Hello and good day to you! Today, we are looking at 10 of my favorite gimmick wrestling matches of all time. This was an email request, so the idea was not my own. Still, I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know if you would like to see my 10 worst match types, and I could make that happen in May. Cheers.
#1. Championship Scramble
So rare in WWE, I mostly remembered it happening at the Unforgiven 2008 PPV. After three title matches, Matt Hardy, Triple H and Chris Jericho walked out as champions that day. And while the matches were well-received, the PPV struggled to sell tickets. The Quicken Loans Arena (in Cleveland, Ohio) maximum capacity is 20,000, but only 8,707 people attended the event.
This is the likely reason we never saw it again, because Vince McMahon figured it wasn’t a big enough draw. Some were skeptical of the rules being difficult to understand, but I don’t think it was in the slightest:
Rules: The match begins with two competitors. Every five minutes, a new wrestler enters the match. When all wrestlers have entered, pinfalls or submissions would make a wrestler the “interim champion”. Five minutes after all have entered, the wrestler who remains the interim champion officially wins the match and earns the title.
While I’m not a fan of gauntlet style booking with falls involved, the urgency in the last five minutes is what’s missing from title matches. They rarely use time limits in the modern era, but there’s a place for it. I remember WWE booking something like a Championship Scramble in the Attitude Era with the Hardcore title. Dozens of wrestlers started the match and were encouraged to use weapons. It was random and chaotic, but man was it fun.
It’s pretty cool anyone can become “champion”, even for a short time. Remember how crazy fans were after Chris Jericho won the WWF title from Triple H, before it was reversed? Scrambles could give fans the chance to show how much they care about a superstar succeeding. The only two things I would change are the name and gauntlet entry. Make it more like a glorified battle royal with no eliminations and a time limit. Give everyone an equal chance of winning.
#2. Last Man Standing
Some people don’t like Last Man Standing matches, and I understand why. Wrestlers tease the 10 count way too early and often, resulting in over and/or underselling. But I always enjoyed them because winning in a count out manner, rather than pinfall of submission, is rarely rewarded. I also like the brutality, as it encourages opponents to pummel each other til they can’t stand no more.
If done right, we see the best-selling and storytelling in wrestling. What I would change if I could, is to make it a 20 count. Doing this would allow us to see the damage progression to both wrestlers, and I think there would be a better payoff. Either way, I always enjoy this match type over a street fight, no DQ, No Holds Barred etc.
#3. Luchas De Apuestas
Wait, what?! For anyone who doesn’t know, this is a wager vs. wager match, or more commonly in Mexico, a hair vs. mask match. In the United States, we are more likely to see title vs. career. Or streak vs. career, as was the case between The Undertaker & Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania.
Why do I like this? Well, it’s self explanatory. It’s refreshing to see matches where something significant is on the line, no matter what the result. There are far too many outcomes with little to no meaning, so when a rare wager battle comes along it’s a big deal. It’s sometimes as, or more important than title matches. Unlike a championship bout, a DQ will not stop something happening. Life altering stipulations make Luchas De Apuestas one of the best.
#4. Royal Rumble
I admitted I don’t like gauntlets, but Royal Rumble’s get a pass because new entries come along swiftly and eliminations aren’t a matter of getting a fall. What most people look forward to with Rumbles are surprise appearances, as the door swings open for anyone to have a go. But what makes the Rumble special is that the winner goes to the WrestleMania main event. Chasing such a tremendous prize creates stars in its process.
Rumbles have their weaknesses though. The shambolic way that superstars meander around punching each other, while illogically stopping others from being eliminated, leave us scratching our heads. There are too many moments making them look less than urgent. But also, it makes sense that superstars have their cues to hit spots, while the others blend in like extras in a movie. If everyone tried to hit their moves simultaneously, it would be difficult to keep up with.
After a long time working on a Royal Rumble series on and off, I gave up on it after the 27th edition. If anyone is wondering why, it wasn’t garnering enough interest and making them wasn’t fun anymore. However, I learned a lot about this match type and if you want to know more, you can find all 27 editions linked here: Royal Rumble Series
#5. Survivor Series
Back in the day, Survivor Series was about bringing together a bunch of guys, giving them cool team names, and then letting them battle it out. It was fun, random, and we didn’t know what to expect. Along the way, WWE forgot how to use Survivor Series to its full potential. Yet, there have been moments in history when it made a difference. The 2001 WWF vs. WCW/ECW alliance match springs to mind.
Sadly, it’s not as often as it should be, but there’s a reason it remains on WWE’s calendar. People enjoy Survivor Series, as do I… except the whitewashes. I hate those! The more competitive a match is the better. Let’s not praise mismatches in Survivor Series.
Tables, Ladders & Chairs. One of the greatest match types ever conceived. It’s dangerous as hell, but it has brought us so many jaw-dropping moments. I kinda wish WWE wouldn’t dedicate an entire PPV to it. Also, I think they should decide Money In The Bank at WrestleMania in TLC like it was.
The concept isn’t as engaging as it used to be because you want guys feuding, much like Edge & Christian, The Dudley Boyz & The Hardy Boyz. When you throw randoms in to the mix, it’s just carnage for the sake of it. If WWE were to book these matches with storytelling behind it, every spot would mean that much more.
#7. Triple Cage
I might tell you why I’m not a fan of most cage match types in another piece, but the Triple Cage is awe-inspiring. Mostly known for the climax in the Ready to Rumble movie and Slamboree main event featuring David Arquette, it is structured like a mountain with tiers. It looks spectacular, and would be a fitting way to end a long-time feud.
The only thing working against it is the lack of visibility for those in attendance, but most cage matches are like that. Still, I like the idea of someone standing on top of the Triple Cage holding the Championship. WWE would never go for it, because it reminds people too much of WCW. If they brought it back though, they would tweak it enough to be their version.
#8. Ultimate X
By far my favorite match type exclusive to TNA Impact Wrestling, Ultimate X isn’t to be overlooked. Some of the most innovative spots I have ever seen happened in Ultimate X, and it saddens me that so many haven’t seen it because they weren’t interested in TNA.
Some of the first matches I saw of AJ Styles involved him, Petey Williams and Chris Sabin competing heavily in the X-Division, which this match revolves around. The ropes are hung over the ring in the shape of an X, and the X-Division title is placed in the middle like a TLC. It has rarely been used since Anthem Sports took over Impact. Overall, there have been 43 matches and the most successful wrestlers are: Chris Sabin, Christopher Daniels, Alex Shelley and Frankie Kazarian
The first match I ever saw as a kid was a bloody Wargames match between The Dangerous Alliance and Sting’s Squadron at WrestleWar 1992. Check this out for a lineup:
Sting, Barry Windham, Dustin Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat and Nikita Koloff vs. Steve Austin, Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton and Larry Zbyszko (with Paul E. Dangerously and Madusa)
Little did I know TV Champion Steve Austin (who was bloodied to hell) would become a legend. And also, I didn’t know the manager at ringside would become ECW’s Paul Heyman years later. There’s so much talent here, and the feud between Sting’s Squadron and The Dangerous Alliance was top-notch. Not only that, but there was an underlying rivalry between Sting and Nikita Koloff, so we didn’t know if Koloff would betray Sting’s team.
You know what sold this to me? I was too young to know wrestling is scripted, so it was very real to me. It was almost barbaric to my eyes. I couldn’t understand why they would go to such lengths to hurt each other, but it was entertaining all the same. WWE brought it back for the NXT brand… but literally took the roof off. I guess it’s fine (because we get guys/girls hitting sick spots), but it means they aren’t stuck at the mercy of each other. AEW is looking to bring back traditional Wargames with their “Blood & Guts” match this week.
#10. World War 3 / Battle Royal
I have always enjoyed battle royals, but I think companies don’t do enough with them. It has Royal Rumble syndrome, where too many competitors stand around punching for no good reason. I’m a fan of legends battle royals though, just because it’s nice to see some old faces, so long as it’s for the novelty and nothing else.
The biggest Battle Royal concept in wrestling was WCW’s World War 3, which is known for spanning across three rings. In 1995, 60-men competed in the first incarnation for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, which saw Randy Savage victorious. In the following three years, the winners would earn a title shot at a later date. The Giant (aka Big Show) won in 1996, but lost to Hollywood Hogan. Scott Hall won in 1997, but lost out to Sting. The last winner was Kevin Nash in 1998, who infamously went to Starrcade and not only defeated Goldberg for the WCW title, but ended his undefeated streak too.
It’s unknown why WCW stopped producing World War 3, but it could be to do with logistics. Setting up three rings for an event can’t be easy, and only WWE has done it since with two rings for NXT’s Wargames. It may also have something to do with paying 60 men to compete. Either way, it’s a bit of a shame that no company has incorporated the battle royal in a grand way. Even WWE’s André the Giant battle royal has lost its splendor, as they reduced it to SmackDown despite WrestleMania having two nights this year.
And there you have it, just 10 of my favorite gimmick wrestling matches. Please share your own with us in the comments below. Thanks for reading!