We’re not about to go out on a limb and say that professional wrestling is fake, but there are some tricks the pros use to help avoid getting hurt. In this Moment of Science, we discuss the physics behind them.
According to Newton’s third law of motion, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So when a WWE wrestler hits a table, it exerts as much force on him as he did on the table. What saved him is something called impulse, which has to do with the force of the impact and the time it takes for the impact to occur. Time makes a huge difference. The longer the impact lasts, the less damage it does to the body. Watch the replay.
You’ve also probably seen a wrestler get slammed with a chair. They always use folding chairs because they’re nice and flat. It’s basic physics: a blow delivered by a flat object distributes force over a greater surface area, lessening the pressure and pain of its impact.