A booker is a person who decides who will win a wrestling match, and thus has a lot of control over the storylines and the careers of individual wrestlers. Booking is done on a number of levels, according to a hierarchy. Typically, there is someone who controls the overall direction of the promotion (Vince McMahon in the case of the WWF and a rotating parade of underachievers in the case of WCW). Then there is a lower level of booking that decides the outcomes of the major matches in accordance with the wishes of the head booker, and the other bookers who control the outcomes of smaller matches.

Faces and heels

Wrestlers are mostly divided up into good guys and bad guys. The good guys are known as "faces," which is short for "babyface," while the bad guys are known as "heels." A given wrestler will often change from heel to face and back again a number of times during his career. When a face changes to a heel, it is called a "heel turn," and when the opposite happens it is a "face turn." Watching these changes of virtue take place is one of the most interesting and hilarious aspects of wrestling. The announcers are often divided up along heel and face lines, too, with one face announcer and one heel. If the heel announcer starts to say complimentary things about a face, there's a good chance that the wrestler will do a heel turn in the near future. Watching the events that set up this turn can be extremely amusing.

Not all wrestlers are faces or heels. Some wrestlers don't have enough of an identity to be either (see "jobbers" below), while some are just somehow caught in between. Appropriately enough, such wrestlers are called "tweeners." Some tweeners are legitimately not billed as either a face or a heel, and it's up to the audience to figure out how they feel about the wrestler. And some wrestlers get cast as heels, but the audience like them so much that they react to them like faces. That's not such a bad thing for the promotion and it can be great for the wrestler. However, if a wrestler is being cast as a face and the crowd reacts to him as a heel, it's usually bad for both the promotion and the wrestler. Most wrestling fans are pretty malleable, so if you can't convince them to like a guy, it means they really, really hate him.


Heat is the measure of how much excitement a given wrestler or match-up elicits from the crowd. The more heat, the better, as far as a wrestler is concerned. Heat is not reserved for faces alone. There is face heat, which is approval and cheering, and there is also heel heat, which is booing and dislike, coupled with a veiled approval for how good the wrestler is at being a heel. These are both fine, because they mean that the wrestlers are doing their jobs and getting a reaction out of the crowd that is appropriate to the kinds of characters they're portraying. Heel heat is altogether different from "bad heat," which is the negative reaction drawn by wrestlers the audience is just sick of seeing. For instance, people are just plain bored of "Hollywood" Hogan and his tired old shtick, and they boo him because they want him to stop appearing, not because they are going along with the evil character he's portraying.


Whenever a wrestler loses, it is called a "job." This applies whether it's a superstar or an unknown wrestler; every loss is a job. A wrestler who loses every time or almost every time becomes known as a "jobber." It is not a compliment to call a wrestler a jobber, although many jobbers are talented wrestlers. They just don't have the microphone skills, the looks, or the personality to become stars, so they serve to make the stars look good.

Kay Fabe

"Kay Fabe" is a term for the secret that wrestling is fake (note that this is also sometimes spelled "kayfabe"). Of course, this is not a secret to anyone older than four years of age, but the wrestlers and promoters still talk about it as if it were real. This is because they are keeping Kay Fabe, the myth around the wrestling business, alive. Keeping Kay Fabe also requires that the secrets of the business be kept from the public. To break Kay Fabe means to reveal the fact that the wrestling business is scripted and fake. You won't hear this term on a wrestling TV show, but you could hear it in a conversation with other wrestling fans or read it in a magazine or web site about wrestling.


For a wrestler to get "over" means for him to become popular. Wrestlers get over by drawing heat, by developing their characters, or by getting a "push" from a booker. "Over" can also refer to a move that is particularly popular with the crowd, probably because of its tendency to put the wrestler who performs it over. And finally, "over" can be used as a verb, to refer to the actions of a booker or the effect of a match that puts a wrestler over.


A "push" refers to action(s) taken by the bookers to put a wrestler over. This could mean giving him a series of wins, or it could mean simply putting him in matches with quality opponents. Anything that is calculated to make a wrestler more popular is a push. Of course, just because a wrestler is popular does not mean he has been pushed. Many wrestlers are chosen by the fans, and become popular despite not being pushed.


"Selling" refers to the acting a wrestler does to make it look as if the moves being performed are taking their toll. This means, of course, that the wrestler must flinch or wince when struck and move his body appropriately. It also means that the wrestler must begin to act more and more exhausted and woozy as he receives more punishment. Some wrestlers are very good at selling, while others seem completely fine until they are suddenly unconscious at the end of the match. So if you hear someone say, "He didn't sell that very well," you can nod and scrunch up your eyebrows like everybody else. But you'll actually know what it means.


It's appropriate that our alphabetical ordering of terms has left this one for last, because it is one of the most commonly used terms in wrestling. It means many things:

  • First, any wrestling match is called a "work," and the wrestlers involved are said to work the match. This means that the fight was choreographed and the outcome was predetermined. A real fight is called a "shoot": this is the sort of thing that Lennox Lewis does. You won't be seeing a shoot on pro wrestling programs.

  • "Work" also refers to the time a wrestler spends in a match performing moves and maneuvers rather than lying around on the mat or in a "resthold." A resthold is a headlock or other stationary wrestling hold that is lightly applied and allows the wrestler to rest. The active part of the match is the work, and the more action there is in a match, the better the "workrate" and the better "workers" the wrestlers involved are. You will often see this term in a forum in which wrestling is discussed.

  • Finally, a "work" can refer to any trick the promoters are playing on the audience. Any time they're pulling the wool over our eyes, they are "working" us. Now, this might sound like a rather generally applicable term in wrestling, given that it's all fake. However, they're pretty good at this game, and there are often events that look like they might be "real" which are actually works.
Now that you're a wrestling expert, find yourself a big-screen TV, some friends who like to shout and gesture, some beer, and enjoy the wrestling program of your choice. Don't be bashful about your newfound enthusiasm for wrestling; we like it, so you're in great company.

And now for a quick laugh, check out The 8 Most Insane Moments in Professional Wrestling at Cracked.com.