7 Strangest Gimmick Matches in Professional Wrestling
In professional wrestling a gimmick match is contest with rules altered from the standard “pin or submit” matches. However, many of these matches either take the spectacle too far as to ruin suspension of disbelief or fall flat by becoming too bogged down in rules.
Empty Arena Match
Any empty arena match is essentially a match without rules or an audience. The general idea is that the fighting will take place anywhere in the building, thus making is hardcore or possibly “xtreme” in nature.
However, professional wrestling is almost entirely about the spectacle of the sport. Everyone knows that the outcomes are predetermined, so the draw is in watching the over-the-top stunts. This suddenly becomes incredibly awkward without an audience. With no energy coming from the non-crowd watching, watching two men pretend to fisticuffs across an empty arena just seems weird.
King of the Mountain Match
A creation of the Total Nonstop Action brand, King of the Mountain is best described as a backwards ladder match. In a ladder match the goal is grab a belt suspended over the ring by using one of several ladders. Though somewhat formulaic, they're a real crowd pleaser because nothing's quite as entertaining as watching a Little Giant crash into a man's spine.
King of the Mountain does this backwards: one of the five competitors must grab the belt from outside the ring, climb a ladder and hang it on a suspended hook. If that's not exciting, wait! There's more! Before anyone is eligible to even pick up the belt they must first make one of their opponents submit or win a pin fall. Then, whoever lost has to sit in a penalty box for two minutes before re-entering. It's just convoluted enough to make you feel bored while not being so convoluted to make it seem like it’s legitimate.
Because taking a steel ladder to the spine is for cowardly men, hardcore wrestling has upped the ante several times on what one could reasonably consider over the top. One of the more famous of these is Extreme Championship Wrestling's Taipei Deathmatch, wherein both competitors tape their fists, dip them in glue and then dip then shards of glass, because why the hell not?
Fought between Ian and Axl Rotten, the Taipei Deathmatch was ECW's bloodiest, which is really saying something when you consider just how much those guys liked blading each other. It did wonders for the brand's image, though we can't say the same for the Taipei tourism board.
Shark Cage Match
Part of the appeal of a cage match is that the participants have nowhere to run to and are confined to the space inside the cage, usually only a few feet larger than the ring itself.
Though nowadays there are several variations to the idea, the worst is over thirty-years old and thus somewhat obscure. The Shark Cage Match appeared in Big Time Wrestling (which fizzled out in Eighties). The idea was to put two men in as small a cage as possible with the winner being whoever could get out first. It looks like this:
What happens when you limit the mobility of the two men forced to fight each other? The answer is “not much of anything.” If you’re a fan of punches, banged elbows, choking and literally nothing else, this one's for you.
“X” On A Pole Match
One of the older gimmick matches, the idea is to retrieve an object that has been suspended on a pole on one of the turnbuckles. In most instances there will be multiple poles (usually two) in opposite corners. Originally, retrieving the item did would result in the end of the match, though in later iterations the item retrieved was a weapon of some kind, such as a “gauntlet” or a leather strap, which could then be used to finish the match under other means.
What makes this a terrible match is the many bizarre variants of it WCW tried to run with during their heyday. One of the higher-ups realized that a variety of objects could be hung from a pole, and suddenly audiences had to sit through things like the above “Viagra on a Pole,” implying that you'll have an easier time wrestling if you have an uncontrollable erection. Then there was Buff Bagwell's Mother on a Pole, which is both self-explanatory and completely unbelievable at the same time. Can someone remind us how they didn't go out of business sooner?
Reverse Battle Royal
We're going back to TNA for this one. A Battle Royal sees several wrestlers in the ring at once trying to throw each other over the top rope until only one remains. The Reverse Battle Royal doesn't exactly play this backwards so much as it just completely screws it up.
Sixteen men start on the outside of the ring with the intention of trying to get inside the ring. Once eight people are inside, the other eight are eliminated. Then, those in the ring try to throw each other back out of the ring until only two people remain. Then, your standard pin-or-submit match takes place. Following the same “more rules means more fun” design theory of the King of the Hill Match, this one loses steam well before the final two begin the actual match.
King of the Road Match
WCW Uncensored was an annual pay-per-view that the Board of Directors allegedly had nothing to do with, making the matches “unsanctioned” and more gimmick prone than any other show in the year. Essentially, it was an excuse for the writing team to throw out whatever wacky ideas that would otherwise be shot down when people were trying to host a legitimate fake-fight.
Arguably the most memorable match from Uncensored's five year run was the King of the Road Match. Blacktop Bully fought Dusty Rhodes in the caged trailer of an eighteen wheeler as it drove around parts of Atlanta. Someone had to reach the back of the trailer and sound a horn to be declared the winner.
To understand how this could have happened you must first understand that the early-to-mid Nineties was to professional wrestling what the Sixties were to the rest of us: anything went. But the idea of two men fighting in the back of a truck trailer was ridiculous even by those standards. What was meant to be a high-stakes battle at fifty-five miles per hour boiled down to two out of shape men throwing bales of hay at each other in a poorly edited montage of what might once have been a wrestling match.Image Sources
- - Professional Wrestling: http://www.fanpop.com/spots/professional-wrestling/images/652871/title/royal-rumble-2008-wallpaper