Professional wrestling match types

Professional wrestling match types
A bloodied Kane inside a current style WWE cage.

Many types of matches, sometimes called "concept" or "gimmick matches" in the jargon of the business, can be found in the form of performing art that is professional wrestling.

Some of them are very enjoyable for fans and occur relatively frequently, while others are developed so as to advance an angle, and thus, such match types are used rarely. Specific match types in professional wrestling are often notable due to either their frequent use, logistics of setup, or a memorable instances of such a match. Often, specialty matches are used as a finale to a popular or infamous storyline.

Because professional wrestling's existence has spanned over decades, and many things in it have been recycled, many gimmick match types are actually variations of previous gimmick matches, match types can be organized into several loose groups. The following is a list of common or otherwise notable match types.


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 company's 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 lasted well into hours. 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 is played between two reigning champions, for e.g. World Heavyweight Champion (WWE) vs. WWE Champion or World Heavyweight Champion (WWE) vs. WWE Intercontinental Champion. These matches are generally played when there are contests between two promotions or brands. The rules are similar to a Singles Match as a player can win via Pinfall, Submission, Disqualification and Countout. This doesn't mean that the winner would get his opponent's title, unless if the match is contested to unify both titles.

Empty Arena match

An Empty Arena match is a hardcore match between two or more wrestlers which 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.[1] 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,[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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).[5]

A new variation on the stipulation, submissions count anywhere, debuted at WWE Breaking Point in a match between D-Generation X and The Legacy.

Flag match

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.[6]

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.[6]

Handicap 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, or three against two. Normally the babyfaces are outnumbered with the heels having more members on their team to provide an unfair advantage.[7] 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.[8]

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, countout, or knockout; e.g. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XII for the WWF Championship.

Lumberjack match

In keeping with the theme, the wrestlers outside the ring may wear flannel shirts during Lumberjack matches. 1–2–3 Kid circa 1995.

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.[9] These wrestlers, known collectively as lumberjacks—or sometimes lumberjills when they're female—are there to prevent the wrestlers in the match from fleeing the ring.[9] 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 a face competitor.

Variation 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 the TNA's "Fan's Revenge" Lumberjack match, during which fans equipped with straps act as lumberjacks and are encouraged to whip wrestlers.[10]

(Move) match

A Move Match is a match where the first wrestler to perform a specific move is the winner.[11] The move is usually a signature move of both wrestlers involved, in which case a stipulation can be added that the loser is no longer allowed to use the move—or on the case of large wrestlers a generic move (e.g. bodyslam) that is notoriously hard to perform on both wrestlers. The match usually takes the name of the target move (e.g. Chokeslam challenge, Bodyslam match) or is more generalized to "Finisher Match" if both wrestlers are trying to perform their finisher to win.

X rules match

An X Rules match is a match contested under specific, often undisclosed, rules where the "x" is replaced by a title usually meant to sound traditional (cf. Marquess of Queensberry) or boastful for one combatant. The angle of many of the matches has one wrestler, usually the heel, challenging another to a match to be contested under some kind of rules without going into detail, then making up rules in their favor as the match progresses and feeding them to the ring announcer.[12]

Pick Your Poison

When a storyline of tag on tag happens, a pick your poison match may occur, where before the show, one wrestler from each side picks an opponent for the other. Usually they pick the other half of the team, but the rules permit any wrestler to be chosen.

Scaffold match

A Scaffold match takes place, in whole or in part, on a piece of scaffolding erected above the ring. The match can end in one of two ways; either with the losing wrestler falling off of the scaffold to the ring below, or with a wrestler retrieving a flag from the opposite side of the scaffold and return it to his own.[13] Scaffold matches have a legitimate air of danger about them, as the bump from such a height is hard to protect against and objects such as chipboard tables are placed in the ring to attempt to cushion the fall.

Elevation X, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling's variation of the scaffold match, has two scaffolds placed above the ring intersecting to form an "X", with the only way to lose being to fall from the structure.[14]

Special referee

Any time a usual referee is replaced with someone unusual for a specific reason, it is referred to as a Special Referee[15] or Special Guest Referee match.[16] The special referee is often a celebrity, a manager, or another wrestler—with the latter sometimes showing a bias for or against a competitor.[17]

A special outside referee, also known as special enforcer or special guest enforcer; is someone charged with the task of keeping interference out of the match.[18]

Strip matches

There are two kinds of matches which are contested where a wrestler doesn't win by pinfall or submission, but only by stripping their opponent of their clothing.[19] 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 amount of female competitors with the winner being the first to strip her opponent down to her undergarments.[20] An evening gown match ends the same way, but instead of the women starting out the match in regular clothing or ring attire they begin in evening gowns.[21][22][23]

Tuxedo match

A tuxedo match is similar to the Bra and Panties match, where the match is contested between two male competitors in tuxedos. In order to win, a wrestler needs to strip the opponent's tuxedo off of him.[24]

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.

Substance match

This is a match which involves mainly two women who have of a lesser wrestling experience. The match includes a large container filled with various substances in which the two women will wrestle. 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.

Sock Match

The rules of the Sock Match dictate that the two competitors must attempt remove their opponent's socks to win the match.

Arm wrestling match

An Arm wrestling match, in the context of professional wrestling, is a worked form of a basic arm wrestling contest.[25]

Boxing 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.[26]

Pillow fight

A Pillow fight is a match held between women for which pillows and a bed are placed in the ring.[22] 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[22][27]

Sumo match

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.[28]

Hardcore-based variations

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, 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.[29]

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. A Barbed Wire Massacre match is when the regular ring ropes are removed from the ring and the barbed wire is strung up in their place.[30]

Clockwork Orange House of Fun match

The Clockwork Orange House of Fun match, also 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.[31] 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),[31] but afterwards it was changed to falls-count-anywhere rules.[32]

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.

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.[33] A variation, the Doomsday Chamber of Blood, takes place inside of a barbed wire topped cage.[34]

Hard 10 match

The Hard 10 Tournament match (initially known as the "Dupp Cup") was created by Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. It is contested on a points system, where the points are earned for the use of weapons. The first person to earn ten points—and be up by at least two points—wins. Regular strikes with a weapon are worth one point, while putting an opponent through a table is worth five.[35]

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. In order to avoid losing, the downed wrestler must be on his or her feet by the count of 10.[36] 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.[37][38]

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.[39]

No Disqualification match

A No Disqualification match, also known as a No Holds Barred match,[40] or sometimes as a 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.[41]

Taipei Deathmatch

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.[30][42]

Stipulation-based variations

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.[43]

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.[44] 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 World Wrestling Entertainment, where the loosing wrestler typically leaves the brand (Raw or Smackdown), only to go to the other brand.

Retirement match

A Retirement match is any match where, should a wrestler lose, they are forced out of the company. The "retirement" stipulation can be applied to just one wrestler[45] or both wrestlers in a match can be wrestling for their careers.[46] 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.[47]

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.[48] These matches have a storied history in Mexico.[49] 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.[49]

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 a masked wrestler loses their mask, they are not allowed to compete under a mask with that same gimmick.[49] In addition to masks and hair, championships,[50] or careers[51]—as a form of retirement match—can be put up as the wager in any combination.

Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal

Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal, also known as Raw Roulette,[52] 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.[53]

Location-based variations

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.

Backstage Brawl

A Backstage Brawl is a multi-competitor match held in a backstage. During the match wrestlers are encouraged to use anything backstage while fighting, and the "last man standing" is declared winner. Wrestlers can be eliminated from the match both by the standard pinfall and submission method of victory or by simply becoming too bloody to continue the match.[54] A one on one Backstage Brawl is basically a no disqualification match held in a backstage or a backstage setup.

Boiler Room Brawl

A Boiler Room Brawl starts in a boiler room, with the winner being the first wrestler to successfully get out.[55] World Championship Wrestling used a match with similar rules, naming their match and its location The Block.[56]

Parking Lot Brawl

Two types of matches take place in parking lots, the Parking Lot Brawl[57] and the Iron Circle match.[58] 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.

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.

Weapon-based variations

Though the use of foreign objects is illegal under the standard rules of professional wrestling, some match types have been devised to allow in specific objects under certain conditions. The object in question is usually related to one or both of the wrestlers gimmicks or was in some way instrumental in the angle that led to the match taking place. In either case, 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.[59]

Ladder match

A ladder match is a match where a specific object (usually a title belt) 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.[60]

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.[61]

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.[62] 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 variations one is competed as a ladder match, which the person/persons must retrieve an object suspended above the ring. The other as a traditional style match won by pinfall or submission.

(Weapon) match

In this variation, only the named weapon is allowed to be used as a weapon. Examples include the singapore cane match, the chair match, the whip/strap match, etc.

(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", or "Necklace on a Pole", "(WWE) Contract 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.[63] 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; which any weapon, plus the one on the pole can be used.

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.[64] In others there will be objects above all of the turnbuckles.[65] 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.[66] 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.[67]

Strap 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. Because of the strap's legality, and subsequent use as a choking device, submissions are generally not allowed.[68][69]

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, 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 cow bell 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 match

Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels on a table at a 2008 house show in Puerto Rico.

A Tables match is a match in which to win a wrestler must put their opponent through a table—that is, a wrestler must use some offensive maneuver on their opponent that causes them to contact and break the table.[70]

Tables matches can be contested with tag teams, under both elimination[71] and one "fall" rules.[72] A more "extreme" version, the Flaming Table match requires the tables be set aflame before an opponent is put through it for it to count towards a win.[73] 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.

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.[74] In one variation, the Taipei Death match, the taped fists are dipped in super glue, then broken glass.[75]

Enclosure-based variations

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.


TNA's six sides of steel, as seen at Lockdown 2007

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.[76] 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.[77] They have evolved a great deal over time, changing from chicken wire[78] 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) 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. Total Nonstop Action Wrestling had a six-sided ring, hence the phrase "six sides of steel." This was changed, however, when TNA switched to a conventional four-sided ring.

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 top cage to the bottom, where pinfalls and submissions come into play.[79][80]

Inferno match

An inferno match is a special type of match where the ring is completely surrounded by flames. 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 four to this date.

Electrified Cage match

The ring is surrounded by a steel cage which is electrified. The cage can be used as a weapon. The only way to win is by pinfall or submission.

Elimination Chamber match

The Elimination Chamber structure.

The Elimination Chamber is a large, circular steel cage which 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.[81] 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 m) in diameter and is composed of 16 tons of steel and 2 miles (3.2 km) of chain. Since 2010, WWE has held a pay-per-view in February named WWE Elimination Chamber which features this match as its marquee matches.

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.[82]

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 escapes, 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, upon 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 being declared the winner.[83]


AAA's Domo de la Muerte.

World Championship Wrestling's Thundercage, in 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 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 a multi-man luchas de apuestas 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.[84] The last man left in the match is given a key to unlock his teammates to attack the other team, who are still handcuffed.[84]

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.[85] 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.[86]


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. One man from each team starts out with another from either team at random entering the cage via a timed interval. The winning team must get a member of another team to submit after all members of each team are in the cage. In ECW, this was known as an Ultimate Jeopardy match, with a stipulation for each participant which would be enforced if he caused his team's loss.

Lethal Lockdown

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 every April, where every match is contested inside a cage, but has also made appearances at other TNA pay per views.

Xscape Match

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.

Container-based variations

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), bodybags, ambulances, dumpsters, hearses (known as a "Last Ride match", also connected to The Undertaker gimmick), and stretchers.

Ambulance match

An Ambulance match is fought under hardcore rules and the only way to win is for one wrestler to force their opponent into the back of an ambulance and close the door.

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[87] 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 Survivor Series 2003 and Bragging Rights 2010, a bulldozer was also made available to completely bury the opponent. There have only been five Buried Alive matches in the history of WWE, all have involved The Undertaker.

Casket match

The Undertaker in a Casket match against CM Punk.

The Casket Match (formerly known as the Coffin match) have a casket near the ring, with the object of the match being to trap the opposing wrestler in it.[88] In team matches, an entire team typically has to be placed in the casket to lose.[89][not in citation given]. The Casket match was designed by The Undertaker and first appeared at the 1992 Survivor Series as the Coffin match. 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 the late 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. Abyss and D'angelo Dinero battled in the first such match in TNA at the 2010 Final Resolution Pay-Per-View event.

Last Ride match

A Last Ride match is a hardcore match, in which the only way to win 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.

Stretcher match

In the Stretcher Match, one wrestler must incapacitate their opponent to such an extent that they are able to get them onto the stretcher and roll them to the finish line, usually past a line at the top of the entrance ramp. It can not end in a pinfall, submission, count-out, or disqualification.[90]

Several-sided match variations

There are a few match types that involves 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.

Championship Scramble

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 five minute 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. Five minutes after the final wrestler enters, the wrestler that scores the last pinfall or submission is declared the winner and the official champion.

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 wrestler, 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. A Four Corners match is similar, except it involves four wrestlers. Some promotions use a tag format for the match instead of having all of the wrestlers in the ring at the same time. The Fatal Four-Way Elimination match is often used in place of the Four-Way Dance.

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 or disqualified, 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.

Battle royal

A multi-competitor match type in which wrestlers are eliminated until one is left and declared winner. 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, the "Shawn Michaels rule".

Gauntlet match

A Gauntlet match is, in a sense, a quick series of one-fall one-on-one matches. Here, two wrestlers begin the match, and are replaced whenever one is eliminated (by normal means), with 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, where it was referred to as a Slobber Knocker. A participant involved in a Gauntlet match may be said to be "running the gauntlet", although in most cases this designation is 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.

Relay match

The match has two (or more) teams of between 3 or 12 members to a team and before the match there will be a coin toss to see which team switches out first. Every 3 or 5 minutes the teams will switch. The first team to get a pinfall wins. It is sometimes contested under hardcore rules.

Series variations

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).

Beat the Clock Sprint match

Beat the Clock Sprint match is the name given to each match in a series of matches between different wrestlers to see which wrestler can win their match the fastest. These matches are typically held on the same night, and the fastest winner is typically awarded a title shot or other prize.

Elimination Chase

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.[91]


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