9. Hellfire Deathmatch
I consider the Hellfire Deathmatch the most dangerous in the history of wrestling. Why? Because it made the Inferno matches look like a quiet stroll in the park. The issue with the Hellfire Deathmatch is that it got out of hand very quickly. After viewing, it seems like everyone involved hadn’t done enough to control the spread of the fire, nor had they put wrestlers in to test how hot it would be.
This could have cost several wrestlers their lives, but luckily they were responsive enough to escape before they could be trapped in a ring going up in flames. The referee called it off after a couple of minutes, and officials were quick to pour buckets of water on to the burned wrestlers. Let this be a lesson to anyone who wants to use fire in a wrestling match… test, test, test, and just to be sure, test again! Even so, there should always be a backup plan, because fire is wild and doesn’t always do what you’re expecting.
10. Hardcore Match… With A Horse
Most hardcore matches are not extreme enough to make this list, but one of them does stand out to me. Crazily enough, WWE actually posted this incident on their YouTube channel! That was not something I was expecting. So one day in WCW during the year 2000, officials went ahead and booked Terry Funk & Chris Candido in a hardcore match. Sounds pretty standard. And it didn’t take long for it to spiral out of hand to the point Funk & Candido found themselves on the premises of a stable with no one around to stop them.
With horses looking frantic in their confined stables, you’re thinking great… they are safe in there. But no, Funk & Candido decide to enter one. The horse is tied up, but watch what happens when Terry Funk gives Candido a piledriver. The video isn’t long, so I ain’t going to tell you what happens when you can see it for yourselves. Sometimes, animals and wrestling don’t mix!
11. Junkyard Invitational
For some reason, this match is almost impossible to find unless you acquire the WCW Bash At The Beach ’99 PPV. However, I did manage to find a video with French commentary on Facebook at the following link: Junkyard Invitational
This match is dangerous and dumb in several ways. Firstly, all the trashed cars were not altered to ensure the wrestler’s safety. Secondly, the winner would be the first wrestler to escape the junkyard, but this wasn’t clearly explained to the audience. Thirdly, the lighting sucks because they are in a junkyard and it was never designed to be used in a cinematic fashion. The helicopter helped a little with this. Also, it wasn’t always easy to tell who was who, as the wrestlers were in street clothes.
Apparently Hak (aka The Sandman) was originally booked to win it, but due to showing up late (& drunk) for a meeting, it was decided Fit Finlay would be the victor instead. And what did he get for his trouble? A trophy made out of junk. Amazing. Kevin Sullivan stated the match cost $100,000 to produce, but Eric Bischoff adamantly disputes this figure in the interview below. The worst thing to come out of this was the list of injuries, which included: concussions, neck injuries and lacerations.
12. Piranha Deathmatch
Needs little explanation. The winner is the first wrestler to put their opponent in to a tank full of flesh eating piranhas. How does this happen? Why would anyone want to see this happen? And how can wrestling recover from such a travesty?
Luckily, many fans didn’t hear about it. But now that it’s been shared here, it continues to ruin the lives of anyone who chooses to witness the brutality of piranhas deciding the fate of a wrestling match. What is it with mixing animals and wrestling??
13. Scaffold (Skywalkers) / Elevation X
I’ve always been a huge fan of Ultimate X, but what about Elevation X? Or scaffold matches in general? Is it right to risk wrestlers by having them drop from great heights? What if they slip and land wrong? Here’s a quote from Don West which sums this gimmick up perfectly:
“Let me tell you something Mike, Rhino’s scared, you’re scared, i’m scared, everybody in this freakin’ building is scared, and let me tell you something… he may not act like it, but ‘The phenomenal’ AJ Styles is scared”
Someone in the crowd is literally praying for AJ Styles & Rhino before this can get underway. And what’s the point? It’s not like they’re getting a great match out of this. It’s all about the danger factor… but they aren’t daredevils, they’re professional wrestlers.
Of course, they took every precaution to ensure their safety, but as we’ve seen in the past, all it takes is one unfortunate mistake. There’s been some serious injuries sustained from matches like these, for example, Jim Cornette’s knee injury after falling from scaffolding in the Skywalkers match at NWA/JCP Starrcade 1986.
14. Taipei Deathmatch
In one of the bloodiest matches in American Wrestling history, the two brothers Ian & Axl Rotten faced off at ECW Hardcore Heaven 1995. But the former tag team partners didn’t want any old regular wrestling match no… they wanted a Taipei Deathmatch. This time, they would wrap their hands, glue them up, and stick broken shards of glass to them. And it is absolutely as brutal as it sounds. The match is pretty bad for today’s standards, but at the time it set a new precedent. It became infamous for setting the bar on how brutal wrestling could be.
Remember that the year is 1995, and most American audiences had never seen anything this barbaric. ECW gained a following of bloodthirsty fans who wanted something different to the more cartoony products of the WWF & WCW. It sent a message that ECW catered for a maturer audience, and whether it’s admired or frowned upon fifteen years later, Axl vs. Ian Rotten helped to build ECW by spilling more blood than anyone had ever seen before. Totally unnecessary, but they inadvertently encouraged the niche, hardcore form of wrestling we still find today in the independents.
15. Unlucky 13
And to end this on something a little tamer than previous examples, is the Unlucky 13 match. The concept is simple really… to win, you have to get a staple gun and staple thirteen objects to your opponent’s body. The number can be changed to Unlucky 7 for example, if the match calls for fewer objects to be needed. Not much else to it really, but we don’t see these in bigger promotions so I felt like adding it for anyone who has never heard of it. We rarely see guys like Tommy Dreamer & Sami Callihan making use of a stapler, but never a heavy duty staple gun; which is obviously more dangerous and will get the blood flowing.