Rules of the Ring

“If the referee didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.”
– The Golden Rule of Wrestling

Pro wrestling matches are typically scheduled for one fall. A fall can be earned in a variety of ways.

  • Pin Fall. A wrestler who is able to hold his opponent’s shoulders to the mat for the duration of a referee’s three count is awarded a fall.
  • Submission. A wrestler who forces an opponent to submit, either verbally or by tapping out, is awarded a fall.
  • Count Out. If a wrestler leaves the ring, the referee begins a count. If the count reaches a set limit (which varies by promotion, but is typically 10 or 20), any wrestlers still on the floor have been counted out, awarding their opponents with a fall.
  • Disqualification. A wrestler who breaks the rules can be disqualified by the referee, awarding their opponent with a fall. Common grounds for a disqualification include the use of a foreign object, outside interference, or refusal to heed the referee’s instructions.
  • Referee Stoppage. Should the referee determine that a wrestler cannot continue the match due to injury, he can call a halt to the bout and award the match to the opponent.

The referee can issue a warning or an immediate disqualification based on their judgement of the severity and intent of the infraction. Fouls include…

  • Strikes to the eyes, groin, and throat.
  • Use of a foreign object.
  • Outside interference.
  • Refusal to break a hold before the referee’s five count (causes for the referee to call for a break include the opponent being in contact with the ropes, or the hold itself being illegal, such as a choke.)

Tag Team Matches
While matches are typically contested one-on-one, occasionally wrestlers manage to make friends with each other long enough to join forces in their attempts to competitively maim opponents. The rules for tag team matches are the same as those listed above, with a few notable additions.

  • Wrestlers must tag their partner before he is allowed to enter the ring. To be eligible to receive a tag, the wrestler on the apron must be holding the “tag rope” attached to the top turnbuckle (or be deemed by the referee to be close enough that they could grab it).
  • After a tag is made, the exiting wrestler has until the referee’s five count to leave the ring.
  • Only the wrestler in the ring, or “legal man,” may be involved in a fall.