Is WWE real or fake? Your questions answered

WWE is currently on a roll, with long-term viewers enjoying the new direction, lapsed fans considering a comeback, and possible newbies asking that same old question: isn’t WWE like, totally fake?

Asking whether or not WWE is “real”, “fake”, “scripted” or “pretend” is a fair enough question, and it’s probably the first thing non-or-new wrestling fans want to know.

Related: How to watch WrestleMania, Raw, SmackDown, NXT, NXT UK, 205 Live and every WWE pay-per-view

Well, if you want to know truth behind that all-important query, we’ve got you covered in our ultimate beginner’s guide to the WWE

Once we win you over (and I’m sure we will), you’ll be wanting all the grappling you can watch, and you can fill your wrestling boots without spending a single penny.

The WWE Network currently has a TOTALLY FREE tier, meaning there’s hours upon hours there to enjoy, whether or not you consider it “sport”, “entertainment” or even “sports entertainment”.

Even more accessible are the thousands of segments, promos and actual full matches uploaded to the official WWE YouTube channel, which will give you a mix of old classics and up-to-the-minute action.

As well as Fox and USA Network sharing the spoils in the US, a TV deal with BT Sport offers full weekly shows over here and there’s also free-to-air WWE on UKTV for the first time in AGES with a recent Channel 5 deal.

Now, about those questions…

Is wrestling real or fake?


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Don’t be a smartarse

Sorry, it’s just a little bit more complicated than that.

Professional wrestling is a mix of theatre, improv, TV drama, soap opera, sport, stage combat, reality telly (think X Factor), unreality scripted telly (think TOWIE) and a travelling circus. You’re clever enough not to ask if those are “real” or not, so you’ve got this.

Is all professional wrestling WWE?

No. The WWE (previously known as WWF till the panda people got the lawyers involved) is the biggest wrestling company around, certainly outside of Japan or Mexico, and it’s not even close.

Think of WWE as the Broadway/West End/Major Leagues/Premier League of wrestling. But there’s a bubbling world of wrestling outside and intersecting with it.

jon moxley aew double or nothing

All Elite Wrestling – Ricky Havlik

Some of the other big companies are New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL), Antonio Peña Promotions (AAA), Impact Wrestling and Ring of Honor (ROH).

There are more companies and abbreviations than you can possibly imagine in every town around the world.

More recently, there was the launch of All Elite Wrestling (AEW), which has had its ups and downs, but backed by big money and with a major TV deal, it’s also the most serious rival the WWE has had for over 20 years.

Is WWE the same as WrestleMania? And what’s Raw and SmackDown?

Here’s how it works.

The WWE has two main weekly TV shows that feature a mix of pure wrestling and other talking segments: Monday Night Raw and SmackDown. Currently Raw (three hours) airs on Monday nights and SmackDown (two hours) airs on Friday nights and both are usually live.

There’s also NXT (which is for developing up-and-comers, be they homegrown by the WWE or signed in from other companies), and the upcoming NXT Europe (like NXT but led by British and European wrestlers and based on the continent), but Raw and SmackDown are your main brands.

NXT TakeOver Brooklyn IV: Velveteen Dream


Wrestlers are usually “signed” to one show, but many flit between them despite that and there are semi-regular promotions from NXT and drafts and “shake-ups” between the brands.

You can check out our full guide to current WWE TV right here.

Around once a month there’s a special pay-per-view event (around 4-6hrs), more recently dubbed “Premium Live Events”. These are almost entirely made up of wrestling and are where the most important matches take place.

The most high profile of these events is WrestleMania, which takes place annually in April.

You can check out our full guide to all upcoming WWE pay-per-views and special events here.

Are all WWE matches on TV?

No. As well as all the stuff above filmed for broadcast, the WWE is constantly touring for non-televised events, called House Shows or Live Events. They’re a bit like the Strictly/X Factor tours, but taking place almost every night of the week, all year round.

It’s an open secret that i) you VERY rarely get anyone winning or losing a championship or major storyline developments at House Shows and ii) despite that, they can still be incredible fun, as everyone’s a lot more relaxed and there’s more of an improv, almost panto-air to things at times.

Who’s the WWE champion? What are those oversized belts all about?

As well as personal issues and barneys, the reason all these people wrestle each other is to be recognised as the best.

There are loads of different champions in each brand to show who’s on top. There are primary titles and secondary ones. Championships for men and for women. For singles wrestling and tag teams (pairs of wrestlers who fight together against other duos).

wwe ronda rousey raw


You can check out our full list of all the WWE champions right here, along with a video of how each star won the belt.

How do you win a wrestling match?

There are countless variations and exceptions, but in your standard wrestling match you can win in the following ways:

Pin/pinfall: one wrestler holds down the other so both their shoulders are flat on the mat for three seconds

Submission: one wrestler gets the other in a hold so painful that they submit, by saying they submit or tapping their hand to show that they quit

Knockout: if a wrestler is knocked down and can’t stand up for ten seconds, they lose the match

Count-out: if a wrestler is out of the ring for ten seconds, they lose the match

Disqualification: if the referee disqualifies a wrestler for breaking the rules, they lose the match

WWE Clash of Champions 2019


Often (but not always) a title won’t change hands if the current champ loses by countout or DQ (or disqualification).

There are many other non-standard match types won in weird and wonderful ways, but the announce teams will usually talk through how those go.

What are “heels” and “faces”?

Every classic story needs a hero and villain. A good guy and bad guy.

Faces or “babyfaces” (sometimes known as “blue-eyes” in Britain and técnicos in Mexico) are good guys.

They (often, but not always), stick to the rules and get cheered by the crowd.

Hulk Hogan and John Cena


Heels (rudos in Mexico) are bad guys. They (often, but not always) cheat and are otherwise nefarious, and get booed by the crowd.

A “heel turn” is when a good guy goes bad (think Anakin Skywalker killing younglings). A “face turn” is when a bad guy goes good (think Darth Vader killing the Emperor).

A “tweener” is an inbetweener (not that sort of Inbetweener). It’s not quite face, it’s not quite heel, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don’t get completely what you get with a face, but you get a good crowd reaction.

Okay, cool! Can I watch some wrestling please?

Of course!

Here’s one of our favourite matches. It’s Trish Stratus vs Lita on Monday Night Raw from December 6, 2004.

Trish was defending her WWE Women’s Championship.

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Any more questions? Just give us a holler at @digitalspywwe.

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