This Sunday, WWE brings us ‘The Horror Show At Extreme Rules’ – a PPV where the only thing that promises to be more ridiculous than the title is the stipulation of the Seth Rollins vs Rey Mysterio match.
‘Eye for an eye’. To win, you must literally extract your opponents eye. Oh boy…
Gimmick matches have added so much to the rich tapestry of wrestling history. Ladders, cages, straps and tables have all been used to great effect to bring us some of our favourite matches of all time.
Then there is this lot.
Overthinking is the best term for it. When a tried and tested gimmick match just isn’t enough, promoters will innovate to try and do something bigger and better. Sometimes this results in something wonderful like Hell In A Cell.
Sometimes it ends up with a bored Doberman shitting on a ringside mat.
In honour of the eye for an eye match (Which will surely make future versions of this list), we have compiled the list of the 10 silliest gimmick matches in wrestling.
Read on. If you want to suggest your own worthy candidates, Tweet us at @HO_Wrestling.
Reverse Battle Royal
Used by TNA on a few occasions in the mid-2000s, this was one of the many occasions where the company tried to over-complicate a tried and true gimmick match to predictably terrible results.
The premise of this match saw 16 or 18 wrestlers begin the match outside the ring and as the name suggests, the aim would be to scramble into the ring. Once half of the wrestlers had done so, those left outside would be eliminated and the ones in the ring would go into phase 2 (TNA loved their phases) which was a regular over the top rope battle royal.
Until that is, we were down to two combatants, at which stage the rules changed again to a regular one on one match. For some reason…
Convoluted? Oh god yes. But if you want to talk convoluted it didn’t hold a candle to…
The King Of The Mountain Match
Where to start with this TNA creation that somehow became a staple of the company? It always felt as though management considered this match as some kind of iconic symbol of TNA whereas fans saw it as a symbol of all of the dumb elements of the promotion.
If simplicity is the first hallmark of a great gimmick match, this one falls at the first hurdle. The overall objective was to climb a ladder and hang a title belt from a hook above the ring. You know, like a reverse ladder match. Sigh…
But not just anyone could do this. No sir.
To qualify to climb the ladder you first had to score a pinfall or submission on one of the other combatants, which made you eligible. And if you were the unlucky soul to be on the other end of that pinfall or submission then you had to spend two minutes in an ice hockey-style penalty box.
Because a regular ladder match just wasn’t ‘TNA’ enough…
This infamous match took place at WCW Bash At The Beach 1999. As the name suggests, the ‘spectacle’ took place in an actual junkyard with the rules being… well, totally unexplained, actually.
It was only during the match that we got to find out that the way to win was to ‘escape’ the junkyard, which Fit Finlay eventually did and was rewarded with a trophy made out of scrap metal as his prize.
The participant list in this match was head-scratchingly random including such hardcore luminaries as Lord Steven Regal, David Taylor, La Parka and Ciclope, alongside more natural wrestlers for that environment like Hardcore Hak (The Sandman), Brian Knobs and The Public Enemy.
The problems with the match were legion. Firstly, it took place in a real junkyard with real twisted metal which resulted in real injuries such as lacerations, spinal injuries and concussions galore.
Secondly, it was incredibly hard to follow. Awful lighting, action filmed from a helicopter and wrestlers appearing in street clothes rather than their recognisable attire made this a chore for viewers to decipher.
The whole thing was a pointless, destructive, uncoordinated car crash.
So fairly symbolic of late era WCW then…
Brawl For All
When it came to inflicting real life injuries in pointless endeavours, WCW certainly didn’t have the playing field to themselves.
Inspired by the fledgling success of the UFC, WWE presented ‘Brawl For All’ in the summer of 1998. Rather than one match, this tournament consisted of various midcarders and jobbers with tough guy reputations (And Brakkus) competing in gloved shoot fights of three one-minute rounds, where the goal was to legitimately knock out your opponent or else score points for knockdowns or takedowns.
That’s right. The company was literally telling us that while the rest of the programme was fake, this little part of it was legitimate, despite it all being part of the same overall presentation.
The tournament was rumoured to be a way to showcase new signing, ‘Dr Death’ Steve Williams. Instead, he was humbled and injured by eventual winner Bart Gunn in the quarter finals, with his reputation damaged beyond repair.
The whole tournament injured wrestlers, shortened careers, bored viewers and shone the spotlight on the lack of realism of the rest of the programme.
To put the cherry on the cake, Gunn’s prize for winning was a legitimate boxing match at WrestleMania XV against Toughman competitor, Butterbean.
He lost in 35 seconds.
A match in which a scaffold is either erected or suspended above the ring with the match taking place on top of of it. Sounds cool, eh? Sounds dangerous and exciting!
Well, it was dangerous but it wasn’t cool or remotely exciting.
With competitors rightfully terrified of falling off or through the flimsy structure, these matches consisted of almost zero action and competitors moving slowly and gingerly around the scaffold, with their sole priority seeming to be their own personal safety.
How very dare they?!
Doomsday Cage Match
The period directly before the NWO in WCW was dire. It consisted of silly heel factions existing solely to be put to the sword by Hulk Hogan against gigantic odds.
Never was this Hogan vs. the monsters nonsense more in evidence than in the Doomsday Cage match at Uncensored 1996.
The match saw Hulk Hogan and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage enter a two tier, three chamber structure built by the entrance way to face a squad known as The Alliance To End Hulkamania. This grand sounding team varied in the quality of its members to say the least.
Ric Flair and Arn Anderson are obviously wonderful wrestlers. Meng, The Barbarian, ‘The Taskmaster’ Kevin Sullivan and Lex Luger were no slouches either. The same could not be said of Z-Gangsta (Formerly Zeus in Hogan starring movie ‘No Holds Barred’) and The Ultimate Solution (AKA Bane in Batman & Robin – and yes, WCW had to be talked out of calling his character The Final Solution for obvious reasons).
The idea was for Hogan and Savage to fight their way through each cage chamber, escaping or pinning the various sub-teams of heels as they went. Or something like that…
The match was just a punching and kicking fest that ended with Hogan and Savage escaping, or winning, or something. Nobody was ever quite clear.
San Francisco 49ers Match
Firstly, this match had absolutely nothing to do with the NFL it was named after. Nothing.
It was a variation on a pole match. A type of gimmick match so often done incredibly poorly that this list could have been filled with them. In the Russo era of WCW alone (Where this match squarely sits), we were ‘treated’ to Judy Bagwell, a DNA testing kit and VIAGRA on a pole. Yep.
In this particular version, we actually got four poles with boxes on the top. Three contained mystery prizes and one contained the WCW Heavyweight Title.
Yep. This match, between Booker T and Jeff Jarrett was actually a world title match!
So what did the other three boxes contain? Glad you asked. One was actually a fairly funny in-joke (or at least it would have been, if not part of a WORLD TITLE MAIN EVENT): a coal miner’s glove. A direct reference to Halloween Havoc 1992.
The other two were a blow up doll and, for some reason, a framed photo of the recently released Scott Hall.
Laughing? I couldn’t start.
Eventually Booker reaches for the box with the belt but they were so flimsy that the thing fell out and had to be handed to the winner by ring announcer Dave Penzer.
A wonderfully symbolic end to a match like this. This may not have been what killed WCW – the damage was already done at this stage – but this match and Russo’s title win the week before was undoubtedly the sound of the flatline.
King Of The Road Match
We go back to WCW Uncensored now, this time in 1995 to point fingers and laugh at the King Of The Road match.
This farce saw Dustin Rhodes and The Blacktop Bully (Barry Darsow) do battle on the back of a (very slowly) moving truck. With the flatbed of the trailer covered in hay bales, these two old school grapplers ‘wrestled’ each other with the object being to get to the front of the trailer and ring a bell. How devastatingly hardcore!
The match was of course as lame as it sounds. But worse was the damage it did to all involved. Both participants and road agent Mike Graham were fired due to their unauthorised decision to let a little blood flow during the match to add to the credibility of the whole affair. Good job guys!
Chamber Of Horrors Match
This match took place at the 1991 WCW Halloween Havoc PPV. And I’ll give it this, the match lived up to its name. Oh the horrors!
This was a four on four cage match that saw Cactus Jack, Vader, Abdullah The Butcher and The Diamond Studd face off with Sting, El Gigante & The Steiner Brothers. The whole shebang was inside a steel cage bedecked with various Halloween themed props and weapons and to gain the win, you must strap your opponent into an electric chair and flip the lever to ‘electrocute’ them.
Of course you did…
The match was of course as horrid as the premise. The finish came after 12 and a half torturous minutes. The heels managed to place Rick Steiner on the electric chair but shock of shocks, Steiner managed to leverage out and drape Abdullah The Butcher into the chair just as Cactus Jack pulled the ‘lever’ and sent the ‘massive voltage’ surging through Abdullah, who performed a dreadful impression of someone being electrocuted to end the contest.
Yikes! As a side note, TNA’s electrified cage match between LAX and Team 3D also deserves scorn for a similar absurd premise and awful ‘special effects’ but we didn’t feel need to include them both.
Kennel From Hell Match
Where else to finish but with a literal pile of shit?
The 1999 feud between Al Snow and The Big Boss Man revolved around Boss Man dog-napping Snow’s chihuahua Pepper and literally cooking him.
Naturally, this needed to be resolved in a canine themed match where Pepper’s more vicious doggie chums would extract their revenge for their helpless little buddy. Or something…
In practise, we got a regular steel cage surrounded by a Hell In A Cell structure. The no-man’s land between the two was supposedly patrolled by a bunch of vicious attack dogs ready to sink their teeth into anyone brave enough to escape the cage and head for the cell door and an exit that would seal victory.
Instead, the dogs were as docile as you would want a gentle family pet to be. With their handlers grabbing the lead, they were more interested in doing their business in front of the announce desk and humping each other than tearing lumps of flesh from the combatants in the ring.
The true epitome of an awful gimmick match. Hilarious and terrible in equal measures.