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Discussion Starter #1
I was surprised to see that in 1996 in the WWF, a wrestler could tap out of a submission move and force the hold to be broken without losing the match, kind of like how today a wrestler can hold the ropes to break a hold, though today of course if you tap, you lose.

When did the rules change?
 

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Tap outs didn't become popularized in American wrestling until Ken Shamrock joined the WWF. However you could not "tap out" to force the release of a hold as suggested in the OP.
 

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The first time I saw this was in a match before 1996. It was Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair, Chi-Town Rumble I think. Steamboat started tapping but the match didn't end. I think back then the ref needed a verbal surrender.
 

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I think back in the day they would tap on the mat to sell that submission move they were in was painful.

To submit, they'd nod their head yes, or verbally let the ref know.

"Tapping Out" didn't start until I think Shamrock came around. He brought that MMA influence in pro wrestling.
 

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Another factor in why it remaind is probably due to certain submission moves disallowing the victim from nodding or giving a verbal submission ala Crossface/LeBell Lock etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
However you could not "tap out" to force the release of a hold as suggested in the OP.
Okay, well I know I've seen this multiple times already; the wrestler taps on the mat or on the wrestler himself and the submission hold is broken but the match doesn't end.
 

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Okay, well I know I've seen this multiple times already; the wrestler taps on the mat or on the wrestler himself and the submission hold is broken but the match doesn't end.
I don't think people are saying you're wrong... they're just (understandably) skeptical because it doesn't sound familiar. Can you let us know what matches exactly you're talking about?
 

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The next question then would be: when was the changeover made from verbal submission to tap outs? Any specific match or event?
While on commentary, Taz once claimed that the Tazmission made it impossible for someone to verbally quit so the tap-out became the standard method in that move and quickly caught on elsewhere. Whike there's every chance that this was an example of WWE reinventing history it doesn't sound implausible.
 

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I think that Taz in ECW was the one that started the tapout in wrestling. Before that they needed the wrestler to say they quit.
 
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