As pro-wrestling has evolved far from its carnival roots, so has the nomenclature surrounding it. Some of these changes are made deliberately by those in charge. Other things change as the trends and fashions of the time change. For example, a shooter, as a wrestler may have been called in the 1920s, would be a confusing term for a modern day wrestling term. In addition, a fan today may not be certain what the term "promoter" means exactly.
Nowhere is this change more evident than WWE television. In fact, there are many words that are simply banned from being spoken on television. At times, wrestlers...wait, Superstars may get away with using a few of those terms. However, the announcers are specifically banned from using certain words, as a list surfaced in 2008 that detailed what the multi-national commentary teams weren't allowed to say.
Based on this list and our own empirical data collection, let's do a quick rundown of each of those terms. Some of these terms and their reasoning may be obvious, others not so much. However, as controversial or trivial as some of these may seem, they're all a part of a bigger attempt at creating a global brand for WWE. These semantic adjustments are deliberate and not just arbitrary nitpicking. Lets begin with something obvious.
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15 Foreign Object
You'll notice that many of these terms play into a common sense approach to a PG product and an era of political correctness. This one is obvious, although a foreign object would only indicate a piece of equipment that is simply foreign to its environment. WWE's reaction to this is to simply call a weapon what it is. This is much preferred to WCW's attempt at calling weapons "international objects," which implies the "foreign" in foreign object is indicative of different nationalities.
In any event, addressing the object for exactly what it is isn't detrimental by any means. This is yet another generic term the company slowly faded out of its language.
Not to be confused with the aforementioned use of "international object" in WCW. WWE prefers the term "global" instead of "international." This could be because Vince has often referred to WWE as a global brand of entertainment, as the word global seems all encompassing. In our earnest opinion, international is a word that won't be sorely missed. In addition to this, the WWE recently started stressing the terms WWE "Universe" when discussing its fans. Global and universe seem to be the brand's new direction when addressing its world.
Here's another one that is somewhat inconsequential. In the 80s, on NWA television, you may have heard The Four Horsemen referred to as a "faction." This term proved to be dated and WWE, when not addressing the group by name, will refer them to as exactly that, a group. You may also hear alliance or union, but you will definitely not hear the word faction.
Perhaps the term "faction" was just another dated term that exposed a nerve, as it seems to be more of an insider or backstage term. Once again, another generic wrestling term that slowly faded out of our vocabulary.
This one may not be so obvious to some. We're not exactly sure why this word isn't WWE television friendly, as opposed to the acceptable "in the back" or "in the locker room area." One can only imagine there is a good reason for this choice. Perhaps "locker room area" sounds better? This one is a big switch as Michael Cole was always a proponent of the use of the word "backstage." It seems like backstage was more of a generic wrestling term back in the 90s as wrestling fans loved to see backstage segments which would ensue into a brawl. Today, we rarely see any backstage confrontations, as most of the action is kept in the ring.
11 On Sale
This phrase, from the list, isn't to be used in favor of "Available Now." Another example of semantics. Available now paints a better picture as opposed to the urgency of "on sale now." Pay attention to this one, especially when Michael Cole announces tickets and certain merchandise going on-sale. As times have changed, so have the company's merchandise model. It now seems much more prestigious to buy a wrestling T-shirt than it was back in the 90s. Once again, the company adjusted its professionalism, this time in the sales department.
One would imagine that DQ sounds too much like wrestling jargon and disqualification spells out the ramifications in a more proper way. Also, DQ just makes me think of Dairy Queen.
This one is especially interesting because you wouldn't think an abbreviation of a word would change the overall message, but in this instance it definitely does. Some may even say DQ is lazy and makes things sound less official. Again, another generic wrestling term gone bye bye.
It was once common to hear a wrestling championships referred to as a belt or strap. The reasoning behind this one being banned has a simple explanation. It's a simple matter of prestige. It's just better story telling to use the word Championship. Belts and straps are merely articles of clothing, while a Championship has a story behind it, it means something.
CM Punk took some offense to this one, as in one of his RAW interviews he made the remark "yeah, this is a wrestling belt/"
We will get a bit more in depth on this one in pages to come. Performance doesn't give the in-ring action its due, as it's much more than a mere performance. Performance art? Absolutely, but it's still a drab oversimplification. Performer? Would you tell a "wrestler" that they're your favorite performer? These terms simply undermine the great athletes and their craft. Despite the banning of these terms, you still hear the word performer by several old school minds outside of the company, like Jim Ross.
If you paid attention in all of your English and correspondence courses, you'll remember your teachers saying something along the lines of "don't tell us, show us." That's absolutely the case here. Remember, WWE announcers are more than just announcers, they're storytellers. No matter the infliction put on it, the word "interesting" can never be as good as explaining why something is interesting.
6 House Show
You'll never hear WWE announcers refer to a show as a house show. Let's face it, house show doesn't have the same allure as "live event." House show is definitely a term that died after the 80s and 90s. House show has such a bland connotation, where "live event" feels like a big deal, where anything can happen. Because, never forget "anything can happen in the WWE" and they don't want you thinking otherwise.
Some old school wrestling fans have still not made the switch and continue to refer to a non-televised show as a house show. Some habits just don't fade away that easy.
This word made the list for obvious attempts at objectivity and political correctness. It makes us wonder, with the recent rumors of WWE reinvigorating the WCW gimmick match, War Games, will it be referred to as Battle Games? In any event, since WWE is so active in the global community as it pertains to our armed forces, it's probably best to avoid saying things like "going to war." In the interest of keeping things PG, sometimes it's the subtleties that count.
On occasion, you will hear a wrestler use the word hospital in a promo. However, the word hospital seems to have a more serious impact on fan perception of an injury. Especially when the injury is scripted. "Nearby medical center" is a little bit more family friendly. This terms helps avoid the idea that one of our WWE Superstars may be in some sort of critical condition. This change was made in accordance to the PG rating.
Never on WWE television will you hear announcer refer to the United States Championship as the U.S. title. You also won't hear this abbreviation in reference to our armed forces or our country as a whole.
In the NWA and WCW days, it wasn't uncommon to hear the United States Championship referred to as the U.S. belt or title. However, I think the reasons behind this change are pretty obvious. WWE adhering to its global branding policy, likes to be prim and proper, especially when it comes to our nation. Think about it, United States just sounds better than U.S.
2 Insider Terminology
Although most wrestling fans will tell you that kayfabe is dead, at least there are some protections around insider terminology. Specifically, the terms shoot, babyface, heel, rib, and others are not to be said on WWE television.
Well, unless you're Triple H, who on occasion will make an on-air reference to "his friend, Mark," it's probably best to refrain from using these words on television. Besides, these words do very little to further stories and could potentially cheapen the product. It's rather clear that the company is moving away from pro wrestling terms and into the new wave of sports entertainment.
1 Professional Wrestler
As we all know, WWE "pro-wrestlers" are referred to as WWE Superstars. This is a gleaming illustration into the branding machine that is WWE. As many will say, Vince often tries to distance WWE from the older perceptions of "pro-wrestling," especially the negative ones.
Now, this decision has ruffled many a feather among the internet wrestling faithful, but is it really that bad? After all, and here's an unpopular opinion, pro-wrestling is anything but pro-wrestling. It's not as if calling them WWE Superstars makes them lesser, except maybe in the eyes of the "informed" wrestling fans. However, what's in a name? We don't mind. We'll go on enjoying WWE just the same, regardless of what we can and can't call things.
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