Hello. Today, I’d like to take you back in time to match types we haven’t seen in WWE for a long time. Whether it be PG programming or other factors, the company started cutting back as early as 2005. The return of the Punjabi Prison inspired me to look into this, because the first incarnation was a disaster. I thought well .. if WWE is willing to bring back Punjabi Prison, then what else could they bring back?
The logic behind some of the gimmicks being dropped permanently is obvious, but I’ll include them as it’s interesting to see how they phased out. Others you may look at and think .. yeah, it could work in the right setting. So here I am, showing you the match types WWE has stashed away. I decided not include all the match types I found (I’m like Tye Dillinger, 10 is the perfect number), so if you’d like to include any I missed, please share them in the comments section.
1. Armageddon Hell in a Cell
We will definitely see Hell In a Cell in the future, but not on this scale. At Armageddon 2000, The Undertaker, The Rock, Triple H, Rikishi, and Stone Cold Steve Austin challenged Kurt Angle for the WWF title in the first and only six-man Hell In a Cell. It’s most famous for the spot involving The Undertaker and Rikishi. Angle managed to go in as champion and pin The Rock to retain, making it one of the biggest wins of his career. Perhaps we’ll see it again one day? We can only dream.
There’s only been a handful of these matches, with the most recent examples being Chavo Guerrero vs. Hornswoggle, and Santino Marella vs. Drew McIntyre. D’Lo Brown and Triple H fought in one back in 2002, and Triple H used Ric Flair to cheat as expected. However, I believe there has been one good blindfold match, and it happened at Wrestlemania 7 as Jake Roberts squared off against Rick Martel.
The great thing about it was Roberts got the crowd really involved. He’d point around and wait for the crowd to pop, which told him his opponent was in front of him. The fun that can be had in one of these bizarre matches shouldn’t be underestimated, as any good storyteller will make it something to remember.
3. Bra & Panties
WWE and its talent have done a great job at gaining respect for the women’s division after years of being used to cater to a specific audience. It was normal to see a bra & panties matches in the 90’s .. in fact, it was expected by many. Most of the women who were around couldn’t wrestle, but the likes of Lita, Trish Stratus, Molly Holly and Victoria changed the game. They fought hard to make the fans respect them as human beings. However, it was WWE who chose not to take them seriously for so many years, despite the fans being ready to see a competitive women’s division filled with quality wrestling. The last bra & panties match happened in 2007 when Melina defeated Candice Michelle.
There are many reasons why WWE dropped these matches. Firstly, after Lita and Trish Stratus retired they publicly admitted they didn’t enjoy them, but they did it anyway as it was airtime. The product was toned down in 2007, not just because of the change to PG programming, but because of what happened with Chris Benoit and the fact the world was poking around at what the company deemed acceptable.
The rise of the TNA Knockouts Division with Gail Kim and Awesome Kong provided quality women’s wrestling as an alternative while WWE stuck with the same old formula of pitting one sexy girl against another sexy girl and have them strip each other. There were many variations of this match .. but can you name them all? And who was the undisputed queen of stripping? I’ll give that special accolade to Torrie Wilson, as she seemed to enjoy it more than anyone else.
Ok, so it wasn’t long ago we saw Daniel Bryan against Kane in 2015, but did you know that the last time we saw The Undertaker in a casket match was Survivor Series 2008 against The Big Show? It’s been an awfully long time, and it feels like it might never happen as The Undertaker’s either retired, or he’s close to working his last match. A variation of this was the Buried Alive match, which only happened a few times in history.
5. Empty Arena
As far as I know it only occured once in WWE, when The Rock squared off with Mankind in an arena full of empty chairs. TNA did the same thing years later with Sting and Kurt Angle. The interesting thing about this gimmick is it strips everything away, and all you have are the two guys fighting with nothing flashy. There’s no distractions, anything goes, and the entertainment value is laid squarely on the shoulders of the talent. The problem is .. it’s hard to sell the concept. Why have them fight in an empty arena? It needs to make sense, and it needs to fit in to the storyline. You can’t hype it up before .. because it should come across as a non-sanctioned fight. I think WWE tried it once and felt it wasn’t worth doing again.
6. First Blood
The last time we had a First Blood match was back at One Night Stand 2008. The former ECW PPV name took it to the extreme as John Cena fought JBL in a very bloody fight. It was reminiscent of the bloody match between Eddie Guerrero and JBL a few years before. Considering how WWE has medical staff rush in to clean up excess blood mid-match, it’s safe to say we will not see it return. Other First Blood matches included Kane defeating Steve Austin for the WWF title in 1998, Booker T defeating Austin in 2001, Angle beating Cena in 2006, and Mr. Kennedy pulling off an upset on The Undertaker at Survivor Series the same year.
7. Hair vs. Hair
A rare match which has brought a good deal of memories. Whether it be Trump shaving Vince, Victoria scalping Molly Holly, or Edge transforming the gold medalist Kurt Angle, it’s often a funny moment for all involved. I’ll have to admit it’s a little silly, I get my head shaved all the time .. it’s kinda like saying bald people are ugly or something. Either way, nine of these matches have happened in WWE and here they are:
- Roddy Piper defeated Adrian Adonis at Wrestlemania III
- Brutus Beefcake defeated Ron Bass on Saturday Night’s Main Event
- X-Pac defeated Jeff Jarrett at Summerslam
- Edge defeated Kurt Angle at Judgement Day
- Chris Jericho defeated Kevin Nash on Raw
- Victoria defeated Molly Holly at Wrestlemania XX
- Eugene defeated Eric Bischoff at Taboo Tuesday
- Lashley (w/ Donald Trump) defeated Umaga (w/ Mr. McMahon) at Wrestlemania 23
- CM Punk defeated Rey Mysterio at Extreme Rules 2010
I loved watching WWF for the hardcore division. Ok, so it wasn’t quality 5-star wrestling .. but it was fun dammit! The title could change hands anywhere, anytime, even women could win it. Raven, Steve Blackman, Big Boss Man, Hardcore Holly, Crash Holly, there were so many names who made it exciting. I remember when The Undertaker had it once .. man, he was the scariest champion ever.
The ECW guys came in and it was all over, as WWE decided to put the division to bed. It’s a shame because the ECW guys would’ve had a division on their own .. but it was obvious WWE were looking to cut back. The last match for the hardcore title happened in a unification match (with the IC title on the line) between these two legends in the video below. And it was a good job they did .. the belt was falling apart and had to be patched several times before it was deactivated forever.
9. Three Stages Of Hell
I miss it. I loved playing my Smackdown vs. Raw games and setting up main events with Three Stages Of Hell. You can have any combination of matches for the three falls, and everyone knows it’s going to the third fall where it will likely be Hell in a Cell or I Quit. I’ll never forget the brutal fight between Steve Austin and Triple H. The problem with this concept is the talent needs to bleed .. otherwise it’s not really “hell”. Brutality is the only result of Three Stages Of Hell. It’s the ultimate end to an epic blood feud.
10. Ultimate Submission
So forget the guy on the right in the picture below and focus on Angle. Now .. breath. Ok, are we good? I’ve always been a fan of Ultimate Submission matches as it comes as close to an amateur/MMA contest than any other match type. Angle & Benoit had a classic at Backlash 2001 with the match ending 4-3 to Benoit. It’s not impossible to bring it back, however .. you need two wrestlers who regularly use submissions and WWE’s roster has a lack of submission specialists.
Samoa Joe could do it. AJ Styles or Jericho could do it. If Angle ever decides to wrestle again .. he could but I doubt he’d work 30 minutes. Ultimate Submission is a variation on the Ironman match. WWE recently gave us a Ironwoman’s match (Bayley vs. Sasha Banks), and a tag team Ironman match between The Hardys and Cesaro/Sheamus. It’s not impossible to see Ultimate Submission return one day, but it needs to be between the two best submission wrestlers on the planet at the given time.
So let me round this up by saying WWE could bring back half of the match types I’ve featured here. Some will never return, and good riddance to them. What are your thoughts? Which gimmicks do you think WWE will bring back? Do you miss the controversial gimmicks like Bra & Panties? And will we ever get another Armageddon Hell In A Cell to usurp the first one? Please let me know in the comments section .. and as always, thanks for reading!