Five Best American Pro Wrestling Tropes


I see others, including my buddy Howie at Under Scoop Fire & the owner at my local comic book shop, going crazy-go-nuts talking rasslin’. It took me some time to write something about that goofy psuedosport. I present five tropes, with as little research on TV Tropes as humanly possible, that are fundamental to American professional wrestling. They’re listed in no particular order.

Also, I don’t watch wrestling full-time anymore, but I’m sure someone will use the comments box to shout examples to disprove the list and attempt to shame from ever using the Internet again.

Weak or Dumb Referees

With apologies to Mark Curtis and Danny Davis…

In order to create drama in a wrestling match, there needs to be a referee who isn’t sympathetic to the babyface. Also, he must be as fragile as those wooden chairs Kevin Sullivan likes to use. The ref may acknowledge the blind tags of the heel tag team, but won’t cut the face team any breaks.

Maybe if the ref does the customary ref bump then the second ref may be just as incompetent. Maybe he’ll have more authority. Fun ensues if both refs manage to do their own count while both wrestlers’ shoulders touch the mat. Instant controversial storyline!

One ridiculous example where a ref is already out, but another has to deal with Abyss. Video uploaded by dofficecfan:

No wrestling organization will staff an intelligent, buff ref. Nope, all the money goes to keeping the egotistical athletes happy.

Cue the Music!


Wrestlers MUST announce their entrance by having the sound-playing person start his or her theme music. Wrestlers MUST be shown to the audience that they won any conflict, even the slightest mudslinging debate, by being content/cocky as their music plays. Meanwhile, his or her opponent carries an angry expression.

It adds some artificiality to conflicts, but it’s probably the closest thing to an “applause sign” in the big arena. Fans, however, would be moved to vomit at hearing Marcus Bagwell & Scott Riggs’ theme.

Reverence to Inanimate Objects

C’mon! You’re tempted to point at it, too.

Point to the WrestleMania sign! Protect that expensive Jeritron 5000! The magical Hall of Fame ring! Don’t let anyone steal that urn! Some of the fun of wrestling is how much respect is given to the various props & signage. One great example is WrestleMania 23, where even the barber’s chair gets it own entrance for the Lashley/Trump vs. Umaga/McMahon match.

Championship belts and weapons are exempted. Belts may be glorified props, but the wrestlers holding them are supposed to be highly esteem.

Gratuitous Movements Add Power

Spot! Spot! Spot! Source: YouTube.

The-Rock-The-Peoples-Elbow-Wrestlemania-28One of the cool things that separate pro wrestling from other, inferior display of manliness (coughMMAcough) is that wrestlers will readily rotate or otherwise spice up mundane moves.

Why would someone twirl around with a corkscrew elbow or add a flip to a piledriver when the normal versions of the move do just as well? To advance the art and spectacle the wrestling, of course!

Speaking of elbows, there’s one demerit I’ll give the legendary Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: the People’s Elbow. That inspired many guys, including John Cena, to do a show before striking a downed opponent. Ugh!

Off-Match Beatdowns

A fundamental way to spark or advance feuds. As fans, it may get us excited about the combatants’ next encounter. Sports leagues hand out suspensions for such shenanigans. In the real world, it’s probably assault. Ah, wrestling. :)

A crash course on beatdowns, provided by the new World order to Ray Traylor (WWE’s Big Boss Man):

Honorable Mention: The Undertaker

One of my favorite Undertaker moments is when Stephanie McMahon commanded Kane to contact Taker. Given both Kane and Undertaker’s characters, it’s more fun to imagine them using psychic powers or other supernatural means to talk to each other then using boring phones.

Photo by Xander Hieken
Kane & Undertaker at Raw 1000. Photo by Xander Hieken
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Author: Clarence

Webmaster, editor, writer of Red-Headed Mule. RHM was founded in 2011. Currently is liking British TV better than U.S. TV, mayhaps.

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