Its time to write some more good words about wrestling. Specifically, wrestling words. Much like any unique group, wrestlers and wrestling fans have their own unique words and terms that are rarely if ever heard outside of wrestling. However, many of these words are necessary to fully understand and explain wrestling. Even better, once aware of these terms, some become used in day to day life. Let’s begin:
Face: The good guy. Shortened from baby face. The clean cut all American good ole boy fighting off the baddies.
Heel: The bad guy. “Turning heel” is a term often used to explain a good guy becoming a bad guy. Most wrestling matches have a face and a heel. Even when a match is face vs face or heel vs heel, the wrestlers need to decide which one will be a face or heel, or switch off, depending on the fans reactions and the intended outcome of the match.
Mark: A wrestling fan. This traces back to carnival days when carnies would call out to “marks” who were all too eager to give up their money to win a 5 cent gimmick prize.
Marking out: When a fan is overcome with excitement due to something happening in the ring. Excitement over a title change, a return, a heel turn, a great move. Whatever it might be. Recently Ronda Rousey was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and said she was “marking out” over being next to him. The term went over his head but she had enough context clues in the conversation for Colbert and the viewers to follow along.
Kayfabe: Again, from the carnival days. Kayfabe is a bastardized pig Latin form of the word “fake”. It was a code for carnies, and then wrestlers, that a fan or mark is coming along and we can’t talk as real people right now, we have to behave like the characters. Previously in wrestling kayfabe was sacred. Heels and faces could not ride in the same car together, or socialize in public. If a wrestler was billed from another country, even if he was from the heartland of America, he had to stay in character at all times in public. Now with social media, reality shows, and more kayfabe is less and less. But there are still certain people and stories that tip this scale.
Work: The story. “Working” the fans. Getting the fans to buy into the story.
Shoot: For real. Every so often the real world creeps into the ring. Someone says something they shouldn’t have. Someone feels slighted and goes after their opponent. Last SummerSlam, Braun got a bit too excited and sloppy in the ring. One of his opponents, Brock Lesnar shoot punched him in the head to get Braun to slow down. The top half of Braun’s head moved independent of the rest of his body. That was the last big shoot moment I can remember but there have been quite a few over the years.
Pop: The overwhelming wave of adulation from the crowd. A return, a title change, a moment. The Rock vs Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania was an entire match of Pop. There live, I felt like I could hold it in my hands and take it home. When AJ Styles debuted in WWE unannounced the pop coursed through the crowd, into the TV, and into my home. It is somehow deafening and yet silent. You can hear everything yet also be overwhelmed by the noise of thousands of people reacting to the same thing at the same time and joined forever by that moment.
Bump: Unfortunately, if you hear anyone say this its probably going to be for a bad reason. A bump is any time a wrestler’s body hits the ground. Whether its the ring, the canvas, the entrance, the floor, anything. If the spine hits the floor, its a bump. Usually wrestling fans will say it as part of a full sentence: “oh that’s a bad bump”. With hundreds of matches over the year and thousands of moves total eventually something will go wrong. That’s just the odds of the universe. Cross yourself and say a prayer that he or she can get up.
Promo: When a wrestler comes out and talks about what they will do to their future opponent. Some are better than others. Some need managers to speak for them. The point is always the same, let my words convince you to spend your money watching this fight.
Over: Someone has finally made it. The fans might cheer or boo, but either way this wrestler is getting one of the biggest reactions of the night. The New Day is over. The crowd reacts to every ridiculous thing they do and love every moment of it. The small guy from the local independent promotion that is brought in to get beat up is not over. During SummerSlam someone will have a move, a match, a promo that will increase their place in the hierarchy and become over.