Extreme Rules just passed by, and it got me thinking about the definition of all these variations of the same or similar concepts.
What is an Extreme Rules match supposed to be? How is it any different from a No Disqualification match, or No Holds Barred match? Why is it that sometimes, a Strap Match ends in pinfall or submission, but other times, you have to touch the four corners?
These are questions that I’m sure bug me more than the average person—certainly more than those in charge in WWE who just say “screw it, it means whatever it means this week and you should just enjoy the ride and not get hung up on it.”
But we’re in a new era of WWE where Vince McMahon’s rules to say “medical facility” instead of “hospital” or avoid calling a championship title a “belt” are no longer a thing. Now is the time to ditch some antiquated terminology, settle on some new ideas and make some fine tweaks. Or, in my case, I think we should finally figure out what the hell all these gimmicks are about.
If WWE isn’t going to do it, I’ll do it for them.
Extreme Rules Match
There are three different avenues I would potentially take with this, depending on WWE’s preference. You can’t do all three anymore.
Option 1) This is just a pay-per-view and there are no more matches ever labeled an “Extreme Rules match” in a sense. Instead, Extreme Rules is a term used SOLELY for the event. The whole point is that you’re advertising this as “on this event, the rules are extreme for all the matches.” It’s a catch-all term to replace “gimmick” or “stipulation” phrasing.
Option 2) An Extreme Rules match is the only way you ever refer to a No Disqualification, No Count-out match, and you ditch the pay-per-view. This is just used to avoid using the phrasing “hardcore” for the PG aspect. Extreme Rules Match will always only mean that a pinfall or submission has to take place inside the ring and all weapons and interference are allowed.
Option 3) You get rid of the term entirely. No pay-per-view or match type. Everything reverts back to calling this type of a match a No Disqualification (or No DQ) match and we’re done with it.
No Holds Barred
If you’re going to specify this, I think the rules need to be different from No Disqualification (or, if you go Option 2, Extreme Rules matches).
The phrasing no “holds” barred speaks to me as “you can do any kind of maneuver and you won’t be disqualified” but not that weapons are allowed, or that there are no count-outs.
In effect, you can gouge the opponent’s eyes, but you can’t hit them with a steel chair. You can keep your submission on even after they’ve grabbed the rope, but you can’t stay outside the ring past the 10 count. If you keep punching your opponent in the corner past when the referee would normally count to 5, that’s okay, but you lose the match if someone else gets involved.
Unsanctioned Match / Lights Out Match
As with many of these, companies tend to slap the term “unsanctioned” on a match and it is nothing different from a regular No DQ stipulation. Let’s stop that nonsense.
If it is an unsanctioned match, there shouldn’t be a referee. Fans don’t get enough of a peak behind the scenes to get a sense that “this match doesn’t really count for legal repercussions”. You need to SHOW the audience in some visual way beyond just the lights dimming for a split second and then saying “this is a Lights Out match.” The best way is to not have a referee.
Now, how do you do that and pull it off? Well, you just make it more of a vignette and not an actual match. This should be a brawl, not a contest. Effectively, we’ll give you the time to go out there and beat the piss out of each other, but it’s not much different from someone attacking another person backstage.
If you want to go with the angle that the company isn’t being held responsible, you can get the same effect by just having one of those lame contract signing segments ahead of time.
As with many things here, a Street Fight currently is exactly the same as No DQ and all those other variations. It needs something else to it.
No pinfalls. That’s how you differentiate it.
Think about it. If you’re getting into a fight with someone on the street, nobody’s going for a pinfall, right? They win by two methods: knockout or submission.
You either beat your opponent to a point that the referee stops the match or you get them to quit or pass out. There aren’t any roll-ups or sunset flip pinfall combinations or anything of that sort. Also, since this is a “street” fight that obviously doesn’t take place in an actual street, you can apply Falls Count Anywhere rules to this where the knockout or submission doesn’t need to take place inside the ring. You can knock your opponent out ringside, backstage, in the crowd or anything.
Some would suggest that the Street Fight name means people should wear regular clothes, too, but I don’t think that needs to be the case. Ideally, you could, but I think using the ring gear that people identify with certain characters isn’t a bad thing.
Falls Count Anywhere
Speaking of Falls Count Anywhere from above, this would be a no disqualification, no count-out, weapons are allowed type match where you can have a pinfall or submission take place anywhere in or outside of the ring.
I thought about trying to say this isn’t No DQ, but just No Count-out and the finish can take place anywhere, but it is too difficult to realistically police a disqualification if you’re brawling ringside and crashing into tables and such.
Essentially, the gimmick here that makes it special is, as it should be, the title that calls attention to what’s different. Falls Count Anywhere. Nothing confusing about that, right?
Last Man Standing
Nothing needed to change on this one. You win the match when you incapacitate your opponent to the point that they can’t get to their feet by a 10-count. It can take place in or outside the ring. No pinfalls, submissions, count-outs or disqualifications.
Triple Threat, Fatal 4-Way, Fatal 5-Way, Six-Pack Challenge, Tag Team Turmoil, Etc
All of these are too messy to have regular match rules. You need to keep up the lack of count-outs or disqualifications, as there aren’t enough referees to watch everyone and start counting them out or anything along those lines.
Whether there are three or more singles competitors or this is a turmoil match where tag team members are all legal at the same time, the win should be determined with a pinfall or submission inside the ropes. If this is specified to be an elimination contest, then that applies, but if not, the first person to score a pin or submission wins the entire match.
There’s no need to specify this as a Triple Threat Extreme Rules match if you go with ER in that definition. You just tell people during the lead-up and the pre-match announcement that this Fatal 4-Way is contested under no disqualifications, no count-outs, one fall for the win. We’re not changing anything here, so nobody should be confused. These have been around for decades.
Specialty Themed Gimmick Matches
To have some fun with it, there should still be some variations that are named something silly. Why shouldn’t there be a Trick or Street Fight around Halloween, or Miracle on 34th Street Fight around Christmas where you make the kendo sticks look like candy canes?
A Good Old Fashioned Donnybrook or a Nigerian Drum Fight or whatever should all be inherently just generic no disqualification or count-out matches unless stated otherwise.
Just as an Ambulance Match requires you to put your opponent inside the ambulance and shut the door for the win, or a Casket Match is the same with a casket, some matches might have very specific finishes you’re looking for. Maybe The Judgment Day has a “Final Judgment Match” which has Street Fight type vibes, but you can’t win by submission, only knockout. Damage CTRL could have a “Collateral Damage Match” where all 3 of your opponents need to be put through tables, effectively making it a Tables Match with some added flair to it.
Basically, we’re looking at these the way that a TLC match works. There is no such thing as a TLC match, in reality. If you can win by pinfall or submission, it’s no different than a No DQ match. Assuming you can only win by climbing a ladder and retrieving a title or something, then, that’s a ladder match. TLC is just named that because they called special attention to those three weapons for The Dudley Boyz, The Hardy Boyz and Edge and Christian, and made it a pun with “tender loving care.” That same philosophy applies across the board for all of these “extreme rules” that we have going on.
What are your thoughts on these stipulation types? Do you have any other ideas of how these gimmicks should work? Keep the discussion going by leaving a comment below!