pro wrestling chop
An ingenious combination of sleight-of-hand, misdirection and camera trickery make this chop look painful.

Everybody knows that pro wrestling is a phoney-baloney choreographed soap opera — with pulled punches, fake blood, and a padded trampoline-like ring — but many fans don’t know the secret behind a noisy crowd-pleaser: the “chop” to the chest. 

When performed skillfully, the maneuver creates the optical and auditory illusion that one wrestler has actually struck the other very firmly across the upper torso with an open hand, seemingly creating a loud smack that resonates through the arena. 

In reality, the knife-edge chop is, like all other professional wrestling maneuvers, a harmless subterfuge in which no actual physical contact is made between the wrestlers, and nobody feels the slightest discomfort.

Let’s use an example to see how it works — a famously slap-happy match between Samoa Joe and Kenta Kobashi (see video below). 

Here’s how the scam works: 

  • The chopper (say, Kobashi) swings his arm, palm open, in an aggressive manner toward the chest of his opponent (Samoa Joe)
  • The chopper, Kobashi, deliberately swings just shy of Joe’s chest. At the same moment — and this is crucial — Kobashi slaps his own inner thigh, creating the distinctive “smack” of a wrestling chop.
  • In some matches, painful-looking hand-shaped “welts” appear on the chest of the choppee (Joe, in this example). This is called “getting color,” in wrestling lingo. In reality, Joe has secretly sprinkled red food coloring into his own palm, and surreptitiously placed the mark on his own chest. Whereas getting color via a bloody forehead requires a wrestler to cut himself (a so-called blade job), getting color from chops is known in wrestling lingo as a hand job. 
  • In post-production, video editors add CGI graphics to create the illusion that chops have actually made contact (such as the “rippling” of skin and the “collapsing” of lungs among people Minoru Suzuki has fake-chopped). 
  • In some cases, a ringside stunt granny is employed to heighten the drama. 

And now you know!

Next time you see (and hear) one wrestler “chop” another across the chest, don’t scream “Wooo” — scream “fake!” Wrestlers love that — it makes them try harder!

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