Beginner's Guide to Pro Wrestling

Wrestling 101

Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan is one of the most famous stars in professional wrestling history. Russell Turiak/Getty Images

The best way to approach pro wrestling is to look at it like a soap opera where people settle their differences by beating each other up. The basic premise is that two people don't like each other or they both want the same thing (usually a championship belt). In most instances, one of the wrestlers is a good guy and their opponent is a bad guy who cheats. There are 4 ways to win a regular match. They are by pinfall (hold your opponent's shoulders to the mat for a three count), submission (make your opponent quit), count out (stay outside of the ring for more than 10 seconds), or disqualification (break the rules of professional wrestling). It is important to note that a title cannot change hands on a count out or disqualification.

Watching Wrestling on TV

It is best to look at televised wrestling as being an infomercial for the monthly pay-per-view events. While you will enjoy the programming on TV, everything you see is supposed to lead up to the big battle at the pay-per-view event. Since the advent of the WWE Network, these events, which used to cost $60 a month, are now available as part of a $9.99 monthly subscription to their streaming platform.

What Am I Watching?

If the show you are watching has a ring that looks like a boxing ring (4-sided) you are watching WWE programming. This is the company that used to be known as the WWF, but they lost the use of the name to the World Wildlife Fund. WWE programming can be seen on the USA Network with a program named RAW. If the TV show you are watching has a ring with six sides, you are watching Total Nonstop Action on Pop TV. Their flagship program is named IMPACT WRESTLING and they are competitors of WWE. They claim to be an alternative to the WWE by emphasizing wrestling over entertainment. In addition to those shows, Ring of Honor Wrestling can be seen on Comet TV, New Japan Pro Wrestling can be seen on AXS, and Lucha Underground can be seen on El Rey.

How Much of This Is Real?

The outcomes of the matches are pre-determined and most of the moves are planned out ahead of time. The referee is in the ring as a prop for the match. The referee also serves as a communicator between the wrestlers in the ring and the people running the show behind the scenes. He communicates to the wrestlers if the people in charge want them to deviate from the planned finish and informs the wrestlers when they need to end the match. The moves performed in the ring are very dangerous and should not be attempted at home. The wrestlers train very hard to not injure themselves or their opponents but accidents occur frequently. Most wrestlers have suffered very severe injuries during their careers.

I Like What I'm Seeing but Don't Understand What's Going On

Don't be dismayed. Wrestling has its own language and things change very quickly in the wrestling world.