Five famous words in WWE history

While the motives of Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose remain shrouded in mystery, the WWE Universe can at least be clear on what to call the NXT competitors: “The Shield.” That’s the moniker the trio of troublemakers adopted in an interview with Michael Cole recently on Raw.

So what does describing themselves as “The Shield” mean, exactly? Ambrose led viewers to believe it represents his cohorts’ attempt to protect WWE from injustice. ( WATCH) The new label will ultimately be defined, though, by the WWE Universe through the insurgents’ actions in the weeks to come.

Certain everyday terms can take on a different definition when they’re uttered in close proximity to the squared circle. From the name of The Grandest Stage of Them All to an infamous taunt by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, take a look at how five key words took on a whole new meaning in WWE.


Name the shortest and most aggravating taunt in WWE history.


Name the shortest and most aggravating taunt in WWE history.


Name the … oh, never mind. Besides, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin wasn’t asking his rivals to repeat themselves when the WWE Hall of Famer adopted “What?” into his verbal arsenal during summer 2001. Austin employed his one-word retort to antagonize the Superstars who remained loyal to WWE during The Invasion, but his newest weapon spread through the WWE Universe like a wildfire.

Austin, who came up with the quip after uttering it several times in a rambling voice mail message to fellow Superstar Christian, used “What?” to get under his rival’s skin. Unfortunately, capacity crowds around the world repurposed it in a call-and-answer fashion to challenge anyone who dared to speak publicly from the ring. To this day, the word represents the battle cry of a hostile audience against any Superstar who struggles to curry their favor.


The WWE Universe frequently bears witness to two types of matches on a regular basis. There’s the tactical display between two talented Superstars employing the full array of their maneuvers to gain an edge.

And then there’s the slobberknocker, a knock-down, drag-out brawl between two fighters who just plain refuse to quit. Introduced to the WWE Universe by Jim Ross at WrestleMania IX, the term perfectly fit legendary battles by brawlers from Bam Bam Bigelow to Sheamus and everyone in between.

Using the word “slobberknocker” may be commonplace in the WWE Universe, but the word originates on the gridiron. A football player who connected an especially hard hit on an opponent was said to have knocked the slobber out of their target’s mouth. Now, it regularly occurs when The Celtic Warrior finishes off his latest foe with a Brogue Kick.


“Yes.” Such a simple word. Three letters. One syllable.

But in early 2012, that simple term took on a life of its own. What started as a celebratory salute by Daniel Bryan turned into a crowd-stirring chant that rattled entire arenas. Bryan’s jubilation emerged in the wake of his most unlikely wins over such opponents as Randy Orton and Big Show. After squeaking out a questionable victory, Bryan’s “Yes!” chant would wash over the WWE Universe like an unwelcome wave of arrogance. But then something interesting began to happen.

The WWE Universe, who had, just weeks earlier, been annoyed by Bryan’s presence, began to embrace him. Rather than a lone Superstar screaming his affirmation in silence, Bryan was now a fiery underdog, joined in spirit by thousands of vocal fans. Although the WWE fans chant “Yes!” today more to mock Bryan than to celebrate him, their enthusiasm has only grown.

So, does the WWE Universe know a good catchphrase when they hear one? Yes! Yes! Yes!


“Trouncing” wasn’t enough. “Walloping” wouldn’t do the trick. In 1997, The Rock created his own word to capture the physical and verbal punishment he inflicted on his opponents: “SmackDown.” When The Great One unleashed the iconic term, the WWE Universe knew they were in for something special.

So unique and evocative was the word, in fact, that when WWE decided to expand their television presence in 1999, they triumphantly adopted the moniker in the name of the new program. That show became "Friday Night SmackDown," or as The Rock proudly referred to it, “my show.”

“SmackDown” became so pervasive it regularly appeared in such venerable publications as Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal. The ultimate accolade? In 2007, Merriam-Webster added “SmackDown” to their official English dictionary. Now, if only they’d recognize “roody poo.”


The Show of Shows. The Grandest Stage of Them All. An event so colossal and unforgettable, it’s nearly impossible to encapsulate into one word. But that was the challenge for WWE in 1984. Vince McMahon was determined to stage an unprecedented extravaganza to showcase WWE Superstars, celebrities and entertainment icons the likes of which had never been seen before. But what to call it?

“The Beatles had their phenomenon called Beatlemania, so I thought, ‘Why don’t we have our own phenomenon and call it WrestleMania?’” Howard Finkel recalled. Finkel is the WWE Hall of Fame ring announcer and man credited with coining the memorable term during a company brainstorming session. Say the word 28 years later, and it’s certain to evoke a range of emotions, from exhilaration to nostalgia. And that grand gamble that took place inside New York’s Madison Square Garden in spring ’85 shows no sign of letting up – thank goodness.

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