Demystifying Pro Wrestling: A Guide to Wrestling Terminology

Demystifying Pro Wrestling: A Guide to Wrestling Terminology

Are you new to the world of professional wrestling? Are you baffled by the jargon and terminology used by wrestlers and fans? Look no further! This comprehensive guide aims to demystify pro wrestling by providing a detailed breakdown of the most common wrestling terms and expressions. Whether you’re a casual fan or aspiring wrestler, this article will equip you with the knowledge you need to navigate the exciting world of pro wrestling. So, let’s dive in and unravel the mysteries behind the ropes!

Overview of Pro Wrestling

What is pro wrestling?

Pro wrestling, also known as professional wrestling, is a form of sports entertainment that combines athletic performances with scripted storylines and characters. It is a unique blend of athleticism, theater, and storytelling. Pro wrestlers, also called wrestlers or grapplers, engage in choreographed matches with predetermined outcomes.

History of pro wrestling

Pro wrestling has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to ancient civilizations. The origins of modern pro wrestling can be traced back to the carnival and traveling circuses of the 19th century. These events featured wrestling exhibitions where skilled performers showcased their grappling abilities to entertain the audience.

In the early 20th century, professional wrestling gained popularity with the advent of televised broadcasts. Promoters recognized the appeal of presenting wrestling as a form of entertainment, and the sport began to evolve into the theatrical spectacle we know today.

Over the years, pro wrestling has undergone various transformations, adapting to different cultural and societal trends. From the territorial era, where regional promotions dominated, to the rise of national and international promotions, pro wrestling has continuously evolved to capture the attention of fans worldwide.

Popular pro wrestling promotions

There are numerous pro wrestling promotions around the world, each with its own unique style and fanbase. Some of the most popular promotions include:

  1. WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment): The largest and most influential pro wrestling promotion globally, WWE has a long-standing history and a massive global fan following. It features a mix of athleticism, storytelling, and larger-than-life characters.

  2. AEW (All Elite Wrestling): A relatively new promotion, AEW has quickly gained a dedicated fan base. Known for its emphasis on in-ring action and a more sports-centric presentation, AEW offers an alternative to traditional pro wrestling.

  3. NJPW (New Japan Pro-Wrestling): Based in Japan, NJPW is renowned for its strong style of wrestling and world-class athletes. It has a rich history and is widely regarded as one of the premier promotions for in-ring action.

  4. Impact Wrestling: Formerly known as TNA (Total Nonstop Action), Impact Wrestling offers an alternative to mainstream promotions. It showcases a diverse roster of talented wrestlers and focuses on exciting matches and innovative storytelling.

  5. ROH (Ring of Honor): ROH is known for its emphasis on pure wrestling and technical skills. It has gained a reputation for featuring some of the best independent wrestlers in the world and has a loyal fan base.

These are just a few examples of the many pro wrestling promotions that exist today. Each promotion offers its own unique style, roster, and fan experience, catering to a wide range of wrestling enthusiasts.

Overall, pro wrestling is a captivating blend of athleticism, storytelling, and entertainment that has captured the imaginations of millions of fans worldwide. With its rich history and diverse array of promotions, it continues to evolve and entertain audiences of all ages.

Wrestling Terminology

Babyface and Heel

In the world of professional wrestling, the terms "babyface" and "heel" are used to describe the two primary character roles played by wrestlers. A babyface, also known as a face, is a wrestler who is portrayed as the hero or protagonist in a match or storyline. They are typically cheered by the audience and are seen as the good guy. On the other hand, a heel is a wrestler who plays the villain or antagonist role. They often use underhanded tactics, cheat, or display a mean-spirited persona to generate negative reactions from the crowd. The dynamic between babyfaces and heels forms the foundation of many wrestling storylines and matches.


Kayfabe is a term used to describe the portrayal of events within professional wrestling as real, even though they are scripted and predetermined. It refers to the act of maintaining the illusion that wrestling matches and storylines are unscripted and genuine. This term originated in the early days of professional wrestling when performers would strive to protect the secrecy and authenticity of their matches. Today, wrestlers maintain kayfabe by staying in character during interviews, public appearances, and even on social media, to maintain the suspension of disbelief for the audience.

Work and Shoot

In the world of professional wrestling, the terms "work" and "shoot" refer to different aspects of the industry. "Work" refers to the scripted and choreographed nature of professional wrestling. It encompasses the predetermined outcomes, planned spots, and storylines that are executed during matches. On the other hand, a "shoot" refers to an unscripted or real-life occurrence within a wrestling match or storyline. It can involve legitimate conflicts between wrestlers, unscripted actions, or even unplanned injuries. Shoots often blur the line between fiction and reality, adding an element of unpredictability and excitement to the performance.


A gimmick in professional wrestling refers to the unique persona or character that a wrestler adopts to make themselves stand out. It can include elements such as their appearance, personality, catchphrases, and in-ring style. A wrestler’s gimmick helps to create a distinct identity and connection with the audience. Gimmicks can range from larger-than-life characters like The Undertaker with his supernatural persona to more relatable ones like "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who portrayed a rebellious anti-hero. A well-executed gimmick can elevate a wrestler’s popularity and make them memorable among fans.

Face and Heel Turns

A face turn and a heel turn are terms used to describe the transition of a wrestler’s character from being a babyface to a heel or vice versa. A face turn refers to when a wrestler changes their character from a heel to a babyface, typically done to generate a positive reaction from the audience. This change is often accompanied by a storyline or event that leads to the character’s redemption or change of heart. Conversely, a heel turn occurs when a wrestler shifts from being a babyface to a heel. This change is usually motivated by a desire to create a more compelling and antagonistic character, leading to negative reactions from the crowd.


A promo, short for promotion, is a term used to describe the scripted or improvised speeches delivered by wrestlers to engage the audience and further a storyline. Promos are an essential tool for wrestlers to showcase their mic skills, personality, and ability to connect with the audience. They can be delivered in the form of interviews, backstage segments, or in-ring monologues. A well-executed promo can generate excitement, build anticipation for matches, and help establish a wrestler’s character within the wrestling community.

Ring Psychology

Ring psychology refers to the art of storytelling within the context of a wrestling match. It involves the strategic use of in-ring actions, pacing, and character work to create a compelling narrative that captivates the audience. Ring psychology encompasses various elements, such as the progression of the match, the timing of high spots, the utilization of selling (portraying the effects of an opponent’s moves), and the overall structure of the contest. It is a crucial skill for wrestlers to master, as it enhances the believability and emotional investment of the audience in the match.

Types of Wrestling Matches

Singles match

A singles match is a one-on-one competition between two wrestlers. In this type of match, the objective is to pin the opponent’s shoulders to the mat for a three-count or make them submit to a hold or submission maneuver.

Tag team match

In a tag team match, two teams consisting of two wrestlers each compete against each other. The match starts with one wrestler from each team in the ring, and they can tag their partner to enter the match. The team that successfully pins or submits both opponents wins the match.

Triple threat match

A triple threat match involves three wrestlers competing against each other simultaneously. Unlike a traditional singles or tag team match, there are no teams. The first wrestler to either pin or submit one of the other competitors wins the match.

Fatal 4-Way match

Similar to a triple threat match, a fatal 4-way match involves four wrestlers competing against each other at the same time. The rules are the same as in a triple threat match, with the first wrestler to pin or submit another competitor being declared the winner.

Battle royal

In a battle royal, a large number of wrestlers compete against each other in a ring. The objective is to throw the opponents over the top rope, with both feet touching the floor. The last wrestler remaining in the ring after all others have been eliminated is the winner.

Steel cage match

A steel cage match takes place within a steel cage structure that surrounds the ring. The objective is to either escape the cage by climbing over the top or through the door, or to win by pinfall or submission inside the cage.

Hell in a Cell match

A Hell in a Cell match is a brutal and intense type of match that takes place inside a massive steel structure called the Hell in a Cell. The wrestlers compete inside the cell, and the match can only be won by pinfall or submission. The structure adds an element of danger and high stakes to the match.

Royal Rumble match

The Royal Rumble is an annual match where a large number of wrestlers enter the ring at regular intervals. The objective is to eliminate opponents by throwing them over the top rope. The last wrestler remaining in the ring after all others have been eliminated is declared the winner.

Money in the Bank ladder match

The Money in the Bank ladder match involves multiple wrestlers competing to climb a ladder and retrieve a briefcase suspended above the ring. The briefcase contains a contract that guarantees a championship opportunity anytime within the next year. The first wrestler to retrieve the briefcase wins the match.

Ironman match

An Ironman match is a timed match that typically lasts for 30 minutes or one hour. The wrestlers aim to score the most pinfalls or submissions within the given time. The wrestler with the highest number of successful pinfalls or submissions at the end of the time limit is declared the winner.

Last man standing match

In a last man standing match, the objective is to incapacitate the opponent to the point where they cannot answer the referee’s count of ten. This match allows for intense and brutal encounters, as there are no disqualifications or count-outs.

No disqualification match

A no disqualification match is a type of match where there are no rules or restrictions. Wrestlers can use weapons, interfere, or employ any means necessary to defeat their opponent. The match can only be won by pinfall or submission.

Submission match

In a submission match, the wrestlers aim to make their opponent submit to a hold or submission maneuver. The match can only be won by forcing the opponent to tap out or verbally submit.

These various types of wrestling matches bring excitement, drama, and unique challenges to the world of professional wrestling. Each match type offers a different set of rules and objectives, ensuring a diverse and engaging experience for both wrestlers and fans alike.

Common Wrestling Moves


A suplex is a classic wrestling move where one wrestler lifts their opponent off the ground and slams them onto their back. The wrestler executing the suplex uses their own strength and momentum to throw their opponent backwards, often resulting in a high-impact landing. Suplexes can be performed in various styles, such as a vertical suplex, belly-to-belly suplex, or a fisherman suplex.

Diving crossbody

The diving crossbody is an aerial maneuver commonly seen in professional wrestling. It involves a wrestler leaping from an elevated position, such as the ring ropes or turnbuckle, and landing chest-first onto their opponent. This move is often used to surprise the opponent and knock them down for a pinfall attempt.


The powerbomb is a powerful move that showcases the strength of a wrestler. It involves lifting an opponent onto one’s shoulders and then slamming them forcefully onto their back. The impact from a powerbomb can be devastating, making it a visually impressive and crowd-pleasing move.


The DDT is a move that gained popularity in the 1980s and has remained a staple in professional wrestling since then. It involves a wrestler trapping their opponent’s head in a front facelock and then falling backwards, driving the opponent’s head onto the mat. The DDT is known for its quick and impactful nature, often leading to an immediate knockout or a near-fall.


A clothesline is a basic but effective move in wrestling. It involves a wrestler extending their arm horizontally and hitting their opponent’s neck or chest with great force. The purpose of a clothesline is to knock the opponent down by using the momentum generated from the wrestler’s running or standing position.


The dropkick is a move that requires agility and timing. It involves a wrestler jumping into the air and kicking both legs out to strike their opponent with both feet simultaneously. Dropkicks can be performed from various positions, such as from a standing position or while springing off the ropes. It is a versatile move that can be used for both offense and defense.


The piledriver is a controversial move due to its high risk of causing serious injury. It involves a wrestler grabbing their opponent, flipping them upside down, and then driving their head or neck into the mat with great force. Piledrivers are often banned or restricted in many wrestling organizations to protect the safety of the performers.

Boston crab

The Boston crab is a submission hold that targets the lower back and legs of an opponent. It involves a wrestler flipping their opponent onto their stomach and then sitting on their back while pulling their legs upwards towards their own body. This maneuver applies pressure on the opponent’s spine and can cause immense pain, potentially resulting in a submission.


The sharpshooter is another popular submission hold in wrestling. It involves a wrestler flipping their opponent onto their stomach and then stepping between their legs. The wrestler then crosses their opponent’s legs and leans back, putting pressure on the lower back and legs. The sharpshooter is known for its effectiveness in causing pain and forcing opponents to submit.

Figure-four leglock

The figure-four leglock is a classic submission hold that targets the legs and knees of an opponent. It involves a wrestler wrapping their legs around one of their opponent’s legs and then crossing their ankles, creating a figure-four shape. The wrestler then applies pressure by leaning back, causing pain in the opponent’s leg and potentially leading to a submission.


The chokeslam is a powerful move that showcases a wrestler’s strength and dominance. It involves lifting an opponent off the ground by their throat and slamming them down forcefully onto their back. The chokeslam is often performed with one hand gripping the opponent’s throat, creating a visually impressive and impactful display of power.


The hurricanrana is a high-flying move that involves a wrestler performing a mid-air flip to take down their opponent. It starts with the wrestler jumping onto their opponent’s shoulders, wrapping their legs around their head, and then using their momentum to flip the opponent onto the mat. The hurricanrana requires agility, timing, and coordination to execute successfully.


The moonsault is a breathtaking aerial maneuver that never fails to captivate the audience. It involves a wrestler climbing to the top turnbuckle or another elevated position, facing away from the ring, and then performing a backflip in mid-air. The wrestler aims to land on their opponent, crashing down with their body weight and often leading to a pinfall attempt or inflicting significant damage.

Famous Pro Wrestlers

Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan is one of the most iconic and influential figures in the history of professional wrestling. With his larger-than-life persona, Hogan became a household name in the 1980s and 1990s. Known for his charismatic personality and incredible strength, Hogan was a 12-time world champion and headlined numerous major wrestling events. His signature move, the "Atomic Leg Drop," was feared by his opponents and loved by his fans.

Stone Cold Steve Austin

Stone Cold Steve Austin is another legendary pro wrestler who left an indelible mark on the industry. Known for his rebellious attitude and anti-establishment persona, Austin became one of the most popular and successful wrestlers of all time. His catchphrase, "Austin 3:16," became a cultural phenomenon. Austin’s intense in-ring style and his finishing move, the "Stone Cold Stunner," made him a fan-favorite and a multi-time world champion.

The Rock

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, a third-generation wrestler, transitioned from professional wrestling to mainstream Hollywood success. However, his impact on the wrestling world cannot be overlooked. The Rock’s electrifying charisma and unparalleled mic skills made him one of the biggest draws in the late 1990s and early 2000s. With his trademark catchphrases, such as "Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?" and his finishing move, the "Rock Bottom," he became a 10-time world champion and a beloved figure in the industry.

John Cena

John Cena is a modern-day wrestling superstar who has achieved great success both inside and outside the ring. Known for his incredible work ethic, Cena became the face of WWE for over a decade. With his unique blend of strength, athleticism, and charisma, he amassed a huge fan following. Cena’s "Five Knuckle Shuffle" and his finishing move, the "Attitude Adjustment," became synonymous with his name. He is a 16-time world champion and has also ventured into acting and other forms of entertainment.

Ric Flair

Ric Flair, often referred to as "The Nature Boy," is widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. Flair’s flamboyant personality, extravagant robes, and unmatched in-ring skills made him a legend in the sport. He was known for his technical prowess and his ability to captivate the audience with his promos. Flair’s signature move, the "Figure Four Leglock," has been emulated by many wrestlers. He held the world championship title a record-breaking 16 times throughout his career.

Bret Hart

Bret Hart, also known as "The Hitman," is a Canadian professional wrestler who gained popularity in the 1990s. Known for his technical wrestling skills and his ability to tell a story in the ring, Hart became a fan favorite. He held the distinction of being both a tag team and singles champion multiple times. Hart’s finishing maneuver, the "Sharpshooter," was feared by his opponents. He is widely respected for his contributions to the industry and his dedication to his craft.

Shawn Michaels

Shawn Michaels, often referred to as "The Heartbreak Kid," is regarded as one of the greatest performers in wrestling history. Known for his athleticism, showmanship, and ability to deliver memorable matches, Michaels captured the hearts of fans worldwide. With his high-flying moves and his finishing move, the "Sweet Chin Music," he became a four-time world champion. Michaels’ charisma and in-ring abilities solidified his status as a wrestling icon.

Triple H

Triple H, also known as "The Game," is a prominent figure in both the wrestling ring and WWE management. With his muscular physique and intense in-ring style, Triple H became a dominant force in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He is a 14-time world champion and has headlined numerous major events. Triple H’s finishing move, the "Pedigree," is known for its impact and effectiveness. He has played a significant role in shaping the future of professional wrestling as an executive and trainer.

The Undertaker

The Undertaker, known for his ominous presence and supernatural character, is one of the most iconic wrestlers of all time. Debuting in 1990, The Undertaker’s career spanned over three decades, during which he became a seven-time world champion. His undefeated streak at WrestleMania, which lasted for 21 matches, became legendary. The Undertaker’s finishing move, the "Tombstone Piledriver," struck fear into the hearts of his opponents and solidified his status as a wrestling legend.

Mick Foley

Mick Foley, also known as "Mankind," "Cactus Jack," and "Dude Love," is renowned for his extreme persona and willingness to endure unbelievable amounts of punishment. Foley’s unique style and commitment to his characters made him a fan favorite. He is a three-time world champion and is known for his death-defying stunts, including his signature move, the "Mandible Claw." Foley’s dedication to his craft and his ability to connect with the audience made him a standout performer.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, although already mentioned earlier, deserves another mention due to his immense impact on both professional wrestling and mainstream entertainment. After his successful wrestling career, The Rock transitioned into becoming a Hollywood superstar, starring in blockbuster movies and television shows. The Rock’s charisma, talent, and work ethic have made him one of the most recognizable and beloved figures in the entertainment industry.

Randy Savage

Randy Savage, also known as "Macho Man," was a charismatic and highly entertaining wrestler who captivated audiences with his flamboyant personality and unique in-ring style. Savage’s intensity and athleticism made him a fan favorite during the 1980s and 1990s. He held the world championship title on multiple occasions and was known for his signature move, the "Flying Elbow Drop." Savage’s memorable promos and his larger-than-life persona have solidified his place as one of the all-time greats in professional wrestling.

In conclusion, this article has aimed to demystify the world of professional wrestling by providing a comprehensive guide to wrestling terminology. By breaking down key terms and explaining their significance, readers can now have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the sport. Whether you are a long-time fan or new to the wrestling scene, this guide serves as a valuable resource to enhance your knowledge and enjoyment of pro wrestling. Embrace the terminology, dive into the action, and let the excitement of the ring captivate you as you become a wrestling aficionado.