From the surface, the job of a Referee gets perceived as an easy one. People look at referees as people inside the ring to end the match and issue disqualifications in the event of illegal moves.
But the truth is Referees play a more significant role than people seem to notice. But then again, that is the entire point for them to execute their function in the kayfabe without interfering.
Referees are like a third dance partner to the wrestlers, required to be a bridge between both parties.
For referees to play their role and stay out of the spotlight, they use signals to communicate with the wrestlers and management.
- The X Symbol
The X symbol signifies that something has gone wrong. A referee holds out the X symbol to inform the management that a player has been far too injured to continue fighting and requires medical attention.
It was seen in the clash of champions, tag team championship—a match between Street profit Vs. Andrade VS. Angel Garza. The game went into disarray as Garza was injured while performing the dangerous Spanish move, leading to an awkward landing.
The Referee threw up the hand sign to inform the management that it was severe, and the match ended quickly with a pinfall.
2. Calling Spots
Contrary to popular beliefs, pro-wrestlers do not thoroughly plot out their matches beforehand.
The games are laid out generally with a few notable spots, impressive moves, and a couple of fun sequences.
But the rest of the matches are entirely called on the fly.
The Referee plays a significant role in passing across information from backstage. They wear earpieces so to receive news and call spots in a match.
3. Taking Bumps
Occasionally in a match, a wrestler will deck down the Referee.
Now, this is a signal to let the storyline run its course. It happens to allow an illegal move to occur.
The Referee sells the bump by flying across the ring, appearing injured or knocked out.
4. The hand Squeeze
In wrestling, the hand squeeze signal is used by a wrestler to a referee or to his opponent to let them know they are okay after a dangerous stunt.
It was seen in RAW 2000 when Bubba Ray Dudley power bombed Mae Young through the table off stage. While on the ground, Mae signaled Bubba with a hand squeeze to let him know he was okay!
5. Watch the Eye
There are lots of secrets in the entertainment industry, and this is one of them. A majority of wrestling matches end in a pinfall.
One wrestler is on top of the other, and the Referee has to count down to three for a winner to emerge.
During a pinfall, you would notice a maintained eye contact between the Referee and the wrestler pinned down on a close look.
Staring directly at the Referee means the wrestler would be kicking out of that pinfall. The Referee pays attention to this and counts accordingly.
In the case where the wrestler’s eyes are closed, with the person looking faded, it means it’s a wrap for the night.