Wrestling 101: Wrestling in Mixed Martial Arts
What is Pro Wrestling?
Pro Wrestling is a sport where two or more wrestlers compete against each other using various weapons such as fists, feet, elbows, knees and headbutts. Each wrestler uses their own unique style of fighting which they use to defeat their opponent. Wrestlers are usually trained from early childhood and have been doing it since they were little kids.
The World Wrestling Federation (WWF) was founded in 1972 by Vince McMahon. The WWF is one of the most popular sports entertainment organizations worldwide with millions watching its events. There are many different types of wrestling, but they all share similar characteristics. They include:
1.) A match between two or more competitors; 2.) An action movie plot line; 3.) A martial arts film plot line; 4.) The theme song of the show/movie/book being performed; 5.
A combination of these elements.
In order to understand how wrestling works, we need to first define some terms. The following definitions will help us better understand the sport:
A) Wrestler – A person who competes in a professional wrestling match. Wrestlers are generally young men and women who train hard for years before competing in matches. Some wrestlers may not even make it through training camp!
B) Promoter – The person who owns or runs the pro wrestling organization.
C) Heel – A “bad guy” in wrestling terms; this is an insulting term for the person who isn’t liked by the crowd. For instance, if someone hits an opponent with a metal object and they get disqualified, the person who did the cheating would be considered the heel.
D) Face – A “good guy” in wrestling terms; this is a complimentary term for the person who is liked by the crowd. For instance, if one wrestler consistently fights against injustice, they would be considered a face.
E) Babyface – An in-ring term for a “Face”. This refers to a wrestler who is sympathetic or looks like they never do any wrong.
F) Heel – An in-ring term for a “Bad Guy” or “Heel”. This refers to a wrestler who is unsympathetic or looks like they never do any right.
G) Tweeners – Wrestlers who aren’t clearly defined as either good or bad in the ring. They generally act like “Anti-Heroes”.
H) Mark – A term for a wrestling fan, named after the “marks” (actual scars) that were put on audience members from tobacco spittle thrown into the crowd by carnival hustlers.
I) Work – A staged event or match; this term is used to describe an event that is not real.
J) Shoot – A term for an event or match that is real, or an actual shoot. This can also refer to a situation where a person reveals true feelings despite the consequences.
K) Work Rate – How effective someone is in the ring; some are good workers, while others are not.
L) Gimmick – The personality of the wrestler, or their in-ring character. This may include clothing, mannerisms, catch phrases and anything else a wrestler does to incite a reaction from the crowd.
M) Heat – The reaction that a wrestler gets from the crowd; positive is “Cheers”, negative is “Boo’s”.
N) Over – When a crowd reacts positively to a certain wrestler.
O) Push – A general term for an attempted increase in popularity.
P) Hot – When a wrestler is very popular and “Over” with the crowd.
Q) Sell – A term for when a person acts like they are hurt; this is used to make the opponent look stronger.
R) Pop – Getting a positive response from the crowd, or receiving cheers.
S) Heat – Getting a negative response from the crowd, or receiving boos.
These are some of the key terms you need to know in order to understand this guide. Now that we have those out of the way, let us begin.
Part 1: The History of Pro Wrestling
a) Ancient Forms of “Pro Wrestling”
The concept of “pro wrestling” has been around for centuries, long before anyone ever heard the term. Circuses and carnivals have long been hosts to physical competition, from fistfights to water-filled tub matches.
The 1800’s saw the rise of Greco-Roman and English Wrestling, popular sports among the upper class. From there, we begin our quest to understand the phenomenon that is pro wrestling.
b) The Arrival of “Pro Wrestlers”
The concept of “worked” fights became more popular in the 1800’s, with the birth of Boxing. The upper-class gentlemen who got their kicks from watching the less fortunate pummel each other in arenas soon got together with some enterprising young men and came up with “scientific” wrestling, which later became modern day Professional Wrestling.
The men who did the actual fighting were actually trained professionals, but for everyone else it was just a job. The “athletes” would do their thing in the ring, and a group of men behind the scenes would do the rest. The “Gorillas” as they were called would pick which fighter won, and make sure the fight went on uninterrupted by hitting offenders with chairs.
This is pretty much how things went until the early 1900’s; Circuses and wrestling matches were very popular at this time, till the rise of “Slam Bang Western” and other related sports caused a drop in ticket sales. This led to the collapse of most circuses and relegated Pro Wrestling to backwater mining towns and south-western cow towns.
The South-western style is what became modern day Pro Wrestling; the matches had very little rules and there were Bouts, which were actually fights where one person was declared the winner (this is opposed to the predetermined outcomes of modern day wrestling). At this time the Gorillas’ role had been taken over by the “Promoter” who not only picked the winner of the bout, but also made sure the fight went on uninterrupted. The first Pro Wrestling Matches of this style arose in Texas, Oregon and California. Many of the top wrestlers of this time came from Ireland and other parts of Europe; some notable names are listed below.
Sources & references used in this article:
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Association between hearing loss and cauliflower ear in wrestlers, a case control study employing hearing tests by P Noormohammadpour, M Rostami… – Asian journal of …, 2015 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Weight loss in mixed martial arts athletes by L Andreato, T Andreato… – … and Martial Arts, 2014 – researchgate.net
A novel technique for treating auricular hematomas in mixed martial artists (ultimate fighters) by S Roy, LP Smith – American journal of otolaryngology, 2010 – Elsevier
Towards a determination of the physiological characteristics distinguishing successful mixed martial arts athletes: a systematic review of combat sport literature by LP James, GG Haff, VG Kelly, EM Beckman – Sports Medicine, 2016 – Springer
Measuring the workload of mixed martial arts using accelerometry, time motion analysis and lactate by C Kirk, HT Hurst, S Atkins – International Journal of Performance …, 2015 – Taylor & Francis