ELI5: How does the WWE work?

ELI5: How does the WWE work?


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Endings are scripted, they know who's going to win. The referee is the one controlling the timeline of the match. Wrestlers can plan their moves beforehand, but some of them do it ad hoc. If you see someone close to someone (wrestler or referee), that means they're communicating something, whether it's the next move to do, or what happens next. The impact of moves, even if done correctly, will still hurt a bit. Wrestlers are trained to take "bumps," meaning they know what to do when their body hits the floor so that impact is spread throughout their bodies, reducing risk of injury. Sometimes accidents happen which lead to real injuries (see D-Lo Brown and Darren Drozdov) Think of the WWE as a fight scene in a movie: they're doing all these real moves in the safest way possible. You may injure yourself doing a move, but hopefully you can still get up and continue the "fight." "Promos" or mic work is a whole other realm that warrants its own explanation Edit: this "scripted" bit is the mindfuck behind the infamous Montreal Screwjob. Depending on who you asked, you'll get different answers as to what happened there. I suggest that anyone watch the Dark Side of the Ring series, it provides a lot of insight inside the world of pro rasslin. Edit2: This deserves another post, but if you search for "greatest promos in wrestling history," [this one will no doubt pop up](https://youtu.be/jva3T9N_iu0). And [here's more insight on one of the most legendary promos ever and how scripted it was](https://youtu.be/aTXlPZAQbIE).


Worked in PR at Joe Louis Arena in 1991 where the Survivor Series (Hulk Hogan v. The Undertaker) was broadcast. Interesting to see the wrestlers all arrive in suits (think tv sportscaster jackets over bulging muscles), briefcases, etc. They held a private meeting for basic choreography, safety checks, etc. I think they took safety and production quality more seriously than any "show" we hosted, and that includes Tahar, a dude that Ringling Bros had wrestling crocodiles. WWF was a first rate group to work with. One funny for you Redditors. I was a young 20's female and wearing a dress and heels (Melanie Griffith in Working Girl) running papers to the media on deadline (pre internet) when I tore around a short cut and plowed full body into Hulk Hogan. He stood me back up politely. I was a mess the rest of the night not due to injury, but because I came away covered head to toe in baby oil.


I remember watching that live when I was 5 years old. Undertaker was legitimately fucking creepy to kids at that time. I know it probably looks ridiculous to anyone watching it now, but at the time, you know, we were dumber lmao.


Not dumber, just exposed to a whole lot less. Pro wrestling is still trying to reel back from the veil being torn down in the 90s. It's difficult to keep up the illusion of faked injuries and worked shoots when one post on the Internet can bring it all down. Kids today see so much by a certain age that a pro wrestling character from the 80s is now seen as corny. Even in the early 2000s I recall discussing with my young friends all the things that were really just kayfabe. The Internet wasn't developed enough to tell us that a wrestler was being written off or their contract had expired. It's a whole different world today.


I mean, the actual moves and stunts they're pulling off still require a ton of athleticism and training. As OP mentioned it's like a fight scene in a movie. You're not going to all of a sudden stop giving a shit watching john wick because he isn't actually killing people but those are just actors and affects. Same thing, except this is in front of a live audience


I'm not discrediting the athleticism and choreography required in pro wrestling. What I'm saying is that the storybuilding and character development is tougher now. You expect everything in a film to be fictional. That was not always the case in pro wrestling. For a while there it was presented as entirely true to the point wrestlers were required to be in character whenever in public. That shroud slowly erroded to the point where today it takes years of commitment for a character to stick. And those years can all be wasted by one wrong thing on the internet.


> that were really just kayfabe TIL 'kayfabe' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kayfabe




Nothing before that made you wonder if it was fake?


I remember that too! We went over to a friend of my dad's who had a box that got free pay per view. As an adult I can certainly see how hokey it all was, but as a 10 year old it was perfect.


I feel like five year-olds have always been pretty gullible.


Gullible? Nahhh. I remember when I was 5, my uncle tried to steal my nose. But even at that age, I knew I couldn’t let him get away with it so I fought tooth and nail to get it back. Imagine if I hadn’t, I would have so much problems breathing right now.


I photoshopped Olaf and Elsa's ice palace into a picture of my four-year-old daughter wearing an Elsa dress. She's fully convinced that she took a picture with Olaf and just can't remember doing it.


I remember looking behind the shower curtains before I peed after every show in the late 90s to make sure Undertaker wasn't hiding behind them.


Right there with you brother. Wrastling is pure magic when you are a tiny child and can still believe it's real. I still love it today but I'll never b é terrified and enthralling at the Undertaker like I was back then.


My brother used to be in the bodybuilding world for a bit as a fitness model and would tell me stories of how the hotels where the events were held had that bronzing oil (not sure what its called) on everything from the bodybuilders touching and bumping into stuff. Kind of like this https://i.redd.it/uo8b5gbt7pk61.png


one thing I would find very interesting, WHAT IF some wrestler was written to lose in a championship fight, and just said fuck it and after doing the full show and all the moves, just pinned the opponent and had to win. It'd be super awkward because the ref would know he's off script, but if you pin the opponent for like 5 minutes, the ref is gonna have to call the win for the other guy. These wrestlers are great athletes and great entertainers, but damn it'd be hilarious if someone went roque.


I mean, if someone wanted to make sure they'd never work again, that'd be the fastest way to guarantee it. WWE can be pretty cutthroat, people have been blacklisted for far less. The Montreal Screwjob that the commenter above mentioned worked because everyone was in on it *except* Bret Hart. Of course, it wouldn't even matter much at the end of the day - if the ref realized that a wrestler had gone rogue and really had to, he'd likely just call a disqualification for "some illegal move that happened 5 minutes ago" and award the win to the expected champion. I doubt that the rogue player would even get the "glory" of the championship belt, and force WWE to go along with it for a few minutes - it'd just be a weirdly anticlimactic way to end a career.


Yeah it’d be like being a back line singer at a Broadway show and just running out in front and taking a solo. You’ll get attention sure but no one would ever work with you again


> a back line singer at a Broadway show and just running out in front and taking a solo. Hence the term "upstaging" when one actor in a play goes upstage (~~closer to~~ further from the crowd) so the lead has to look away from the audience and the other can get the spotlight.


Niggling point: upstage is *away* from the crowd. But yes, it does force the leads to look backwards, weakening their voices and taking their faces away from the audience's attention.


You were the first to post the correction so you get my upvote. I'm not sure the motivation of the 7 others that felt the need to make the same comment after you and after I corrected my comment.


Up stage is further from the audience. If I upstage you, that means I stand further from the audience than you do so you have to return your back to them to look at me.


I think everything you said is right except that the person upstaging the other actor actually moves further from the audience.


Upstage is the rear of the stage, furthest from the crowd. The version of “upstage” described above you is derived from the version you describe.


The one i can really think of was the guy that was on Tough Enough and got Angle in a kimura. Angle rolled him over, got a quick count, and the dude was put in like a battle royal match with all the enforcers where he was just crucified.


Daniel Puder. He was on the show seeking a WWF contract, but had a legit MMA background. [He managed to get a kimura on Angle](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_12qn29WKA) and was in good position to finish the fight (think tap or break) when the ref counted a quick 3 count, saying Puder's shoulder's were down, ending the 'match'.


It also worked because back then there was still major competition between the companies and WCW or ECW would be glad to have someone famous from WWF regardless of why they left.


I remember one guy who did that. I think it was Daniel Puder vs Kurt Angle in a scripted shoot fight. Angle was scripted to win but the other guy tried to choke him out for real. Angle somehow got him in a pin and the referee did a fast count to get it over with.


Not a choke, but a kimura. He had a good shot at finishing that fight had the ref not made a quick count.


There are also shoot matches, which are very rare, where a wrestler or both get so pissed off during the match that to one degree or another just turns into an actual fight.


What are some of examples of this I can look up on youtube?


Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar legit tagged each other after Braun got too carried away. Brock legit punched him for real - https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_DdTje0VzVw


Looks like they went back to the script after that. Are there any matches that devolved into just pure unscripted fisticuffs?


https://funnyjunk.com/Bill+burr+talks+about+the+great+antonio/nTwYMaG/ Here's bill Burr talking about this cluster fuck of a match, it's great


> Are there any matches that devolved into just pure unscripted fisticuffs? "Funny enough" there was [one that did just that a couple weeks back](https://youtu.be/bAvkx3xhaxU?t=35)! Nia Jax is known for being a little reckless in the ring but has a spot because she's related to the Rock. A botched throw ticked off Charlotte and well, the video shows how it went. There's also the infamous [Antonio Inoki vs The Great Antonio](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAs-42epY7w) fight


During a WWF tour of Japan in 1991, Koji Kitao stopped cooperating in a match against the 400 lb Earthquake. [https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RH7vlapbx2g](https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RH7vlapbx2g)


So what I hear you telling me is that Wrestling IS real


>"some illegal move that happened 5 minutes ago" In the WWE, refs are told to call it straight if a wrestler messes up. So if you are supposed to kick out and you don't, he's ringing the bell and the other guy is the champion. The wrestler will have hell to pay backstage, both from management and the other guys, but the ref goes by what happens in the ring.


If somehow it did happen the next weeks show will open with a small announcements saying Big Larry died mysteriously and his final words were "give Tornado Ralph the Belt" then continue as normal.


I was under the impression the refs know the outcome prior to the match. They know who is supposed to win and the move that signals for the 3 count. Sometimes a match may be improvised if the crowd is really into it and wrestlers feed off of the engery. So there is a word/signal for the when the ref does the full three. They also have safe words so the ref knows when something is really wrong. Back in the day if a wrestler landed their signature move it meant it was pretty much over, do the emphatic three count. But it became increasingly common for wrestlers to be able to recover at the last second. I am talking about when the refs hand is inches from hitting the mat on third count. That sort of stuff cant be left up for ref to make a split second decision. Refs in sports make mistakes all time. In a scripted spectacle, the person in charge of "deciding" the winner needs to know in advance. The ref needs to know who is supposed to win for story purposes but also for safety purposes. Some of the more important storylines can be planned out months in advance to set up the main event for the marquee ppv telecasts.


Back in the day, kayfabe was king. Keeping up the appearance of legitimacy was considered to be the very business itself. A referee would count 3 if a wrestler went into business for themselves, but that wrestler was likely to get the snot beaten out of them once they got back to the dressing room. Keep in mind that going into business on their own would mean actually overpowering their opponent. Going off script without the cooperation of the other guy in an even that requires participation of your opponent to do 90% of things isn't exactly easy.


Hulk Hogan got his leg broke because of some backstage shit when he was starting out.


Hulk Hogan got his leg broke in the first day of training to see if he wa tough enough and he really wanted to wrestle it was fucked up back in the day.


They do but WWE refs are instructed to officiate as if it's real. There have been multiple instances where a wrestler isn't in the right spot or mistimes the kickout and the ref is forced to count to 3 and the wrong person wins.


Or the actual accident with Batista and Cena (I think) going over the top rope in a royal rumble at the same time, and them having to figure out what to do with a pissed off, double quad torn Vince screaming at them from the corner.


That's one of my "favorite" wrestling moments. For context, the match went wrong like u/vorschact said, and the head of the company (think the Bill Gates of the WWE) storms down to the ring, climbs in, goes to stand up, and - if memory serves - rips both quadriceps off his knees as he stands up.


It happened just last week, it seems to come up once every year or so. Someone just doesn't get up in time, or is hurt and doesn't recover in time, so the ref just has to end the match because it would look really stupid if he just didn't count to 3 when the guy's shoulders are on the mat. Better to end the match the wrong way than to expose it being fake.


What happened last week? I don't watch wwe anymore.


> WHAT IF some wrestler was written to lose in a championship fight, and just said fuck it and after doing the full show and all the moves, just pinned the opponent and had to win. It's already happened. The most famous occurrence is The Montreal Screwjob. Long story short, Bret Hart was WWE Champ and the face of the company, and he was gonna move to WCW. Shawn Michaels was the #2 Guy at that time and Vince wanted Shawn to get the belt after Bret. Problem is that there was an instance before that the WWE Women's Champ signed with WCW, appeared on WCW TV **while** she was WWE champ, and threw the WWE belt in the trash, basically devaluing it. Vince and the WWE couldn't afford that happening to the men's belt. Based on what people have said and wrote, the plan was for Bret to "lose" the belt to Shawn, but he didn't want to do it in Canada, where Bret's from. He also personally hated Shawn's guts. He wanted to do it in another show. They all initially agreed to it. Problem is that Vince changed it up at the last minute, recruiting Shawn and the referee for that match. During the match, Shawn put Bret in the Sharpshooter (Bret's signature move). Bret wasn't tapping out (surrendering), so Vince had the ref ring the bell to end the match and give the title to Shawn. Bret spit on Vince while in the ring and punched him backstage. The personal relationship between all parties was icy for years until Bret and Vince made up. [Here's a good article about it](https://www.ewrestlingnews.com/articles/dark-side-of-the-ring-review-the-montreal-screwjob), but Dark Side of the Ring did a great documentary about it. Now the question is whether how much of a scripted act that whole bit is. I believe it's still being debated to this day.




Yeah I had to read the outcome 3 times thinking I had the names mixed up. Shawn winning was the scripted outcome so its not at all the situation that the other post was talking about.


Shawn wasn't supposed to win the Montreal Screwjob. It was supposed to be a screwy finish with a run ins and then Bret would lose to Shawn at a different show.


So it's pretty much a soap opera?


Correct but the injuries are quite real.


Wrestling is commonly called "Soap Opera for Men", so yes indeed


Yes. A soap opera with movie-style fight scenes, except the fights are performed live (and typically are not rehearsed much, the wrestlers make up most of it as they go along until they get to the ending they agreed upon prior to the match)


With muscles


It's more Broadway because it's in front of a live audience. Promos instead of songs and Hollywood stunt man level fight scenes instead of dance numbers.


This actually happened before. This guy from an MMA background, Daniel Puder, got Kurt Angle pretty deep in a kimura lock, very close to breaking his wrist, and the ref probably had the fastest three count ever to give Kurt the win and Kurt was talking mad shit to him right after. Pretty sure he got fired almost immediately


He actually ended up winning Tough Enough, the competition he was in to find the next star, after that. But his actions during the Kurt Angle fight did not do him a lot of favors with the veterans in the back. He stuck around for a little bit but his career was basically dead at that moment.


Puder’s payback was to be fourth in the Royal Rumble. It is genuinely uncomfortable to watch what they did to him, and who did it to him.




jfc, just roll out of the ring dude...


Steve-O made an appearence in WWE and the wreslter he was against was supposed to do his special move and pin steve-O for the win. Well steve-O got up, which he said was a really disrespectful thing to do in wrestling. The wrestler then proceeded to actually hit him and concussed steve-O so bad they cut to commercial. I believe this was from an interview on hotones if you care to watch.


Small anecdote - I remember seeing an interview with Hulk Hogan, when he was describing his legendary match again Andre The Giant. In the interview Hulk said something along the lines of: "Vince told us I was supposed to body slam Andre and pin him. But Andre never explicitly agreed. He just left the meeting and silently went about his day. Going into the match I still did not know if he was going to let me slam him and pin him. And there was no way I could beat him if he wasn't going to let me. Luckily as the match was getting ready to end, Andre whispered in my ear "Slam"...and god was I relieved."


Hogan is the biggest liar in the history of wrestling and anything he says is for entertainment purposes only. The man once claimed Elvis was a fan of his... Elvis was dead by the time Hogan was a pro wrestler.


referees are instructed to count to 3 on a pin, and it’s the performers jobs to “kick out” or break the pin beforehand. there have been some notable incidents, such as the Montreal Screwjoh, thay have already been mentioned here, but interestingly sometimes due to an inadvertent (legit) injury that knocks an opponent out, and they miss their cue to kick out but bc the ref is instructed to count to 3, the match ends with an incorrect winner. here’s an example: https://youtu.be/u6RHovH4eHs (start at 2:00)


The wrestlers in the WWE have a philosophy about staying in character at all costs. It’s called “kayfabe.” Like, if a wrestler got “injured” during a fight and ended up limping away, he’d keep limping the rest of the night. Even when he’s backstage, going to the can, or otherwise out of sight. I remember hearing a story about a fight in the late 90s/early 00s where Mankind took a few chairs to the face (as one does) and he was like bleeding all down his face and shit. The refs were worried about a concussion and signalling him to tap out, but he refused to do it because it wasn’t in the script. Point being, these guys take this thing pretty seriously, so I doubt one of them would go off book so casually. However, if it DID happen, I expect it would go something like this: 1. lots of close huddles with the opponent or arguments with the ref while everyone tries to figure out what he’s doing without being overheard by the crowd. 2. Refs trying to call the fight in the favour of the guy who should win at any opportunity. 3. Eventually, if he could keep it going, they’d probably let him win just to end the fight and get on with the rest of the show. 4. That guy would be stripped of his title off screen and fired SO FAST. Some kind of excuse would be made to explain his sudden departure from the show, and upcoming fights would be rewritten to use someone else instead.


If I'm not mistaken, it's actually happened several times. Pretty much random what will happen. Ref could count it and award the victory or stop the count and play dumb. I saw a video a while ago talking about a ref having to count the three due to missed cues, in a title match. They end up just writing it into the script for the next show. I think the person that accidentally won ended up losing it next show.


I can't remember anyone winning a title by accident, but I somehow feel sure that it's happened before. I remember Kaitlyn winning a battle royal with a women's title match on the line, the crowd cheered for her and Vince just said "screw it, she's the top contender now, just go with it" and she ended up winning the title, all because her opponent in the first match fell out of the ring by mistake. I'm looking up accidental title changes now... Never heard of this one, but Mabel (aka Viscera) fell on top of one of the Quebecers in a tag title match, accidentally winning the title. They won it back in a rematch. Mickie James won the women's title in an untelevised match when the opponent forgot to kick out of a pin, and they just had a rematch later the night to switch it back. Razor Ramon won the intercontinental title from Jeff Jarrett in an untelevised ladder match where Jeff forgot to knock Razor off the ladder, so he grabbed the belt and ended the match rather than stand there doing nothing. Again they switched it back at the next show. Hardcore Holly won the hardcore title at Wrestlemania due to mistimed interference. It didn't matter since that belt changed hands at almost every show anyway. In the only widely seen example on this list, [Kevin Owens rolled up AJ Styles](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYYGSEDvBHA#t=17m40s) and won the US title. Hard to tell what was supposed to happen there, it actually looks like an intentional scripted finish to the match, but it was later confirmed something went wrong. Gene Kiniski was defending the NWA title in 1969, and by rule the title was only defended in 2 out of 3 falls matches. One time they had a stipulation where the match would be decided by only one pinfall, and Kiniski forgot this and tapped out to a submission move and was shocked to realize he lost the title. Dory Funk was the new champ and held onto it for almost 4 years. Edge won the intercontinental title at an untelevised show, and Edge still doesn't know the full story. He was a last minute replacement for someone who got injured, and it was supposed to be a non-title match. Jeff Jarrett didn't kick out of a pin and the ref counted 3, and somehow they decided Edge was the champion even though it was never supposed to be a title match. The next night, Jarrett beat Edge to regain it. One more that was the ref's fault - [R-Truth won the US title from Shinsuke Nakamura when the ref counted 3 by mistake.](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTcCQOWFsok)


The I quit match. The Rock vs Mankind. It was so brutal that Foley's Wife and kids had to leave because Foley got destroyed due to the chairshots while handcuffed. Foley ended up in the hospital. The Attitude Era was something else. For those who dont know what you are talking about... [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVRiPCgVuto](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVRiPCgVuto) \-not mine and not my watermark but it is the whole match.


I saw this happen once. A friend/co-worker of mine was a professional wrestler years ago. Really low-league, local stuff. A bunch of us went to see one of his matches and we were really cheering him on. I guess not a lot of people came to see him. He was more like the Washington Generals. Was expected to put up a fight but lose to the more popular opponent. He got so excited at us cheering him on so hard that he flipped the script and pinned the current “People’s Champion” and won the match/belt. We only found out that he went off script when we met up later and he told us. He said his opponent and the ref was PISSED. He was also worried his agent would drop him. I don’t remember if there were any ramifications for him.


considering that type of move would majorly mess up the promotion's plans, this would likely be the fastest way to ensure you would never work for them again for the foreseeable future. more likely the ref or the opponent would shut that down fast tho either by breaking off the pin(if the rouge wrestler does anythnig ot the ref then they cant avoid a DQ finish) or forcing a finish


it HAS happened (maybe not officially acknowledged as such) [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hMp65SzyTU](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hMp65SzyTU) Mick Foley has been SERIOUSLY injured more times than basically anyone else ​ then of course there is the more 'humorous' example of Jeff Hardy being visibly drugged up and the entire 'fight' was mere seconds as the ref clearly just did the countdown despite a clear effort by Hardy to keep it going https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uTCHS8KHdE


The time I can think of that this happened was when WWE tried to become UFC. They had a big boxing tournament called Brawl For All where all of the wrestlers dropped character, and nothing was scripted. You finally got to see if they were as tough as they claimed. Well, not scripted, but certain people were encouraged to loose. Around this time there was a tag team called The Smoking Guns. Two cowboys who wrestled in wranglers and cowboy boots, Billy and Bart Gunn (yes, THAT Billy Gunn). Bart was supposed to loose in the first round, but ended up winning the whole thing. The whole event was supposed to serve 2 purposes, 1)humiliate John Bradshaw Layfield, who would tell anyone who would listen how tough he was, and 2) put over Dr Death Steve Williams, who was supposed to win. Unfortunately, he lost to Bart Gunn in the second round. In this era, tag team wrestlers rarely ever won against singles wrestlers, and made everyone who booked look like an idiot. As reward for his genuine athletic prowess, at the next PPV, Bart Gunn was booked against professional boxer Butterbean, and was knocked out in 35 seconds, then immediately fired.


Along with the montreal screwjob there was the time batista and john cena fell out of the ring at the same time during the royal rumble. (Ring out = elimination in this type of match) CEO VINCENT KENNEDY MCMAHON did his strut down to the ring acting angry at the decision (tbh might have been real anger). Then made the fighters do-over so Batista would win. Fun fact: Vince rekt his legs real bad getting into the ring so all of his angry ranting was done whilst he sat on the ground.


IIRC he tore both quads sliding into the ring and it had to have been genuine anger lol What I always loved about this moment is that it was likely an accident, but because they had two types of referees out there (Smackdown+Raw) and both were on the respective “side” of their competitors (Cena+Batista), it really made it looked planned and made for a great moment! https://youtu.be/LcQgfg3g2AA




So the story goes slamming his legs into the ring and standing up he blew out one of his quads and WALKING ON A TORN QUAD backstage after restarting the match he blew out his other quad. The man is a lunatic


He has a bit of an iconic walk in WWE, I cant remember if he did that before the injury or not


Iirc he tore one quad on the hit and the other one trying to stand up.


This has happened several times. Sometimes the referee makes a mistake and counts 3 when they are not supposed to and sometimes they don’t count it when they are. Sometimes a wrestler decides to stop cooperating and either it turns into a real fight or the match stops early. Inoki vs the Great Antonio is notorious example where Antonio stopped cooperating and inoki beat the crap out of him. There was even a pay per view main event where one wrestler was too high to wrestle and the other wrestler just held him down and pinned him for real. Back in the day many promotions had really good fighters as champions so no one was tempted to try and take the title.


It depends on the politics of the situation. Several people have mentioned the Montreal Screwjob. I remember an interview with Hulk Hogan, he said Andre the giant may have known he would pass shortly after their match. Apparently he was known for ignoring the booking if he felt like it, booking is who wins the match, Andre let Hogan take the belt.


Yeah, there are a lot of stories about how people were legitimately worried about whether Andre would do the job, because if he didn’t want to, you sure as heck couldn’t make him.


This is, of course, Hogan lying through his teeth. Andre kept working right up until December 1992, more than five years after the Wrestlemania match with Hogan. Andre was known for being pretty relaxed about doing jobs (especially compared to other special attraction monsters like Brody or Studd) and I can only think of two incidents in which Andre went off script - neither of which he initiated.


You need to keep in mind that by the time anyone is getting a championship fight in WWE they've probably been wrestling for like 10 years and been in WWE for at least half that for even a less prestigious belt. WWE is ruthless and cutthroat and by the time they get that far they've probably seen a dozen guys get their careers absolutley ruined just because Vince McMahon was having a bad day.


This probably would not end well for a couple of reasons. For one, there are announcers, refs, and of course the other wrestlers in the ring who would attempt to stop this. All the other guy would have do is get you into something that resembled a pinning position and have the ref make the three count. Or someone could call an audible and get a DQ run in from the back. And then successful or not your consequences might well include being blackballed from the industry and getting the \*\*\*\* beaten out of you for real when you went backstage. I'm sure there would be legal consequences as well. There's a few better examples of this then the Montreal Screwjob. (This story was told on Bill Burr's podcast, you might be able to find it on Youtube). Antonio Inoki vs. Great Antonio There's this guy in Japanese wrestling, Antonio Inoki, one of the biggest starts of the 1980s, not exactly a legitimate martial artist but he always showing an interest in the field. He is facing this Montreal strongman going by the name Great Antonio, not much wrestling background. Inoki is trying to do his wrestling moves in a professional way that doesn't hurt Great Antonio. Great Antonio keeps brushing these moves off and mocking Inoki, (this wasn't the plan). in response, Inoki starts hitting him for real. Great Antonio drops like a sack of potatoes, the ref immediate calls for the bell and the ring is flooded with staff. Another good example is Daniel Puder. Puder, who had MMA background was a contestant on a WWE reality show called "Tough Enough," basically billed as a reality show with the winner becoming a WWE wrestler. One of the competitions involved a chance to grapple with Olympic gold mentalist and one of the WWE's top stars, Kurt Angle. Well Puder took this opportunity to attempt to lock in an actual Kimura lock on Angle. Angle wrestles him into something vaguely resembling a pinning predicament and the ref counts to 3, even though Puder's shoulders clearly weren't on the mat. Puder would actually win the competition and essentially made one appearance after that in WWE. When he entered into the Royal Rumble and get the \*\*\*\* slapped out of him by some of the toughest guys on the roster.


>WHAT IF some wrestler was written to lose in a championship fight, and just said fuck it and after doing the full show and all the moves, just pinned the opponent and had to win. That was an issue that promoters had to always be concerned about in the old days of wrestling when there were a series of regional wrestling promotions around the country. To protect against that, the promoter would either put the belt on a legitimate tough guy that an opponent would not be able to go off-script and overpower, or if the champion wasn't a legit tough guy, the promoter would have an enforcer on the payroll who would be able to beat up anybody who might try to go off script to get a championship for personal leverage. Back when the wrestling business was portraying itself as being real (the kayfabe era), all the people who were aware how the business really worked did everything they could to protect the business and not let off that matches were pre-determined. So if an opponent was going off script, the ref and the champ could do things to make sure the opponent didn't keep the belt like make the opponent the winner by disqualification or a count out which the belt does not change hands. That lets the match end without the usurper getting the title while having an ending the audience would believe was real.


You're talking about "New Jack". He has, on multiple occasions, decided to really fight his opponent and even attempted murder in the middle of matches.


My memory is hazy but wasnt New Jack the wrestler that messed up that kid who wasnt even supposed be wrestling really bad?


Yep. Mass Transit Incident.


Check out Bill Burr calling an old Antonio Inoki match that went off script. There’s a few such events out there to see.


That guy is named Bret Hart.


To directly answer the "wrestler goes rogue" scenario: The referees know what is supposed to happen but also are supposed to do the counts as if it was supposed to happen. So if the written winner doesn't kick out, then the referee is supposed to play it off as if it was supposed to come out that way. It has happened more times than you can imagine.


Sorta related - back in the old days, Ric Flair was NWA champ. I think his record is 17 times as world champ across all promotions. ANYWAY, in the 70s and 80s, he’d go down to Puerto Rico for title matches with Carlos Colon who was a legend down there. He knew that he couldn’t beat Carlos there and get out alive so they would have Carlos won the match and title there and lose it the next night where ever they happened to perform. If he counted all those, his number of title reigns would be much higher.


That would end up with that dude being fired for non-compliance. Wouldn't be able to trust his/her and I've no doubt contracts are very tightly written.


Back in the day it was a problem. Wrestlers would just start shoot (read: actual) fighting, and you would have to put him down "the hard way". Often it lead to actual injuries.


I don’t know who it was, but I remember I saw on a show that there was a wrestler who was notorious for not taking falls like he was supposed to and acting like the other person wasn’t doing any damage. One time he did it and the other wrestler got pissed and actually beat the shit out of him


Yes, sometimes wrestlers "go into business for themselves". See Antonio Inoki vs. The Great Antonio. Antonio deserved of a beating for wrestling "stiff" and refusing to "sell" for Inoke, but probably not as bad as what he got. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAs-42epY7w


The moves are also accentuated to make them seem to hit a lot harder than they really are. Ever notice you never see someone just throwing a punch without also unnecessarily stomping the canvas? It makes a lot of noise which registers to people as "wow that was a powerful hit I heard it all the way up here in the nosebleeds." And of course the other guy makes a little scene about it like this 260lb 6'5" tank just landed a big whollop on them, this is the "sell." If anyone wants a bit of humor YouTube search for oversells.


Incidentally, that "canvas" is specially engineered to make a ton of noise. There's padding on the top, but under that are a couple layers of plywood that are separated by a slight amount of air or thin foam so they're able to slam together on an impact... and just below the ring are a bunch of microphones pointed right at it, with the sound provided both to the broadcast and played in the arena.


Also for the record he's saying padding but like, it's really not. We're talking a inch thick. It's not straight plywood falls but it may as well be, that pad doesn't do a ton


Yeah never been in a wrestling ring myself but watched videos of ppl who step into one for the first time and they always say they're surprised that the ring mat is super hard. We all think it's springy and bouncy, but it's pretty hard and solid. Which makes sense, you wouldn't want the thing to be like a spring mattress while you're trying to do moves in there, you'd tire out, it wouldn't look right, hard to lift people, etc. But also means that when they're hitting the mat, sure there's some give, I mean it's not like landing on a solid floor, but it's not some soft feather pillow either.


It was described to me as a "Soap Opera for a Men". Totally scripted, but requiring significant skill and athleticism. What a show!


A more modern example might be "Redneck anime." Buff combatants with muscles on top of muscles, long drawn out speeches, powering up, theme entrance music, people flying in the air, last minute run ins by other wrestlers/characters to save the good guy/help the bad guy, big special elaborate moves that finish the fight. The Stone Cold Stunner may as well be a Kamehameha.


>greatest promos in wrestling history," this one will no doubt pop up. Really thought it'd be "hard times", "cream of the crop" or cm punk's "pipe bomb"


Kayfabe bro!!


This is a pretty good description. I'd add one more component. There are staff called "agents" who are almost always retired wrestlers, who act as middle men between the wresters and the "bookers" (the guys who have the ultimate say over what happens on the show, and ultimately determine who wins and looses the matches). ​ Sometimes the agents will either help the talent plan out match, other times they will partially tell the wrestlers what to do, either because they are better at planning out the match then the wrestlers or they are fulfilling the vision of the booker.


Neither of your links were “Hard Times” 😡


no hard times, no pipe bomb, what is this




why don't you say "what" if you like to fuck your own sister


That escalated quickly, I was just being Austin :(


Paul on ITR about that promo is I think my favourite wrestling video ever. Was going to link it but you did and I hope everyone watches it.


Man I was gonna say what about CM Punk's, but the longer I watched, the more I understood. Vince made himself a necessary evil in this and it's well done.


Just to add, the current thinking is that WWE is almost exactly what old gladiatorial bouts were like. Semi-scripted but still fairly violent fights. In fact the old gladiators were famously a bit fat, because you can get fairly dramatic bloody wounds on your fat layer but they heal much more quickly and with less risk of permanent harm than if someone cuts your muscle. Regardless of how accurate the idea of comparing it to wwe is it's pretty settled that gladiators, were not killed or seriously wounded in bouts. We know that their patrons would spend A LOT of money on them and that they were very sought after for fathering children, so the idea of them seriously risking their lives is manufactured. Not to say that other people weren't.


Goddam that Taz bury lmao


Im not a wrasslin fan but anyone who says it isn’t dangerous should watch the undertaker throw mankind off the top of the cage lol


Basically, it’s like a semi-improv stunt show


Where is u/shittymorph when you need him?!


This is the best response.


This is the best response to the response. It's like a super-upvote.


Kinda necessary given the number of people being aggressively incorrect in this thread. A golden up for this comment.


NFL probably uses the same business model.


I feel UFC takes a page out of the WWE playbook with every goddamn weigh-in "almost coming to blows." You know nothing will go down till the fight, even if they hate eachother. Ruins the payoff.


I mean I've seen a few punches and shoves thrown. Dc/Jones , 3 piece and soda, the pusher who hurt the other guys neck, Connor/Khabib. Just in 30 seconds I'd say not the same


What about the gobbledy gooker


The less said, the better.


I always think of it as realtime stunt action, kinda similar to what you describe as a fight scene in a movie.


I worked medical standby for the crowd at a WWE event at an arena. We rolled all of our gear inside on a stretcher, and a kid in the stands asked us if someone was gonna use it to hit someone. After a particularly brutal-appearing match, I walked through the "back stage" area to take a break outside; the 2 wrestlers that just finished beating the crap or of each other, were now having an intense philosophical debate, but being the best of friends. There was a table set up for them in the back just chock-full of pain meds from Advil/ Tylenol up through some powerful Rx stuff, and various supplies to ease aches and pains.


Wasn't there a bit of an issue with opioids in the wrestling scene? Seems like having them laying around was a bad idea. Who'da'thunk?


That’s what stuck out to me, they had that stuff just laying around ?


I didn't examine them up close, I can't say for sure what was what. Just basically a giant tackle box full of various pills, and some advil and Tylenol bottles out front.


TBF, they could have just as easily gotten it from a doctor, but "enabling" seems almost too light of a descriptor here. Lol.


Toooooo be faaaaaaiiiirr!


To be faaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiirrrrrrrr.


Yea, Chris Benoit was fucked up on pain killers and steroids when he killed his kid, his wife, and himself. He also had CTE


The pain killers and steroids didn't cause him to murder his family. The CTE contributed, but ultimately he made the decision to do it. The painkillers had nothing to do with it.


Crazy thought, but I don’t think a cocktail of opioids and steroids is good for a person in an already deteriorated mental condition.


What year was this?


I dunno, 2005ish?


Entire storylines, including promotions (dialogues and monologues) and match endings, are scripted well in advance. Sometimes decisions will be made on short notice, but there is usually a long-term plan that motivates the decision. As far as the individual matches, those may or may not be entirely choreographed. Particularly talented wrestlers, especially ones that have a good history of working together, can improvise an entire match. Most matches are a combination of improv and "spots", which are particular events that were planned in advance. When Randy Orton does one of his hallmark counters of a signature move into his own RKO, it's a probably a spot, not something that just spontaneously happens (although it could be since wrestlers will communicate during the match). As WWE goes, its creative team and especially Vince McMahon himself are notorious for controlling every little detail every step of the way. In fact, at any given taped show, McMahon is almost certainly sitting in gorilla (the backstage area just behind the curtains that wrestlers enter from) and coordinating with the referee, ring announcers, and other stage helpers.


> Entire storylines, including promotions (dialogues and monologues) and match endings, are scripted well in advance. Sometimes decisions will be made on short notice, but there is usually a long-term plan that motivates the decision. Tell me you stopped watching Monday Night Raw without telling me you stopped watching Monday Night Raw.


ELI get the concept but am unfamiliar with the arc you're both clearly referencing?


Pro wrestling works best with long term storyline planning (similar to what marvel does.) Monday night raw often feels like a homework assignment thrown together in the hall four minutes before class begins.


Afaik, RAW has no real plot right now. AEW is where all of the action is, so WWE is scrambling.


WWE works a little differently compared to other promotions where all decisions must be approved from Vince McMahon and can be changed several times including during the match. You have bookers and writers. They are in charge of scripts and choreography. Vince will come in and say, I want these people to say X, do Y, and we'll set a match during Z hour of the show. We'll call this script version 1. The performers get their scripts day of the show with revisions as the day progresses. They can practice the match before hand, but being that they work several times in the past and use house shows as practice, they'll often times call spots on the fly. Back to production, the agents work with the production team. They know the choreography of the match and tell the production staff what moves will happen when, cut to which camera and time certain edits. At this time, you'll have the announcers. They have a direct line to Vince in their ear while he directs them on what to say to the TV audience, as well as Vince having a direct line to the referee who is there to help coordinate the match as well. Now, during the start of the day, let's day Vince wants a match between Roman reigns and Goldberg for the title. Script version one might call for Roman to retain, and can change several times until the wrestlers are in guerrilla position (behind the curtain ready to debut) and may even change midmatch to change it to a Goldberg win via dq. As far as the performers go, depending on their position in the card, some performers have free reign in changing spots on the fly (John cena, Seth rollins, other upper card talent) where as lower tier talent must stick to the script or face discipline directly from Vince, which can be anything like being made to look weak, a bad gimmick or reduced air time or only being used on dark matches (nontelevised matches). Pay attention to a cena match and you'll hear him shouting cues, he's infamous for this. There can be other factors to an in the fly change like crowd reactions, injuries or viewership. There are tons of wrestling YouTube channels that go into further and more interesting details like wrestling with wregret, or watch some Jim Cornette interviews




The show GLOW on Netflix does a great job of describing exactly what you are looking for. Great show, even if you arent a wrestling fan. Netflix did them dirty ending it after S3.


Planned match outcomes but the wrestlers call audibles (improvise) during the matches. If you watch closely, you’ll see them talking to each other from time to time.


There have been many other times when a wrestler has gone rogue and refused to play out the planned outcome. If Bruiser Brody was pissed about how they were paying him, he might go out and refuse to "sell" any of his opponent's moves. So someone would dropkick him, and instead of rolling backwards like he'd been hit, he'd just stand there. Pretty fascinating, but bad for business (and yes, this is in his episode of Vice's Dark Side of the Ring). Or real beef could be addressed in the ring by someone not pulling their punches enough. They call that "working stiff", and it means the opponent gets hurt -- something that's dealt with pretty harshly, because these guys often perform 300+ nights a year and if someone's being intentionally rough they could jeopardize your income. Doesn't mean there aren't guys who've been known for it. For a good look at some of the fakery of pro wrestling, check out a series on YouTube currently called *Botchamania Again*. You'll get a lot of great clips where you can hear wrestlers coordinating moves and the ref reminding them of something, etc. Or you can see how they handle it when a big move goes wrong and looks visibly fake.


Shawn Michaels "refusing" to sell against Hulk Hogan at Summerslam 2005 comes to mind. To anyone unfamiliar with the story Hogan was supposed to lose to Michaels but Hogan refused to be in the match if he didn't win. Michaels took this personally and went ahead with the match but as a way of showing up Hogan he oversold the moves. What that means is he sold every move in a way no one would believe. For example when Hogan performed his leg drop Michaels flailed around half the ring like a fish. Unsurprisingly the WWE doesn't want to acknowledge this match existing since it was a battle of egos.


In addition to what's been said, the wrestlers are independent contractors, so the WWE doesn't need to provide and benefits and it limits their liability. John Oliver did a segment about their shady practices and relationship to Saudia Arabia https://youtu.be/m8UQ4O7UiDs


Other promotions, like the booming AEW, do provide better working conditions, including benefits like medical, to their contracted employees, instead of shitting on them like Vince does.


Health insurance for the EVPs Corrected: Other promotions(including, only and limited to) like the ~~booming~~ half the size audience of WWE RAW, running financially in the red, AEW, do provide~~better working conditions~~, including benefits like: Concussions, no health insurance, no safety precautions, neck injuries, broken teeth, stitches, unless you’re an EVP that ~~books yourself to win all the titles and be the focus points of every story~~ gets your health insurance paid for by Tony Khan, instead of wanking dogs like he does.


AEW managed to get CM Punk back, and Bryan Danielson


Fed bad


So I didn't understand it for a long time. It's all about showman ship. The whole thing is a show for entertainment and you can't take it too seriously. Wrestling is now it's own art form. I don't appreciate line some do, but once I learned the above, I do appreciate it as art.


Hey u/shittymorph care to explain?


Completely scripted and coordinated/choreographed. Some of the moves are impromptu but the two fighters are always in communication on who is taking the hit and who is throwing. Even the blood spilled is scripted. Just one of those moves would kill or seriously injure someone. Do not try at home kids.


> Completely scripted and coordinated/choreographed Not completely. Usually only the finish and important spots are scripted. Everything else is improvised.


It's pretty apparent you don't really know what you're talking about, so I wonder what compelled you to answer anyway


That’s not quite right. It’s not choreographed and is almost all improvised. Some of her blood is scripted. A lot of it is accidental.


Each move is practiced homie. Thats the point. It isn't real. Dont get lost in the details.


Words have meaning. They’re not choreographed and sometimes impromptu. They are almost always impromptu and impossible any other way. Your comment was a little misleading so I added the extra info for OP. No need to get upset about it.


Professional wrestling is not a sport. The results of matches are planned ahead of time based on what makes for a better story. Should the villain cheat to win? Should the hero triumph over a larger foe? The actual matches are planned out ahead of time, sometimes loosely with some improvisation during the match, but the ending is already set in stone, while some wrestlers prefer to rehearse it more fully and have every move figured out ahead of time. The referee might have to change things on the fly, such as if one wrestler gets injured, but in general, professional wrestling is about telling stories, not a genuine physical contest of skill.


Professional wrestling is *sports entertainment*. Such a clever way of implying that it's a sport while simultaneously saying it's not a sport.


That phrase actually comes from Vince McMahon using it as a legal barrier so he didn't have to provide medical benefits to his "independent contractor" wrestlers, which would have been required if he was acting as a sporting enterprise.


While not exactly competitive, I would still call it a sport. Yes, endings are predetermined, but for the most part it's up to the wrestlers go put on a show to get there. Those men and women are in mostly great shape and undergo serious training to get where they are, and basically have to adapt on the fly to get the best crowd reactions


It's athletic, but not a sport.


Acting is not a sport.


Probably why they call it sports *entertainment* then. It's meant to be entertainment under the guise of sporting, and does require an uncommon athleticism whether it's being beefy as fuck or nimble and high-flying to be accepted in the ring.


All Elite Wrestling is not sports entertainment company. WWE is.


By this argument, gymnastics and figure skating aren't sports either.


To be fair, in those events the outcome is unknown and who will win is unknown. Wrestling is athletics as part of a scripted performance.


>To be fair, in those events the outcome is unknown and who will win is unknown. Unless the judges are crooked.


Rhythmic gymnastics and free form figure skating aren’t, technically. Highly subjective judging. Very creative. Not a sport. They are, however, at least a *competition* where the participants aren’t colluding with each other for a predetermined outcome.


How is this any different from wrestlers competing against one another for heat? Sure, the performative 'winner' isn't competitive, but the meta-performance most certainly is.


> How is this any different from wrestlers competing against one another for heat? Sure, the performative 'winner' isn't competitive, but the meta-performance most certainly is. ...because at no point is the "competition" actually decided on the basis of athletic skill even in the slightest.


Completely scripted. The moves they use could literally maim or kill if it weren't choreographed. WWE is big business, and storytelling is a huge part of it.


It’s basically like politics. They get on stage and act like they hate each other. But they all go to the same bar after the show.


There was a short movie called *Exposed! Pro Wrestling's Greatest Secrets* from 1998 that you should check out. It covers this in pretty good detail.


Thespians, and a repetitive script. Bad guy, good guy, cathartic ending. Rinse and take more steroids.


It's entertainment, and parts are scripted. The endings, the drama, the dialogue, etc. It's more of improv than wrestling. However the moves they do are real and they train and rehearse those moves. The impacts are real but again they have training to minimize the impact while still trying to sell the performance. It can go wrong and they can get injured. Try faking a leap from a 12 foot ladder.