ratting out their brothers. In fact, it is much worse than the damage it causes by simply providing definitions for a few words and explaining the context in which they may be used. The famed Montreal screw job shown here may have been a shoot. The WWE tricked Bret Hart to get the WWE Championship away from him so he could not leave for WCW and take the belt with him. If it was a work, it would be called a worked shoot. Crazy, huh?
Work refers to the act of acting. It is the professional way of saying that the match is merely just playing pretend or making believe. Does anyone think Stephanie McMahon fired Mick Foley as General Manager of RAW? Triple H and Seth Rollins really don’t hate each other. Andre the Giant never turned on Hulk Hogan. They are all working us. Working dates back long before pro wrestling. Women have been working men and men have been working women since the beginning of time. That’s what a player does. Working is tantamount to lying. You are trying to trick or fool someone. You are pulling the wool over the eyes. It’s not about necessarily harming them, but simply getting someone to think, feel, and see things the way you want them to. You work someone to illicit the desired emotion or reaction from someone. Kids work their parents as much as parents work their kids when they tell the toddlers that Santa is watching… so they better be good. Vince McMahon being killed off, as seen here, was a work.
13. Heat–Comeback, False Come Back, Stop
Heat has a few meanings. Heat is often about the crowd’s reaction to the act done. When the crowd is into it, the wrestlers are generating heat. When the fans chant, “U-S-A” for an American wrestler, that is baby face heat. When the crowd is chanting, “you suck” to Kurt Angle, that is heel heat. The heat can also be the abuse given to a wrestler in the match when he is on the defense. In tag team matches one partner will take the “heat.” A comeback is when the wrestler on the defense begins to mount an offense. A false comeback is when the wrestler beginning to mount that offense is stopped dead in his tracks.
12. Hot Tag/False Tag
The hot tag takes place during tag team matches. It is when the wrestler taking the heat, mounts a defense long enough to make the tag to the fresh wrestler on the ring apron. This usually gets a big pop from the crowd. The wrestler who’s tagged in will usually come in full of energy and for a brief time, can take on both members of the other team alone. The false tag takes place during the heat. The wrestler being beaten will try to make it to the corner to tag his partner. Just before he makes the tag, the other team will distract the referee. The wrestler makes the tag, but the ref doesn’t see it and disallows the tag. Look for these types of tags in a tag team match. You will be able to notice them now in just about every tag team match that lasts longer than a couple of minutes.
A bump defines the falls wrestlers take during their matches. There are several kinds of bumps. The most common bump and one of the first things you learn during wrestling training is a back bump. You would see a wrestler take a back bump from a clothesline, a dropkick, or a powerful-looking punch. Ric Flair was famous for getting battered in the corner and then staggering out into the middle of the ring and taking a face bump. Some of the best bumps in pro wrestling have come from Mick Foley. Foley was known for taking insane bumps like the one from the top of the cage in his match with Undertaker. Shane McMahon is another high-risk bumper. Paul Heyman built ECW because his shows were packed with wrestlers taking major bumps.
10. Baby Face/Heel/Promo
A baby face is back stage lingo for the good guys. Fans who think they are aware may call them fan favorites. No matter what you call them, people that are in the pro wrestling industry refer to good guys as baby faces. The bad guys are called heels. Again, the fans refer to them as rule breakers. The ultimate baby face of all time was Hulk Hogan when Hulkamania was running wild. When Hogan joined the NWO is WCW, he was a heel. Wrestlers often switch sides based on the audience’s reaction. Chris Jericho and Ric Flair are perfect examples of wrestlers who work well on either side of the fence. Society has changed and in today’s modern times, those who were considered heels in the 1970’s wrestling are now baby faces. Stone Cold Steve Austin is a perfect example. A guy who drinks beer, gives everyone the middle finger, and assaults his boss is viewed as a baby face in modern times. Whether you like it or not, he used to be a heel a few decades ago. Promos are the interviews that the wrestlers do to PROMOte themselves and their matches.
A run-in is a great way to give the fans no winner to make them yearn for a rematch. Today, there are only so many wrestlers and so many match combinations. Why do you think we watched Randy Orton and John Cena wrestle for multiple pay per views? A run-in is when an outside interference takes place during a match. It is a good way to set up for other matches. Someone may interfere in a title match and cost the champion the title or cost the challenger the victory. Now the wrestler who suffered the loss can pursue the guy who did that run-in. The greatest run-in artists of all time were The Four Horsemen in the NWA. Horsemen run-ins would incite the crowd and cause the fans to support the baby face even more.
Carney is the language spoken between wrestlers so you can’t understand what they are saying. The best time to use this is during a match when calling spots on the fly. Since that doesn’t happen as much these days, thanks to Vince McMahon and his television writers. It is not used as much and many new wrestlers are not even well aware of it. No one teaches it anymore. It’s sort of like Pig Latin. Carnival workers used to speak the same language. Thus, it is called Carney. The WWE even used it once for a character, Kizarny. His name is how you would say the word Carney in the language of Carney. When speaking Carney, you add an “iz” or “eaz” sound between syllables or before vowels for one syllable words. Bump would be “bizump” or “beazump” and shoot would be “shizoot” or “sheazoot”. Snoop Dogg began using a similar lingo as well.
Mark is another word that comes from the carnival. A mark is a target. The fans are called marks by the wrestlers. You are the target of the big ruse called pro wrestling. Fans who know how things work are called smart marks. Many wrestlers blame the Internet for the insurgence of smart marks in the modern era. Fans aren’t the only ones who are considered marks. The business is full of marks and 99% of everyone in it was a mark at some time. You become a wrestler because you are a fan. WWE woman wrestler, Bayley, plays the role of being a mark as her character. Brock Lesnar is an exception to this rule. He was not a big wrestling fan when he broke into the business. He got into wrestling because he was a beast and had the physical attributes to guarantee success. A mark which is not a fan but in the business, are those guys who wrestle on shows for free or spend $250 to travel to a show and work at a financial loss. They are in it because they are a fan and want to play wrestler. Some marks, like Dixie Carter of TNA fame, will waste millions of dollars to live the life. She is a money mark. I am a movie mark. I love the movies and see everything that comes out. It’s not a bad thing.
This is the single most overused word in the world of wrestling and can be used in many situations. A gimmick mainly refers to the character played by the wrestler. Rick Martel’s gimmick was a model. Ray Traylor’s gimmick is that he was a former prison guard who wrestled in a police uniform and was known as the Big Bossman. Akeem was a gimmick of a Caucasian wanting to be an African-American. The more outrageous a gimmick, the greater chance a wrestler has for a successful career. Gimmick can also refer to any object at any time. Someone might be looking for their keys and say they can’t find their gimmicks. An independent wrestler who has merchandise to sell will refer to shirts, hats, and photos as their gimmicks. A table being used in a match can be considered a gimmick which means that it has been fixed to break easier. To a wrestler, everything is a gimmick.
The color is red. So, you can guess that color means blood. Gig can be used as a noun or as a verb. A gig is a gimmick used to get color. A wrestler can also gig during a match. You can use a blade to gig and get color, or you can blade yourself. Hard way means someone gets busted up through means other than their own doing. When Seth Rollins broke John Cena’s nose, that was hard way color. Wrestlers do not like it when a mark says it is fake blood or ketchup packets. It is hard to say where it started, but blading has been around forever, long before today’s generation of wrestlers. It will be around long after they are gone. You just can’t risk a fan obtaining proof that the blood was not real. In only very few cases will a wrestler use theatrical blood.
We are not talking about Kurt Angle. An angle is the scripted situation used to win interest in a match or situation. In the 1992 Royal Rumble, Sid Justice dumped Hulk Hogan out over the top rope to eliminate the Hulkster. Hogan then grabbed Sid to pull him out, enabling Ric Flair to win the match. WWE used that angle to set up for Hogan and Justice at WrestleMania that year. An angle can be small or big. It may be brief. It may also take place over a longer period of time. WWE runs angles to keep the fans interested in the show. Angles are storylines. The benefit of angles can be seen here on this event flyer for ICW. Angles provide an explanation, history, and hype for the matches.
A jobber is a lesser-known wrestler, usually a part-timer. Fans know a jobber when they see one. The jobber’s task is to lose to other wrestlers to help build them up. Some better-known jobbers in pro wrestling have been Johnny Rodz, Steve Lombardi, Bob Cook, Rusty Brooks, Terry Gibbs, Reno Riggins, Dennis Allen, and so much more. James Ellsworth was brought in as a jobber to put over Braun Strowman. The fans took a liking to him which is why Ellsworth got the spot in WWE. In the old days of pro wrestling, jobbers were known as carpenters. Stan Hansen mentioned this during his WWE Hall of Fame induction. Carpenters build things just as jobbers build wrestlers by making them look strong.
The booker is the boss in the locker room. The booker writes the content for the events and decides who wins, who loses, and who wears the coveted championship belt. WWE uses television writers now, but Vince McMahon still has the final say. He is the booker for WWE. Ole Anderson was the booker at one time in WCW. Eddie Graham was the booker for Championship Wrestling from Florida. Fritz Von Erich booked World Class Championship Wrestling in Texas. Jim Crockett booked for the National Wrestling Alliance. Verne Gagne was the American Wrestling Alliance’s booker. Today, anyone with a couple of thousand dollars can run an independent pro wrestling show and be the booker. Paul Heyman was a great booker for Extreme Championship Wrestling.
1. Kayfabe – The Biggest One Of Them All!
This is the biggest one of all. Kayfabe is a term that dates back many decades and was widely used when the bulk of the audience still believed wrestling as 100% real and on the level. Kayfabe is the secret code word for shut up. If someone were to walk into an area where two opponents were going over their match, one guy might say kayfabe. This means tighten up and go into “work” mode. You may also hear this word in casual usage between friends. If you keep calling someone who is not taking your calls, they are kayfabing you. If you go out drinking with your friends and tell your wife you are working late, then you are kayfabing her on the truth. Some old-timers will say we are breaking kayfabe here, but WWE did it first. They listed Kay Fabe as the director in the credit of a WWE production and the late Gorilla Monsoon used to have a personalized vanity license plate that read, KAYFABE.