Many types of matches can be found in professional wrestling. Some of them occur frequently, while others are developed so as to advance a storyline, and thus are contested only once. Some are designed to only be contested once, but end up returning in the wrestlers' future feuds due to the popularity of the match (as was the case of Elevation X in TNA). The following is a list of common or otherwise notable match types.
Match types in professional wrestling are often either notable due to its frequent use, logistics of setup, or a memorable instance of such a match. Some one-time match types are often notable either they are used as a finale to a popular or infamous storyline, or the execution of a match itself.
Because professional wrestling is a type of performance art, many match types are variations of existing match types, and thus matches can be organized into several loose groupings.
Variations of singles matches
The standard wrestling match (or One Fall Match) involves two wrestlers attempting to win the match through either pinfall, submission, disqualification, or countout. Some consider countout, where a wrestler leaves the ring and does not return in the ring after a ten-count, a form of disqualification. In Japanese puroresu, the ten-count is usually extended to a count of twenty, but the same rules apply to a count out.
In matches where championships are on the line, the champion typically retains the title in a disqualification or countout finish (even if the champion loses the match) - Total Nonstop Action Wrestling is a notable exception. Often storylines with heel champions may attempt to protect their title reign by forcing disqualifications or countouts. This is known as the "Champion's advantage" and is usually explained by saying the challenger "must beat" the champion.
Some of the most common variations on the singles match is to restrict the possible means for victory: Pin only or Pinfall match where only pinfalls are permitted, Submission match where only submissions are permitted, and so forth. 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 would last well unto hours, boring the crowd. 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 them being commonplace, and thus information about these matches are in their own articles:
- Barbed wire match
- "I Quit" match
- Iron Man match
- Monster's Ball match
- Two out of three falls match
- Ultimate X match
TNA Wrestling had a main event at TNA No Surrender 2005 for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship between Raven and Abyss with a "No Surrender" stipulation, meaning that neither competitor would be permitted to submit or give up.
Also known as a "Prince of Darkness" match, this match has either one, or usually both, competitors wear blindfolds and wrestle. Otherwise normal rules apply. A well known example of this is the WrestleMania VII match between Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Rick Martel. These matches usually take place after one wrestler has (kayfabe) blinded the other wrestler in some fashion. Unfortunately, blindfold matches have a notorious reputation for being dull and boring, since neither is able to see (at least in kayfabe), resulting in the wrestlers spending the majority of the match wandering aimlessly "looking for" their opponents instead of wrestling.
Typically seen in the early 1900s, catch-as-catch-can matches allowed any hold given that hold is not intended to inflict injury. These matches thus typically contained mostly submission or amateur-style wrestling.
Sometimes, this match is altered to stipulate that a wrestler may lose by going to or being forced to the arena floor, like in a battle royal. An example of this type of match is the infamous match between Dean Malenko and Billy Kidman during WCW's Souled Out 2000 PPV, where Malenko lost two minutes in by forgetting the rules and escaping to the floor after a barrage of attacks from Kidman.
Empty Arena match
A hardcore match that consists of two (or more) wrestlers fighting in an empty arena with a referee and no spectators. The match is either taped and broadcast for fans to watch afterwards or aired live from one or two cameras which follows the wrestlers around the arena. Due to the expense of these matches (having to rent an arena and not selling tickets to the show) these matches are extremely rare. The last time this match took place was on an episode of TNA between Kurt Angle & Sting. The fans would get to watch the rest of the show live but then would be asked to leave and watch the match from the concession stand so the arena would look empty
Falls Count Anywhere match
In the standard match, a pinfall or submission can only win the match when it is performed inside the ring. However, in a Falls Count Anywhere match, this does not apply. As such, this also implies that wrestlers cannot lose as a result of countout. The "Falls Count Anywhere" is somewhat of a misnomer in the fact that wrestlers may still be disqualified (but not counted out) for leaving the arena where the match is to be held (this, of course, may vary between promotion). However, it is to be noted that, as the match may take place in various parts of the arena, the "Falls Count Anywhere" provision may be one of many stipulations in a match - it is commonly paired with "No Disqualifications" to make the match a hardcore match, so as to allow wrestlers the convenience to use foreign objects that may lie wherever they may wrestle.
Another variation of the rules state that once a pinfall takes place, the pinned wrestler must return to the ring within a specific amount of time or else lose. If the pinned wrestler makes it to the ring in this time, the match continues. Under these rules, all pinfalls must take place outside 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. Examples have included "anywhere in the building," "anywhere in Chicago," and "anywhere on the Gulf Coast."
The Flag Match is essentially the professional wrestling version of capture the flag, in which there are two flags on opposite turnbuckles in the ring, with one wrestler defending one flag while attempting to get the other.
A variation of the Flag Match can be a regular one-fall-to-a-finish match between 2 wrestlers, each usually representing a different promotion, fighting for the right to raise the flag of their respected promotion. This variation was used at Extreme Championship Wrestling November to Remember 1997 in a match between Rob Van Dam (representing the World Wrestling Federation) and Tommy Dreamer (representing Extreme Championship Wrestling).
An "Anthem Match" is a Flag Match with the stipulation of a national anthem being played for the winners, after the match.
A match in which one wrestler or one team of wrestlers faces another team of wrestlers with numerical superiority. For example, two wrestlers against one.
Hangman's Horror match
The objective in this match is to choke the opponent with a dog collar, which is hanging from the ring post, until they can no longer continue. This match was created by Raven to end his feud with Vampiro.
In this match, the ring is surrounded by fire, carefully controlled by the ring crew. In order to win this match, a competitor must set his opponent on fire.
Iron Man match
An Iron Man match is a professional wrestling match where the man with the most pinfalls, submissions or wins by count out and/or disqualification, at the end of a given time limit, will be declared the winner. Should the match result in a tie, a sudden death overtime final fall may be requested by either wrestler, often accepted (or rejected) by either an opponent or a higher (on-screen) wrestling authority or a referee official. The chosen time limit is usually either 30 minutes or 1 hour. This depends on the type of match between the particpants.
A Lumberjack match is a match in which the ring is surrounded by a group of fellow wrestlers, known collectively as the lumberjacks, who are there ostensibly to prevent either of the competitors from leaving the ring (avoiding a beating and, in the process, taking a count out loss).
A typical lumberjack arrangement involve a mixture of faces and heels, generally on opposite sides of the ring, in which the lumberjacks will only choose to attack the participants of opposite alignment. Lumberjacks are not forced into attacking any participant, and may attack each other, depending on storyline progression and current alliance. Another arrangement is to have an all-heel group of lumberjacks, which will attack only face competitors (in an effort to have the face lose by countout) while trying to help the heel back into the ring as soon as possible (to avoid countout).
Keeping with the lumberjack theme, many early lumberjack matches featured the lumberjacks wearing stereotypical lumberjack clothing, though this generally is not done nowadays.
A variation of this match is called a Canadian Lumberjack Match, in which the lumberjacks are equipped with leather straps. TNA held a version of this match where "fans" were lumberjacks, and called it a Fan's Revenge Lumberjack Match. When the lumberjacks are all female, the match is known as either a Lumberjill Match, or a Diva Lumberjack Match.
The objective in this match is to perform a specific move. Usually a signature move of the wrestlers is selected, although on occasion it will be a generic move (i.e. bodyslam) that is notoriously hard to perform on both wrestlers. The match usually takes the name of the target move (i.e. Chokeslam Challenge, Bodyslam match) or is more genericized to "Finisher Match" if both wrestlers are trying to perform their finisher for the win. Sometimes this stipulation is used in a feud with wrestlers whose finishers are the same or similar, in these cases it is common to see the stipulation added that the losing wrestler is no longer allowed to use that move anymore.
(x) Rules match
A Rules Match is a match where one wrestler (usually the heel) will challenge another wrestler to a match under specific rules (i.e. Canadian, Duchess Of Queensbury, English) without actually going into detail on what those rules are or mean. During the match the challenging wrestler will usually have a second sitting at ringside to announce rules and rule changes which will favor that wrestler. If there is no second it's not unusual for the challenging wrestler to just walk out of the ring and tell the new rule to the ring announcer who will announce it over the PA.
A more straightforward variant of and (x) Rules Match are the hardcore-style matches, such as Extreme Rules or Raven's Rules.
This match takes place on a scaffold above the ring. The two ways to win the match are to push the opponent off of the scaffold so that he/she hits the mat or to grab the flag from the opponent's home base of the scaffold and return it to one's own home base. Some variations include putting weapons or objects into the ring for when the opponent lands, for example card tables. The scaffold is not very wide, meaning wrestling moves are rarely done during these matches and stay a kick/punch affair.
Another variation, called a Scaffold Cage Match, is when the wrestlers beat each other until one is knocked off of the scaffold and into the ring. The ring is surrounded by a high steel cage and the only way to win is by pinfall.
Elevation X, another variation, has two scaffolds placed above the ring intersecting each other to form an "X".
Also known as Special Guest Referee is any match in which the usual referee is replaced with a "guest" filling in as the official. Celebrities (such as Muhammad Ali in the main event of WrestleMania I), managers and other wrestlers can "guest" as the special referee. In some cases, a special referee is put into a match which is already a different match type or stipulation (for example: Hell in a Cell with a Special Referee). The special referee will often be biased towards or against one of the competitors or will be assigned as the Special Referee to ensure the match is called down the line.
Special Outside Referee
Also known as Special Enforcer or Special Guest Enforcer is same as the Special Referee but the guest referee stays on the outside enforcing what the normal referee doesn't see. These guests are sometimes known as "enforcers", the most famous of which was Mike Tyson, who served as the Special Guest Enforcer for the WWF title match between Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV, and Chuck Norris who served as Special Guest Enforcer at Survivor Series 1994 in a match between The Undertaker and Yokozuna.
There are two kinds of matches which are contested where a wrestler can win without pinfalls but 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. Because of this, and the fact that few divas are trained in wrestling (or advanced enough in their training that they can have a full match), many refer to this type match derogatively as a "diva match", because little to no actual wrestling is involved. Also as a result, post-match antics where all other competitors (occasionally the referee as well) are stripped down to their underwear are also common.
Bra and Panties match
The Bra and Panties Match is a match consisting of two or more female wrestlers where the only way to win is to strip one of the opponents to their bra and panties. Also can be a Buck Naked Match in which a wrestler must strip her opponent completely naked to win the match.
Evening Gown match
The Evening Gown Match is not all that unlike the Bra and Panties match. The object of this contest, however, is to simply strip off your opponent’s evening gown from her body (rather than stripping her usual ring attire).
The Tuxedo Match, usually contested between male managers (and the occasional ring announcer), is the precursor to the Bra And Panties Match. It takes its name from the idea that both competitors will be dressed in a full tuxedo at the outset of the match. These matches were popular in the 1980s. A wrestler wins by stripping his opponent of his tuxedo.
Two out of three falls
A Two out of Three Falls match is a match where in order to win a wrestler must beat their opponent (by pinfall, submission or disqualification) not once but twice.
These matches have a long history in Pro Wrestling and are generally used when one wrestler challenges another on the grounds of wrestling skill above all else.
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.
Arm wrestling match
A basic arm wrestling contest. Can be contested between two Divas, two male competitors (often to show off the strength) or between one male and one female. Often the male in the latter will be a manager going against the wrestler of a competitor.
Standard boxing rules apply, although nearly every one of these matches ends with somebody breaking the rules and wrestling or fighting in a manner outside of boxing (and typically getting away with it).
A match between two women in which pillows and a bed are placed in the ring. The pillows may be used as weapons, and standard wrestling rules apply, although this kind of match ordinarily features little to no wrestling.
- Lingerie Pillow Fight:
- A variation on the pillow fight wherein the participants wear lingerie.
The ropes are removed from the ring and standard sumo wrestling rules apply: the first to step outside of the ring or to touch the mat with any part of their body but the soles of the feet is the loser. As would be expected, these matches are much shorter than standard professional wrestling bouts. The most infamous match of this kind in WWE happened at WrestleMania 21 between The Big Show and Sumo Grand Champion, Akebono.
Hardcore wrestling is often termed as a form of wrestling where some, or, more often than not, all of the traditional grounds of wrestling need not apply. As such, the primary rule of hardcore wrestling is that there are no disqualifications nor countouts, and pinfalls can take place outside of the ring (normally a pin can only be inside the ring) - that is, the usual rules of professional wrestling need not (and often do not) apply. Some promotions, such as Extreme Championship Wrestling and Combat Zone Wrestling, specialize in hardcore matches, and "standard" non-hardcore matches are rare.
The standard hardcore match, as defined by WWE, is one combining the no-disqualification rule with "Falls Count Anywhere". Because of the generally chaotic nature of the standard hardcore match, many so-called "match types" are merely euphemisms for a hardcore match, often to emphasize certain aspects of hardcore wrestling. A common such euphemism is the Death Match, used to promote the often brutal injuries that wrestlers may have to endure in such a match. Because of this, hardcore matches are most often remembered for the potentially dangerous spots rather than the final outcome.
A common euphemism employed for a hardcore match is a Street Fight, where wrestlers would supposedly wrestle in the clothes that they came into the arena with, rather than in standard wrestling gear. Extreme Rules Matches are also sometimes used by the WWE to try and capture the essence of Extreme Championship Wrestling (especially when promoting ECW-type events or wrestlers with a heavy ECW background), where all matches were done in this manner. Other euphimisms for hardcore-style matches include the Bunkhouse Brawl, the No Holds Barred match, the Unsanctioned match, and the Good Housekeeping match, the last of which was used to emphasize the use of kitchen implements as legal foreign objects.
Because of the no-disqualification rule, a common finish to such a match is the cluster, in which wrestlers (most of which are not involved in the match nor the storyline behind it) run-in and brawl amongst each other. This is often used to announce the end of a show, with the match ending in a no-decision.
While in WCW, Raven used the term Raven's Rules to denote a hardcore match. He usually brought out a shopping cart full of various weapons with him to the ring during these matches.
World Championship Wrestling also created their own specific brand of hardcore matches wherein the bouts were to begin in the backstage rather than in the ring (although typically matches would end inside the ring). This rule became the basis for the unpopular video game WCW Backstage Assault.
First Blood match
The First Blood match is a hardcore-style match where in order to win a wrestler has to make his opponent bleed. Wrestlers rarely "juice hardway" in such a match - instead the match is generally booked so as to have the loser perform a blade job (cut themself).
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. A similar type of match is the Texas Death Match, where the wrestler has to be pinned before the referee will begin the ten-count.
No Disqualification match
Although there is no semantic difference between standard hardcore matches and simple no-disqualification matches, a No Disqualification match is considered low-key by comparison, with disqualification-worthy material limited to run-ins and the introduction of ringside foreign objects.
Sometimes, a No Disqualification Match is held between valets, or a valet and a wrestler, where it is implied that wrestlers will run-in and "defend" their valets.
Sadistic Madness is a Total Nonstop Action Wrestling specialty match, in which the object is to make an opponent bleed before pinning them. A pinfall on a wrestler who is not bleeding does not count towards victory. Typically, all of the contestants involved will be bleeding before anyone is pinned. A variant of this match, the Doomsday Chamber of Blood, takes place inside a barbed-wire toped cage.
A No Count-Out match is a singles match where both competitors can stay outside of the ring longer than the standard 10 seconds.
As professional wrestling seeks to also tell a story, many matches are made mainly for the purposes of advancing the plot. This typically involves the loser of a match of some form being penalized for losing (Usually in the matches with humiliating consequences for the loser). The most common types of such matches are:
Loser Leaves Town match
The loser of the match must leave either the town or promotion the match was held in and not return. This was often held in regional promotions when a wrestler was leaving the company to explain their disappearance.
Luchas de Apuestas
Any match where both wrestlers have put something on the line such as a title or mask. They are more popular in Mexico, where Masks and Hair are considered a part of a wrestlers pride and are often put on the line, but they do happen from time to time in Japan and the United States. Some variations follow. In any case of a draw, both wrestlers lose what they put up. Luchas de Apuestas translates verbatim to English to mean fight of bets.
- Hair vs. Mask Match:
- A wrestler with hair, usually long hair, wrestles a masked wrestler. The loser is either unmasked or his head is shaved or cut short. This usually takes place in Mexico, where it is called Máscara contra Cabellera.
- Hair vs. Hair Match:
- The loser of the match gets his head shaved or cut short. In Mexico, this is called Cabellera contra Cabellera (verbatim Spanish for scalp against scalp).
- Hair vs. Title Match:
- The loser either loses their title or get their hair shaved.
- Mask vs. Mask Match:
- The loser of the match is unmasked. In Mexico, this is called Máscara contra Máscara.
- In Mexico this can be the most important match in a wrestler's career, since almost every wrestler begins their career masked, except in extremely exceptional circumstances (see Rey Mysterio). Only a few of the greatest wrestlers will keep their mask their entire career, such as Mil Máscaras and El Hijo del Santo. In Mexico, by law, once a wrestler is unmasked they may never wear a mask as that character again. The Boxing and Wrestling Commission of Mexico (Box y Lucha) fines heavily for infractions and have suspended licenses for infractions as well. There are, however, occasional gimmick shows where wrestlers are allowed to wear their masks after losing them (after getting it cleared first).
- The loser of the match is unmasked. In Mexico, this is called Máscara contra Máscara.
- Mask vs. Title Match:
- The loser either gives up the title or takes off their mask.
Although a retirement match is often held for a wrestler retiring from professional wrestling to honor the wrestler, in storylines a retirement match denotes a match where the loser is forced into retirement.
The loser often does not retire for real. Instead, it often gives that wrestler time to fulfill other obligations – such as tending to personal matters or filming a movie – or to heal from a legitimate injury. That wrestler then returns at a later date, either with his former persona or with a new gimmick. Sometimes, however, a "retirement match" is actually a wrestler's last match, either in a particular promotion or for their career.
Some matches may take place outside of a traditional ring (or other enclosure), and in a different setting. These matches are often hardcore in nature. There is no standard nomenclature for these matches, although many are known as "brawls" rather than "matches" for emphasis, and they often take the name of the locale as part of the name of the match.
The following is a list of locale-based variations that supplant or replace the standard rules.
A variation of this match is called a Southside Scuffle in which two wrestlers fight in a back alley with either sides blocked off by other wrestlers. Another variation of this match is called a Harbor Brawl in which the wrestlers battle near or on a dock. The first wrestler to either win by knockout or throw their opponent in the water is declared the winner.
Another variation is the Iron Circle Match. Although rare, one occurred at WWE Fully Loaded 1999, when Ken Shamrock fought Steve Blackman in a Iron Circle. The Iron Circle referred to a circle of cars in a parking lot, with the object of the match being to get out of the circle.
A Junkyard Match, similar to an Iron Circle match, occurred at WCW Bash At The Beach 1999, where the match took place within a Junkyard surrounded by a steel fence. The Junkyard included cars, burning oil drums, tires, and many other dangerous objects. To win, the wrestler had to climb out of the area via the fence, similar to the winning method of the traditional Cage Match.
Bar Room Brawl
The Bar room brawl is held in a bar, which combines hardcore wrestling with drinking contests. A wrestler loses the match if they either are defeated in either the wrestling or the drinking contest aspects.
Boiler Room Brawl
King of the Road
The King of the Road match was a match held at WCW's 1995 Uncensored pay-per-view. It was contested on the flatbed of a moving semi-trailer truck which drove up to 55 MPH. The participants started the match at the back of the flatbed with the object being to advance to the front of the flatbed to reach a horn. The first wrestler to blow the bullhorn won the match. Currently, this is the only match of its kind.
Parking Lot Brawl
A Parking Lot Brawl is similar to an Iron Circle match where the combatants are surrounded by cars, the winner is determined by pinfall.
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 the Casket match and Ambulance 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 match or Handcuff match.
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, a team typically loses when all of its members are individually eliminated.
In some cases the restrained wrestler must be taken past a certain point ringside in order for a victory.
Common matches include:
- Hearses (known in WWE as a Last Ride Match
- Caskets (see Casket match)
In addition, another variant is the Buried Alive match, where a wrestler must be buried under dirt for victory.
A Coffin match is a toned-down version of the Casket Match. Victory is not obtained by placing the opponent in the coffin (as in a Casket Match) but by pinfall or submission. However, the defeated wrestler is then placed into the coffin.
As the use of foreign objects is typically illegal in standard rules, matches have been specifically made so as to allow for certain objects, perhaps under certain conditions. The nature of the weapons that are allowed also provide for different rules to be implemented.
When a match involves a certain weapon being made legal, the name of the match will take the name of the weapon: for example, a Chairs Match will have chairs allowed as a legal weapon, while a Singapore Cane Match will allow for the use of Singapore canes. Typically, all other standard rules (pinfall, submission, etc.) apply.
The following is a list of weapon-based matches where additional rules supplant or replace the standard rules.
Handcuff Matches are matches in which wrestlers first attempt to retrieve a pair of handcuffs and then handcuff the opposing wrestler, often to a ring fixture, but sometimes so that the opposing wrestler is unable to make use of their hands.
A Ladder Match is a match where a specific object is placed above the ring and out of the reach of the competitors with the winner being the first person to climb a ladder and retrieve it.
King of the Mountain match
The King of the Mountain Match is a "reverse ladder match" contested exclusively in TNA at their Slammiversary Pay-Per-View. The object of the match is for a wrestler to hang a title belt above the ring by climbing a ladder. However, to become eligible to hang the belt they must first pin one of their opponents (at which point the person who was pinned/submitted must spend an allotted amount of time in a penalty box)
(Object) on a Pole match
The (Object) on a Pole Match is similar to a ladder match, except that the object in question is placed on a pole extending from one of the ring turnbuckles. Like a ladder match, if the object involved is storyline-related, the winner is the one who first retrieves the object, and if a foreign object is at the turnbuckle, then the wrestler who retrieves it may use it as part of the match's second phase.
In some promotions multiple poles and multiple objects may be used, so that each side may have weapon privileges. One notable match in this manner is the Hockey Stick Fight, a Total Nonstop Action Wrestling match in which all six turnbuckles have hockey sticks. In some cases, one turnbuckle may have a storyline object (which immediately ends the match) while others may have foreign objects - an example is the World Championship Wrestling specialty San Francisco 49er Match, where the WCW World Heavyweight Championship and three foreign objects were placed in boxes under the four turnbuckles.
The name of this match often takes the name of the item that is placed from the pole - for example, a title shot decided in this manner would be known as a Contract on a Pole Match, while a set of brass knuckles atop the pole would be known as a Brass Knuckles on a Pole match.
When the object on the pole is a weapon retrieving it usually doesn't end the match, but allow that wrestler to use the weapon on their opponent.
TNA broadcast a Weapons or Escape Four-Corners Pole Match on November 2, 2006 between Christian Cage and Rhino. In this contest, whatever weapon or means of escape the competitors could obtain, they could use in the barbed-wire cage match that followed weeks later. The poles fastened a straitjacket, steel chairs, a key to unlock the cage door, and bolt cutters (meant primarily for cutting barbed wire).
In some cases the pole may be omitted from the name of the match, creating ambiguity. One such example is the Biker Chain Match between The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar, which a chain was suspended from a pole, rather than the more-common match in which chains are used as legal foreign objects.
The pole itself may be replaced by anything similar that puts the object above a turnbuckle: an example of this was on August 13, 2000, in the WCW New Blood Rising pay-per-view. There, in a match between Buff Bagwell and Chris Kanyon, the pole was replaced by a forklift, and the "object" held therein was Judy Bagwell, Buff's mother. Thus, the match became known as the Judy Bagwell on a Forklift Match.
In a Tables Match, the object is to put opposing wrestlers through tables - that is, manipulate them in such a way that the table is broken in half when they are thrown against it. Tag-team tables matches, especially elimination tag-team tables matches, have varied on whether one or both members must go through tables in order for a team to lose. It is common for tables matches to also include a "no disqualification" clause, which turns them into hardcore matches by nature (although this variation may also be alternately known as a Hardcore Tables Match). In some tag matches, a person can save his team mate by breaking the table with his own body. Apparently this does not count against the team.
A variation is the Flaming Tables Match, an Extreme Championship Wrestling specialty match, where the tables are set on fire, and the only way to win is to put opponents through the lit tables. Another is the double tables match, where the first wrestler to put his opponent through two tables wins. Another variant is the High Impact Tables Match, in which you must put your opponent through a table off an elevated surface.
Due to existing notions about violence against women, diva table matches are rare, and putting divas (or other females) through tables is often seen as a way of garnering heel heat.
Tables matches were most used in mainstream wrestling by Team 3D, then known as The Dudley Boyz. First popularized by them in ECW, they later brought table matches to the masses in WWE from 1999 to 2005. They have since brought table matches to TNA and Japan.
Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match
As the name implies, there are tables, ladders, and chairs in and around the ring for use. They can end either by pinfall or sometimes obtaining an item like in a Ladder match. This type of match is often referred to as simply a TLC match.
Taped fist match
A match in which both wrestlers wrap their fists in tape to enable them to punch harder and without hurting their hands.
A variation of the match is called a Taipei Death Match, where, prior to the match, the taped fists are dipped in super-glue and while the glue is still wet, is dipped into broken glass.
Texas Bullrope match
In a Texas Bullrope Match, two wrestlers are placed on opposite ends of a restraint - in this case, a rope. The restraint, and anything tied to it, can be used as a legal weapon. Because the restraint can be used as a way to choke the opposing wrestler, submissions are typically not permitted. A disqualification occurs if either wrestler frees themselves from the restraint before the match is won.
There are often two ways to win: pinfall is permitted, or alternately, the first to touch all four top turnbuckles in succession wins.
The restraint used in a Texas Bullrope Match is a rope that typically has a cowbell in the middle. If another restraint is used, the match typically takes the name of the restraint - for example, the use of a leather strap as a restraint will give rise to the Indian Strap Match. Other names include:
- Dog Collar Match:
- This is where chains are used and are strapped to the necks of both wrestlers. Often the signature of wrestlers with canine-related gimmicks.
- Chain Match:
- Same concept as a Dog Collar Match, except for the wrestlers are chained by their wrists, not the necks.
- Chained Fury Match:
- All of the ring ropes are replaced by steel chains, and all of the turnbackle pads are removed, exposing the steel bolts holding the ropes together. Wrestlers can either be chained by the wrists, like in a Chain Match, or the necks, like in a Dog Collar Match.
- Russian Strap Match:
- The wrestlers are chained but not by the neck
- Short Leash:
- The wrestlers are connected by a one to two foot "leash". The only way to win is by knockout or submission.
- Strap Match:
- In this variation ordinary belts are used.
Many matches take place in enclosures that are typically added onto the wrestling ring, though some types replace the ring with a different enclosure altogether. There, the walls of the enclosure can be legally used as a way to damage opposing wrestlers. In many cases an enclosure-based match will have other normal rules (such as pinfall or submission) apply, although many enclosure-based matches add rules based on the scenario in which a wrestler leaves the enclosure. Some matches may include escaping the enclosure as a winning condition, while others disqualify wrestlers who leave the enclosure.
Often in these types of matches, wrestlers may begin outside the enclosure, and continue inside, whence the match begins in earnest.
Elimination Chamber match
The ring is surrounded by a steel chain-link cage, the boundaries of which extend outside the ring but the outside floor of which is made of rough steel and reaches the level of the ring apron. Outside the ring at each corner is a perspex chamber inside which a wrestler is kept prisoner. There are six competitors, of whom two start the match while the other four are confined in the chambers. The wrestlers are released from the chambers one at a time at regular intervals. Elimination is caused by a pinfall or submission. The last man standing is then declared the winner.
Hell in a Cell match
A Hell in a Cell match is a match with a steel cage erected around the ring, with a roof on top, and room between the Cell and the ring. Victory is achieved by pinfall or submission.
Kennel from Hell
This feud started when Boss Man kidnapped, cooked, and served Snow's dog, Pepper, to him. The match was a spin off of this event, where the Hell in a Cell cage was placed over the ring, which was already equipped with a standard Steel Cage. Two dogs that had been "starved for weeks" were placed in between. The object was simply to escape from the structure, which was designed to be very difficult, however the match turned out to be something of a disaster, as the dogs spent the duration of the match snapping at each other and defecating on the floor, and the whole spectacle looked ridiculous. Snow won the match, which ended the feud. Due to the ludicrous nature of the match (which pertained to Al Snow's "madman" gimmick) and the critical mauling it received, this has been the only such match to be held.
Lion's Den match
The aim of the match is for a wrestler to knock out their opponent unconscious or make them submit inside an octagonal cage. The rules are made to mimic mixed martial arts matches, with the octagonal cage meant to mimic the cage used by the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The Mud match is a match in which the ring canvas is replaced by a pool of mud. Other liquids can also be used to form the pool, with the name of the match taking the name of the liquid: an Egg nog match is one where it is held in a pool of egg nog, while a Gravy match (or a Gravy Bowl Match) is held in a pool of gravy. Other materials include pudding, whipped cream, and the KY Jelly lubricant, as popularized in the movie 'Old School'.
This type of match is often held between female non-wrestlers.
Punjabi Prison match
The Punjabi Prison match, first seen at the 2006 Great American Bash, consists of two large bamboo cages. The first, four sided and 16 feet tall and surrounding the ring with the second standing 20 feet tall with eight sides and surrounding the first cage.
The cage surrounding the ring has a four-foot-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 remain that way for sixty seconds, after which it is padlocked for the remainder of the match. Should all four doors be locked before a wrestler escapes the inner cage, they are forced to climb out over the top, where the bamboo is fashioned into "razor-sharp" spikes. Between the two cages are placed two tables, upon which are weapons (both "medieval" and bamboo variations of standard wrestling weapons).
Once a wrestler has escaped the first cage, they must climb over and out of the second cage. The match is won when a wrestler exits both cages and has both feet touch the arena floor.
Rage in a Cage
A match held in an oval-shaped cage. It is typically used as the arena for the "blowoff match" of a feud. It can be used for a tag team or singles match. In this match, wins are usually by pinfall.
Alternatively, Rage in the Cage may refer to a match held in Florida independent organizations IPW and NWA Florida in which 20 or more wrestlers take part in a battle royal inside a steel cage. Each wrestler is encouraged to bring different weapons to the match, and a wrestler is eliminated by being thrown over the outside of the cage or through the cage door.
Steel cage match
A steel cage match is fought within a cage structure, usually made of either chain link fencing or blue steel bars, placed on the four sides of the ring with victory coming by either pinfall, submission, or escaping the cage.
- Asylum match:
- A chain link cage in the shape of a circle placed in the middle of the ring. Victory occurs only by submission.
- Six Sides Of Steel
- The TNA variant on the steel cage which utilizes six walls of steel, one for each side of their six-sided ring.
A Thundercage is a cage with no roof, but whose sides curve inward at the top to prevent escape.
The Thundercage was used at Clash of the Champions XXII.
A specific match which takes place inside the Thundercage with the area near the top of the cage electrified. The only way to win is when one competitor's "terminator", usually a manager who stands outside of the ring, throws in the towel.
Triple Cage match
The match involved three cages stacked on top of each other, with each cage decreasing in size from the bottom up, with the middle cage containing weapons. 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. The winner is the first competitor to obtain this object. This match was featured in the movie Ready to Rumble and later used by WCW.
Tag-team match variations
Generally, almost all singles match types can be adapted for use in tag-team competitioon, with minor variations. However, there are certain match types which are designed with tag teams in mind - these can be found in the tag team article.
Multi-competitor match variations
Wrestling matches may involve multiple competitors in a free-for-all setting. Because of the number of people involved, these matches are booked on rare occasions and with great care as to ensure that no competitor is left out of the action. Multi-competitor matches are often broken down to those that do involve eliminations (i.e. where the number of competitors in the match is slowly reduced over time), and those that do not. For the former, when a wrestler is eliminated, they are then sent to the back (with any reappearance being considered a run-in and thus grounds for disqualification).
Championship elimination matches, of course, necessitate the elimination of the champion before a new champion is crowned. When wrestlers enter the match at different times, the champion may reserve the right to enter last (or at a position of their choosing) - and it is often the champion who is among the last two remaining. In non-elimination matches, however, the champion need not be involved for the title to change hands, in order to discourage the challengers to team up against the champion. A common flow to the championship non-elimination match has the champion systematically beaten up before the challengers bicker amongst themselves to see who would pin the champion, which leads to the challengers attacking each other - to the point that the challengers are unaware of the fact that the champion has recovered.
There may also be the case where a wrestler is disqualified or counted out in a non-elimination match - in many cases the match continues without the wrestler in question, or else the entire match becomes void. Because of the complex nature of dealing with disqualifications and countouts, many promotions implicitly have a no-countout or no-disqualification clause in multi-competitor matches simply to dodge the issue.
Eliminations in tag-team matches are handled differently - two prevalent cases are that the losing individual must leave the ring area and the team continues without that member, or the team must retire as a group.
Basic non-elimination matches
The most common example of a non-elimination match is the Triple Threat Match, where three wrestlers battle it out under standard rules. In some promotions, this match may be termed a Three-Way Dance, although some promotions may use Three-Way Dance to refer to an elimination match. In many promotions, however, there are typically no distinctions between the two terms. The Fatal Four-Way Match is similar, but involves four wrestlers, likewise the Six-Pack Challenge is one where six wrestlers are involved. Popular American independent promotion, USA Xtreme Wrestling (USA Pro Wrestling) hosted a match involving 8 competitors known as the 8 Ball Challenge.
The Triangle Match combines elements of tag team wrestling with multi-competitor wrestling. In this match contested by three competitors (hence the name), 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 Triangle Match can be expanded to accompany more wrestlers (i.e. the Four Corners Match is a match where four wrestlers are involved)
The Six-Man Mayhem is a unique type of multi-competitor match, used in Ring of Honor, that involves six wrestlers (two in the ring, four at the turnbuckles). Tags are not needed as when one wrestler leaves the ring, another can just come in.
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 would eliminate one wrestler, reducing the match to a standard one-fall match. The Three-Way Dance (when not used as a synonym of the Triple Threat Match) is a specialty of Extreme Championship Wrestling.
A Four-Way Dance is similer except it involves four wrestlers and some promotions use a tag format for the match instead of having all 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.
A match in which wrestlers are eliminated upon being thrown over the top rope and out of the ring, with both feet touching the floor of the venue.
Doomsday Cage match
Also called a Tower of Doom, this match involves a three-story cage on top of a ring. A team of two wrestlers start from the top story and fight their way to the bottom against a team of eight wrestlers. Victory is attained by scoring a pinfall in the bottom cage. The most notable match of this type occurred at WCW's Uncensored event in 1996, when Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage fought Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Meng, The Barbarian, Lex Luger, Kevin Sullivan, Z-Gangsta, and The Ultimate Solution.
Final Wars Brawl
This match has two wrestlers in a steel cage for thirty minutes with other wrestlers entering at a timed interval to help out one of the opponents.
Football Classic match
Two cages are placed at ringside, inside each of which is locked a manager with a weapon. The key for each cage is fastened to a football. Two teams of wrestlers must try and gain possession of the football and take it over to their manager's cage, use the key to unlock the cage, then use the manager's weapon to attack the other team. To get the ball to the cage, the wrestlers must pass it between themeselves and attack any opposing wrestlers who have possession of the ball. In his autobiography; Mick Foley describes the match as "A fun, fan-inclusive cross between keep away, monkey in the middle, and kill the guy with the ball."
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 referred to as 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.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling has created a match type that they also call the guantlet, but the rules are dramatically different. Wrestlers enter at regular intervals, elimination is achieved by being thrown over the top rope and down to the arena floor (both feet do not have to touch), and the last elimination is by pinfall or submission.
Bra & Panties Gauntlet match
A Bra & Panties Gauntlet Match is much like a standard gauntlet match, only involving divas and with eliminations occurring as a result of stripping an opponent of their clothes instead of pinfall.
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. Sometimes performed with hardcore rules.
Sometimes suffixed with the tagline "The Match Beyond". The War Games match features two rings surrounded by an enclosed steel cage 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. This match was made famous by NWA's annual Great American Bash and later WCWs Wrestle War before becoming a tradition at their annual Fall Brawl pay-per-view event from 1993-1998.
In ECW, this was known as an Ultimate Jeopardy match.
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 victory can be attained by pinfall. This match has become a staple of TNA's Lockdown pay per view every 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 to the floor.
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. 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 match
A Beat the Clock match is a series of singles matches between different wrestlers to see which wrestler can win their match in the shortest amount of time. Each wrestler involved competes in one match, and it is generally assumed that these wrestlers do not face each other, instead facing jobbers (or occasionally for heel characters, a confidant that will gladly lay down for them).
Beat the Clock matches often have all of the wrestlers involved winning their matches. In the case of a wrestler losing their match, the wrestler is removed from consideration, and in some cases, with their opponent taking their place (such that the winner of the shortest match is effectively the winner of the Beat the Clock match). In the case that a wrestler is unable to beat the time of a previous match, the match may be prematurely ended, although in practice all matches in the Beat the Clock match are fought to a conclusion. Disqualifications in Beat the Clock matches can be handled in different ways: with the match being counted as a win (with the time until disqualification as the official match time), a loss, or having another match to settle the matter.
Beat the Clock matches are often fought for a stipulation, such as a championship or the privilege of final entry in a multi-competitor match.
A wrestler (often being punished by on-screen authority) can sometimes be forced to endure several matches in quick succession. A wrestler who is doing this is said to be "running the gauntlet." Note that TNA Wrestling uses the word "guantlet," but not for this match type.
Three Strikes, You're Out!
The Three Strikes, You're Out! match (often shortened to Three Strikes), is one where wrestlers must achieve three victories of a specific nature in a specific order before the other. The name of the match is taken from baseball, referring to the notion that losing three times would entail losing the match. Because of the format, wrestlers may be attempting to fulfil different victory conditions. Like generic series matches, these are often booked so as to have both wrestlers have two "strikes" against them, with the final victory condition being a particularly brutal manner (for example, Last Man Standing).
The most common arrangement for the three strikes are pinfall, submission, and knockout, with the entire match being fought under no disqualification rules.
In WWE, these types of matches are known as Three Stages Of Hell, although the third match may not be needed in the case of a sweep victory, although this has rarely been the case. Some variations make each stipulation timed (Usually in five to ten minute intervals) making every stipulation available.
In many Extreme style wrestling promotions, many of these matches are basically exaggerations and variations of the common hardcore match. Since most of these matches are rarely ever repeated, this list must be taken at face value.
Anus Explosion death match
The Anus Explosion death match was contested between Mr. Gannosuke and H in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling on October 29, 1998 in Korakuen Hall. The stipulations of the match stated that, in order to win a wrestler had to put a firecracker into their opponent's rectum, and have it explode. Gannosuke won this contest after bounding H with his hands around a corner turnbuckle, facing the audience.
Barbed Wire Massacre
A barbed wire deathmatch where the ring ropes are replaced with barbed wire (as opposed to wrapped in it), with barbed-wire boards outside the ring.
Barefoot Thumbtack match
Both opponents are barefoot, and there is a container of thumbtacks in the middle of the ring.
Beds of (Objects) death match
A hardcore match that has beds of thumbtacks, nails, barbed wire, glass, and/or lightbulbs. These matches usually occur in Deathmatch Title matches or Deathmatches in general.
Cage of Death
A Combat Zone Wrestling event and match type.
Canadian death match
A singles match that can be won by either making one's opponent quit via submission maneuver, or by rendering one's opponent physically unable to continue. In order to win by submission, one's opponent must say, "I quit!" or tap out or be incapacitated via sleeper hold. In order to win by incapacitating one's opponent, the opponent must be unable to answer the referee's ten-count. There are no disqualifications. Count-outs are avoided because at least four "special enforcers" are stationed around the ring. The enforcers are responsible for throwing a competitor back into the ring should he fall out, much like a lumberjack match.
Chamber of Horrors
The Chamber of Horrors match occurred once, at the 1991 Halloween Havoc. Its competitors were two teams of four wrestlers. The match takes place in a Thundercage which contains a smaller cage in the center of the ring with the "Chair of Torture" (electric chair) in it. In order to win the match, a wrestler has to pull a lever located on the cage wall (the terminator), while an opposing wrestler is in the "Chair of Torture". As a result, the match ends with the wrestler in the "Chair of Torture" being 'shocked'.
Crisis Big Born death match
This is a Big Japan match which combines several deathmatch types. The match starts out on a scaffold above a barbed wire net over a ring. The ring itself is surrounded by cactus, fire stones (electric space heaters wrapped in barbed wire) and dry ice. Thumbtacks are scattered in the ring. In the middle of the ring is a tank of scorpions. Various weapons including light bulbs, bats, drills, saws and swords are permitted. The match is fought with all members of two teams active at the same time under street fight rules. When all the wrestlers have fallen into the barbed wire net, the next phase of the match begins. The barbed wire net is removed and the match continues. Wrestlers leave the match by submission, by having their head put in the scorpion tank for ten seconds or by passing out.
Circus Top High Tower death match
This match features a scaffold next to the ring and a net made of barbed wire. The net is attached to the ropes, and the only way to win is by pinning the opponent in the net. The first match was between Mad Man Pondo and Ryuji Ito in Japan.
Clockwork Orange House of Fun match
A singles match with many weapons suspended from steel chains around the ring, sometimes with sides of a steel cage attached to the ring. The use of weapons is legal, and the match ends in pinfall. Pinfalls count anywhere in the ringside area. This match was created by Raven in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, which later changed the match's name to Raven's House Of Fun, he in fact previously used the match in WCW where he called it the Bowery Death Match. The Insane Clown Posse also uses this match in their JCW shows; their version is called the Holler match.
Crocodile death match
This is a standard death match, with the added stipulation that the loser must wrestle a crocodile at the completion of the match. An example would be between Mitsuhiro Matsunaga and Shadow WX.
Desert death match
The ring is surrounded by cactus. A tank of scorpions is placed in the middle of the ring. The match is won by holding the head of a wrestler in the scorpion tank for ten seconds.
East Coast Thumbtack death match
A variant of the 10,000 thumbtacks deathmatch, this match has 177,000 thumbtacks placed in the ring. The first match was between Ian Rotten and the Messiah.
Electric Pool match
This was a very dangerous type of match which has only been held once. The ring was placed in a large pool of water, with no ropes on 2 sides of the ring, and exploding barbed wire on the other two sides of the ring. The ring was put on a floating device, then it was surrounded by 4 metal barricades. There was a current running through these 4 barricades (which were essentially small sections of the pool enclosed off from the rest of the pool), enabling the water to "explode" when a wrestler was thrown into one of these barricaded areas. Considering the danger involved in allowing a current to run through water, this match was only used once in FMW in 1994, which was known for its extreme hardcore matches.
Usually accompanied with barbed wire ropes, a large barbed wire wrapped explosion board is placed in the ring laced with a small amount of C-4. The loser is the man that is blown up. In another variation, the match ends with a pin or submission and the explosives serve as weapons.
Firestone death match
This is a standard death match where the ring is lined with electric space heaters wrapped in barbed wire. The match can be lost by submission or when one of the wrestlers passes out.
Japanese Barbed Wire match
The Japanese Barbed Wire Match is different from a normal barbed wire match in the fact that there are wooden boards covered with barbed wire and have a small charge goes off when someone lands on it.
2/3 Lightube Log Cabin death match
200 Light Tubes death match
A match type first used in the U.S. Combat Zone Wrestling at an event called "They Said it Couldn't be Done". The object of this match is to win by pinfall. The use of fluorescent light tubes -— officially two hundred are available for use -— as weapons are allowed. These matches are often very bloody and have been banned in most states. Variants of this match have been the 100 light tubes deathmatch and the 300 lightubes deathmatch.
Lucha en Jaula Electrificada
A variation of the cage match, in this contest the cage is electrified (explaining the name "fight in an electric cage") and the only way to win is by escape. The cage is turned off in certain intervals, allowing the participants a chance at escape. Used by the AAA promotion in Mexico.
Piranha death match
A tank of Piranhas is put in the middle of the ring. The ring is surrounded by barbed wire. The match is won by holding the head of a wrestler in the Piranha tank for ten seconds.
Taipei death match
Two wrestlers tape their fists and dip them in glue. Their glue-soaked fists are then dipped into shards of broken glass, usually from broken beer bottles, and proceed to fight in a standard match. Most notably at ECW's PPV Hardcore Heaven on July 1, 1995 when brothers Axl and Ian Rotten settled their differences in this match.
10,000 Thumbtacks death match
This match has 10,000 thumbtacks placed in the ring. The wrestlers can use the thumbtacks as weapons. Victory by either pinfall, submission or knocking out the opponent. A variation of this match is a cross between a Ladder Match and 10,000 Thumbtacks Match called a Thumbtacks Ladder Match in which a ladder is placed in the ring with a reward at the top. Thumbtacks are also spread out across the ring.
Razorwire death match
Essentially the same as the barbed wire match, however the barbed wire is replaced by Razorwire in all instances. As the danger in this match is very high, very few events of this nature have been held, especially in the west.
Unlucky 13 is a death match invented by Ian Rotten where, in order to win, a wrestler must staple seven out of thirteen dollar bills to their opponent.