wrestling / Columns

A Beginner’s Guide to Inside Wrestling Jokes

May 26, 2018 | Posted by Len Archibald
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We wrestling fans are so serious. When we aren’t complaining about Roman Reigns’ push as all powerful god of the galaxy, we engage in wars over what hardcore fans want vs. making money, or Daniel Bryan not in the title scene, or how any talent is wasted…anywhere. I’m nowhere even close to being above it as I bitch about the very same things sometimes. Hell, I’m still bitter that the WrestleMania 29 main event wasn’t a Title Streak vs. Streak match between CM Punk and The Undertaker.

Sometimes we forget that professional wrestling is a silly thing, with internal rules that, in the real world, don’t make a whole lot of sense. We all know about the running the ropes rule, where the laws of physics make it nearly impossible to stop on a dime when sling-shotted against them, or the rule that when someone’s entrance music interrupts a match, whomever is distracted stops dead in his or her tracks, frozen until they are rolled up into a pin. These rules only work in the pro wrestling realm, where we are conditioned to expect and accept them.

So, when we tend to engage in online wars over Daniel Bryan’s place in the WWE pecking order, predicting the death of Impact Wrestling for the millionth time or basically anything Stephanie McMahon is involved in, it is really a futile social experiment in how we relate to each other. I remember outright in-your-face shouting matches at the height of the Attitude Era, where you HAD to choose a side between WCW and WWF like you were choosing between The Axis and Allied Powers. The shit was serious, yo.

So, to break away from the serious nature of wrestling, I wanted to chat about the fun we as fans have with this crazy art form we love so much. As with any form of fandom, there is a distinct language, with terminology that only we understand. The normal ham-and-egger may not understand what “over”, “color” or “spot” means. When someone says they are “marking out”, we can all relate to that – as that feeling is most likely the reason we are all fans in the first place. When you see someone on the street and you “2 sweet” each other, it is acknowledging a bond and brother/sisterhood that most of the world does not understand.

With that terminology comes some hilarious and oft-repeated inside jokes that once referenced, we all understand. I’ve always been fascinated with these jokes and how they connect us, whether they are used to voice frustration, reference a particular moment, or to just provide context to a random event. Today, I want to count down my favorite ones and why. Some of these jokes are specific to the 411Mania community and some are universal. I am sure if you are a part of the wrestling community in some way, you have a firm understanding of these terms, and even have used them (a billion times.)


Kevin Nash has too many issues with his quads. That is a fact for poor Big Sexy. And because of that, any time his name is mentioned in a news story, there will be at least one(hundred) jokes about him tearing his quad while giving his anecdote, giving a promo, wrestling a match, brushing his teeth, taking a shit, and basically, anything he is doing in his life. What is fascinating is that the quad tear is a fairly normal injury – and this injury has occurred in more infamous events: Triple H famously tore his quad during a tag team match as he teamed with Steve Austin (The Two-Man Power Trip) against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. Triple H finished the match gallantly and gained the respect of most of the wrestling community for his toughness.

The other infamous quad tear is Vince McMahon’s double tear near the end of the 2005 Royal Rumble when the winning moment was botched between Batista and John Cena. Vince sat on his ass yelling out instructions in an awe-inspiring visual. Why aren’t those moments referenced more as insider jokes? Is it because of Triple H gutting his out and the randomness of Vince’s freak injury? Triple H has had more than one quad injury, but it is his buddy, Nash that seems to be forever cursed with the dreaded quad tear whenever he does anything. It is still funny, though. Nash probably tore a quad reading this.


This one is more obscure and may only be relevant to those who lived during the tail end of the Attitude Era. Billy Kidman blasted onto the cruiserweight scene in WCW and immediately became a fan favorite among internet fans. His Shooting Star Press was one of the most exciting moves in wrestling at the time, and his speed, agility and high-flying ability made him stand out as one of the more unique stars on the WCW roster.

There was one strange, glaring item about his defensive arsenal, though. Any time Kidman found himself in peril as an opponent attempted to powerbomb him, he was able to reverse it to a face buster. He would even end up using it when he wasn’t stuck in a powerbomb effort, but it was a seemingly impossible task, sort of like someone attempting to swing wildly at John Cena after being taken down with flying shoulderblocks and falling victim to the Five-Knuckle Shuffle. Eventually fans took notice and anytime Kidman found himself in a scenario when he was in danger, rest assured, we all took solace in the fact that if his opponent found himself attempting to powerbomb him, Kidman would find a way to escape. Because Kidman has somehow discovered how to defy the laws of physics by not being able to be powerbombed. Kevin Nash probably tore his quad finding this out personally when trying to Jackknife Kidman.


This is the newest inside joke on this list, one that honestly never would have made its way to wrestling pop culture immortality if it came from anyone but Chris Jericho. During his second-latest run, Jericho found himself stuck as just another face on the WWE roster and had a bit of a difficult time finding his footing. Mid-life crisis Jericho was starting to stick a little as Y2J found himself as the butt of jokes looking like a dad trying to be cool with his fancy over the top scarves. Then something miraculous happened. Maybe not so miraculous in hindsight.

Jericho once again was able to reinvent himself and began writing out a list of enemies randomly when on camera. At first, I thought it was a riff on Arya Stark’s “kill list” from Game of Thrones, but over time it became quite apparent that Jericho was clearly going in a different direction. Suddenly, fans began to catch on with a new catchphrase as Jericho informed someone that they “just made the list!” in the same vein as The Rock would tell someone that it doesn’t matter what they thought. This crystalized itself as Jericho entered with a fancy clipboard, letting the crowd know that he was about to place some poor sap on his list. Now, when Jericho is interviewed, or when someone – anyone either within or outside the wrestling world has done something absolutely boneheaded, it is not uncommon for fans to voice that individual has made the list – like Kevin Owens. Who would try to give Kidman a Pop Up Powerbomb, but YOU CAN’T POWERBOMB KIDMAN.


This joke has gained traction in the past 18 months. It is no secret that fans hold disdain for Vince McMahon, whether it is through booking decisions, his chosen superstars to lead the company or the fact that despite their ire, Vince is making even more money than ever. I don’t know why I feel I need to give boss man Larry credit for this, but eventually I noticed a meme he started displaying on his WWE reviews when he was really upset with the company…


The saying has even been shortened to a recognizable abbreviation, “FYTW”. When we see that, normally we understand the context. Now, I am noticing a tendency to use this terminology outside of the pro wrestling lexicon. Why doesn’t Warner Brothers and the DC films follow the Marvel formula? Fuck you, that’s why. Why does Vince McMahon continue to push Roman Reigns even though he is immensely disliked? Fuck you, that’s why. Why does the universe hate me and have the Raptors get swept by the Cavs? Because FYTW. Why did WWE have Charlotte be the one to break Askua’s streak and then not follow up? Because fuck you, that’s why!



Now we are getting into a very touchy subject. John Cena from 2005 until 2014 was pretty much the unstoppable long-term babyface champion Vince McMahon has always craved since the days of Bruno Sammartino and Hulk Hogan. I know some people will not like it or even want to admit it, but John Cena is standing on the mountain as one of WWE’s cornerstones, along with Sammartino, Hogan, Austin, Rock and The Undertaker. It was on John Cena’s back that helped WWE become a billion-dollar company again. But with that success, Cena paid the ultimate price: never-ending backlash from fans who despised the fact that he was on top for so. Fucking. LONG.

Every time it seemed like Cena would receive some comeuppance or would put a particular talent over, he “overcame the odds” and stood on top. Around 2006, after he regained the WWE Title back from Edge after the first Money in the Bank cash in, the terminology of “CENAWINSLOL” started becoming a thing. Randy Orton? CENAWINSLOL. Umaga? CENAWINSLOL. Bobby Lashley? CENAWINSLOL. When John Cena singlehandedly took out The Nexus, took out Rusev and defeated Bray Wyatt, fans had enough of Cena’s superman push. I feel the straw that broke the camel’s back and really gave the term traction was Cena defeating Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules 2012. There was no reason for him to win after the beat down he did, but somehow, he “overcame the odds.” Why would Cena defeat Brock Lesnar at Lesnar’s first match back in WWE? Fuck you, that’s why!


At Hostile City Showdown in 1996, ECW presented one of the more unique and (at the time) controversial moments in wrestling history. Before the ECW World Heavyweight title match between Raven and Shane Douglas, The Franchise accused Beulah McGillicutty was cheating on boyfriend Tommy Dreamer…while he was also cheating on Raven. Dreamer confronted Douglas, who informed Dreamer that McGillicutty was not even pregnant as she admitted earlier in the year. We discovered that Beaulah was in fact cheating on both him and Raven…but not with a man.

Kimona Wanalaya arrived and revealed it was her. Beaulah appeared and made out with Kimona. Dreamer pulled the two apart, with Douglas asking Dreamer his thoughts about this reveal. His response will live on forever in wrestling lore, to the point where fans will use “I’ll take ’em both, I’m hardcore!” at pretty much any situation where a choice needs to be made. Who would you rather spend a night with? Trish Stratus or Payton Royce? Who would you rather make out with? Ryan Gosling or Idris Elba? Pepsi or Coke? PC or Mac? Ygritte or Cersei? Cena or Hogan? Well, at this time with Hogan’s issues with race relations, it is CENAWINSLOL.


Okay, I am pretty sure this is a Csonka thing (correct me if I’m wrong as this is where I first saw this): If I remember correctly, he was reviewing a pay per view where Taker made an appearance. The normal protocol when writing at the time to introduce The Deadman arriving would be to simply write out “GONG” – for whom the bell tolls. That terminology no longer exists (at least to my knowledge at 411) when a spelling mistake created one of the funniest insider jokes among fans.

The Undertaker’s DONG has shown up everywhere (what a thing to say) whenever he makes an appearance, whenever Michelle McCool is brought up, I even saw it combined with another insider term that is beginning to gain traction when someone said that Shinskue Nakamura’s cockpunch is the only thing that may be able to retire The Undertaker’s Dong.

The Undertaker’s DONG will go down in history as one of the best unintentional inside jokes of all time – like autocorrect deciding to send a text saying your father shit a deer instead of saying he shot it. I can’t listen to Taker’s GONG without instantly going…there. But GONG, or DONG – I guess I’ll take them both because I’m hardcore!


Kevin Nash’s quads is a major inside joke among us. But “It’s still real to me, dammit” is the holy grail of inside jokes. Coming from an infamous YouTube video where a weepy man declares his love for the performers who try to kill themselves for our entertainment. The message is great. The execution of that message is comical. Now when a fan decides to rail against the industry or decides that an obvious storyline is a “shoot”, that fan will be met with a mountain of “It’s still real to me, dammit!” responses.

I have seen this joke tossed out more than anything. I have seen it expand to Game of Thrones fans when they get freaked out over the latest death, or fans of Survivor when they lose their shit when a favorite is voted off. The term is even used ironically when one is upset over – whatever. One of my friends, so upset over The Last Jedi and its third act, broke out in a mad rant about how the film basically raped the entire point of the original trilogy. He ended the rant with “it’s still real to me, dammit.” We had a good laugh. The wrestling fandom bond is strong. Strong. That rhymes with DONG.


For me, I have saved the best for last. This is an extremely popular inside joke – one that I believe can only be understood by those who are life-long wrestling fans. Scott Steiner cut a promo explaining how numbers are on his side when he faced Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe. The rant is legendary, culminating in Steiner declaring he has a 141 2/3% chance of winning the match. It is a glorious piece of insanity, one of my personal top five promos of all time and a true indicator of what we, in the wrestling community finds as wildly entertaining.

Steiner will never live down that promo. Any story about him is met with how much of a chance he has to win, stay in a promotion, find one of his freaks, etc. Most of the time, when I see a story about betting odds for matches, I will find at least one comment that refers to Steiner Math. We declare this be taught in our schools and used as a formula to understand quantum physics, wormholes and time travel. I don’t care if it sounds far-fetched, Steiner Math is still real to me, dammit!

There are other great insider jokes: Poor Dennis Stamp is not booked, and may never be. Whenever Rob Van Dam shows up anywhere, we are all going to ask if it is a one-shot deal. And of course, who are we to doubt El Dandy?

Jokes are a part of life. They’re how we cope with tragedy and escape from the frustrating, mundane existence we all share. One of the great enjoyments in my life as a fan is feeling as a part of a community where we are able to share a language that is strictly ours. I don’t engage in comments normally except for the Live Coverage for WWE pay per views and it is always rewarding to find that there is someplace I belong – I can speak and understand terminology as if I am from a specific country and my brothers and sisters in arms are scattered across the globe. We will always find each other through our language, terminology and jokes. It is a wonderful feeling to have.

For me, who grew up as a bit of a self-admitted sociopath, feeling like I belonged somewhere in the wrestling community kept me grounded and made be believe that I was not alone and there are people who I could relate to on some level. Even now as an adult, who sometimes tire of the antics in professional wrestling, I find myself coming back, just to see how we are reacting and understanding the pulse. The jokes are cathartic. I feel my laughter infects others who discover new ways to twist a story into a punchline. I hope we never lose our sense of humor, because in all honesty…the art form we are all in love with – is extremely humorous.

There is a 144 2/3% chance of laughter.

What inside jokes are your favorite?

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Wrestling, WWE, Len Archibald