Professional Wrestling Basic Terms

If you’re new to the world of professional wrestling, here is a very basic guide to terms you’ll want to be familiar with about wrestling, the matches, and more. These are for newcomers but may also be helpful for current fans, who may have heard a term but not known what it referred to:

A “face” refers to a good guy in wrestling, usually a fan favorite. Examples from the past would be Hulk Hogan, The Rock and John Cena. A wrestler is said to “turn face” when they go from bad to good.

A “heel” refers to a wrestler who is considered a bad guy or not liked by the crowd/fans. A character is said to “turn heel” when they make a turn from good (face) to bad (heel).

“Finishing move” or “Finisher” refers to a wrestler’s unique move he/she uses to “finish off” an opponent for the victory. Examples of this were Hulk Hogan’s “Leg drop”, Bret the Hitman Hart’s “Sharpshooter” and Stone Cold Steve Austin’s “Stone Cold Stunner”.

“Foreign object” refers to any object not included in the match (steel chair, brass knuckles, chain). Usually a wrestler will try to cheat and use an object to knockout his/her opponent without the referee seeing in order to gain a victory.

“Roster” refers to the list of active wrestlers on a pro wrestling show.

“Card” refers to the matches scheduled for an event.

In pro wrestling, the ring is also referred to as “the squared circle”. The normal ring has 4 sides, with 3 ropes on each side of the ring. The bottom part of a wrestling ring is the mat, and the side parts of the ring are referred to as the apron(s).

“Turnbuckle” is the metal coupling device which fastens the ring’s ropes together at the ring corners and keeps the proper tension for the ropes around the ring. There are four turnbuckles in most pro wrestling rings, and 3 ropes on each of the sides of the ring.

“Dark match” is a match you see at a live television event that is not part of the taping for the televised show.

In a normal pro wrestling match, the ways to win are:

“Pinfall” – A wrestler pins his opponent for a 3 count by the referee. There have also been unusual matches where the outcome was both wrestlers pinned each others’ shoulders to the mat at the same time, meaning both wrestlers win.

“Submission” – A wrestler puts his opponent in a special hold which causes the opponent to tap out (hit his hand on the mat to stop the match), or the referee determines the opponent is unable to continue wrestling.

“Countout” – The referee counts 1 or both wrestlers involved in a match out of the ring for a count of 10. A double countout results in no winner and is basically a draw.

“Disqualification” – The referee determines foul play in the match in one wrestler’s advantage. Examples are another wrestler interferes in the match, or 1 of the wrestlers in the match uses a foreign object to strike his opponent.

“Referee’s Decision” – the referee can also choose to stop a match if one of the wrestlers can not continue to wrestle. Example would be a wrestler becomes knocked out and/or ref determines he needs medical assistance.

“Failure to answer a ref’s 10 count” – Also, the referee can count either or both wrestler down on the mat for a count of 10 and award the match to 1 or as a draw accordingly.

Here are several examples of common matches you may see in pro wrestling:

“Handicap match” – refers to a match where there is more opponents on 1 side. An example is 1 wrestler vs 2 opponents or 2 wrestlers vs 3 opponents. The lesser side is considered “handicapped” in the match.

“Cage match” – this refers to a match done in the ring with a high wall steel cage surrounding the ring. A wrestler can win this match by either climbing out up the cage wall and then dropping out to the outside (both feet must hit floor). A wrestler can also win by pinfall or submission inside the cage, or by exiting the cage door near one side of the ring.

“Battle Royal” – this match usually involves anywhere from 5 to 30 or so wrestlers who all start in the ring together. In this match it is usually every man for himself. Wrestlers eliminate their opponents by throwing them over the top rope of the ring. The last wrestler in the ring is declared the winner.

“Lumberjack match” – This match has wrestlers in the ring and then a bunch more wrestlers surrounding the ring. The people surrounding the ring are there to toss back in wrestlers who go out of the ring, or in some cases attack them.

“Street Fight” – this match allows wrestlers to use weapons and objects around the ring, arena, backstage or wherever the fight spills out to. A pin can be made anywhere.

“Falls Count Anywhere” – this match allows a wrestler to pin his opponent anywhere the match goes to (the ring, outside of it, outside the arena, backstage, in the crowd..etc)

“Last Man Standing Match” – in this situation, the wrestlers compete until one man is standing and his opponent is down for a 10 count by the referee.

Now you have some basic professional wrestling terms, and if you’re new to pro wrestling these are a good starting guide to get you familiar as you enjoy the matches and shows!

Nicole Thomas

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