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Pro Wrestling 101: More Fun with Lingo

What the Hell are we talking about, part II

In a previous post we covered some of the basics of pro wrestling vocabulary, particularly the terms we found ourselves using most frequently while covering the earliest WrestleManias — face, heel, kayfabe, bump, color, over, etc. We thought it would be fun to dig into this topic again, since pro wrestling has a deep reservoir of colorful terms that reflect the business’s rich history. Some of these are more specific or obscure, so they don’t come up quite as often or we don’t feel natural using them in our writing; some of them are now mostly obsolete; some of them are synonyms for or related to terms we talked about in the first post; and some of these we just plain forgot last time. Hey, we’re only human, we’re not Bret Hart. If you’d like to hear some of these terms in use, we recommend Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions on the WWE Network (now on Peacock), where Stone Cold and his guests frequently (and naturally) weave them into their conversations. Leave us a comment if we got something wrong or missed something, or if you have questions about these or other wrestling terms. Let’s get into it!

Blow up – A state of being physically exhausted during a match. This is typically the result of being out of shape (e.g., due to a long layoff) but can also be from improper pacing (e.g., attempting too many big spots without enough time to recover in between.) A wrestler who has a blow up may also be said to be gassed.

GIF of a botched spot
Nailed it

Botch – A mistake, aka a blown spot, which we covered last time. Can also be used as a verb, e.g., to botch a move. The Twitter account @aewbotches is a fun running tally (with video) of some of the lowlights of that promotion’s weekly programs.

Broadway – A match that ends without a winner at the expiration of the time limit. These don’t happen much anymore. The end of Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XII would have been a Broadway, except that Gorilla Monsoon declared it would continue in Sudden Death!

Bury – This one’s complicated, as it has multiple uses. You can bury another wrestler by making them look bad in the ring (such as by refusing to sell their moves) or you can bury them on the mic by talking shit about them in a way that reduces their standing in the eyes of the audience. A promoter or booker can bury someone they don’t like by refusing to give them a push, or by making them job to other wrestlers, or featuring them in crappy matches designed to make them look bad. A wrestler can be buried as a result of falling out of favor with a member of management or booker, or when the promotion is trying to get rid of them.

This is not what we mean, but we like where your head’s at

Clean house – When a wrestler comes into the ring and dispatches a number of other opponents quickly, knocking them down or out of the ring. A wrestler frequently cleans house following a hot tag.

Curtain Jerker – A wrestler in the initial or preliminary matches of a show. It’s not typically a flattering phrase. In Stone Cold’s Broken Skull Sessions interview with Bret Hart, Austin says that he was probably “jerking the curtain” at a particular show the two are talking about, which sounds obscene but is not.

Cut off (or Cutoff) – The moment during a match when the heel halts the babyface’s attack with an attack of their own. The cutoff helps to build heat for the heel and dramatic tension, enabling a later comeback by the babyface.

Dusty Finish – Named for legendary wrestler and booker Dusty Rhodes (who was especially fond of them) this type of finish for a big match in which one wrestler wins, but then has the decision reversed afterwards due to a technicality. According to TVTropes.org, “This was used mostly back in the days when champions would tour different territories to challenge the locals, usually putting their title on the line. The local would pin the champ, only for the decision to be overturned, thus giving a reason for the champ to retain the title and resume touring, while giving the audiences some satisfaction in seeing their hero in a sort-of victory.” The Dusty Finish has mostly fallen out of use in the era of televised wrestling, as the audience became less localized.

using the steel steps as a "foreign object"
Pretty sure the ref saw that

Foreign object – Generic term for an illegal object that the announcer can’t quite make out — brass knuckles, steel rod, etc. — used against an opponent in a match. A foreign object can be passed to the wrestler by a manager or other accomplice, or can be concealed in a wrestler’s tights or boots. If the ref catches a wrestler using a foreign object they may be disqualified, or if the ref is distracted or knocked out due to a ref bump the wrestler might just get away with it. 

Future endeavored – Wrestling business-speak for firing a wrestler or releasing them from a contract. As in “we wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.” The wrestling business is tough, man.

Go home – The end of a match. A wrestler can indicate to his opponent that it’s time to go home or head into the go home spot. In one of his interviews, Stone Cold recalls being body slammed by Yokozuna hard enough to make him shit his pants, so he told the big man, “Yoko, let’s go home” and the two wrapped up their match.

Gorilla Position – The area behind the curtain, at the top of the ramp from the arena to the backstage area. Typically, promoters or managers can stand in this area to watch the show, out of sight of the crowd. Named for Hall of Fame wrestler and announcer Gorilla Monsoon, who often observed the action from that location.

Head trauma’s a hell of a drug

Hard way – Last time we talked about getting color or being busted open, i.e., a wrestler bleeding during a match. A wrestler can get color by blading (using a concealed razor blade fragment to cut their forehead) or the hard way (by being struck with a fist or object, colliding with a ring post, etc. so that they are accidentally busted open.)

The Iron Sheik gif with text: "You're a no good son of a bitch, but I still love you."
That’s the bottom line, cuz the Iron Sheik said so

Jabroni / Jabroney – A general insult first used by living legend The Iron Sheik and popularized by The Rock in the late 90s. Hulk Hogan is definitely a jabroni.

Job – Last time we explained jobber, a nondescript wrestler who provides an easy opponent for a more well-known face or heel. But we failed to mention that you can also use job as a verb, as in to job to or job out to [someone]. A well-known performer (i.e., someone other than an actual jobber) can be asked to job to someone else to help get the other wrestler over. In those situations, the person jobbing typically gives an understated performance (or may even get squashed) so that the wrestler being featured can shine. 

Married – To put two wrestlers together in a program. In his interview with Stone Cold, Ric Flair says that the favorite wrestler he was married to was Dusty Rhodes. The two had an epic feud during their 1980s run with the National Wrestling Alliance.

Stone Cold pillmanizing Brian Pillman
Pillmanize / Pillmanizes / Pillmanized / Pillmanizing / To have been Pillmanized

Pillmanize – To “break” a wrestler’s ankle by putting their foot in a steel chair and stomping on the chair. Named for a move that Stone Cold Steve Austin pulled on Brian Pillman on the October 27, 1996 episode of Monday Night Raw (skip to 3:30)

Potato – A real shot to the head (accidental or otherwise). It can be issued as a receipt or as a result of working stiff, or just plain old sloppiness. A potato is also a way to get color the hard way.

Program – A series of matches in which two wrestlers face off against each other multiple times over a period of weeks or months, or for the length of a particular tour or engagement. Could be seen as roughly synonymous with angle or feud. Two wrestlers involved in a program are sometimes said to be married. 

Push – We mentioned this one in passing last time (in our discussion of over) but it probably deserves more attention. A push is a concerted effort by a promotion to get a wrestler over by featuring them frequently in high-profile matches or in a positive light. A push doesn’t always work — sometimes, the fans just aren’t buying a particular performer or gimmick. The opposite is to bury someone.

Receipt – To deliver a legitimate blow to another wrestler as payback for a botch or unnecessarily stiff shot. In the feature film, Fighting with My Family, the main character gets in trouble for handing out receipts to fellow wrestlers-in-training when they mess up and hit her too hard.

Ref bump gif
Referees are fragile creatures

Ref bump – A move that involves the referee getting knocked down or knocked out so that they miss a portion of the action (such as a pin, or a devious tactic by a heel, or interference by another wrestler.) If you need to kill an hour on the Internet, you can do a lot worse than googling “ref bump” and looking through the results, such as this masterpiece.

Rub – A positive endorsement from an established wrestler for a younger or up-and-coming performer. Younger wrestlers can get a rub by associating them with a more popular wrestler, helping them to get over with the audience. In his Broken Skull Sessions interview with Ric Flair, Stone Cold describes Flair’s association with Triple H (in the 2000’s era heel stable Evolution) as a rub for Flair, since he was coming back at an advanced age and Triple H was the more established and popular wrestler at the time.

GIF of Ultimate Warrior running to the ring
Me: Do you want to go for a w…
My dog:

Schmozz – (Sometimes written as schmoz) A match ending where there’s general chaos instead of a decisive finish. Usually a schmozz involves other wrestlers (typically more than one) running in to interfere with the match. A run-in, by the way, is just what it sounds like — another wrestler (typically one, though it can be more) running into the ring to interfere or issue a beat-down.

Snug – To apply legitimate force or pressure in a hold, either to make a move more realistic or to intimidate or punish an opponent. See also stiff, which we talked about last time.

Spotfest – Term (often derogatory) for a match that includes a large number of showy, usually pre-planned, spots (moves) without much storytelling or logical connection between them. A match like Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon’s ladder match at WrestleMania X could easily have turned into a spotfest if not for the skill of the performers at telling a compelling story.

GIF of heel stable The Shield
Did… did he just do The Worm?

Stable – Term for a group of wrestlers who work together against a common enemy or for a common purpose, or because of some connection between members. Stables are usually, but not always, made up of heels; they also have a leader, which distinguishes them from a faction. The Four Horsemen — Ric Flair, Arn & Ole Anderson, and Tully Blanchard — is probably the most famous heel stable in wrestling history, but others have included The Corporation, The Shield, The Hart Foundation (the “new” version formed after WrestleMania 13 which included British Bulldog and Owen Hart in addition to original Hart Foundation members Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and leader Bret Hart), and of course The NWO. Currently in AEW there are several stables in operation, including Inner Circle and The Pinnacle.

Strap – Slang term for a championship belt. Might also be referred to as “the belt” (obviously), or “gold.” The “Big Gold Belt” refers to a specific championship belt of historic significance. Originally created to represent the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) championship, the Big Gold Belt was later employed by WCW from 1991 until WWF purchased WCW in 2001, where it eventually came to represent the Undisputed WWF Championship. The current NWA championship belt is called the “Ten Pounds of Gold” in homage to their historical Big Gold Belt.

GIF of Hulk Hogan holding up the championship belt, or "strap"
Jabroni with a Strap: A true story of love and wrestling

The following resources were very helpful and offer more insight for the terminology-inclined: 

One thought on “Pro Wrestling 101: More Fun with Lingo

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