WWE Extreme Rules: Wrestling’s wackiest matches

In 24 hours, WWE will be holding it’s annual Extreme Rules pay-per-view. Unlike gimmick-specific shows like Elimination Chamber, Royal Rumble, Hell in a Cell, TLC and Survivor Series, this is the one show every year where we’re guaranteed a plethora of gimmick matches of all types. For example, last year alone, we were treated to a falls count anywhere match, a table match, a handicap match, a two-out-of-three falls match, a street fight and an extreme rules match, and the year before that, we saw a last man standing match, a table match, a country whipping match, a falls count anywhere match, a no disqualification match, a ladder match, a lumberjack match and a steel cage match.

mick-foley-cage

In this age of bloodless conservatism, it’s rare for the WWE to put on a show so reliant of elaborate gimmicks, and hardcore rules. But the choice seems to have paid off. In 2012, Extreme Rules was the fourth most watched wrestling pay-per-view of the year, even beating perennial “big four” member Survivor Series.

Maybe part of that success is down to the decision to stick to more sensible, mainstream, tried-and-tested match types. Gone, it would seem, are the glory days of the bizarre matches that reached their peak in the era of Vince Russo’s reign over WCW.

In this article, we take a look back at some of our favourite weirdest match types that you’ll be unlikely to see at this year’s, or any year’s, WWE Extreme Rules.

X on a Pole Match

The X on a pole match probably deserves an article of it’s own. Now most commonly associated with the last-gasp desperation of Vince Russo’s tenure as head of WCW (earning the nickname “The Russo Special”), this match has a far longer history, dating back to at least the 1970’s when Detroit Big Time Wrestling (more from them later) held a 22 man pole match for a grand prize of $5000.

The rules of the match are similar to a hardcore match, but only one weapon is legal, and that one weapon is attached to a tall pole jutting out of one of the turnbuckle posts. Standard weapons include chairs, brass knuckles or canes. Another version uses a prize instead of a weapon, like money, a title belt, or a contract.

Whilst these standard manifestations are awkward, spotty, and usually involve the object in question falling off the pole on it’s own accord at some point anyway, the true lunacy of this match only became apparent to the world when Vinnie Ru shone his spotlight of insane anti-genius upon it.

In his short time with the company, WCW’s gravedigger gave us such classics are the almost unbelievably racist “Piñata on a Pole Match”, in which all the competitors were Mexican, the “Judy Bagwell on a Pole Match”, in which Buff Bagwell’s mother was suspended from a fork-lift truck, the just bizarre “Leather Jacket on a Pole Match”, the REALLY bizarre “Viagra on a Pole Match”, and, one of the most awkward events in wrestling history; The San Francisco 49ers Match, which, whilst sadly not involving any of the San Francisco 49ers on poles, involved four different objects on four different poles, those objects being; a blowup sex-doll, a picture of Scott Hall, a miner’s glove, and the WCW Heavyweight Championship of the World. Only in the world of Vince Russo does that fourth item belong with the first three.

Fight For The Right Tournament

Another silly gimmick, another Vince Russo favourite. As far as Wrestling 101’s dedicated team of researchers can tell, unlike the X on a pole match, this complete mess was Russo’s own personal brain child, and was born to us through the circus of self-defeating surrealism that is TNA Wrestling.

Just a quick run down of how this tournaments works should tell you just how stupid it is; A large amount of wrestlers stand outside the ring, and attempt to get into it. When seven men are in the ring, everyone outside it is eliminated. Then, there’s a regular battle royal, in which the seven remaining wrestlers have to throw everyone else back out again. When all but two wrestlers have been eliminated, it becomes a singles match. Sounds confusing? Don’t worry, we’re not even half way. The birth of this match was the Fight for the Right Tournament in 2006 which involved perhaps the most convoluted set of rules and technicalities anyone has ever bothered to read out in professional wrestling history.

The winner of the reverse battle royal / battle royal / singles match advances to the final of a tournament. The quarter-final of that said tournament is made up of three matches, each pairing off the six other wrestlers who qualified from the initial reverse battle royal, seeded in the order in which they were eliminated, with the loser of the singles match facing the first man to be eliminated in the second battle royal, and so on. The winners of these three matches meet in a triple threat match, and the winner of that match faces the winner of the original three-stage match, and the winner of THAT match is the number one contender.

All in all, this abortion of a tournament contained two battle royals, five singles matches and a triple threat match over the course of three shows, none of which were pay-per-views, and the eventual pay-off was a title change due to a disqualification on the most watched pay-per-view in TNA history.

Although the entire event was a complete debacle from start to finish, most of the hatred and mockery should be reserved for the initial reverse battle royal. The reverse battle royal has since become the jewel in the crown of Vince Russo’s psychosis, and TNA’s long-standing habit (at the time) of being unable to stand up to him or tell him to shut up. The initial problem is insanely obvious; it’s a race to the ring… JUST RUN INTO THE RING. The wrestlers start in a circle, so, if they all just decided to run forward, they’d have a 50/50 chance of getting to the ring, and qualifying for the next round without doing anything other than running about two feet in a straight line, but, in one of those heartbreaking moments when professional wrestling decides to tell you just how scripted it is, at the start of the match, everyone turns sideways and starts brawling like idiots.

Needless to say, the reverse battle royal section of the tournament won the Worst Worked Match of the Year award from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. What did TNA learn from this? They ran the exact same tournament again a year later.

Evening Gown Match

Ever since sexuality became a major part of wrestling with the dawn of the Attitude Era, there have been various match types which have been little more than flimsy excuses for vaguely homoerotic, violent stripteases. The most famous of this genre is the “bra and panties match”, originally known as the “rip off the clothes match” in WCW. The first rip off the clothes match took place at WCW New Blood Rising in August of 2000, and was contested between Major Gunns and Miss Hancock (now better known by her real name; Stacy Keibler). The first WWE bra and panties match took place two months later, when Lita defended the Women’s Title against Trish Statrus on an episode of RAW.

Whilst the bra and panties match is certainly the most famous striptease match, it’s not the first, or the weirdest. That title probably belongs to the evening gown match, the original striptease match, debuting at WWF In Your House 21 in April of 1998. Like the bra and panties match, the object of an evening gown match is to strip you opponent to their underwear, the only difference being that, instead of wearing ring gear, they’re wearing an evening gown.

While both matches sound as silly as each other, where the evening gown match takes the lead it’s the bizarre way in which it’s been used. Whilst the bra and panties match has always been used for cheap titillation, it didn’t take long for the legacy of the evening gown match to get side-lined into weirdness.

By it’s sixth outing, a Hardcore Title match on a June 1999 episode of RAW, the match was already being competed in by two men, neither of whom anyone had any interest seeing in their underwear. This was followed up by a match featuring Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young (at a combined age of over 140) in September of the the same year. Whilst WCW initially made a vague attempt to keep the match to it’s cheap, sexual roots, they too gave in, and, on a January 2000 episode of WCW Thunder, pitted Chyna rip-off Medusa against Jim Ross rip-off Oklahoma, and, with both companies having fully cleansed the match of any sexiness what so ever, the stage was set for true ridiculousness.

Since that moment, evening gown match participants have included Gerald Brisco, Pat Patterson, Howard Finkel and someone who our sources refer to only as “Big Fat Oily Guy”.

Blindfold Match

cow-wrestlemania-7-blindfold-match-rick-martel-jake-roberts

A good idea often handled badly, or a bad idea sometimes handled well? That’s the great conundrum of the blindfold match.

The rules of the match are usually the same as any other standard wrestling match, accept with the added bonus of a blindfold. Almost always used as comedy fodder, the matches have an unpleasant tendency of going over-long and generally being exactly the same. Every now and again though, someone gets it, like Jake Roberts and Rick Martel at WrestleMania 7, where a combination of two talented physical pantomimists and a flawless commentary team who understood the point of the match perfectly turned a waste of a WrestleMania spot into genuine entertainment. That said, there have also been plenty of times when blindfold matches have gone horribly, horribly wrong.

The problem with the concept is that it will almost always result in the exact same match, and that match is as follows;

– They walk around selling that they can’t see
– They bump into each other
– They walk around
– The bump into each other or the corner post
– They walk around
– They bump into each other and someone wins

To keep the match entertaining, you need two wrestlers people care about, two wrestlers who understand physical comedy, an extremely short period of time, and a feud with an already present air of frivolity (a blindfold match has no place in a blood feud). Of course, the problem there is that wrestling isn’t exactly over-flowing with Roberts’ and Martel’s, and, especially when bookers have no idea how to use the match, you end up with insults to the industry like James Storm vs. Chris Harris at TNA Lockdown 2007, when a genuine, semi-main event level feud involved a comedy match, on pay-per-view, in which, to avoid the tedium of the average blindfold match, the gimmick was all but abandoned half way through, when Storm took off his blindfold, because it’s TNA, and because f*ck you for paying money.

Shark Cage Match

This is far less fun, and far less silly than it sounds due to it’s overt lack of sharks. It’s still insane though.

The shark cage in question is one of those tiny metal rectangles that divers get into to protect themselves from shark attacks whilst filming, photographing, or just having a look at some sharks. If you know the sort of cage I’m talking about, it should become pretty obvious, pretty quickly, that holding a wrestling match inside one is a ridiculous idea, but, in the insanity that was Mid-Western professional wrestling in the 1970’s, that’s exactly what someone did.

At a Detroit Big Time Wrestling event in Detroit, Michigan, in 1977, “Chief” Jay Strongbow faced off against “Bulldog” Don Kent in what may well be the first ever (but not, somehow, the last ever) “Shark Cage Match”.

No tricks, no gimmicks, no cheats; they wrestling in a shark cage. They wrestled in a shark cage for TEN MINUTES. For ten Earth-minutes, two men, in a cage that I estimate to be about 3′ by 3′ by maybe 8′ headlocked, punched, grappled and fell out the door that kept flopping open whilst the referee desperately struggled to keep the door closed, and to stop the cage from falling over on it’s side, because it wasn’t attached to anything, and wobbled about every time either man inside moved which, thankfully for the cage, wasn’t all that often.

It’s not a bad match. It’s not a match. It’s too men standing in a cage not doing anything to a crowd that, unbelievably, is MASSIVELY into it. The match ends due to interference, proving that interference in a cage match isn’t a new idea, despite how stupid it is, and then the camera cuts JUST as the cage falls over with the loser still sitting in it.

There’s evidence that at least two more of these things happened in Japan (obviously), but we don’t get paid enough to watch them.

So there you have it; our five picks for the wackiest gimmick matches in wrestling history. Tell us your picks and memories in the comment section below.

Tags

  • How you could leave out some of Atsushi Onita’s abominations is heartbreaking, not to mention the Taipei Deathmatch, the No-Rope Barb-Wire Match, Electrified Cage and the Exploding Anus Death Match.

  • Ecneralc Smith

    How is Medusa aka Alundra Blayze a ripoff to Chyna?

    The only female superstar in WCW that was compared to Chyna was Asya.

  • RIP-IT-OFF BRAWL MATCH

    Why not a formal evening wear or formal office wear team cage brawl? Why not a formal office dress blindfold shark cage match. Combine all three. Or a bridal gown inflatable kiddie pool match? Or a formal blouse and skirt team rip-off brawl? Or a shiny formal office blouse and pencil skirt rip-it-off team catfight? All awesome great, great, great, great ideas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 8D

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