"Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat." - Gorgeous George, popularized by Jesse the Body Ventura
While it is Sports Entertainment, Professional Wrestling is the pro version of the real high school and Olympic sport with all types of rules and regulations. Before Vince McMahon let the cat out of the bag and explained to the world that the sport is sports entertainment, Pro Wrestling too was presented as real. So it too needed a whole heap of rules and regulations.
If you're a heel, those rules were in place for you to break them and be just that - a heel, a bad guy. Someone that the fans would pay to see get their ass beat. How else would one earn the monicker of being the Dirtiest Player in the Game without rules to break to gain an unfair advantage? Unfortunately as the audience continues to be smartened up to how the business works, certain rules fall by the wayside. In the ever-increasing PG Era, this is making it harder for heels to be true heels. Jim Ross talks about it all the time on his podcast.
Dory Funk's Funking Conservatory's website actually has many of these rules and more, originally penned by Florida territory stalwart, Mike Graham. They're written more as a code of conduct than a rule book. But as you read them, and this list you'll soon learn that it's not just the guys in the black Stetsons who break the rules, the good guys in white and those who live in the grey area all break a rule or two, and would never be allowed to work again if the rules were adhered to.
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15 No Foreign Objects
No foreign objects and yet dozens of wrestlers are known for their weaponry. Triple H's Sledgehammer, Jeff Jarrett's guitars, Sting's bats, and we're all getting reacquainted with the Dudley Boys' love of wooden furniture. But the most egregious foreign objects are those that are worn for "protective purposes." Randy Orton's father, Ace, had spent most of his career with a proverbial broken arm and used the cast to consistently help himself and Roddy Piper win matches. More recently, when Cody Rhodes broke his nose, his face mask would help secure several victories for the future cosmic warrior.
14 Taped Knuckles or Any Part of the The Hand is Prohibited
According to the Funking Conservatory, rule J states "Taping of knuckles: wrists or any part of the hand, except as certified to be necessary by a physician, is prohibited." Since wrestling is supposed to be wrestling and not boxing, there are no clenched fists allowed (more on that egregiously broken law later), it would stand to reason that you shouldn't be allowed to tape up your fist like a pugilist then. But this, along with wearing fight gloves is a rule broken by the likes of Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, the Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and the late great Umaga who used his taped fist to deliver the delay Samoan Spike finishing move. Not one physician in the past thirty years have stepped forward to certify a superstar needs his hands covered.
13 Outside Interference
Imagine if someone got off the bench during a basketball game to trip up the position heading to the hole. Or a third basemen tossing his glove at an opposing runner heading for third. But in wrestling, outside interference is a habitual occurrence. Managers like Bobby Heenan or Slick were constantly interfering, jumping on the apron while not so subtly tossing a foreign object to their charge. Managers may be a thing of the past, but outside interference still happens, and it's even celebrated when the music of someone else hits. Today's pair of trios, the New Day and the Wyatts make it a pretty nasty habit of finding ways to interject more than two of their teams into the competition.
12 Corner Beatdowns
Similar to boxing, a wrestler is also not allowed to trap their opponent in a corner and beat the tar out of them. Since corner shoulder blocks are a huge part of Brock Lesnar's arsenal, he wouldn't have won half of the matches that he has on his journey from Next Big Thing to Anomaly to Beast Incarnate. We also wouldn't have know the joy of seeing Kevin Sullivan's Tree of Woe, X-Pac's Bronco Buster, Rikishi's Stinkface, or Yes man, Daniel Bryan's devastating running knee/drop kick combination.
11 Can't Stand On The Ropes
Since the action is supposed to get on inside the ring, plenty of superstars would not have achieved success had they adhered to this rule. Just about every single Luchador whose ever lived like Juventud Guerrera, Psychosis, Rey Mysterio, or Mystico; all of their arsenals involve bouncing off and and around the ring ropes. Ultimo Dragon's Asai Moonsalt or Jushin Thunder Liger's Shooting Star Press? Never innovated. Neville's breath taking Red Arrow? The wind would have been out of that sail a long time ago. No Old School either for the Dead Man. Many memorable careers simply might not have happened had this rule been enforced.
10 Can't Throw a Guy Over the Top Rope
Staying on the subject of rules concerning the ring ropes, rule O states: Deliberately throwing an opponent over the top ring rope is grounds for immediate disqualification. The exception to this is the battle royal. Clearly this rule has gone the way of the dinosaur. While he was a booker in WCW, legend Bill Watts tried to bring back this concept. All he was trying to create was an environment for the heels to have to work to get booed and pull underhanded tactics. Since fans and wrestlers alike were so conditioned that this rule was no longer enforced, the Cowboy was heavily chastised for it and sometimes even still to this day.
9 No Striking Another Man's Privates
Most every single superstar makes it a point to get the officials to avert their eyes when giving the old rochambeau to their opponents. Kicks to the groin, giant Chyna uppercuts, and the occasional, testicular claw usually get past a referee's radar. But refs seemingly don't mind two special moves of the Dudley Boys and Goldust. Back when Budweiser had their "Whasssuup" campaign, those damn Dudleys would scream that at each other just as Devon would give a diving headbutt to their opponents testes. Goldust's Shattered Dreams similarly would deliver a crushing blow to 'Dust's opponents in the corner.
8 Freebird Rule; Third Man Still Enters the Match
The Freebird Rule, coined for the Fabulous Freebirds and other three man squads allow for any two members of a three man stable to be allowed to defend the tag team titles. Not knowing exactly which team challengers are facing could be awfully confusing. But sometimes even that confusion isn't enough for a trio to win the match, they will combine outside interfere with breaking the Freebird Rule. Teams like Demolition and the Spirit Squad have taken advantage of the rule, and a fivesome like the Spirit Squad would just be uber-confusing. Most recently, the New Day have violated the three man rule to help keep the titles.
7 A Tag Consists of One Partner's Hand Touching Another's Hand
Some of the greatest tag teams ever have mastered the art of the blind tag, tagging their partners back or shoulder or arm while their opponent is clueless to the five seconds of legal double team devastation that is about to befall them. The truest masters of this fete were the Brain Busters, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard. But plenty of other teams have added to their legacy with the use of quick hot blind tags that leave opponents stymied and confused. They might be confused because tagging your partner in via any other way besides the hand is illegal. In Alabama, it's illegal to have an ice cream cone in your back pocket, this rule is the equivalent of that stupidity.
6 You Must Stay in a Neutral Corner While the Referee Executes a Ten Count
In Boxing, when you knock your opponent down, the referee will make sure you head to a neutral corner while he counts the man out for ten. The same is actually true in wrestling, but that doesn't stop the bevy of brawls that have taken place outside the ring. Not to mention some of the death defying leaps that have taken place from the ring to the floor. Certainly the Spanish announce table would greatly appreciate less brawls on the outside. And the psychotic Cactus Jack flying elbow? Can you imagine a world where the Hardcore Icon Mick Foley actually followed the rules.
5 No Choking
But which referee is actually going to tell some of these behemoths that they can't choke slam a guy because they're not allowed to choke a guy? Undertaker, Big Show, Kane, and all sorts of other giants have been breaking this rule for years. While the referee do usually admonish the wrestlers for deliberate hands around the throat choke holds (Daniel Bryan was even once let go because of choking Justin Roberts with his tie), the officials don't seem to mind that moves like Tazz's Tazmission, Ultimo Dragon's Dragon Sleeper, and Samoa Joe's Kokina Clutch are all devastating and paralyzingly chokes that men use to win matches.
4 No Impairing Opponents Vision
The wrestling rule book states, "Eye-gouging or other efforts which would tend to impair an opponent's vision will not be allowed." Of course referees conveniently have their own vision impaired when it comes to moves like the Great Muta or Tajiri's ancient mist or Mr. Fuji's salt in the eyes. It's not like there's a giant cloud of salt leaving the ring or strange liquid pouring out of a wrestler's eyes after they've been blinding. Even more egregious were the dirtiest player in the game, Ric Flair and the late, great Roddy Piper, who would both give a quick thumb to the eyes that would be just enough to gain an advantage.
3 Kicking with the Toe or the Heel is Prohibited
Our top three are the biggest head scratchers you'll ever see in a wrestling rule book, because the top three moves in this list are generally what some of the biggest stars in our favorite sport have in their basic arsenals. First up, kicks are prohibited, so say goodbye to Booker T's Harlem Hangover Ax Kick. Every single wrestler Daniel Bryan has kicked in the mush should file a complaint and a petition to have his victories rescinded. Say goodbye to pretty much all of Rob Van Dam's non-aerial moves.
2 Karate Thrusts and Kicks Are Prohibited
Did you know that the Superkick innovated by Gentleman Chris Adams and popularized by Shawn Michaels is super illegal. The Funking Conservatory guidelines say, "The use of karate or kung-fu thrusts or kicks is prohibited. Certain non-lethal judo moves, which may resemble these prohibited maneuvers, are allowed. Referees are expected to exercise extreme care in differentiating between legal and non-legal martial arts tactics." Ricky Steamboats world famous chops, along with the Deadman's old school thrusts to the throat should have cost these men quite a few matches. Clearly the referees were ok with the fans screaming "Woooo!" every time the Nature Boy landed a chop, so his were allowed.
1 No Closed Fists
A long time ago professional wrestling did its best to make people believe that what the men doing in the ring was real, so therefore a closed fist to the face would just be very unsportsmanlike. That plus the notion that if these men were constantly hitting each other in the face with no blood spurting out of their noses, or welts popping out of their foreheads is slightly unrealistic. But realism be damned, we fans love when our heroes throw down in a good old fashioned slug fest. How cool was it to see Brock and 'Taker both sit up, laugh in each other's faces and start trading meathooks around. Plus, there's a certain section of the WWE Universe that very much enjoys a You Can't See Me Five Knuckle Shuffle.
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