Professional Wrestling

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"Tonight, the arena is sold out. A dozen shades of gray will square off in a pageantry of war. The opponents are unlikely in the real world, but in the amphitheater of our imagination, they're well matched. The punk rockers will battle the mountain men. The black separatists will fight the post-apocalyptic warriors. The gang-banger will rumble with the aristocrat. The future will struggle with the past, and the living will duel with the dead. In the end, just like a good Soap Opera, no issues will be resolved; the story is "To Be Continued". The combatants will live to fight another night, in another town. Is wrestling fake? Absolutely. It's as fake as your imagination, as phony as your daydreams. Are we celebrating violence when we enjoy a wrestling match? Definitely. Does this mean we're a society in decay? Maybe, but don't forget that, unlike the Romans, we're not throwing Christians to the lions here. Maybe we should sit back, relax, enjoy the show, and take comfort in the knowledge that we live in a society that prefers its mayhem to be make-believe. Sure, wrestling's fake; we wouldn't have it any other way."
Steve Allen, The Unreal Story of Professional Wrestling
"To those who believe in the beauty of professional wrestling, nothing needs to be said. For those who don't appreciate wrestling, nothing could be said to change their minds."
Vince McMahon

Professional Wrestling is usually full of concepts from different types of shows. Each match is roughly choreographed (though not usually in much detail since wrestlers don't have much rehearsal time, let alone for whole matches, given that they wrestle twenty-eight days per month on average—many of a match's details will be improvised). World Wrestling Entertainment's programs remind one of nothing so much as a Soap Opera for guys, complete with all the emotion, melodrama, and occasional comic relief that that phrase implies. Other organizations, such as Ring of Honor, strive for a more gritty, realistic presentation, but still incorporate many soap opera elements.

The history of pro wrestling is a bit convoluted; until the late '80s/early '90s, promoters claimed that wrestling was a legitimate sport, and attempted to hide the fact that it was scripted at all costs. The truth is the performances are as standardized and stylized as Japanese Kabuki theatre, or Commedia Dell'Arte—each match is a miniature set piece, using stock characters, "plots" and "twists". This has become more obvious in recent years with the increased sense of theatre provided by the major promoters and programs. As more and more wrestling fans grew wise to the fact that wrestling was scripted and choreographed, promoters had no choice but to reveal the secret that everybody already knew by that point anyway. Vince McMahon went so far as to televise a speech on an episode of Monday Night Raw, in which he promised to "stop insulting (fans') intelligence" and referred to Raw as an "action-adventure" series.

All wrestling organizations will have a "booker", or person who decides which wrestlers are going over on any given "card" or event. The larger wrestling organizations will have full booking teams, made of bookers (who help wrestlers lay out the matches) and scriptwriters (who tell the bookers the companies' long-term goals with the storylines). These are often called the "creative teams", or simply just "creative" (as in "Creative has no ideas for your character at the moment"). Booking wrestling matches and storylines is a difficult skill; most of the boom times for wrestling can largely be accounted for through good booking of matches. Poor booking can be disastrous: WCW was literally destroyed through terrible creative decisions, first under the stewardship of Vince Russo and a few others, then through the WWE's terrible "Invasion" vanity trip.

However, as many Sitcom plots (and Botchamania) have implied, Professional Wrestling is very real in the sense that mistimed inexperience can leave someone seriously injured. Professional wrestlers are like stuntmen; they're acting out a scene, but physically, and with the chance of injury, not to mention they get no second takes. And whatever you may have heard, they do hit each other, although their moves are generally designed to seem much more devastating than they are, and they avoid harm whenever they feasibly can without it looking too obvious. A professional wrestler literally puts his life in his opponent's hands several times in a single match; the slightest misstep could result in a broken bone, a broken neck, paralysis, possibly even death. Don't Try This At Home.

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Professional Wrestling is the Trope Namer for:

Tropes used in Professional Wrestling include:

Tropes with Professional Wrestling subpages

Other Tropes

  • And The Fandom Rejoiced: It has had it fair share of rejoicing.
  • Anyone Can Die: Sadly, this is starting to become true as of late, as professional wrestlers nowadays seem to have very short lifespans. Prior to drug testing (which was implemented after one such death), wrestling has had a number of high-profile deaths that seem to come out of nowhere, most notably Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero. Certainly fans are now conditioned to expect any wrestler to die at any time.
    • Jim Cornette's opinion on the reasons for this can be listened to here and here.
    • Given that there are a ton of people that have worked in the pro wrestling business, wrestler deaths are seemingly common only in proportion to every other industry. While drugs and steroids have certainly taken more wrestlers than they should have, there are just as many wrestlers from when the territorial system was at its peak (and there were a lot more wrestlers than there are now) who die naturally in their 70s and beyond.
    • Not to mention the fact that, tragically, accidents can happen when stunts go wrong.
    • Or even in accidents outside the ring.
    • To their credit, the WWE has worked hard in making their company more safe, from eliminating chair shots to the head (which wrestlers like Shelton Benjamin have stated can cause headaches for up to a week) to a stricter drug policy.
      • According to WWE themselves, Triple H and The Undertaker (two of their biggest names) were both fined after Triple H hit 'Taker in the head with a chair during their match at WrestleMania XXVII. To put this in perspective, at the time of that event, Triple H was an executive vice president in the company as well as the son-in-law of the owner while Undertaker was their most veteran performer with among the largest amounts of influence. So they took the health of their performers so seriously, they were willing to fine people that would be otherwise untouchable and who they would otherwise be adverse to insulting.
    • After the recent passing of Randy Savage a report was put out that showed over 25% of performers from Wrestlemania VII in 1991 were dead. At 58, Randy Savage had lived over 10 years longer than the other deceased.
    • CM Punk lampshaded this trope on the 7/11/11 edition of RAW:

"In the real world, the WWE has always gotten a mention or two for two reasons-- the first one being that CM Punk is speaking his mind; the second one is because somebody died."

  • Ascended Fanboy: Pick a wrestler who named a famous pro-wrestling event as the reason he got into the business: e.g., Mick Foley or Edge.
    • Edge was named "Most Likely to be WWF Champion", was in the audience at WrestleMania VI, and won a training camp to become a wrestler by writing an essay. It was destiny.
    • HHH deserves extra special mention. He went from diehard fanboy to WCW jobber to breakout WWE Superstar to marrying the boss' daughter, and if Shane McMahon's departure from the company holds up, he and his wife Stephanie McMahon Levesque are the heirs to the WWE empire.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: All the time.
  • B-Show: Xplosion to Impact, Thunder to Nitro. People often cite Smackdown as a B-Show compared to RAW, but it's more like a second A-Show in terms of this trope.
    • The modern ECW was almost a middle ground of this trope. It had its own storylines and World title and was considered an actual brand that is given PPV time, but its main purpose was to get talent ready for the A shows by giving them television experience and having them work with seasoned veterans such as William Regal, Tommy Dreamer, Finlay, etc.
    • Velocity and Heat are (or were, last time I checked) B Shows to Smack Down! and RAW respectively.
    • WWE Superstars (the show, not the wrestlers) and WWE NXT are both considered the new B show to both Smackdown! and Raw.
  • Backhanded Apology: Standard part of the Trash Talk.
  • Backyard Wrestling
  • Badass: Take your pick, Stone Cold, Taz, Goldberg, Lesnar...
    • Some would argue that tossing twice your weight around for a living makes you a badass by default.
  • Badass Grandpa: Would you mess with Harley Race? or Ric Flair? or Terry Funk? or Hulk Hogan? or, for that matter, the 64-year-old multi-millionaire who lets himself get hit in the head with steel chairs on national television?
    • And God help you if you piss off The Undertaker.
      • And for that matter, Batista is actually, in real life, a grandfather. Yes, THAT Batista.
  • Balls of Steel: This trope was used once when Chyna was wrestling Road Dogg and he wore a cup.
  • Beauty Is Bad: Female wrestlers who are pretty usually have to work extra hard to prove themselves as wrestlers and even then they will get hated purely because they are pretty. God help them if they have ever done even a bit of modelling. Women wrestlers who aren't conventionally beautiful usually get a free pass and are considered wrestlers regardless of whatever experience they have. Current WWE Diva Tamina is an example. This can sometimes cross over into the men's divisions with the guys getting called "gay" and "pretty boys".
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Used to varying degrees with woman wrestlers. WWE and TNA's women never bleed on purpose, by contrast Japanese women brutalise each other just as much as the men. Averted occasionally, particularly in 2002-03 in WWE where there were a lot of women's hardcore matches and the likes of Victoria and Trish Stratus bled quite a lot. Roxxi in TNA is another aversion.
    • Also somewhat averted in a 2010 TNA match between Daffney and Tara, which was a First Blood Match. Only somewhat because at the conclusion of that match there was only a tiny trickle of blood.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: See:MacGuffin entry below.
  • Brains Evil, Brawn Good: Most face/heel rivalries in Professional Wrestling play out like this, with most of the drama centered around the heel cheating and tricking his way to victory against a more powerful and/or skilled babyface. Whereas a heel who's legitimately skilled gets cheered a lot of the time, the heel still gets booed because the fans know he doesn't "deserve" to keep winning and are waiting until he finally gets demolished.
    • Prominent examples (as heels, of course):
      • Ric Flair
      • Chris Jericho
      • The Miz
      • Jerry Lawler was pretty much the Ric Flair of Memphis.
      • Triple H is a perfect example of both. As a heel, he can't win a match clean to save his life, yet as a face, all he needs are his fists and maybe a sledgehammer in order to take out the rest of the roster.
    • A variant specific to tag team matches, and forming the standard psychology for most of them: The heel team is more skilled at actual tag team wrestling, isolating one face and utilizing numerous tag team maneuvers. This builds tension for the Hot Tag, whereupon the fresh babyface finally tags in and demolishes the heels singlehandedly.
  • Breakup Breakout
  • Catch Phrase
  • Chickification: Happens to women wrestlers often when promoted from a indie promotion to a major one and or because of a poorly-executed gimmick change.
  • Cool Old Guy: Any wrestler who's in their late 40s or older, but can still kick ass and take a beating. Embodied by the one and only Funker himself, Terry Funk.
  • Creator's Pet: Happens to wrestlers who the fans feel gets overpushed. This trope currently applies so aptly to Drew McIntyre that the bookers have actually made it part of his gimmick.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: The technical term for this in pro wrestling circles is a "squash match". Not nearly as common nowdays as it was in the 80's, when most televised matches consisted of a star wrestler pitted against a hopeless "jobber" who would be destroyed in a matter of minutes without offering any offence at all. Still occasionally happens in modern times, especially if a wrestler is being given a "Goldberg push."
  • Demoted to Extra: The pro-wrestling term for this trope is referred to as being buried.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: All the time.
    • Notable examples include Tatanka, the Undertaker (moreso early in his career, but even now it's considered a formidable task), Hulk Hogan in the 80's, Rob Van Dam as ECW World Television Champion, Brunno Sammartino's legendary world title reign, and most famously of them all, Bill Goldberg.
    • So far averted with The Undertaker at WrestleMania. 19-0. It's basically a new gimmick; in the leadup to every Wrestlemania, somebody steps up and claims they're going to end the streak.
    • Most recently displayed (in the same week, no less) with Sheamus and Drew McIntyre.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina: The Montreal Screwjob is the most infamous example.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: Can happen alongside Breakup Breakout.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Triple H and The Big Show have both said this to fans that have called them by their birth names. If you meet a wrestler, it is usually a good idea to address them by their ring name.
  • Double Standard: Many but one of the more recent ones involves the infamous "Piggie James" angle. People were outraged at Michelle and Layla making fun of Mickie's weight and anyone who called Mickie overweight on the IWC was immediately vilified. Yet many people started cruelly calling Michelle "Skeletor" on the internet and calling her underfed and a stick insect. Anorexia is just as big a problem as obesity and Michelle has struggled with anorexia in the past.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The pro wrestling term for this trope is called Popular Heel.
  • Easily-Distracted Referee: You have to wonder if these referees have ever seen a woman before, given their reactions to a valet shaking what God/their friendly plastic surgeon gave her.
    • Hey, have you SEEN Stacy Keibler's ass? Wouldn't YOU stop to stare?
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: A side effect of prolonged exposure to the Boring Invincible Hero.
  • Evil Foreigner
  • Evil Is Cool: Also a type of Popular Heel.
  • Evil Is Dumb: Edge has nearly been bent in half by the World's Greatest Tag Team, bloodied in steel cages and forced to wrestle giants with a broken hand and not use his cast. He was still able to win through sheer determination and will to win. As a Rudo, he can hardly win a match without relying on shortcuts, outside interference, manipulation of the general manager or outright cheating
  • Fan Dumb: Like you wouldn't believe. From the people who say that only WWE matters to the elitist snobs who only watch ROH and NOAH, wrestling fandom is filled with back-biting "Stop Having Fun!" Guys and fans who invoke Ruined FOREVER a bit too often.
  • Fan Hater: Yes, we know it's staged! You can stop "informing" us.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Thanks to The Rock
  • Foe Yay: Pretty much any wrestlers involved in a feud can have this.
    • A good example was when Randy Orton approached John Cena backstage at Backlash 2007 just before their Fatal Four-Way match with Shawn Michaels and Edge. He suggested that he and Cena team up to take out the competition, but unfortunately he used the words "get together" - and, to top it off, tried to appeal to Cena's vanity by noting how "young" and "good-looking" they both were. Cena, being the Deadpan Snarker he was, replied that, while he was okay with Orton's lifestyle, "that's not how I roll." He then walked off, leaving Orton yelling, "Very funny, Cena! But you know how this is going to end - with you on your back and me on top of you!" Enter the always-outspoken Ron Simmons, complete with his "DAMN" T-shirt. Hilarity Ensues.
    • Chris Jericho and Stephanie McMahon.
  • Four Is Death: The four-way matches, most Power Stables.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Rosey, Super-Hero In Training, The S.H.I.T?
    • You had to go and explain the joke.
      • Golddust did it first.
    • Also, in WCW for a short time, Lance Storm held the Saskatchewan Hardcore International Title.
    • Terri Runnels also ran the Terri Invitational Tournament in 1999.
    • TNA. That is all.
    • Terri, Jacqueline, and Ryan Shamrock: the Pretty Mean Sisters.
    • UPYOURS - Union of People You Oughta Respect, Son
  • The Gambler: Kinda. Wrestling had a The Gambler, but he wasn't very lucky.
    • An old gimmick of Kevin Nash in was that of "Vinnie Vegas", a fast talking conman and gambler. His finisher (now used as one of The Undertaker' Five Moves of Doom) was "Snake Eyes" (dropping your opponent face-first onto a turnbuckle).
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Submission artists employ this tactic all the time. They will use a variety of locks and holds that target a specific part of the human body until it will become too painful to use. Not actually referring to Triple H's quad tears.
  • George Jetson Job Security
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: A lot of wrestlers working in America remain hugely popular in their country of origin or descent, despite being low-card acts in the US. Some examples:
    • Sonjay Dutt from TNA was always popular in India, even when he was barely on TV;
    • WWE's The Great Khali is even more popular in India, to the point where his segments were staged and then edited so that he was a heel in the US but a face in India;
    • Stan Hansen of AJPW, who is vaguely notable to American pro wrestling history but remains one of the most popular and recognizable stars in Japan years after his retirement;
      • Terry Gordy and Steve Williams were enormously renowned in their territorial days but resigned to relatively bit roles on WWE and WCW were also very popular in AJPW, teaming as the Miracle Violence Connection.
    • Mark Jindrak, a mid-carder from WCW and WWE, revived his career in Mexico as Marco Corleone;
    • Bret Hart, always far more popular in Canada than the US;
    • Christian (Cage), ditto;
    • One of Lance Storm's bits in late WCW was telling the audience to, "All rise, for the playing of the Canadian national anthem.", often earning him considerable heat. In Canada, his opponents (who always interrupted) could almost be booed out of the arena.
    • Genki Horiguchi, a lower-card Dragon Gate wrestler whose Bald of Awesome gimmick has made him one of DG's most popular wrestlers in the US.
      • Similarly with Akira Tozawa. A generally middle of the road guy in Dragon Gate (who wasn't even the highest ranked member of the stable that bore his name), in the summer of 2010 he began an extended tour in the United States wrestling mainly for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. His ability to put on great matches and seemingly crazy/eccentric personality quickly won over American crowds making him a far bigger deal on the American indies than he had been in his home promotion.
    • Certainly invoked in the case of the British Bulldog, Davey Boy Smith. His popularity in Britain was one of the major reasons why Summer Slam '92 was held in London. To this day it is the only one of the 'Big Four' PPV's that has been held out of North America.
  • Good Is Dumb: Generally played straight, although occasionally subverted. Batista, who turned face when he heard his stablemates plotting against him and who displayed above average keenness as a face, is the biggest of those.
    • The most Egregious example? Sting, who is commonly referred to as "The dumbest man in wrestling". Although, he's averted it mightily over his years in TNA.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Naturally, since hamminess is any wrestler's stock in trade.
  • Harpo Does Something Funny: The format of most wrestling promos.
  • Hello, Nurse!
  • Hope Spot
  • Hot-Blooded
  • Ho Yay - While virtually everything about wrestling is this, special mention should go to old video packages meant to showcase tag teams to female audiences, such as the New Generation video.
  • HSQ
  • I Have the High Ground: High fliers often use the ropes to propel themselves into some pretty stupid awesome moves.
  • Invincible Hero: A complaint most infamously leveled against Hulk Hogan, currently at John Cena. Tends to get invoked against any Face champion, though.
    • Triple H, from 2002-2005.
      • Ditto for Jeff Jarrett from 2003-2006, so much that fans called him "Triple J" and chanted for him to "DROP THE TITLE!" whenever he appeared.
    • The Ultimate Warrior is arguably the prime example of this trope. He only has a handful of clean losses on record. Not even Hulk Hogan could stop him (without cheating).
  • It's Personal
  • Jumping the Shark: Professional wrestling has its own specific flavors. Both are just as subjective as the trope itself but are recognized and worked around by bookers and promoters.
    • Within the scope of an individual show, matches need to be ordered properly to avoid the crowd burning out. Putting an incredibly awesome match in the middle of the card will essentially cause the show as a whole to Jump The Shark and multiple awesome matches need to be spaced out with not-as-awesome matches and promos.
    • For the promotion as a whole, overuse of gimmicks and generally turning everything Up to Eleven is a good way to gain short-term ratings and attendance spikes but can leave everything overexposed: too much hardcore wrestling, for example, will cause the audience to be desensitized and force the wrestlers to come up with more violent ways of maiming themselves while having all-out brawling street fights once in a while in big situations will keep things special.
  • Large Ham
    • Mostly the wrestlers, but more than a few of the announcers are guilty of this, especially when dealing with a wrestler or faction they show particular favoritism towards.
    • Two Words - Vince McMahon.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: No wrestler that's had a decent amount of airtime and attention in WWE in the last ten years has gone without being paired with somebody else in either a straight or slash fic. (Yes. Even Vince McMahon. He's got Linda, remember?)
  • Leotard of Power: An older wrestling costume design that still shows up nowadays every once in a while.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Have you seen the build-up to some of these high-profile matches?
  • Living Legend: Bruno Sammartino was called "The Living Legend." Larry Zbyszko appropriated the name as "The New Living Legend" during a feud.
  • Lovable Rogue: The Rock, Ric Flair, Eddie Guerrero at the end of his life.
  • Masked Luchador: See Cool Mask.
  • Melee a Trois: Three-way matches, called, depending on the promotion, a "Three Way Dance" or a "Triple Threat".
  • Monster Clown: Doink The Clown's shtick while a heel.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Somewhat surprisingly, you don't have to have tremendous physical strength to execute a number of non-luchador moves. Part of this is the fact that a large number of moves require (or are much more safely performed) with the cooperation of the person getting slammed or what have you.
    • Take Shawn Michaels, for instance. He looked pretty scrawny compared to most other main-eventers, but he could still execute a scoop slam.
      • Stacy Keibler, ditto.
  • My Kung Fu Is Stronger Than Yours
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Employed against faces to build heat, and against heels when they get their comeuppance.
  • No Such Thing as HR: A contract dispute with the boss? A love triangle with another wrestler and his girl? Suspicions of trying to stage a hostile takeover of the company? There's only way to settle something like that... in the ring!
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught
  • Oh Crap: Typically seen when the Heel finally comes face to face with a Face he's been trying to avoid... or when just about anyone goes one on one with the Undertaker.
  • Painted-On Pants
  • Popularity Power: Wrestling runs on the fans taking an interest in you rather than liking you. It's an old expression among wrestlers that "it doesn't matter if the fans love you or hate you, as long as they care".
  • Power Stable
  • Prejudiced for Pecs
  • Punch-Punch-Punch Uh-Oh
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: For all we know, WWE may have INVENTED this trope. Just ask The Rock ("If ya suh-mellllll....what the!") or Booker T ("Can you dig it....SUCKA?!) or especially the guy who stamped his whole goddamn meal ticket with this trope ("MMMMMisterrrrrr....Kennedy....KEN-NE-DY!")
  • The Quisling: Usually local heels who sides with an Evil Foreigner.
  • Rage Quit: Via intentional disqualification (or count out) by the (usually) Heel champion who knows the (usually) Face challenger has them beat. Often leads to a "Title changes hands via DQ (or count out)" stipulation being added to prevent this.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Wrestlers' real-life issues often provide fodder for their self-based characters' wrestling storylines.
    • One of the most famous examples is the Matt Hardy/Edge feud: Edge stole Matt's girlfriend (Lita) while he was out with an injury (and subsequently released by WWE); when Matt returned, his first feud was with Edge, and much ado was made of the Edge/Lita/Matt triangle.
    • His brother Jeff's drug issues were also used as the basis of Jeff's feud with the Straight Edge CM Punk.
    • The entire Montreal Screwjob.
  • Redemption Demotion
  • Redemption Promotion
  • Refuge in Audacity: The Attitude era and Russo-booked WCW and TNA, for starters.
  • Reviews Are the Gospel: There are people (at least the smart marks) who swear by Dave Meltzer's (of the Wrestling Observer) reviews of matches. There are a great many wrestlers and promoters who swear at them.
  • Ring Oldies
  • Rule of Cool
  • Rule of Funny
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: As the years passed, many things in pro wrestling that used to be unique or shocking have become commonplace. Examples follow...
    • The ladder match. At Wrestlemania X, it was very exciting and revolutionary for its time. Fans who grew up watching TLC matches may find this match boring.
    • The DDT was once a devastating maneuver but it is now a standard move so watching an older match end with one stretches fan's willingness to suspend disbelief. Ditto for moves like the Power Bomb, Superplex, Stampeder (running power slam), and—going back even further—the Thesz Press.
    • Watching old AWA matches, moves like the Clothesline and Dropkick were also match enders back in the day.
    • Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka famous splashing of Don Muraco from the top of a cage. An iconic Moment of Awesome for wrestling in 1983 and for years afterward. Several wrestlers note it as the moment that inspired them to get into the business. By today's standards, it looks like just another highspot.
      • Also common among lucha libre and cruiserweight wrestlers. As the style becomes more popular, more wrestles add more flippy stuff. At Bash at the Beach '96, Rey Mysterio Jr. and Psicosis created the "highspot of the night" when Rey hit a huracarrana on Psic in mid-air. But nowadays, with Jack Evan, Ricochet and PAC and the like on the indy circuit doing double rotation corkscrew shooting star presses, that just fails to impress as it did at the time.
    • The Dynamite Kid vs Tiger Mask series in the early 80's seems slow-paced and short by modern standards. At the time, those matches more or less established the notion of "high-flying" wrestlers.
    • Back in the 1980s, title matches could be considerably shorter than they are today (Hulk Hogan's famous victory over The Iron Sheik, for example, was barely five minutes long!) and were filmed in long shot, making you feel that you were actually in the arena, thus causing the novelty of watching a wrestling match at home on TV to come off as rather pointless. Add in the general lack of music, pyrotechnics, and so forth, and modern-day fans might think they're watching a Stylistic Suck!
    • Trish Stratus was a huge success story during her career - WWE had brought in various models to build its women's division into more about T&A than athleticism (Sable, Terri Runnels, Debra) but Trish herself was the first (in WWE at least) to develop onscreen from an eye candy valet with patchy mic skills to a charasmatic star who is now regarded as one of the best female wrestlers in North America. These days at least 60% of the women's division in WWE (and some of TNA's roster too) is made up of former models brought in and trained to wrestle in the hopes of replicating Trish's success. Due to this and comparison with women's wrestling on the indie circuit, many purists label Trish as "overrated" and resent her for not wrestling on the indies.
    • At the time of her debut in WWE, Lita's style of wrestling stood out for moves like headscissors, hurricanranas, and moonsaults, barely used by women in WWE. These days (see the Trish example above) due to having to work extremely short matches all the time, the models brought in by WWE will often learn flashy moves like hurricanranas to make their matches appear more exciting and cover up their lack of wrestling ability. If the models are former gymnasts this can work fine and they eventually develop into competent wrestlers (Eve Torres, Kelly Kelly) or they can just come across as sloppy spot monkeys (*cough* Ashley Massaro). Moves such as moonsaults and hurricanranas are more staples of women's wrestling these days than men's, at least in WWE due to the retirement of the Cruiserweight division.
      • Averted with regards to Natalya and the Sharpshooter. Aside from a one-off Trish Stratus match, fans had never seen a woman do it before and while it's not as amazing now to see her use it, she still gets great reactions whenever she does use it to win matches.
        • Part of the reason she gets great reactions for it? She's the daughter of Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart and was trained by the Hart family, the first woman to ever be trained in The Dungeon.
  • Self-Deprecation: The Hurricane may be a parody of the almost cartoonish characters of the 80s, though Your Mileage May Vary.
  • Serious Business: There is absolutely no situation that cannot be resolved with a wrestling match on PAY PER VIEW! ORDER NOW!
    • Kayfabe, in the old days, was major Serious Business, with at least one instance of a wrestler losing a court case because he would not break kayfabe, even under oath.
    • Then there's the Fan Dumb. Everything from what qualifies as a "world title" to how seriously wrestling should take itself. The fact that wrestling draws upon the framework of a sport while actually being entertainment creates a lot of this thinking, since fans often try to see some kind of order or hierarchy that doesn't exist.
  • She's Got Legs: Often used with the female manager/valet—which see Miss Elizabeth in the 2-on-3 match at Summer Slam for when used minimally for maximum effect. Taken to the extreme during the Attitude Era (and similar on WCW) with Stacy Keibler ('nuff said).
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad
  • Spot Monkey
  • Tag Team
  • Take That: Especially during the Monday Night Wars.
    • Most shoots contains these.
  • Talk Show With Fists: Many, both in-universe and out although Tuesday Night Titans was an especially good example.
  • Tear Jerker: Ric Flair's retirement match at Wrestlemania 24. Mick Foley's 1998 King of the Ring match, which should have ended in the first five minutes. Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero winning their main event matches and hugging at Wrestlemania XX. Shawn Michaels's retirement at Wrestlemania 26.
  • The Theme Park Version: In relation to amateur wrestling and mixed martial arts.
  • There Are No Female Wrestling Fans: And if there are, the assumption is that they're shrieking fangirls who don't know a Sharpshooter from a suplex.
    • Completely and utterly averted and destroyed with All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling. During the '70s and '80s, tag teams like the Beauty Pair and Crush Gals enjoyed massive mainstream popularity among girls to the point where arenas were packed mainly with screaming girls.
    • Also the majority of Hardy Boyz fans were screaming young girls, demonstrated by the massive pops they got whenever they removed their shirts during matches. The likes of Lita and Trish Stratus also proved to draw in hundreds of female fans.
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet
  • Ten-Minute Retirement
  • Tonight in This Very Ring
  • Underwear of Power: You want a list? Too many to count.
  • Ultimate Job Security
  • Unnecessary Roughness
  • Unpleasable Fanbase: The Internet Wrestling Community
  • Unrelated Brothers
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Most wrestlers.
  • Watch Where You're Going: Two wrestlers go for a Clothesline or Cross body splash at the same time. Double Knockout ensues.
  • Wham Episode
  • Wham Line
  • What Could Have Been
  • Wild Card: The pro wrestling term for this trope is called Tweener, which previously served as the Trope Namer.
  • World of Badass
  • World of Ham: Wrestling is home to so many enormous slices of ham. When someone as hammy as John Cena looks fairly normal by comparison, you know you're in a World of Ham.
  • Wrestling Doesn't Pay
  • You Have to Have Jews: Notoriously averted. World Wrestling Entertainment has (at least in recent years) gained a reputation for welcoming athletes of all ethnic backgrounds, except that it's one of the most goyish entertainment franchises in history. In the past decade alone, Glen Jacobs (otherwise known as "Kane") and Bill Goldberg have been the only two Jewish wrestlers to reach main-event status, and then only briefly. Scotty Goldman (a.k.a. "Colt Cabana") famously quit the company after enduring anti-Semitic harassment from his trainer, and Paul Heyman has been outspoken in his condemnation of latent anti-Semitism in the wrestling business. Though in 2011 WWE crowned its first Jewish Divas' Champion in Kelly Kelly.
    • Although in this case there is a sensible reason for this, as wrestling events normally occur on Friday, Saturday & Sundays nights, Jews who follow Shabbat simply tend not to become professional wrestlers as they can only work 1/3 of the shows other wrestlers do.
    • However, when Paul Heyman was doing color for Raw in 2001, he made references to being Jewish nearly every week. Perhaps the best was when J.R. asked him if he'd ever had BBQ sauce on a bagel. Or when Paul insisted on calling Albert's finishing move the Meshuginator every week. Jerry Lawler once remarked in the mid 1990s that he thought judo was what bagels were made from. Um...
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Has become a standby for Money in the Bank winners. The big fan-favorite face has just retained his championship title in a grueling effort against all odds - and, often enough, against multiple opponents. Thinking the battle is finally over, he lifts the belt triumphantly above his head to the delirious cheers of the crowd. But....not so fast, bucko! An ominous entrance theme blares over the P.A. and the face's mortal enemy - the promotion's most dastardly heel - struts into the arena carrying his Money in the Bank championship opportunity contract, which he has acquired either fairly or not. The big main-event match starts all over again as the heel cashes in his contract and - following a brave but futile effort by the exhausted face - gets a pinfall to become the new World Champion.
    • The only person who averted this was Rob Van Dam, who had a legitimate full-length title match with John Cena at ECW One Night Stand.
    • Inverted when CM Punk did this to Edge using the Money in the Bank contract. This time it was the face using the contract at the opportune moment. Punk later lampshades this, stating that had he done it to anyone but Edge, he would have been perceived as the bad guy. Edge had won a title using the exact same tactic twice, so this was seen as karma coming back to bite him.
    • And then hilariously averted in 2011, also by CM Punk, when Alberto Del Rio came down to cash in his contract, CM Punk kicked him in the back of the head before the referee had the chance to ring the bell.

Professional Wrestling promotions of note




  • AAA
  • CMLL (Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre)

Known wrestling fansites

Names To Know In Professional Wrestling

  • AJ Styles - One of TNA Wrestling's longest-tenured professional wrestlers.
  • Alberto Del Rio - A former luchador who went to the WWE and rose to the top in just a year. But you already know that!
  • Alicia Fox - Booker T meets Rihanna. No, really.
  • Andre the Giant - One of the original WWF's most famous...well, giant wrestlers.
  • Bam Bam Bigelow - The Beast from the East. He was one of the most beloved big men in pro wrestling history, but might best be remembered for a match against Lawrence Taylor.
  • Batista - Big, bruising wrestler who's become a treasure trove of memes for wrestling fans, from his awkward quotes to his face being used for photoshops.
  • Beth Phoenix - Known as the Glamazon, she is well-loved by fans for being one of the few 'new' Divas that really does see wrestling as Serious Business.
  • Bobby Heenan - Perhaps one of the most famous managers in all of wrestling.
  • Bob Holly - Otherwise known as "Hardcore". Although he was never a big name, he remained with the company for 15 years.
  • Booker T - Can You Dig It? SUCKAAAAA!!!!! One of the most recognizable African-American wrestlers of all time; he became a sensation in WCW and continued his success in WWE and TNA.
  • Bret Hart - Without a doubt, the most iconic Canadian wrestler ever. His catchphrase says it all: "The best there is, was, and ever will be!"
  • Brock Lesnar - WWE wrestler turned UFC fighter turned WWE wrestler. To this day, he holds the record for being the company's fastest rising star.
  • Bryan Danielson - A darling of the indy wrestling circuit and with internet wrestling fans, he's arguably achieved greater success in WWE as Daniel Bryan. He's also currently known for his YES! YES! YES! catchphrase.
  • CM Punk - An indy standout turned WWE wrestler, known for his in-ring and Real Life Straight Edge philosophy. After some initial success, he endured several years of being largely ignored and under-utilized. Then, in the summer of 2011, amid some Real Life contract issues, he grabbed a mic and cut loose with a now-iconic Worked Shoot promo. And the rest, as they say, is history.
  • Chick Busters - Kaitlyn and AJ - These two divas are former NXT rookies who teamed up for a short period of time in 2011. Today, AJ is well known for her association with Daniel Bryan.
  • Chris Benoit - One of the greatest technicians in wrestling history's career has been overshadowed by the horrible acts he committed in the final days of his life. Following his death, he became one of the most controversial figures in professional wrestling history.
  • Chris Jericho - Aside from the legendary Hart family, arguably one of the most famous Canadian wrestlers in history, having worked in both WCW and WWE. On the side, he fronts the rock band known as Fozzy.
  • Christian - "Tomko, give me a beat!" The other half of the famous E&C duo. His career hasn't been half bad either.
  • Christopher Daniels - The Fallen Angel. After jobbing in the WWF for a few years, he started a successful career in TNA and ROH
  • Chyna - Recognized as the most powerful diva in WWE history and the only female wrestler to win the Intercontinental Title.
  • Cody Rhodes - The son of Dusty Rhodes. He is one of the fastest rising young stars in WWE, with an eight-month long Intercontinental title reign to his name. Woah Oh! You're only smoke and mirrors!
  • Davey Boy Smith - Better known as the British Bulldog, Davey Boy was perhaps the most popular wrestler to have come from the UK.
  • Dolph Ziggler - Formerly wrestling with a male cheerleader gimmick, he was repackaged into being one of the more prominent midcard heels in WWE.
  • Diamond Dallas Page - Self High Five! At one point, he was one of the more popular faces in WCW.
  • The Dudley Boys - Bubba Ray and D-Von - The most popular tag team in ECW history. They became even more popular in WWE thanks to a trilogy of ladder matches. They then found success in TNA; the former is now one of their top heels.
  • Dwayne Johnson - better known to wrestling fans as The Rock. - One of the two main faces of the Attitude Era, he went on to become a major movie star afterwards - Do you smell what he's cooking?
  • Eddie Guerrero - Viva La Raza! Part of the legendary Guerrero family, and by far its most famous member. His death was one of the most emotional moments in wrestling history.
  • Edge - The Rated R Superstar-spear, an 11 time world champion-spear, and one of the most loved WWE tag team and singles competitors of the 2000s-spear, spear, spear, spear, SPEAR.
  • Evan Bourne - A former star in ROH who became one of WWE's most popular cruiserweights in just 4 years.
  • Eve Torres - Model turned Diva turned Femme Fatale turned empowered General Manager's assistant. Unfortunately grabbed the nickname of "HOESKI" along the way and hasn't been able to shake it.
  • Gail Kim - WWE's first Korean Diva who won the Women's Title in her first match. Also the first ever TNA Knockouts Champion.
  • Goldberg - Won his first 173 matches, the greatest streak in wrestling history. WHO's NEXT???
  • Goldust - The elder son of Dusty Rhodes; a former Intercontinental Champion.
  • Hulk Hogan - The most famous professional wrestler ever, and the industry's biggest icon.
  • The Iron Sheik - THE Evil Foreigner of the 80s; he was also the man Hulk Hogan beat to kick-start Hulkamania.
  • Jake 'The Snake' Roberts - WWF's biggest anti-hero of the 80s who always carried a pet snake around him.
  • Jesse "The Body" Ventura, now known more for his post-wrestling career as the former Governor of Minnesota.
  • Jeff Hardy - Today, he's infamous for his drug problems, but he has always been an IWC favorite.
  • Jeff Jarrett - Originally, he was a wrestler with a country singer gimmick, now he's TNA's equivalent to Triple H.
  • Jerry Lawler - His rivalry with Andy Kaufman helped make professional wrestling a worldwide phenomenon. Now, he's best known as RAW's color commentator.
  • Jim Cornette - This legendary manager is now known for his role in Ring of Honor.
  • Jim Ross - Arguably the most beloved commentator in pro wrestling history.
  • Joey Styles - OH MY GOD! He was pretty much the voice of ECW back in the 90s.
  • John Bradshaw Layfield - WWE superstar known for his run as part of the APA/Acolytes Tag Team. Later re-invented himself as a Ted DiBiase Expy singles competitor and became one of WWE's most hated heels.
  • John Cena - One of the biggest names of the modern era of wrestling, and has been referred to as a "Modern Day Hulk Hogan". However, despite his huge fanbase, he is also one of the most hated wrestlers in history.
  • John Laurinaitis - Originally a famous star in Japan, he has been an important backstage figure in WWE before making his transition into an on-screen character in 2011.
  • John Morrison - This ain't no make believe! This guy's Jim Morrison gimmick and Parkour gimmick got him over with the fans.
  • Kane - One of the most mysterious characters in wrestling whether as a face or a heel. Known for his demented personality and affinity for fire.
  • Kelly Kelly - One of WWE's top Divas, very controversial amongst fans.
  • Kenta Kobashi - Creator of the Burning Hammer, which he has only used Seven Times.
  • Kevin Nash - Known for his work as both WWF Champion Diesel and the enforcer of the New World Order. He has had a few runs in WWE and TNA ever since.
  • Kurt Angle - The only Olympic Gold Medalist in pro wrestling history. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest mat wrestlers of all time.
  • Lance Storm - A Canadian wrestler who was a staple of the WWF and WCW midcard.
  • Lay Cool - A Divas tag team that consisted of Layla El and Michelle McCool and dominated the Divas division for most of 2010.
  • Lita - One of the most popular WWE Divas of all time; considered the female couterpart to the Hardys.
  • Low Ki - Indy superstar who became WWE jobber Kaval.
  • Manami Toyota - Joshi legend, widely regarded as the greatest ever female wrestler.
  • Mark Henry - The World's Strongest Man; a former Olympian became WWE's newest mega-monster heel in 2011 after 15 years of wrestling.
  • Matt Hardy - Like his brother, his personal problems controlled his life; in this case they are weight problems.
  • Michael Cole - WWE's main play-by-play commentator; he is arguably the most despised figure in the company.
  • Mick Foley - The Hardcore Legend. He played three different gimmicks at once: hardcore wrestler Catcus Jack, hippie Dude Love, and schizophrenic Mankind. Later, he added a fourth "gimmick" of being himself.
  • Mike Adamle - A former football player who had a lackluster run as a commentator and RAW General Manager. Though of course, this is the kinda guy people would rather forget.
  • Mitsuharu Misawa - The man who had the most five-star matches...ever; and no less important he also was Tiger Mask II.
  • "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig - One of the greatest mat wrestlers of all time; no wonder people called him "Perfect".
  • Natalya Neidheart - Daughter of Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, niece of Bret "The Hitman" Hart and granddaughter of Stu Hart. She is considered one of the more talented Divas in WWE today.
  • Owen Hart - A member of the Hart Family and a major WWF heel throughout most of the 90s. His tragic death led to his widow filing a lawsuit against WWE.
  • Paul Bearer - The Undertaker's legendary manager throughout most of the '90s.
  • Paul Heyman - One of the masterminds behind the original ECW.
  • Randy Orton - Originally a "legend killer" he has transformed into a sadistic villain and later the company's main anti-hero.
  • Randy Savage - One of the big names in the 1980s, and later WCW. He was known for his over-the-top persona as well as being the spokeswrestler for Slim Jims.[1]
  • Raven - WHAT ABOUT ME? He has been a major star in ECW, and has been a midcard staple in both WWE and WCW.
  • Rey Mysterio Jr. - A former WCW competitor that went on to become the Masked Luchador of the 2000s-era WWF/E. Known as "the biggest little man in WWE."
  • Ric Flair - One of the most legendary figures in the industry. He was the main star of Jim Crockett Promotions. Known for his dirty tactics.
  • Rob Van Dam - One of the cornerstones of the original ECW, he made stops in WWE and TNA as well, where he has more often than not sat very firmly in Ensemble Darkhorse territory.
  • Roddy Piper - played the role of the stereotypical Violent Glaswegian for years. Still one of WWE's more loved characters.
  • Ron Killings - Currently wrestles in WWE as "R-Truth". His gimmick was a that of a rapper, before changing it to that of a crazy person.
  • Sable - THE Diva of the Attitude Era; she helped launch the division into what it is today.
  • Samoa Joe - HE'S GONNA KILL YOU One of ROH's most popular stars ever, he has also become a icon in TNA.
  • Santino Marella - WWE's current Joke Character par excellence. His signature move involves hitting people with a sock puppet.
  • El Santo - He is the most legendary Luchador in wrestling history.
  • Scott Hall - Member of the Outsiders with Kevin Nash as well as The Kliq. His personal demons have overshadowed a once moderately successful career.
  • Scott Steiner - One half of the Steiner brothers; (in)famous for his distinctive chainmail coif, multicolored beard, obscenely muscled figure, and tendency to go overboard when presented with a mic.
  • Shane McMahon - Vince McMahon's son, known for taking downright insane high-risk spots during his matches.
  • Shawn Michaels - The Heartbreak Kid, The Showstopper, Mr. WrestleMania. He is considered to be one of the greatest icons in wrestling history.
  • Sheamus - the first Irish-born WWE Champion, winning the WWE title in his sixth month with the company.
  • Stephanie McMahon - Daughter of Vince McMahon, known for being the wife of Triple H.
  • Sting - One of the staples of WCW and one of the few wrestlers who have never worked for the WWE.
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin - The most popular wrestler and the pioneer of the Attitude Era.
  • Ted Di Biase - Best known for his "Million Dollar Man" gimmick and for having one of the most awesomest evil laughs in all of wrestling.
  • The Big Show - billed as "The World's Largest Athlete". Known through his career as one of the more versatile and talented big men to be employed by WWE.
  • The Miz - Former reality show star who's made it big as a WWE wrestler. He has always been heavily criticized throughout his entire career.
  • Triple H - A long-tenured veteran of the WWE, 11-time WWE Champion and the husband of Stephanie McMahon; currently the most polarizing figure in professional wrestling history.
  • Trish Stratus - The seven-time Women's champion started as a valet. She went down in history as one of the greatest divas ever to set foot in a WWE ring.
  • Ultimate Warrior - A somewhat mediocre wrestler known for his insane rambling promos in and out of the ring. Still, he was one of its most beloved icons.
  • The Undertaker - WWE's longest tenured performer and one of its most famous stars.
  • Vader - IT'S VADER TIME! He has been a star in both the US and Japan and one of the industry's most popular big men.
  • Vince McMahon - Owner of the WWE, who helped put the company on the map in the 1980s. Also best known for his "Mr. McMahon" character on WWE programming.
  • Vince Russo - The most controversial figure in professional wrestling history.
  • Wade Barrett - British wrestler for WWE: best known for being the NXT Season 1 winner and the original leader of the Power Stable, The Nexus.
  • William Regal - a veteran British wrestler turned backstage personality in his semi-retirement. His own list of in-ring career accomplishments is decent, but his list of students is rather impressive.
  • The Worlds Greatest Tag Team - Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin - These former amateur wrestlers gained popularity by association with Kurt Angle.
  • Zack Ryder - Internet favorite wrestler who started out as a joke, but gained enough levels in badass to become somewhat of a formidable force in the ring. WWWYKI!



  • Attitude Era - WWE's shift to a more adult-oriented product from 1996/97 to 2001.
  • The Wrestling Observer Newsletter - Run by Dave Meltzer, while it also offers up inside info about pro wrestling, it's best known for its star-rating for matches (scale of 1 to 5).
  • The Death of WCW - A non-fiction book that gives an in-depth look at what killed WCW.
  • Monday Night Wars - The period from 1995 to 2001 when Raw (WWE) and Nitro (WCW) went head to head.
  • Montreal Screwjob - A moment that has had long-lasting implications on both WWE itself and the careers of several wrestlers, notably Bret Hart.
  • New World Order - The WCW angle that helped bring WCW on par with WWF during the Monday Night Wars.
  • Ring of Hell - A non-fiction book primarily about Chris Benoit's wrestling career.
  • Royal Rumble - One of WWE's signature events, featuring a 30-wrestler battle royale.
  • Scott Keith - Base-breaking internet reviewer/commentator
  • Summer Slam - One of WWE's signature events.
  • Survivor Series - WWE's second longest running PPV (after WrestleMania)
  • Wrestlemania - WWE's signature show and the biggest professional wrestling event of the year.

Fictional works featuring Professional Wrestling

Anime and Manga

Comic Books



Live Action TV

Tabletop Games

  • WWE: Know Your Role

Card Games

  • WWE Raw Deal


  • The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

Video Games

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

  1. Snap into a Slim Jim! OOOOOOHHHHH YEAAAAHHHHH!!!!!