By now most people realize that professional wrestling is choreographed and the matches have predetermined outcomes. What is still a mystery to many pro wrestling fans is how they are choreographed and who picks the winner.
How Do Pro Wrestlers Decide Who Wins?
The WWE script writers in consultation with management and Vince McMahon decide on which wrestler is going to win each match. The match results form a storyline which helps develop a wrestler’s character in the direction that the script writers want.
Most pro wrestlers have little say in whether or not they win a match. Only the most powerful WWE superstars such as John Cena and Brock Lesnar can influence management’s and Vince McMahon’s decision on the result of the match.
The vast majority of pro wrestlers have to just accept whatever outcome the script writers and McMahon choose.
How it typically works is that script writers will come up with storylines and work out how to develop these storylines by booking matches for the wrestlers. They will then present these matches and storylines to management and Vince McMahon who will give their input and either agree or alter the plans.
The predetermined match type and result will then be communicated to the wrestlers who will then start choreographing the match and start practicing what moves they are going to hit and how the match will end.
Wrestlers typically have much more freedom to choreograph the match but this is also based on their seniority. Junior wrestlers may be micromanaged and be dictated what techniques they must perform.
A Junior wrestler may have nearly all of their in ring moves scripted by the content team. While a star may have the freedom to completely choreograph his own match and come up with moves in the heat of the moment.
Typically the finishing move and some of the big spots will be choreographed and then wrestlers are able to improvise other moments of the match as they please.
Vince McMahon is known for having authoritarian power at the WWE. Whatever McMahon wants he gets. He will often just randomly decide which star he wants to be pushed and then have his content team scramble to come up with a storyline that fans will accept.
McMahon is famous for not caring how the WWE fans view his new storylines. For years he shoved John Cena and Roman Reigns down the throats of fans despite neither star getting the desired pop. This didn’t stop McMahon continuing the show with these two as the face of his promotion.
Do WWE Wrestlers Know Who Is Going To Win?
WWE wrestlers do know who is going to win. Vince McMahon and the content team will inform the wrestlers of the outcome of the match and usually what move to finish it with. How early they tell the wrestlers is up to McMahon, sometimes it is months in advance, sometimes on the night of the show.
McMahon likes to keep his wrestlers in suspense by not letting them know the result of a big match until the day of the show or sometimes even during the match. McMahon has been known to randomly change the results of matches just before they are about to begin after declaring a winner weeks or months in advance.
WWE wrestlers have to accept the decision of Vince McMahon about who is going to win the match. This has led to McMahon feuding with many wrestlers who don’t agree with the way he wants to develop their characters.
One of the most famous incidents where a wrestler strongly disagreed with McMahon’s decision on who should win the match was at Survivor Series 1997 in a contest between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. Hart was set to leave the WWE for the WCW and as the champion McMahon wanted him to lose his belt before leaving.
Hart did not want to lose his championship belt to Michaels as he hated him and didn’t want to be defeated in front of his home crowd in Canada.
Hart had been able to add a creative control clause in his contract, allowing him to reject McMahon’s proposal of losing to Michaels.
The contract forced McMahon to change the finish of the match to a double disqualification. It was then scheduled that Hart would lose the WWE Championship to a different opponent shortly after Survivor Series.
However, at the last minute McMahon changed his mind. The night before the contest, McMahon informed Michaels that he was to put Hart in his signature submission move, the Sharpshooter. The plan was Hart would not know this would be a finishing move.
The match referee Earl Hebner was also in on the plan and was ordered to to call the match before Hart could react to the submission. Everything went to plan and Michaels was crowned the WWE Champion, winning the match by submission even though Hart never tapped. This betrayal has been coined the “Montreal Screwjob”.
Hart was seething with rage at being betrayed and allegedly went looking for McMahon backstage before finding him and punching him unconscious.