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Pro Wrestling vs Sport Wrestling – All the Differences

Wrestling fans around the world fall into two distinct groups: Pro Wrestling vs Sport Wrestling fans. The sport itself falls into these specific disciplines. The original form of wrestling dates back thousands of years as a sport. It consists of three styles: collegiate, freestyle, and Greco-Roman wrestling.

Pro wrestling arena for WWE shows difference of pro wrestling vs sport wrestling

On the other hand, you have wrestling as a form of entertainment, often called “pro” wrestling. Today, we’ll look at the differences and similarities between these two forms of wrestling. Hopefully this will give you an idea of what to expect from either of them.

Let’s make sure that everyone is following along by going over the two kinds of wrestling in broader strokes.

The Sport of Wrestling

People use many different terms to refer to sport wrestling competitions. They each differ slightly in their rules and execution. For example, in the Olympics, the athletes compete in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling, both of which have not changed as much as you would expect in thousands of years.

On the other hand collegiate wrestling originates in North America, and features occasionally in Great Britain as well. While all of these disciplines have different rules, they are all broadly similar in a competitive and sporting spirit, primarily being competitions of strength.

Both forms of wrestling require athleticism, but pro wrestlers entertain while these sport wrestlers compete in an athletic competition. Some purists argue that sport wrestling is “real wrestling.” We feel like that unnecessarily disparages the alternative type of wrestling.

Pro Wrestling

Surprisingly, pro wrestling features performers and entertainers. Regardless, pro wrestling is far more popular than any variety of the sport. This is due to a simple reason: it is a form of entertainment.

While not quite officially acknowledged, most pro wrestling follows a script, with the winners of fights predetermined. Fans of sport wrestling are often bewildered by how supporters can know that pro wrestling is not entirely real and still enjoy it. It is similar to watching a play or a show.

Suspension of disbelief is key to pro wrestling, though that doesn’t make the competitors any less legitimate as athletes. It is a common misconception that pro wrestlers aren’t as fit as the athletes that play the sport. However, you will find that stepping into that ring is an exhausting experience.

​A Closer Look at Pro Wrestling vs Sport Wrestling

Sport wrestling match with referee while one wrestler is pinned

So now we have covered the basics. We’ll take a closer look at the details which both distinguish these activities and bring them closer together. You may find that sport wrestling and pro wrestling have more in common than you think.

Top Shape is a Necessity

While some people may think that pro wrestlers are nothing but actors, that couldn’t be further from the truth, as they still need to be in peak physical condition. Everyone from the divas to the heels has to be fit because you are still exerting yourself quite a bit in the ring.

Even though many of the hits are far weaker than they look, tossing around a 200-pound wrestler over the course of a whole event would deplete an unfit performer’s stamina in moments. Both pro wrestlers and wrestling athletes perform many of the same exercises.

The Winner in Pro Wrestling vs Sport Wrestling

The determination of the winner provides one of the main differences between the two kinds of wrestling. Now, there isn’t much info on how the various pro wrestling organizations choose the winner, but it is more or less based on what will bring the highest attendance numbers.

Of course, this means that the winner is predetermined in pro wrestling matches, with the fight itself being more of a performance for the fans’ enjoyment. When it comes to the wrestling sport, however, it is a competition, and the winner is always the one who is stronger, more dedicated, and simply the better wrestler.


One aspect of wrestling that people often don’t look at is the gear that is required. Several differences exist between pro wrestling and competitive wrestling when it comes to the equipment. First off, sport wrestling has strict rules about the gear that you can use during a match, like your wrestling shoes.

Pro wrestling is a lot less strict about gear regulations and what you should wear during a match, as many competitors wear their iconic costumes in the ring. This contrasts with the red and blue leotards typically used to denote competitors in amateur and Olympic wrestling tournaments.

The Overlap

Pro wrestlers and amateur wrestlers often perform in both disciplines, and it makes sense when you consider the similar skill sets in use. For example, gold medal winner Kurt Angle decided to become a pro wrestler after the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, going on to become an iconic villain.

Some vocal fans will argue that pro wrestling isn’t “real” wrestling. It may change their minds to hear that “real” athletes perform in it. Some athletes find that they prefer the more entertainment-based nature of pro wrestling. Others can’t do without the inherent competitiveness of the sport.

Conclusion on Pro Wrestling vs Sport Wrestling

As you can see, both pro wrestling and competitive wrestling are their own distinct activities. They share a common lineage and name and have some import similarities. In the end, the choice is a matter of preference, and neither of them is better or worse. Thank you for taking the time to read this guide.

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