Professional wrestling match types
Many types of wrestling matches, sometimes called "concept" or "gimmick matches" in the jargon of the business, are performed in professional wrestling. Some of them occur relatively frequently, while others are developed so as to advance an angle, and such match types are used rarely. Because professional wrestling's long history over decades, many things have been recycled (many match types often being variations of previous match types). These match types can be organized into several loose groups. The following is a list of common or otherwise notable match types.
- 1 Variations of singles matches
- 2 Champion vs. Champion match
- 3 Empty Arena match
- 4 Falls Count Anywhere match
- 5 Flag match
- 6 Handicap match
- 7 Iron Man match
- 8 Lumberjack match
- 9 Chamber Match
- 10 Thunderbowl
- 11 Strip matches
- 12 Non-wrestling singles variations
- 13 Hardcore-based variations
- 14 Stipulation-based variations
- 15 Location-based variations
- 16 Weapon-based variations
- 17 Enclosure-based variations
- 17.1 Cages
- 17.1.1 Doomsday Cage match
- 17.1.2 Hell in a Cell
- 17.1.3 Electrified Cage match
- 17.1.4 Elimination Chamber match
- 17.1.5 Inferno match
- 17.1.6 Lion's Den match
- 17.1.7 Punjabi Prison match
- 17.1.8 Thundercage
- 17.1.9 Triple Cage match
- 17.1.10 WarGames
- 17.1.11 Dixieland match
- 17.1.12 Lethal Lockdown
- 17.1.13 Xscape match
- 17.1 Cages
- 18 Container-based variations
- 19 Several-sided match variations
- 19.1 Basic non-elimination matches
- 19.2 Championship Scramble
- 19.3 Basic elimination matches
- 19.4 Gauntlet match
- 19.5 3 Stages of Hell match
- 19.6 Beat the Clock challenge match
- 19.7 Elimination Chase
- 20 See also
- 21 Footnotes
- 22 References
- 23 External links
Variations of singles matches
The standard wrestling match (or 'one fall match') involves two wrestlers attempting to win the match through either pinfall or submission while not getting disqualified, or "counted out"—caught outside of the ring for a referee's count of 10 or 20, depending on the companies' rules.
In matches where championships are being contested, the champion typically (but not always) retains the title in the event of a disqualification or countout finish, no matter which competitor was disqualified or counted out in what is known as the "champion's advantage". Commentators and bookers generally explain it as saying the challenger "must beat" the champion. Playing into this, some storylines have heel champions protect their titles by intentionally losing in such ways.
Some of the most common variations on the singles match restrict the possible means for defeat: only pinfalls are permitted in a Pin only or Pinfall match, only submissions in a Submission match, etc. Another variation is a Time Limit match in which a match is contested until a time limit is reached or a wrestler achieves victory; in the event of the former, a separate method (audience reaction, judges, or even a rematch) is used to determine the winner. Time Limit matches were invented during the vaudeville days of professional wrestling as a way to stop matches that went on for too long (with some matches being hours long). A Battle of Respect is often held in tribute to another wrestler, where all means of victory are removed (that is, wrestlers simply wrestle each other for a fixed amount of time, without victory taken into consideration).
The following matches have their own articles due to being commonplace:
Champion vs. Champion match
This match takes place between two (or more) reigning champions. Examples include World Heavyweight Champion (TNA) vs. X-Division Champion, World Heavyweight Champion (WWE) vs. WWE Champion or WWE Intercontinental Champion vs. WWE United States Champion. These matches are generally held as contests between two promotions or brands. The rules are the same as a regular singles match insofar as victory conditions include pinfall, submission, disqualification and countout. A Champion vs. Champion match does not, however, mean that the victor would gain his opponent's title unless the match is contested for either one or both titles, such as a title unification match. The most recent Champion vs Champion match was WWE Champion Randy Orton vs. WWE Tag Team Champions Goldust and Cody Rhodes. The next will occur at TLC:Tables, Ladders & Chairs between Randy Orton & John Cena in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match for both the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship.
Empty Arena match
An Empty Arena match is a hardcore match between two or more wrestlers that takes place in an arena devoid of fans. The only people present are the competitors, referee, and cameramen. The match is broadcast, or videotaped and played later. e.g. The Rock vs Mankind during the WWF's Super Bowl halftime show on January 31, 1999. One of the earliest and best known empty arena bouts occurred in 1981 in Memphis, TN at the Mid South Coliseum between Jerry Lawler and Terry Funk. Empty arena matches are rare, and usually accompany other, filled-arena matches, due to the cost of renting an arena and not selling tickets.
Falls Count Anywhere match
A Falls Count Anywhere match is a match where only pinfalls can take place in any location, negating the standard rule that they must take place inside the ring and between the ropes. As such, this also eliminates the usual "countout" rule. As the match may take place in various parts of the arena, the "Falls Count Anywhere" provision is almost always accompanied with a "No Disqualification" stipulation to make the match a hardcore match, so as to allow wrestlers the convenience to use any objects they may find wherever they wrestle.
A variation of the rules state that once a pinfall takes place, the pinned wrestler will lose the match if he is unable to return to the ring within a specific amount of time—usually a referee's count of 10 or 30. If the pinned wrestler makes it to the ring in this time, the match continues. Under these rules, all pinfalls must take place outside of the ring, technically making the match no longer falls count anywhere. Occasionally, this stipulation is listed as having a specific territory in which falls count (e.g. the state, county, or general location the match is in).
Generally, falls counting "anywhere" still has a de facto limitation that the falls occur somewhere inside the arena (due to the legitimate legal ramifications of having a wrestling match on a turf where the owner doesn't give his consent), but at St. Valentine's Day Massacre: In Your House, an extreme example occurred where Hardcore Holly pinned Al Snow literally on the banks of the Mississippi River.
The Flag match is essentially the professional wrestling version of capture the flag. For the match two flags are placed on opposite turnbuckles, each representing a specific wrestler or team of wrestlers, and the object of the match is to retrieve the opponent's flag and raise it while defending the flag in the wrestler's corner. An Anthem match is a variant of a Flag match with the added stipulation that the national anthem of the winning wrestler's or team's home country will be played in the arena after the match.
A Handicap match is any match where one wrestler or team of wrestlers face off against a team of wrestlers with numerical superiority such as two against one, three against two etc. Normally the babyfaces are outnumbered with the heels having more members on their team to provide an unfair advantage. In some two-on-one Handicap matches, the team with superior numbers act under tag team rules, with one person in the ring at a time. In others, such as Tornado matches, all competitors are in the ring at the same time.
Iron Man match
An Iron Man Match is a multiple-fall match with a set time limit. The match is won by the wrestler who wins the most falls within the said time limit, by either pinfall, submission, disqualification, or countout.
A Lumberjack match is a standard match with the exception that the ring is surrounded by a group of wrestlers not directly involved in it. These wrestlers, known collectively as lumberjacks — female wrestlers serving in this manner are sometimes called lumberjills — are there to prevent the wrestlers in the match from fleeing the ring. The groups of lumberjacks are typically split up into groups of faces and heels who occupy opposing sides around the ring. Usually, the "opposing" lumberjacks (that is, face lumberjacks if the wrestler is a heel, and vice versa) swarm the wrestlers if they leave the ring and force them back in it. Occasional interference from the lumberjacks is not uncommon, nor is an all-out brawl on the outside involving most of the lumberjacks. Early lumberjack matches even featured the lumberjacks wearing stereotypical lumberjack clothing in keeping with the lumberjack theme, though this is generally no longer done. A common theme is for the lumberjacks to consist entirely of heel wrestlers to stack the odds against the face competitor.
Variations of this match include the "Canadian" Lumberjack match, in which the lumberjacks are equipped with leather straps, the "Extreme" Lumberjack match, competed under Extreme Rules, and TNA's "Fan's Revenge" Lumberjack match, during which fans equipped with straps act as lumberjacks and are encouraged to whip wrestlers.
This match was between two wrestlers (or up to 6) fighting inside a chamber. Wrestlers who were not involved in the match, surrounded the chamber. After about 5 minutes into the match, the outside wrestlers throw weapons into the chamber. The wrestlers who were fighting started hitting each other with the weapons. This match only ends with the first wrestler to gain KO.
This match was similar to Battlebowl. Up to 100 wrestlers can compete in the match. It is split into two rings with 50 wrestlers in each. The only way to be eliminated is to be thrown over the ropes. No matter where you hit, whether its apron, floor or barricade you are eliminated. When 25 wrestlers are left in each ring stage 2 begins. This stage is when all 25 wrestlers get into one ring and there is no elimination. After a 5 minute period, the match turns into a battle royal where elimination is gained by throwing your opponent over the ropes and to the floor. When 5 wrestlers remain stage 3 begins. This then turns into a 5-Way match where pinfall eliminates an opponent. When 2 wrestlers are left, the match turns into a last man standing where KO is legal. The final wrestler left wins.
In two kinds of matches, a wrestler doesn't win by pinfall or submission, but only by stripping their opponent of their clothing. Historically, these types of matches were contested between managers or valets, due to their supposed lack of wrestling ability. In the Attitude Era, however, full-time female wrestlers (known as Divas in WWE) began engaging in strip matches for the purpose of titillation.
Bra and panties match
A bra and panties match is so named because it takes place between any number of female competitors, with the winner being the first to strip her opponent down to her bra and panties (or, in a match involving more than two women, the last to be wearing any article of clothing other than bra and panties).
An evening gown match is similar to the bra and panties match, and is contested by two female competitors. The victor of the match is the wrestler who removes the evening gown of her opponent.
Non-wrestling singles variations
Some matches do not actually involve wrestling, instead relying on other sports or physical activity to determine a winner and a loser. Common types of matches include arm wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, mixed martial arts, and sumo.
The match is contested in a large container filled with various substances, typically between two individuals who may not have experience with wrestling. Substances can include anything from mud to chocolate milk. Sometimes, specialty substances are used for certain occasions e.g. gravy for Thanksgiving and egg nog for Christmas.
Arm wrestling match
The professional wrestling version of a Boxing match has standard boxing rules applied to it. Wrestlers wear boxing gloves and the match is contested in rounds with fouls given out, though the matches are generally worked and end with one wrestler cheating and using wrestling maneuvers.
A Pillow fight is a match held between women for which pillows and a bed are placed in the ring. The pillows may be used as weapons, but other than that, standard wrestling rules apply. A variation, the Lingerie Pillow Fight, requires the participants to wear lingerie. Another variation, the Pajama Pillow Fight, requires the participants to wear pajamas.
For a Sumo match, the ropes are removed from the ring and standard sumo rules apply. The first person to step outside of the ring or touch the mat with any part of the body but the soles of the feet is the loser.
Hardcore wrestling is a subset of professional wrestling where some or all of the traditional rules do not apply. Most often this simply means there are no disqualifications, which itself eliminates countouts, allowing decisions to take place anywhere. Other common euphemisms for hardcore matches are Street Fight or Brawl (both of which suggest wrestlers dressing in normal street clothes), Extreme Rules, No Holds Barred match, HardKore X-Treme match (A version of the Hardcore match except weapons include flaming tables, flaming chairs, razor wire, sheets of glass and weapons wrapped in barbed wire), UltraBiolent X-Treme Deathmatch (The Deathmatch with no-disqualifications, no count-outs, no rope-breaks and no knock-outs that combining all other types of deathmatches and hardcore-style matches and where being "Every other thing at All Goes" and "All Pinfalls and/or Submissions Count Everywhere at All" including full of all other weapons and objects that are wrapped in barbed wire, razor wire, nails, thumbtacks, fire, light bulbs, light tubes, and every other thing at all else can be used in it), Bimbo Brawl (involving female wrestlers) and Good Housekeeping match (which emphasized the use of kitchen implements as weapons, in fact, the use of a Championship Belt as a weapon was deemed illegal, and the referee was allowed to restart the match if it was used).
Some promotions, such as Extreme Championship Wrestling, Juggalo Championship Wrestling, and Combat Zone Wrestling, have specialized in hardcore matches, with "standard" non-hardcore matches being the exception. World Championship Wrestling utilized the term Raven's Rules for hardcore matches involving the wrestler Raven. They also created their own specific brand of hardcore match, for which bouts were to begin backstage rather than in the ring.
Barbed wire steel cage match
A barbed wire steel cage match is one of any number of matches that uses strands of barbed wire in some capacity. Simply using barbed wire in an otherwise regular steel cage match does not make the match a barbed wire steel cage match; the barbed wire must be part of the match's design.
Clockwork Orange House of Fun match
The Clockwork Orange House of Fun match, known as Raven's House of Fun, was created by professional wrestler Raven (legitimately, as Raven pitched the idea himself to TNA's creative team). It is a singles match for which a chain link wall is erected on one side of the ring with chains wrapped from it to various points on the ring itself with weapons hanging from them. In the first match the only way to win was to put an opponent through two tables after throwing them off "Raven's perch" (a small scaffold), but afterwards it was changed to falls-count-anywhere rules.
Fans Bring the Weapons match
In a Fans Bring the Weapons match, all the weapons are provided by the fans prior to the show. Sometimes the weapons will be in the ring before the match starts, although occasionally weapons will be handed to the wrestlers during the action. This match type gained popular fame in the now defunct ECW, and this type is not typically seen any longer.
First Blood match
A First Blood match is a no-disqualification match where in order to win a wrestler has to make his opponent bleed. Or, rather, depending on the nuances of the promotion and the angle surrounding the match, the first person to bleed loses, regardless of source. There have been matches where bloody noses count. In a variation called Sadistic Madness, which was created by Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, the opponent must be bleeding before a wrestler can legally pin them. Although, there are no disqualifications, outside interference cannot be seen causing the participant to bleed. A variation, the Doomsday Chamber of Blood, takes place inside of a barbed wire topped cage.
Last Man Standing match
The Last Man Standing match is a hardcore-style match where the only way to win is by knockout. That is, a wrestler will lose the match if they are unable to answer a ten-count after being downed, similar to the knockout ruling of a boxing match. To avoid losing, the downed wrestler must be on his or her feet by the count of 10, but he can't lose by leaving the ring for 10-count (ring out) if he is still on his feet while recovering. A similar type of match is the Texas Death match (aka. Mexican Death Match), where a wrestler must be pinned or forced to submit before the referee will begin the ten-count. the 10 count may happen anywhere around the ring area.
No count-out match
A No count-out match is a regular match where both competitors can stay outside of the ring or stay down for longer than the standard 10 or 20 seconds.
No Disqualification match
A No Disqualification match, also known as a No-Holds-Barred match, or sometimes as an Anything Goes match or Raven's Rules match, is a match where neither wrestler can be disqualified, allowing for weapons and outside interference. The key differences between a No Disqualification match and a standard hardcore match are that falls must be made in the ring, there is less emphasis on the use of weapons, and often the Count-Out rule is still in effect for No Disqualification matches. However, in a No-Holds-Barred match, the Count-Out rule is not observed, with a greater emphasis on weapons as opposed to a No Disqualification match. A match that does not observe disqualifications or count-outs, where pinfalls must take place in the ring, can also be known as an unsanctioned match, or, street fight.
No disqualification, no count-out matches may be used in feuds where a challenger may have won matches against the champion, but did not claim the championship because the champion was disqualified (championships may only change hands via pinfall or submission).
A Taipei Deathmatch is a match where the wrestlers' fists are taped and dipped into glue and in broken and crushed glass, allowing shards to stick to their fists. Win by Pin, Submission or Escape
Barbed Wire Massacre
A Barbed Wire Massacre Match is a match where the ring ropes are barbed wire and the weapons themselves are wrapped in barbed wire as well. Made popular in late 1970s early 1980s by small wrestling leagues and overseas in Japan.
As professional wrestling seeks to also tell a story, some matches are made solely for the purposes of advancing the plot. This typically involves the loser of a match being penalized in some way.
Last Chance match
A Last Chance match, also called a Do or Die match, is a championship match where, if the challenger does not win the title, they are banned from challenging for it again as long as the winner of the same match holds it. Rarely, the loser may even be barred from challenging for that title for as long as he remains employed at the company (a recent example of this is Slammiversary XI's main event where Sting would be defeated by defending champion Bully Ray in a No-Holds-Barred variant of this match and be barred from challenging for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship ever again no matter who holds it.)
Loser Leaves Town match
Loser Leaves Town is a generic term for any match where the loser has to leave the current promotion or brand. These matches were most often held during the "territorial days", when wrestlers frequently jumped from company to company. It is held with somewhat greater frequency (though still not nearly as common as in the old days) in WWE, where the losing wrestler typically leaves the brand (Raw or Smackdown), only to go to the other brand. This match became famous after the epic Adam Heller vs. Chris Penney "Loser leaves town" made over who would have a better season between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators. After the Sens had a better season Heller was chased to Thornhill by ax wielding hicks. Chris soon also left Toronto stating "It's no fun without Heller".
The "retirement" stipulation can be applied to just one wrestler or both wrestlers in a match can be wrestling for their careers. Further still is a more legitimate retirement match, the last match of a (usually "legendary") wrestler's career. In this case it's designed to be a last hurrah, showcasing the wrestler's talent one last time for their fans.
Kiss My Foot match
A match similar to a singles match with the exception that the loser must kiss the winner's bare foot. Such matches included Bret Hart vs. Jerry Lawler during the 1995 King of the Ring and Lawler vs. Michael Cole during the 2011 Over the Limit pay-per-view. A similar variation of this match is the "Kiss My Ass Match", which was prominently held during WWE's Attitude Era.
Luchas de Apuestas
Luchas de Apuestas (literally translated from Spanish to gambling fights) are matches where both wrestlers wager something specific (the mask or hair) on the outcome. The loser of the match then loses the item, being forced to take off the mask or be shaved bald. It is also possible for a wrestler to put someone else's item on the line, with the same stipulation applying in the event of a loss. These matches have a storied history in Mexico. Upon unmasking it is not unheard of for a wrestler's real name and information to be published. As a form of further humiliation, the loser can be forced to physically hand the mask he just lost to the winner.
The most popular types of wager are the mask of a masked wrestler or the hair of a non-masked wrestler, most commonly put against each other in Mask vs. Mask (in Spanish: Máscara contra Máscara), Mask vs. Hair (Máscara contra Cabellera), or Hair vs. Hair (Cabellera contra Cabellera) matches. Throughout Mexico, when masked wrestlers lose their masks, they are not allowed to compete under a mask with that same gimmick. In addition to masks and hair, championships, or careers—as a form of retirement match—can be put up as the wager in any combination.
In matches where hair is on the line, generally the heel wrestler loses the match, as it is designed to humiliate the heel wrestler. Among notable wrestlers who have lost such matches, Gorgeous George, Adrian Adonis, Jeff Jarrett, Kurt Angle, Molly Holly, and CM Punk were all heels when on the losing end of hair vs. hair matches.
While most wrestlers (especially female wrestlers) end up growing their hair back out, in some cases the wrestler may tend to keep a shaved head as part of their look. For instance, Angle's kayfabe explanation was that he couldn't regrow it despite using Rogaine, hair tonic and even fertilizer. (In reality he was already going bald naturally, with many jokes about his receding hair line having been made on TV long before his head was shaved; his then-wife Karen had wanted Angle to shave his head. Angle would briefly regrow it for his role in the movie Warrior before shaving it again.) Some, such as Molly Holly and CM Punk, wore wigs or masks to hide their head until enough hair has grown back in for them to forego wearing a wig or mask.
Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal
Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal also known in WWE as Raw Roulette, is not a match type itself. It's a way to assign a type to a match that does not yet have one. Before the match either a "wheel of fortune" or roulette wheel featuring a number of match types is spun, with the match landed on being used for the night. This is often done when Raw broadcasts in the Las Vegas area.
Though most matches take place in and around the ring, some are designed specifically for more exotic locales. The majority of these matches take on the name of their setting, often appending "brawl" to the end, and are generally hardcore by definition. The following is a list of locale-based variations that supplant or replace the standard rules.
Boiler Room Brawl
A Boiler Room Brawl starts in a boiler room, with the winner being the first wrestler to successfully get out. World Championship Wrestling used a match with similar rules, naming their match and its location The Block.
Parking Lot Brawl
Two types of matches take place in parking lots, the Parking Lot Brawl and the Iron Circle match. They're essentially the same thing, two wrestlers fighting in a parking lot, the major difference being the Iron Circle match takes place in the middle of a multitude of cars parked in a circle with their headlights on, while the Parking Lot Brawl tends to be in a sparser location. Both superstars are allowed to use everything around them. This includes the using the cars as weapons and anything found around them. First one to pinfall or submission is the winner.
Hog Pen Match
A Hog Pen Match takes place in a hog pen full of pigs, placed near the stage. The match could be won by pinfall and submission. The match can also end by throwing your opponent into the hog pen.
Miracle on 34th Street Fight
Christmas themed match involving a Christmas tree and presents. The latest match was held between John Cena and Alberto del Rio on 24 December 2012.
Though the use of Foreign Objects, the matches generally take the name of the weapon being used ("Singapore Cane match", "Nightstick match"). The following is a list of weapon-based matches where additional rules supplant or replace the standard rules.
Crazy 8 match
The Crazy 8 match, used mostly in the defunct Pro Wrestling Unplugged promotion, involves placing a championship belt at the top of a scaffold with the first wrestler to retrieve it being declared the winner. Placed in and around the ring for the wrestlers to utilize during the match are one side of a steel cage, two trampolines, and four rope swings.
A ladder match is a match where a specific object (usually a title belt and rarely a contract for a title) is placed above the ring—out of the reach of the competitors—with the winner being the first person to climb a ladder and retrieve it. This is often used in WWE with their Money in the Bank matches. The ladder may be used as a weapon.
King of the Mountain match
The King of the Mountain match is described as a "reverse ladder match". Instead of retrieving an object hanging above the ring, the winner is the first person to use a ladder to hang a championship belt above the ring—after having scored a pinfall or submission (pinfalls count anywhere) to earn the right to try. A wrestler who has been pinned or forced to submit must spend two minutes in a penalty box.
Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match
A tables, ladders and chairs match (often abbreviated as "TLC match"), is an extension of a Ladder match with chairs and tables also being present as legal weapons. The first ever TLC match took place between Edge and Christian, The Dudley Boys and the Hardy Boyz at the WWF event Summerslam 2000. Since 2009, WWE has held a pay-per-view in December named WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, which features this match as its marquee matches. The match has two variations. One is competed as a ladder match, which the person/people must retrieve an object suspended above the ring. The other as a traditional style match won by pinfall or submission. TNA calls this variation "Full Metal Mayhem".
(Object) on a Pole match
The Object on a Pole match—whose name is usually derived from the object being hung; i.e. "Brass knuckles on a Pole", "Steel Chair on a Pole", "Singapore Cane on a Pole", "Paddle on a Pole", "Necklace on a Pole", "(WWE) Contract on a pole", "Mistletoe on a Pole" or "Judy Bagwell on a Pole" — is the spiritual forebear of the ladder match. In this case an object is placed on a pole that extends from one of the four turnbuckles on the ring with the wrestlers battling to reach it first. Unlike the ladder match, however, reaching the object doesn't usually end the match; it simply allows that wrestler to use it as a weapon. This is not a no-disqualification match; the weapon on the pole is merely an exception to the disqualification rule. But this is sometimes a no-disqualification match in which any weapon, plus the one on the pole can be used. But this is sometimes reminiscent of a ladder match, which reaching the object does end the match. This match is referred to by many wrestling critics as a "Russo Special", due to the propensity of WCW booker Vince Russo's use of Pole Matches during his tenure at the company
Multiple variations of the "Pole match" exist. In some cases the match is closer to the ladder match, in that reaching the object does end the match. In others there will be objects above all of the turnbuckles. Further still, there can be a mixture of the two, with an object placed at (though not above) each turnbuckle, one to end the match, the rest to be used as weapons. Total Nonstop Action Wrestling used a "Pole match" as a setup to another match, placing objects at four of their six turnbuckles with the promise that the first wrestler to reach each object would be allowed to use them weeks later at an already scheduled cage match.
A Strap match, known by many names and done with many slight variations, is any match where the competitors are placed on the opposite ends of a restraint to keep them in close physical proximity. By definition the strap—and anything tied to it—are considered legal and in play weapons. The most common rule for victory is for one wrestler to have to go around the ring, touching all four corners in order and without stopping, although they can also end in pinfalls. At WCW's Uncensored 1995, Hulk Hogan actually dragged non-participant (Ric Flair) to to all four corners in order to win his strap match against Big Van Vader. Because of the strap's legality, and subsequent use as a choking device, submissions are generally not allowed.
The Strap match is one of the most varied forms of professional wrestling match type, both in name and implements used, with the name used generally coming from the implement used and one or both of the participants gimmicks (i.e. Russian Chain match, Yappapi Indian Strap match, Samoan strap match, which was the signature match of Umaga, Country Whipping Match). Common restraints include a belt, bullrope (length of rope with a cowbell in the center), steel chains, one to two foot "leash", or leather strap. In the dog collar variation, the wrestlers are connected at the neck by dog collars.
Tables matches can be contested with tag teams, under both elimination and one "fall" rules. A more "extreme" version, the Flaming Table match requires the table to be set aflame before an opponent is put through it. Another variation is the two out of three tables match. There is also another type called the three table showdown, which can only be won when one wrestler puts his opponent through three tables, but it does not have to be at the same time.
Table to fall match
This match type is very unique as the wrestler first has to put their victim through a table. After, the wrestler can pin or have the victim submit. A fall in this match can only happen after being put through the table, and if the victim kicks out, gets out of a submission, or rope breaks, the wrestler must put the victim through another table. You can have only one chance to pin/submit at a time, so going through more than 1 table will not give you more chances to fall. Fire is permitted. Regularly, no other weapons but the tables are allowed, and falls have to happen in the arena.
Taped Fist match
For a Taped Fist match the wrestlers are allowed to tape and/or wrap their hands to allow them to punch harder without damaging their hands. In one variation, the Taipei Death match, the taped fists are dipped in super glue, then broken glass.
Some matches take place in specific enclosed environments. Although the majority of these enclosures are set up either in or around the ring, some of them are placed apart from it. In all cases, the structure itself is considered "in play" and most enclosure-based matches are decided by pinfall or submission unless specific other stipulations are made beforehand.
Cages are one of the oldest form of enclosures used in professional wrestling. According to some historians, the first "cage match" of any kind took place on June 25, 1937 in Atlanta, Georgia. This match took place in a ring surrounded by chicken wire, in order to keep the athletes inside and any potential interference out of the action. They have evolved a great deal over time, changing from chicken wire to steel bars to chain-link fencing (the latter is now the standard, due to it being cheaper to manufacture, lighter to transport, and more flexible and thus safer for the wrestlers).
A steel cage match is a match fought within a cage formed by placing sheets of mesh metal around, in, or against the edges of the wrestling ring. The ways to win a steel cage match are as followed; either pinfall, submission, or by escaping the cage (over the top or through the door)(mainly only in WWE) and having both feet touch the arena floor. In Mexico, steel cage matches are won by just climbing to the top of the cage wall. In Total Nonstop Action Wrestling's six-sided ring, the matches are often called "six sides of steel" when the cage covers a six-sided ring, still used in "heritage" events.
Doomsday Cage match
Also called a Tower of Doom, the Doomsday Cage is a three story cage—the middle one split into two rooms—all of which house wrestlers. The object of the match is for a team of wrestlers to fight their way from the bottom cage to the top, where pinfalls and submissions come into play. In the later days of WCW, it was referred to as a Triple Decker Cage match, a reference to the match type being used in the finale of the film Ready to Rumble.
Hell in a Cell
A specific kind of enclosure match run by WWE wherein a large cage that extends beyond the ring apron is lowered around the ring, leaving a narrow gap between the edge of the ring and the cage wall. The fencing of the cage also extends around the top of the cage, hence the name 'cell'. Unlike a standard cage match, there is no escape clause (and it has been fairly common for Hell in a Cell matches to spill out of the cell and even onto the ceiling of the cage), the match can only be won via pinfall or submission. There is no disqualification and the wrestlers are free to do whatever they must to win. The pinfall or submission can happen anywhere and anything not nailed to the floor may be used as a weapon. The cell may be used as a weapon. This type of match outside of the WWE is considered a cage match since most promotions do not consider escaping from the ring as a victory.
Because of the "literally anything goes" rule, this match developed an infamous reputation in its early years. Many wrestlers were legitimately injured during these matches (namely, Mick Foley), and the unbelievable bumps taken during these matches are talked about even to this day. In kayfabe, it was regarded as the most dangerous match in the entire promotion. J.R. has referred to the cell itself as "a demonic structure" that is "custom built for injury." There have been 24 Hell in a Cell matches, The Undertaker and Triple H have been in 19 combined. The first match, was between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels.
Electrified Cage match
The ring is surrounded by an electrified steel cage. The cage can be used as a weapon. The only way to win is by pinfall or submission.
Elimination Chamber match
The Elimination Chamber, which was created by Eric Bischoff for WWE in 2002, is a large, circular steel cage that surrounds the ring entirely, including creating a grated floor area on the apron. Inside the cage, at each turnbuckle, is a clear "pod" where four of the six competitors in the match must wait to be released to join the two who start at the opening bell. As the name implies, wrestlers are eliminated one-by-one via pinfall or submission until only one remains. An Extreme Elimination Chamber took place at the 2006 December to Dismember pay-per-view, where a weapon was given to each wrestler waiting in a pod. The metal is black and the chambers are made of 'bulletproof glass'. The chamber is 36 feet (11 metres) in diameter and is composed of 16 tons of steel and 2 miles (3.2 kilometres) of chain. Since 2010, WWE has held a pay-per-view of the same name in a February, featuring this match type as one of its marquee events.
An Inferno match is a special type of match where the ring is completely surrounded by flames once both contenders have entered the ring. The only way to win is to set your opponent on fire. Inferno matches usually end on the outside of the ring; this way, paramedics can assist the unfortunate loser of the match. Due to the potentially graphic or dangerous nature of this type of match, it is very rarely seen in North America. In fact, there have only been five to this date, four of which have involved Kane.
The first Inferno Match was between Kane and The Undertaker at the 1998 Unforgiven pay-per-view. Kane had been thrown out of the ring and The Undertaker had no way of attacking him. The match ended in The Undertaker's victory.
A variation of the Inferno match, dubbed a Ring of Fire match, took place at SummerSlam 2013, when Kane faced Bray Wyatt. While the ring is surrounded by flames just like in a standard Inferno match, the match is decided by pinfall or submission and not by burning your opponent. The match was won by Bray Wyatt.
Lion's Den match
The Lion's Den match aimed to mimic the look and feel of mixed martial arts matches. A sloping, angular, steel cage was set up, stating that the only way to achieve victory was through knockout or submission.
Punjabi Prison match
The Punjabi Prison match, named after the Punjab state that The Great Khali (the match's 'founder') is billed from, consists of two large bamboo cages. The first being four sided and standing 16 feet (4.8 m) tall, while the second has eight sides and stands 20 feet (6 m) surrounding the first.
The inner cage has a four foot (1.2 m) by four foot door on each of its sides, with a referee standing by to open them at a wrestler's request. Each door may only be opened once and is only allowed to remain open for sixty seconds, after which it is padlocked. Should all four doors end up locked before the wrestlers escape, they are forced to climb out over the top, where the bamboo is fashioned into spikes. Between the two cages are sometimes placed two tables, on which are weapons (both "medieval" and "bamboo" variations of standard wrestling weapons). Once a wrestler has escaped the first cage, he must climb over and out of the second cage, with the first wrestler having both of their feet touch the arena floor is the winner.
World Championship Wrestling's Thundercage, based on the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, is a large domed structure of steel bars engulfing the ring. Although it does not have a top, the sides curve in to prevent escape.
Mexico's AAA promotion tweaked the concept with the Domo de la Muerte ("Dome of Death"), which uses a similar cage but only allows victory by escaping through a hole at the top center. This variation is also used in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, where it is called the Steel Asylum. In AAA it is typically used for multi-man "luchas de apuestas" (bet matches), with the last man standing in the cage losing his mask or hair.
The Thunderdome is a variation on the Thundercage, with the area near the top of the cage electrified. The only way for a wrestler to win the Thunderdome match is to have their opponents' "terminator" (usually a manager who stands outside of the ring) throw in the towel to stop the match. In another variation of this match, each pinned competitor in the match is handcuffed to the cage. The last man left is given a key to unlock his teammates to attack the other team, who are still handcuffed.
Triple Cage match
A Triple Cage match involves three cages stacked on top of each other, with each cage decreasing in size from the bottom up.
Two variations exist, in one competitors begin in the ring inside the lowest cage and must make their way to the roof of the third cage where an object is suspended, with the winner being the first competitor to obtain the object and exit the cage. The other, dubbed the Tower of Doom match had two teams of five make their way down from the uppermost cage to the bottom, with victory achieved when all five members of a team escaped a door there. The cages were cut off from each other, with doors controlled from outside by referees, who only opened them for two-minute intervals.
Sometimes suffixed with the tagline "The Match Beyond", the War Games match features two rings surrounded by an enclosed steel cage (with a roof) with two teams (or sometimes three) facing one another.
A Dixieland match (named for TNA President Dixie Carter, who "invented" the match) is a hybrid steel cage/ladder match. The wrestlers start the match in the ring enclosed in a steel cage. To win the match, a wrestler must first climb out of the cage, then go up the entrance ramp where a championship belt is hung from the ceiling, and finally climb a ladder to retrieve the belt. The first match of this type occurred during the Impact Wrestling: Final Resolution taping on December 3, 2013, as Magnus defeated Jeff Hardy to become TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
Similar to the WarGames match utilized in WCW, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling's Lethal Lockdown consists of a single ring enclosed by a steel cage with two teams facing off with each other. The staggered entry system is identical, but weapons are permitted and are even provided. When all competitors have entered the ring, a roof is lowered onto the top of the cage, with various weapons hanging from it. Victory can be attained by pinfall or submission. This match has become a staple of TNA's Lockdown pay-per-view event, but has also made appearances at other TNA pay-per-views. At the 2013 Lockdown event, the Lethal Lockdown match was modified, using a standard, open top steel cage for the match, since the mechanism to lower the top of the cage had malfunctioned.
The Xscape match is featured annually at the Lockdown all-steel-cage pay-per-view in April. This variation of the Lockdown Match has 4–6 competitors and is a two stage process. The first stage is a standard pin/submission elimination contest, with eliminated wrestlers leaving the cage through the door until there are only two wrestlers left. The last two competitors then face off; the only way to win at this stage is to climb out of the cage all the way to the floor.
Some matches have a container stationed in or near the ring, with the object of the match being to trap the opposing wrestler in it. Many of these matches take the name of the container, such as Ambulance match and the Casket match. A similar type of match aims to restrain opposing wrestlers somehow, and the match often takes the name of the restraining device - for example, the Stretcher.
These matches are often fought using hardcore rules, or at the very least rules that allow wrestlers to do more without being disqualified. In team matches, an entire team typically has to be placed in the container to lose. In some cases, the restrained wrestler must be taken past a certain point ringside in order for a victory.
Common containers used for these matches are caskets (connected to The Undertaker's Deadman persona, either using a typical coffin or a double-deep, double-wide casket, sometimes specially designed for specific opponents The Undertaker takes on), body bags, ambulances, dumpsters, hearses (known as a "Last Ride match", also connected to The Undertaker gimmick), and stretchers.
An Ambulance match is fought under hardcore rules, no pinfalls, no submission, no DQ, no count-out and the only way to win is for one wrestler to force their opponent into the back of an ambulance and close the door. There have only been three known Ambulance Matches in WWE
List of Ambulance matches
|No.||Match||Stipulations||Event||Date and Location||Length|
|1||Kane defeated Shane McMahon||Survivor Series (2003)||November 16, 2003
|2||John Cena defeated Kane||Elimination Chamber (2012)||February 19, 2012
|3||John Cena defeated Ryback||Stage 3 of the Three Stages of Hell match for the WWE Championship||WWE Payback||June 16, 2013
Buried Alive match
A Buried Alive match is a No-Holds-Barred match in which the object is for one wrestler to throw his opponent into a grave dug out of a large mound of dirt placed outside the ring. Once in the grave, the wrestler must bury his opponent in dirt to the referee's discretion. This is usually ten scoops of dirt done in the style of a standard ten-count. Shovels and wheelbarrows are often placed outside the ring, near the dirt mound, and at In Your House 11, Survivor Series 2003 and Bragging Rights 2010, a bulldozer was also made available to completely bury the opponent. As of 2013, there have been five Buried Alive matches in the history of WWE, and every single one of them have had the Undertaker as a competitor.
List of Buried Alive matches
|No.||Match||Stipulations||Event||Date and Location||Length|
|1||The Undertaker defeated Mankind||Buried Alive match||In Your House 11: Buried Alive||October 20, 1996
|2||Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated The Undertaker||Buried Alive match. The winner will be able to compete in the 1999 Royal Rumble match.||Rock Bottom: In Your House||December 13, 1998
Vancouver, British Columbia
|3||Big Show and The Undertaker defeated Mankind (c) and The Rock (c)||Tag Team Buried Alive match for the World Tag Team Championship.||WWE SmackDown!||September 7, 1999
Albany, New York
|4||Mr. McMahon defeated The Undertaker||Buried Alive match||Survivor Series (2003)||November 16, 2003
|5||Kane defeated The Undertaker||Buried Alive match for the World Heavyweight Championship||Bragging Rights (2010)||October 24, 2010
The Casket Match (originally known as the Coffin match) has a casket near the ring, with the object of the match being to trap the opposing wrestler in it. In team matches, an entire team typically has to be placed in the casket to lose.[not in citation given]. The Casket Match began its life as a one-off 'Coffin' Match in the 1970s fought between 'The American Dream' Dusty Rhodes and 'The Russian Bear' Ivan Koloff. The Coffin match was revived by The Undertaker and first appeared at the 1992 Survivor Series as the Coffin match against Kamala. The Coffin Match was fought under largely standard WWE rules, with the addition that after pinning the opponent, one then had to place the opponent into a coffin and nail it shut in order to officially win the match. Later Casket matches would use the format of the modern day Casket match in which a wrestler needed only to throw an opposing wrestler into the casket and shut the lid, as opposed to sealing it closed. The Casket match has seen repeated use since the standard was established in 1994 for a match between The Undertaker and Yokozuna. They remain largely synonymous with the Undertaker, although Kane, his storyline half-brother, has been known to participate in them as well. Casket matches have recently been adopted for use in TNA Wrestling in addition to the WWE.
Last Ride match
A Last Ride match is a hardcore match in which the victory condition is for one wrestler to force their opponent into the back of a hearse, close the door, and drive it out of the arena. The first match of this type occurred at WWE No Mercy 2004 in which The Undertaker challenged John Bradshaw Layfield for the WWE Championship, although a match was held previously with similar win conditions (Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Kane). There are no pinfalls, no submissions, no count-outs and no disqualifications. Weapon use is both legal and encouraged.
In the Stretcher Match, one wrestler must incapacitate their opponent to such an extent that they are able to get them onto a stretcher and roll them to the finish line; usually past a line at the top of the entrance ramp. It cannot end in a pinfall, submission, count-out, or disqualification. Examples include: Batista vs Shawn Michaels or Randy Orton (with Ted DiBiase & Cody Rhodes) vs. Triple H (as part of Three Stage of Hell). the stretcher may be used as a weapon.
Several-sided match variations
There are a few match types that involving several (as in, more than two) sides.
Basic non-elimination matches
The most common example of a non-elimination match is the Three Way match (Also known as a Triple Threat match; was known by the now-defunct WCW as a "Triangle" match), where three wrestlers battle it out under standard rules. However, one distinction from a singles match is that these matches usually omit disqualifications. In many promotions, however, there are typically no distinctions between the two terms. The Four-Way match is similar, but involves four wrestlers. American independent promotion, USA Xtreme Wrestling (USA Pro Wrestling) hosted a match involving 8–12 competitors known as the 8 Ball Challenge. These types of matches can be used in certain situations to take a title off a wrestler, without "weakening" him in the process.
The triangle match combines elements of tag team wrestling with multi-competitor wrestling. In this match contested by three competitors, one of the competitors must remain outside the ring, to await a tag from either of the other two combatants. Thus, while being tagged out may afford time to recuperate, one cannot win unless they are tagged back in. The Six-Pack Challenge is similar, but involves 6 wrestlers, with 4 men outside the ring at a given time. The Triangle match can be expanded to accompany more wrestlers (i.e. the Four Corners match is a match where four wrestlers are involved).
Six-Man Mayhem is a unique multi-competitor match used mainly in Ring of Honor. It involves six wrestlers, with two actively in the ring, and four others outside standing at the turnbuckles. Instead of tagging in and out to become legal, the outside wrestlers enter the ring using "Mexican" rules—entering the ring as soon as another leaves. WWE has used this match, calling it a Six-Pack Challenge.
WWE features a match called the Championship Scramble in which none of the wrestlers are eliminated. Two wrestlers start the match and every five minutes another wrestler enters until all five participants are present. After the last wrestler enters, there is a predetermined time limit. Each time a wrestler scores a pinfall or submission, he becomes the interim or unofficial champion, and such reigns aren't recorded as official reigns. The winner is the wrestler who scores the last pinfall or submission before the time limit expires.
Basic elimination matches
Most matches involving a larger number of competitors are typically elimination matches. These matches may begin with a normal start, where all of the competitors are in the ring at the same time when the match begins, or may have a staggered start, in which wrestlers enter at timed intervals.
The most common example of an elimination match is the Three-Way Dance, where the first fall eliminates one westler, reducing the match to a standard one-fall match. The Three-Way Dance was popularized in Extreme Championship Wrestling, where it became a regular specialty of the promotion. The name Fatal Four-Way Elimination match is often used in place of the Four-Way Dance. Some promotions use a tag format for the match, whereby only two wrestlers are inside the ring at the same time while other competitors stand on the apron. This is known as a Corners match (as in a Four Corners match for four wrestlers).
Another variation of elimination matches is the Survivor Series match, most commonly held at the WWE pay-per-view event of the same name. A Survivor Series match is similar to a tag-team match, except that whenever a wrestler is pinned, taps out disqualified or counted out, he is eliminated from the match. In a Survivor Series match, the wrestlers are divided into two teams, typically with four or five members on each team, and the winners ("survivors") of the match are the wrestlers still remaining when all members of the other team have been eliminated. This differs from the Torneo cibernetico match that is popular in Lucha Libre promotions, particularly in Mexico. Like the Survivor Series match, the wrestlers are divided into two teams, two teams of eight.
A multi-competitor match type in which wrestlers are eliminated until only one is left. Typical battle royals begin with 20 participants in the ring, who are then eliminated by being thrown over the top rope and having both feet touch the venue floor (this is sometimes referred to as the "Shawn Michaels rule", due to a famous match in which he was thrown over the top rope and performed a handstand to avoid having his feet touch the floor).
A Gauntlet match is a quick series of one-fall one-on-one matches. Two wrestlers begin the match and are replaced whenever one is eliminated (by pinfall or submission). After a predetermined number of wrestlers have competed in the match, the last person standing being named the winner. A Gauntlet match may also be played out in multiple "parts" as part of a storyline (where a face wrestler must face a series of a heel wrestler's underlings before facing the heel himself, for instance) – this was common in World Championship Wrestling in the early 1990s. A participant involved in a Gauntlet match may be said to be "running the gauntlet" (in most cases this designation being reserved for those who are involved for most of the match).
The Gauntlet may also be referred to as a Turmoil match, a likely backformation from Tag Team Turmoil, which is used to denote a Gauntlet involving tag teams. In singles gauntlet matches in World Championship Wrestling, pins were counted without the need of the single man being on top of the gauntlet member.
It could also be an one-on-three/four handicap match. Unlike tag matches, the three/four man team will challenge the person handicapped individually until he is knocked out, at which time the match is over.
This is a video-game only match much akin to a Gauntlet match in the sense that two wrestlers begin the match and are replaced whenever one is eliminated, but the goal of the match is for the first wrestler to eliminate opponents by knockouts pin falls or submissions, and reach 100 knockouts.
Sometimes, a match is considered as a series of smaller matches, which may take place concurrently, consecutively, or even in different shows. The most common form of a series match is extending the one-fall concept to a series of falls, the most common being the best two out of three (known as a two out of three falls match). These types of series matches are often booked to the final match to emphasize the equality of the wrestlers involved, however, longer series may be shortened due to storyline or other factors. Series matches may involve the same match throughout, or may use different matches for some or all of the series. A series match may or may not involve the same wrestlers throughout (such as when a main competitor is forced to use a substitute in the event of an injury partway through).
3 Stages of Hell match
The 3 Stages of Hell match is a variation of the two out of three falls match where each fall is contested under different rules. For example, the first fall could be a Tables match, the second fall could be a Bodyslam match, and the third fall (if neither person has won the match already) could be a steel cage match. This match has been featured at No Way Out (2001), Judgment Day (2001), Armageddon (2002), The Bash, and Payback.
List of Three Stages of Hell matches
|No.||Match||Stipulations||Event||Date and Location||Length|
|1||Triple H defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin||Singles match, Street Fight, and Steel Cage match.||No Way Out (2001)||February 25, 2001
Las Vegas, Nevada
|2||Kurt Angle defeated Chris Benoit||Pinfall Only, Submission Only and Ladder match||Judgment Day (2001)||May 20, 2001
|3||Triple H defeated Shawn Michaels (c)||Street Fight, Steel Cage match and Ladder match for the World Heavyweight Championship||Armageddon 2002||December 15, 2002
|4||Randy Orton (c) defeated Triple H||Singles match, Falls Count Anywhere match and Stretcher match for the WWE Championship||The Bash||June 28, 2009
|5||John Cena (c) defeated Ryback||Lumberjack match, Tables match and Ambulance match for the WWE Championship.||WWE Payback||June 16, 2013
Beat the Clock challenge match
A Beat the Clock challenge match is a match where usually two wrestlers face off against one another and must defeat his or her opponent before the clock runs out. In doing so, the victorious wrestler usually gets some type of reward in return, such as inclusion in a title match, for instance. A variation on this occurred on the November 20, 2013 edition of NXT. This Beat The Clock Challenge had two wrestlers complete a match, and that time was used as the marker for two other wrestlers to complete their match, and so on. The wrestler to earn the fastest time was to be named Number One Contender for the NXT Championship.
The Elimination Chase, first used in WWE's ECW brand in 2007, is a series of multi-competitor, one fall matches, with the loser of the fall being eliminated from future matches until one competitor remains.
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