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Wrestling Shoes

The Complicated Relationship Between Pro Wrestling and Sport Wrestling

Wrestling fans around the world are often split into two distinct groups, as the sport itself is divided into specific disciplines. First off, you have the original form of wrestling that has been practiced for thousands of years as a sport, which mainly consists of three styles: collegiate, freestyle, and Greco-Roman wrestling.

On the other hand, you have wrestling as a form of entertainment, which is often described as pro wrestling, which some may see as ironic. Today, we’ll be looking at the differences and similarities between these two forms of wrestling, so you can get an idea of what to expect from either of them.

Before we get into the details, let’s make sure that everyone is following along by going over the two kinds of wrestling in broader strokes.

Two collegiate wrestlers, one upended, asics wrestling shoes

The Sport of Wrestling

Many different terms are used to refer to wrestling competitions that are performed as a sport, and 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, you also have collegiate wrestling, which is a form that is mostly practiced in North America, though it is also sometimes taught in Great Britain. While all of these disciplines have different rules, they are all broadly similar in a competitive and sporting spirit, primarily being competitions of strength.

While both forms of wrestling will require you to be athletic and in shape, the argument can be made that pro wrestlers are performers while these wrestlers are athletes. While some will argue that this kind of wrestling is "real wrestling," we feel like that unnecessarily disparages the alternative type of wrestling.

Pro Wrestling

World Wrestling Entertainment event arena

Many people are surprised to learn that pro wrestling is the variety in which there are performers, as you would assume that the term would be reserved for the more traditional form of the sport. Regardless, pro wrestling is far more popular than any variety of the sport due to a simple reason: it is a form of entertainment. 

While it is not quite officially acknowledged, most pro wrestling is broadly scripted, with the winners of fights being predetermined a lot of the time. Fans of the sport are often bewildered by how supporters can know that pro wrestling is not entirely real and still enjoy it, but 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 don’t have to be as fit as the athletes that play the sport, but you will find that stepping into that ring is an exhausting experience.

A Closer Look at the Relationship Between These Disciplines

So now that we have covered the basics, we can take a closer look at the details which both distinguish these activities and bring them closer together. You may find that the sport of wrestling and pro wrestling have more in common than you think, or you might discover the opposite.

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. You may even be surprised to learn that both pro wrestlers and wrestling athletes perform many of the same exercises.

The Winner

One of the main differences between the two main kinds of wrestling is how the winner is determined. 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. There are quite a few differences between pro wrestling and competitive wrestling when it comes to the equipment that is used. 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 is a stark contrast with the red and blue leotards that are typically used to denote competitors in amateur and Olympic wrestling tournaments.

The Overlap

Many people are surprised to learn that 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.

While 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 while others can't do without the inherent competitiveness of the sport.


As you can see, both pro wrestling and competitive wrestling are their own distinct activities that share a common lineage and name. 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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