A Beginner's Guide to Pro Wrestling

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A Beginner's Guide to Pro Wrestling
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

At some stage of our fandom/obsession with wrestling, we have all been beginners, some of us started as children, others as teens and a select few start as adults (If you cannot tell I started watching as an adult).

Slowly as we watch and join in discussions, there becomes a few things that are referenced on forum boards, in conversations and in articles, for which there is a presumption of universal knowledge. I myself have been guilty of it on occasion.

This article and the slide show which will follow will take you through a journey of the basic knowledge items and terms, those that are tossed around with expectation that all wrestling fans have some knowledge of what is being discussed.

This article will focus on terms often bandied about. The Slideshow on will focus on famous incidents.

This not meant to be the world’s most comprehensive list this is meant to be a beginners guide.

So let’s start the article:

 

Promotion:

This is the organization/company, which organises matches. Wrestlers will often be linked/contracted to one promotion. Some current American promotions are: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Total Non-stop Action (TNA), Ring of Honor (ROH) Dragon Gate USA and Shimmer.

 

Superstar:

Male wrestler in the WWE promotion.

 

Diva/Knockout:

Female wrestler in WWE (Diva) or TNA (Knockout)

 

Tag Team:

2 or more wrestlers who compete as a team. Some famous tag teams: DX, The Fabulous Freebirds, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, The Dudleys (Team 3D) and The Hardyz.

 

Kayfabe/Work:

To start with if you didn’t know wrestling is scripted, not fake. Scripted. The term for the storylines is Kayfabe, it can also be called a work.

For example: In 2002 Triple H and Shawn Micheals had a great feud. This was kayfabe. In real life, Shawn and Trips are best friends (by the way, the best feuds usually have either an element of truth or are between best friends).

 

Shoot:

This is when something real occurs, also known simply as breaking kayfabe. There have been several notable shoot incidents. One of the most notorious was called the Madison Square Garden Incident, where four friends off-screen (two of whom were feuding with the other two on screen) had an in ring celebration to say farewell the two who were going to the opposition promotion in 1996.

 

Shoot-fight:

This will normally occur in the ring as a part of a normal match but will become quiet real very quickly. Many fans at the time of the fight will not instantly be able to tell it is real, there are a couple of famous shoot-fights.

Bob Holly beating the living daylights out of Matt Cappotelli in the ring, on purpose. But most probably the most famous modern era shoot fights occurred between Matt Hardy and Edge over Edge’s affair with Matt’s shoot girlfriend Lita.

 

Mark:

Can be used as a verb, adjective or a noun. Basically it means in its simplest terms someone who still believes wrestling is real, however most fans still have someone they “mark out” for.

This is the wrestler whom for whom you sit through 2 hours of boring stuff to watch them cut a 2-minute promo.

Smarks will often use the term mark as a bad thing, personally I believe if we cannot be marks for the duration of the show, or for at least one wrestler, then stop watching, there are other channels.

 

Smark:

A phrase to describe a fan who enjoys pro wrestling despite or because they know that it is staged, as well as generally knowing the "ins-and-outs" of the company and knowing many things about the industry.

Originally a smark was a smart mark, someone who knew enough to know it was scripted but was still able to enjoy it.

These days’ smarks tend to be people who think they know everything and tend to look down on the average fan.

 

Spot/Spotfest/Spot Monkey

Spots are pre-planned moves or move sets, which are designed to get a particular audience reaction or determine the pace of the match.

A spotfest is a match which consists mainly or entirely of spots, normally with little to flow between moves and no logical transitions these are also normally gimmick matches, ie Table, Ladders and Chairs.

A spot monkey is someone who is more known for high-flying moves with little to no mat wrestling. See Jeff Hardy.

Jeff Hardy is extremely talented however his abilities on the mat are very limited, put him on a ladder and wow, but the man is a spot monkey and should be proud of that (no way I would do what he did at summerslam).

 

Booking/Booker:

Not to be confused with Booker T. Booking is the process of which matches and their outcomes are decided. It covers how long a match should be, who wins and usually the manner in which they win.

For some wrestlers this would also include what spots are to occur during the match, for the older more experienced wrestlers they are usually just given a time and an ending and will often just go out and perform.

Younger guys may need to work through the match before going out. The booker is usually a writer of the show, and if we are lucky, they are former wrestlers.

 

Bury:

Just like it sounds, to kill someone’s career. The issue with this term, is a lot of people confuse burying with losing. Burying usually occurs when someone due to booking is booked in a series short or squash matches.

 

Heel:

The Bad guy: The guy who will insult fans, cheat to win, and act like a jerk.

 

Face:

The good guy, this is the person who normally wins cleanly, polite to fans (plays to the crowd).

 

Tweener:

Morally ambiguous wrestlers, who can neither be defined as bad or good. Often guys who still get cheered despite displaying heel tendencies (as an example, cheating) are also called tweeners.

 

There is so much more I could cover and I may do a second part based on the suggestions I get in the comments.

 

Thanks for reading.

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