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In professional wrestling, a push is an attempt by the booker to make the wrestler win more matches and become more popular or more reviled with the fans depending on whether they are a heel or a face. A push can also be based on a single major win against a major star (for example, Shelton Benjamin's 2004 winning streak over Triple H), and it is not uncommon for a push to be accompanied by a turn or a change in the wrestler's gimmick. Pushing is usually done for new wrestlers. This is essentially the opposite of a bury (or depush), which in contrast to the high profile of a push is typically done with little or no fanfare. Sometimes the fans generate the push for a wrestler themselves when their approval for the wrestler's work generates a positive reaction from them that is not anticipated.
A push can also be attributed to a political shift in the promotion's offices. Cowboy Bill Watts, whose promotions always consisted of an African-American main event babyface, began pushing Ron Simmons, a midcarder, to main event status and eventually to the WCW World Heavyweight Championship upon being put in charge of World Championship Wrestling. In WWE, following the fallout from the Signature Pharmacy Scandal, smaller and less muscular wrestlers such as CM Punk and Jeff Hardy began to get pushed and Vince McMahon confirmed the paradigm shift by mentioning that today's fans are drawn by charisma and not size.
Pushing Down the Fans' Throats
A wrestler that bookers are high on and are pushed to excess and/or against the wishes of the fans until they learn to accept him is called Pushing down (one's) throats. Some examples include:
- In WWE, when the company was being built around a babyface John Cena, who had begun to shed his edgy, freestyle rapping anti-establishment persona which was popular in favor of a more motivational "against all odds" one was met with a negative reaction by the fans to the point where he was one of the most booed wrestlers in the promotion. However, his push was continued and the fans began to warm up to Cena, who is now one of the most popular wrestlers in the federation. Despite this, many fans continue to boo him, mostly older wrestling fans. As such, the commentary often states that "there is no man that emotes as much emotion of the fans than John Cena" (positively and negatively)
- In the Memphis territory, a legendary promoter, Nick Gulas, began to push his son, George to a main event spot despite having little in-ring experience and no athletic background. The fans quickly turned on him and the promotion, but Nick Gulas continued to push him despite the negative backlash and financial losses. In the end, Nick's insistence on keeping his son at the top of the card led to a hostile split of the territory.
- In the defunct World Championship Wrestling promotion, a group of new and younger wrestlers known as the Natural Born Thrillers enjoyed a long and steady push and winning titles despite getting no crowd response and repeatedly going over established talent.
Pushing and burying wrestlers can be seen as a worked version of the promotion and relegation system in team sports outside North America.