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Explain Like I’m Kayfabe: How do Irish Whips make sense?

The Irish Whip is not something we would ever see in an octagon, but it is a perfect move for our beloved squared circle.

Welcome back to the only professional wrestling column that keeps it real, Explain Like I’m Kayfabe.  Today we’re going to explore something brought up by independent wrestler and GLOW superstar, Joey Ryan, in the following tweet.

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Far be it for me to disagree with Ryan, a consummate professional and practitioner of the nether arts, but I believe that the Irish Whip is a real and functional maneuver for both competitors involved.  Let’s dive in.

First, what is an Irish Whip?  Not a frothy Bailey’s and cream, although that sounds lovely, the Irish Whip is a fairly common move used to jockey for position, launch an opponent into the ropes or turnbuckle, or disorient an opponent in order to set them up for a more devastating maneuver, strike, or hold.  While there are many, many variations, the original Irish Whip came from former National Wrestling Alliance champion Danno O’Mahoney. The move is fairly straightforward: grab your opponent by the wrist, turn, and sling them in any direction you wish.

The argument that this move would not work in “real life” is patently ridiculous.  Yes, one’s opponent must run for the move to have impact.  Why would a grappler do this?  There are several reasons.

  1. The opponent sees an opportunity for gaining advantage.  By a reversal, a leap from the corner, or some move off the ropes, the opponent believes that – by following through with the throw – they will be in a more strategically advantageous position.
  2. They have little control over their movements.  At times during wrestling matches, competitors may be impaired from repeated strikes or fatigue.  They may feel the Irish Whip occurring and go along with the move rather than simply fall to the mat.

Other outcomes of the Irish Whip can include immediate reversals, usually by a stronger opponent who cannot be whipped, falling immediately to the mat – in the case of an opponent too injured to even consider using the move as intended – and being hurled bodily into the turnbuckles with enough force to negate any attempt at recovery.

Because wrestling is not a straight fight ala MMA, there is a reasonable expectation of jockeying for position in the ring and going along with an opponent’s moves in hopes of gaining advantage.  The Irish Whip is not something we would ever see in an octagon, but it is a perfect move for our beloved squared circle.

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