People who don't follow professional wrestling behind-the-scenes or are hardcore fans of the industry might find themselves confused when talking to other wrestling fans. Like many industries, wrestling fans have a language all their own with a ton of words and phrases that have a specific meaning that only applies to professional wrestling.
There are other terms that pro wrestling borrowed from different industries and one word that goes back to carnie days, which is where professional wrestling has its origins. Whether talking about fans, wrestlers, or stories being told, there are a ton of words and terms that would leave most people scratching their heads. Here is a look at 10 weird wrestling terms and what they mean.
While Mark is a name, this wrestling term does not refer to Mark Calaway, The Undertaker, or even Mark Henry, the World's Strongest Man. Instead, Mark is a slang term that goes back to the carnie days. At carnivals, carnies would look around crowds to find what they called a Mark -- someone who would believe what they were selling and someone they knew they could squeeze some money out of.
In professional wrestling, a Mark is similar. It is someone who buys into the story, the characters, and the emotions of a wrestling show. The term is derogatory when used to describe someone who thinks wrestling is real but is honestly a term used to describe someone who believes in the stories being told.
Almost everyone knows that professional wrestling is scripted entertainment. While wrestlers do put their bodies at risk and the moves they pull off are real to them, although not in the ways fans see them, the matches are pre-determined, and the wrestlers are not really trying to hurt each other.
The characters they portray are also just that -- characters. The Undertaker is not really a dead man. Shane McMahon does not really hate Kevin Owens. Kayfabe is a term where the wrestlers don't break character and continue to act as if they are really their character.
An angle is a word used to describe the story being told on the television shows. When Mr. McMahon constantly tried to screw over Stone Cold Steve Austin in the Attitude Era, that was an angle where Mr. McMahon was the bad guy, and Stone Cold was the common man fighting back against authority.
When Shawn Michaels tried to retire The Undertaker, and the two ended up feuding to the point where Michaels put his career on the line, that was an angle. When Michaels lost and retired, that was the payoff to the angle. It is just the plot and story behind the feuds.
7 BABYFACE / HEEL
The story of professional wrestling since the early days has been pitting a good guy against a bad guy in a morality tale. One man is evil, cheats to win, and often shows antagonistic characteristics. The other is good, follows the rules, respects the fans, and is the protagonist of the story.
In professional wrestling, the good guy is the Face, and the bad guy is the Heel. When someone shows Heel tendencies, it just means they are cheating, being a jerk, or disrespecting the fans. The ultimate good guy who can do no wrong is often called the Babyface, and this is someone who would rather lose than cheat to win.
Professional wrestling is all about good vs. evil, but in those battles, there are always moments where something unexpected happens. There are moments where someone unexpectedly turns to the side of evil, or possibly finally becomes a babyface, and those moments can come entirely by surprise.
A swerve is the term to describe something shocking happening that changes an angle completely. Seth Rollins betraying The Shield was a swerve. It can also be used when an authority figure comes out and changes an announced match into something different, meaning the swerve was used against the fans.
When wrestlers come to the ring, one of three things happen. One is that the fans go nuts, cheering loudly for the wrestler. The second is that the fans boo mercilessly because they hate that wrestler. The third is the worst, and that is where fans sit there and don't react one way or the other. Cheers and boos both show a wrestler has succeeded at their role.
Pop is the cheers for a wrestler. When a wrestler comes out and gets a "major pop," it means that the wrestler is very "over" with the fans and is one of the top babyfaces in the company. Stone Cold Steve Austin is someone who gets a massive pop every time he comes to the ring.
4 BURIED / RUB
The important thing to keep in mind when looking at the future of professional wrestling is that legendary stars and veterans have to help build up the next generation of stars. If they don't do this, they will leave the sport, and there will be no one around to step into the role as the next main event star.
When a wrestler works with someone and "puts them over," they are giving them a rub. A good example was when Roman Reigns beat Undertaker, who then gave his respect to Reigns after the match. However, the opposite of that is when a veteran makes a younger star look bad and destroys them, which is called burying the talent. Many fans misuse the term "buried" to label anyone who loses a match.
In the old days of professional wrestling, there was rarely more than one match on television between two superstars -- if that. The rest of the matches were building the stars by putting them against lower enhancement talent, men who went by the name jobbers.
In those days, jobbers were famous too. Guys like Barry Horowitz, The Brooklyn Brawler, Barry O, and more came out week after week to lose to the next big stars. These days, enhancement talent is just indie wrestlers brought in to lose and never be seen from again. Many people misuse this term to describe mid-card talent as well.
As mentioned before, when a wrestler gets a massive pop, it means they are cheered loudly and are among the most popular wrestlers in the company. However, on the other end of the spectrum, there are the bad guys who the fans boo mercilessly. These wrestlers have heel heat with the crowd, and that means they are doing their jobs right.
There are two other definitions of heat. There is heat with "boys in the back," which means a wrestler did something wrong and is now on the bad side of his fellow wrestlers. The other term is "X-Pac heat," which was named after Sean Waltman and described wrestlers fans don't want to see and boo because of that.
Remember how Kayfabe means a wrestler stays in character and does not let anyone see who he really is? Undertaker was like that until recent years, never breaking character even when he was away from the ring. However, there are times where a wrestler not only breaks character but exposes the inner workings of the industry as well.
A shoot interview is one where someone sits down and talks about things that happened behind the scenes, pulling back the curtains. There are also moments where a wrestler will cut a promo in the ring and start to talk about real-life events as well as the storyline, and these are called "worked shoots" because it is still part of the angle but pulls the curtain back somewhat as well.