Like many other workplaces, the wrestling industry as a workplace is a culture of its own. Superstars, just like your own office or workplace, come from all walks of life. There’s a little more of the traveling circus/gypsy band mentality in wrestlers than there is in your office culture (unless you’re in a similar field that encourages a traveling rock band mentality).
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Whether or not some of these practices still take place, whether or not they should still take place is debatable. However, superstars who learn to navigate these traditions could make the difference between a great career or a fast career.
10 The wrestler’s handshake
Among some of today’s boys and many more in the past, the wrestler’s handshake was a multifaceted tradition. The wrestlers would shake hands with almost everyone in the locker room every night as a sign of respect.
In reality, when the Young Bucks failed to do this during one of their WWE tryouts, Booker T berated them. But the handshake is also a way for wrestlers to acknowledge each other that they will be safe in the ring, essentially a soft handshake that seems firm, a handshake that works.
9 Thanking your opponent
No matter who goes through in a match, all the superstars involved are working together to put together the best match possible. Tell the best story they could. Whether you’re rude or babyface, it’s an old custom for the guy to go thank his opponent for the match and do him the favors.
They usually thank their opponent while the referee makes all three count. It’s a moment where you can see Seth Rollins take on Roman Reigns as he pulls off the heist of the century at WrestleMania 31.
8 Veteran Gets Shotgun / Passengers Stay Awake
Just as villages and communities hold their elders in high esteem and reverence, many veterans of the ring are also held in high esteem. The way many children show that respect is through travel. Whenever a group of fighters pile into a car to ride through hell and creation to the next town, the front passenger seat is always designated for the veteran of that group.
The other important rule for traversing from city to city is that everyone in the car stay awake for the entire trip. That seems fair; Since the driver can’t go to sleep, neither can the passengers.
7 Keep tables clear
The backstage area in some old-school territory or at a current Indy show is filled with all sorts of superstars running around, but there are rarely any doctors. When the boys arrive, they all know to keep the backstage tables clean.
Keep them clear of all luggage, eg. The thought process is that if someone gets hurt during a match, there is already a flat table to carry them over and try to keep them comfortable until professional help arrives.
6 Don’t post merch until after your game / Heels Get A Cut
As we’re all now part of the wrestling era on social media, it’s increasingly easy to shop for merchandise from your favorite superstars, whether they’re a babyface or a badass. But during The Carnival and Territory Eras, fans flocked to the merch tables to buy T-shirts, posters, and autographs of their favorite babyfaces, because heels didn’t have merch back then.
The babyfaces would wait until after their matches to sell their merchandise, because then they would have earned the money from the fans. Those good guys would then give a cut of their merchandise money to their rude opponent for the night.
5 Sell to the next town
The idea of staying kayfabe used to mean the world to anyone in a wrestling locker room. Heels and Babyfaces were never seen together and even passed messages through the referees backstage instead of meeting to discuss their matches. They would even sell any injuries they sustained during a match to the next city.
So after a wrestler’s arm was worked on throughout the match, a wrestler could spend the next several hours with that arm dangling while checking into a hotel, getting gas, food, etc. All in case a fan sees it.
4 Don’t use other guys’ moves
Watch almost any wrestling show today, and you’ll soon learn that clearly this rule is hardly followed. Whereas core moves like The One-Winged Angel, Stunner, Paradigm Shift, Cross Rhodes, and other finishers are off limits to being used by other fighters on a card.
But the rest of the moves are usually fair game. Except for the larger places, like table places. Wrestlers aren’t supposed to use other guys’ moves.
3 Clean your boots before entering the ring/keep them dirty
One of the coolest superstars of all time was Razor Ramon and part of his entrance was delivered wiping his feet before stepping into the ring. That wasn’t just part of Scott Hall’s entry – look at a lot of superstars and you’ll see a lot of them do this practice. That way, you keep the mat as clean as possible to prevent infection for yourself and your fellow fighters.
On the contrary, those boots better have a fair amount of dirt on them, which shows that wrestlers work very hard in the ring. Cleaner boots mean you may not work as hard as your fellow stars.
2 Stay for the whole show
Just ask some of the best and the people who worked closest to them… From Triple H to Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, Stone Cold, The Rock and even Hulk Hogan.
If there’s one thing all these legends and more have in common, it’s that they stood somewhere in the arena and watched every game. Everyone paid attention to the unwritten rule that superstars must stay for the entire show.
1 win your fights
Considering (thankfully) superstars don’t get into much bar fights anymore, this rule is passé. But promoters like Bill Watts used to demand that if somehow a fighter finds himself in the middle of a fight with a fan, he better not only survive his fight, but he better win.
Victory would ensure they upheld their reputation and protected the business. If they didn’t win their fight?… They would be fired.