"Foreign object" is a professional wrestling term for an object introduced into the match. Foreign objects are often used to give the bearer an unfair advantage. According to the supposed rules of professional wrestling, if a foreign object is used inside the ring on another wrestler in the presence of a referee, the user would be immediately disqualified. However, it is to note that forcing the opponent into parts of a ring (such as the turnbuckles) or the surrounding areas (such as the announce tables) is not illegal. Thus, while picking up the steel steps leading to the ring and using it on an opponent is illegal, ramming an opponent against the steps while the steps are on the floor is not.
A common part of wrestling matches involving foreign objects (where they are illegal) would involve the referee attempting to restrain a wrestler from using a foreign object, only for the foreign object to either hit the referee (typically allowing heel wrestlers to use foreign objects at will), or for another wrestler to use a different foreign object. Faces have also been known to distract referees long enough for a heel to use a foreign object. Notorious heel wrestlers who use foreign objects are often searched by the referee before matches, but, due to their nature, manage to bring one in anyway. Sometimes, the referee performing the search will intentionally not search a particular area of the body, giving away the location of a possible foreign object to the viewers.
Foreign objects have also been used in storylines to demonstrate the ruthlessness of a heel wrestler (or a babyface turning heel), by using an object repeatedly even after the match has ended. Babyface wrestlers have also brought foreign objects to the ring to intimidate heel wrestlers (despite the fact that a babyface wrestler, by nature, would rarely use a foreign object). The repeated use of a specific foreign object by a wrestler may become part of the wrestler's gimmick - examples include Triple H and his use of a sledgehammer, Finlay and a shillelagh, Jeff Jarrett and acoustic guitars, Mick Foley and the use of a 2x4 covered with barbed wire, or Jake "The Snake" Roberts and various snakes.
An alternate use of foreign objects was for the wrestler to bring in a foreign object, then at the time the referee would see what was going on, throw the object to the other wrestler and feign unconsciousness, thus winning the match by disqualification. Eddie Guerrero used this tactic frequently, often against heel wrestlers, as part of his "Lie, Cheat and Steal" persona.
World Championship Wrestling referred to these as "international objects" for a time in order to parody political correctness.
Extreme Championship Wrestling was notorious in its use of foreign objects: fans at ECW Arena shows would stop by a local dollar store and load up on cheap implements which they would pass to the wrestlers. Kitchen implements such as frying pans, cookie sheets and cheese graters appeared to be popular.
Because of prevalent notions of violence against women, foreign objects are seen less often in women's matches, although special types of foreign objects in matches have been developed based on prevalent notions of T&A.
Common foreign objects
Some foreign objects are often used due to their proximity to the ring. These include folding chairs that ringside crew may appear in, as well as timekeeping bells, or in championship matches, the championship belt itself. In the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE), it is also common to use announcing tables and television equipment as foreign objects; the table used by WWE's Spanish-language announcers is especially famous for being used in this role. There have also been cases in which electric cords used by ringside camera crews are used by wrestlers to choke each other. Some have also considered running other wrestlers into walls, floors (other than the ring canvas), crowd barriers, exposed turnbuckles, or the steps leading to a ring as usage of foreign objects some wrestlers use the ramp to slam, powerbomb and suplex their opponents as well as DDT's.
Foreign objects, such as trash cans, kendo sticks/Singapore canes, ladders, light tubes and tables, are sometimes also found under the ring. In some promotion, a match may change venues and end up among the wrestling audience or backstage, where objects found there can also be considered as foreign objects. Triple H often stowed a sledgehammer under the ring as well, which eventually led to fans cheering in anticipation when he threw up the ring cover to retrieve it.
Comically, smaller cruiserweight wrestlers such as Rey Mysterio and Hornswoggle have been considered foreign objects that could be used by larger wrestlers, although in this case "usage" may involve the larger wrestler helping the smaller one perform an aerial attack. Other foreign objects used for comedic purposes include bowling balls, where they are rolled towards a wrestler resting at a turnbuckle so that the ball eventually hits the wrestler's groin, this weapon was popularized by Al Snow, as well as "Head" (a mannequin head). Another comical weapon were the tongs used by Chyna against Jeff Jarrett.
Usually non-wrestlers or part-time wrestlers with no full pro wrestling background would use foreign objects to attack a full-time wrestler. An example would be on one of the episodes of RAW, when the McMahons brutally attacked DX with chairs, a camcorder and a camcorder wire.
Kane has used several types of weapons; Steel Chairs, (as a face and heel), Gasoline and matches (as a heel) and the hook that was used in See No Evil (as a face)
Foreign Object Matches
Because of the common occurrence of foreign objects in matches, various match types have been developed so as to explicitly allow certain types of foreign objects - that is, their usage would not force an automatic disqualification.
The simplest such match is simply the No Disqualifications match, where, as wrestlers cannot be disqualified for any reason, any and all foreign objects are allowed. The "no disqualifications" stipulation is often used as part of other match types, including hardcore matches and street fights.
It can be argued that, in matches where wrestlers fight in (and often around) enclosures, such as the steel cage, Hell in a Cell, Elimination Chamber, or Lion's Den matches, that the enclosure itself can be treated as a legal foreign object.
Another common match involving legal foreign objects is the Object on a Pole match, where a foreign object is suspended on a pole on one of the ring's turnbuckles, with the person who gets the object from the pole becomes the only one allowed to legally use it. A variation on this is either where a championship belt is on the pole (in which the winner is the one who gets the belt), or Flag matches, where two flags are located on opposite turnbuckles, and the first to retrieve their opponent's flag being the winner. A Ladder Match is a similar match, except that the object in question is suspended above the ring, and ladders (which are considered legal foreign objects in the match) are needed to reach the object.
Also, a (weapon) match is similar to the Object on a Pole match, but anyone can use the weapon in question, and there is usually more than one copy of the weapon. The most common example is the Singapore Cane Match, where a barrel full of Singapore canes is next to the ring, and anyone may use the canes.
Recent trends in professional wrestling have also led to matches that are centered around one or several foreign objects: a table match is a type of elimination match in which the first person to send their opponent through (i.e. break) a table is the winner, while in ambulance matches, casket matches, and other similar matches, wrestlers attempt to confine opponents in the container bearing the name of the match. Perhaps the ultimate form of foreign object-centered matches is the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match.
Another commonly used match centered around foreign objects is one where a pair of wrestlers (typically opponents, but sometimes tag team partners) are somehow restrained together using a foreign object - a 'Texas bullrope match being an example. There, the object that binds the two wrestlers together can be used as a legal foreign object.
Diva matches (not to be confused with traditional wrestling matches among female wrestlers - even if they involve divas) are often centered around a foreign object in an effort to attract the (often male) wrestling audience. Such matches, the prevalent type being the pillow fight, do not necessarily have winners or losers. However, many traditional wrestling fans do not consider these types of matches as wrestling matches, as no actual wrestling is involved.