Gorilla in a professional wrestling ring

Pro Wrestling Terminology: Gorilla Position

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you clicked this link thinking the article was going to describe a hot new position that you and your partner could try this weekend, you’re likely to be disappointed.

Instead, let’s talk about a term that has been bandied about frequently over the past three decades: the Gorilla Position.

Many “smart-to-the-business” fans are familiar with this term as it describes the holding area behind the curtain (or other staging apparatus) at professional wrestling events — specifically those held by World Wrestling Entertainment.

Younger fans might not know that the term takes its name from long-time wrestler, announcer, McMahon family confidant, and partial owner of the then-World Wrestling Federation, Robert “Gorilla” Monsoon.

Monsoon’s in-ring career concluded in 1983, and he was guaranteed lifelong employment but Vince McMahon, Jr., who bought Monsoon’s shares in the company in 1982. For nearly the next decade and a half, Monsoon played a variety of roles, including advisor, to the younger McMahon.

While theories about the origins of the name “Gorilla Position” differ, the term appears to be a play on the term “go position.”

In folkstyle, freestyle, and greco roman wrestler — “amateur wrestling” to those who like to differentiate between the the mat and the squared circle — competitors who are tapped to perform soon are considered “on deck.” For wrestlers preparing to appear before the audience and head to the ring, the “go” position serves a similar purpose.

Given Monsoon’s decades of service to the company — and the fact that he was known as a fixture in that location — extending the term from “go” to “go-rilla” seems a suitable honorarium.

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