Gimmick matches are some of the most fun to watch in wrestling. These five match types only made one appearance, never to be used again.
The standard one-on-one match is the most common match type found in the squared circle. It is something even the non-wrestling fans would know about. No matter how many times you’ve seen the classic one-on-one match, they’re still exciting. There are so many combinations, spots, match finishes, and never before seen matchups that keep things fresh. There’s nothing wrong with a good old one-on-one matchup, however, wrestling stipulations can add that extra spice to a rivalry and are usually welcomed by the fans.
Rivalries between two wrestlers, more often than not, start off with one or two standard one-on-one style matches. If their business isn’t settled after battling it out the traditional way, wrestling stipulations are introduced to see who can defeat the other once the rules have been bent.
Wrestling stipulations that are used once a year (sometimes twice) are matches like Hell in a Cell, Elimination Chamber, TLC, Money In The Bank Ladder Match, and The Royal Rumble, and all of these have their own pay-per-view event.
Then you have wrestling stipulations like Last Man Standing, No DQ, Ladder matches, Table matches, and Steel Cage matches that are played out more often than the match types mentioned above.
Instead of sticking to these go-to wrestling stipulations, WWE has had moments throughout the years where they have thought outside the box and presented a new match concept to the wrestlers and the audience. For every successful experimentation like Hell in a Cell, Royal Rumble, and Elimination Chamber, you get wrestling stipulations and match types that fail to succeed or thrive; the Punjabi Prison match, for example. Yet, despite The Punjabi Prison match being heavily scrutinized, it has still seen the light of day three times!
Find and enjoy below wrestling stipulations and match types that have only ever occurred once.
1. Six-Man Hell in a Cell
Hell in a Cell matches are chaotic. That’s a huge selling factor behind it. You put two stars inside that cell, and you’re going to see a war. Put six stars in there, you’re going to get a war that’s incredibly full on and hard to keep up with, but in an enjoyable way.
Kurt Angle, the WWE champion leading up to Armageddon 2000, had one of the hardest title defenses ahead of him. Mick Foley, the commissioner, had decided that Angle, a cheating heel looking to get the cheap way out rather than win with class and dignity, would defend his title inside the cell to stop any sort of interfering or shenanigans on his behalf against not just one but FIVE top superstars! Angle had been ruining number one contender matches in the build-up, and Foley dished out punishment in brutal fashion.
Out of all of the wrestling stipulations that could have been used, Vince McMahon was infuriated with Commissioner Foley’s choice. Having six of his top guys inside a cell was deemed too risky by McMahon. The six superstars who took place in this first and only six-man Hell in a Cell match were the champion Kurt Angle, Rikishi, The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and Triple H. These six men would all go on to compete in the match as Commissioner Foley had originally planned, to Vince’s dismay.
Kurt Angle, unable to cheat his way to victory in this match, successfully defended his championship by the skin of his teeth. The Rock was down and out after a Stone Cold Stunner, and Angle seized the opportunity by crawling over slowly to slip an arm over him for 1-2-3 as all of the competitors laid there exhausted.
One of the most memorable spots of the match was when Rikishi fell from the top of the cell with assistance from The Undertaker, down below to the back of a truck. The truck had been involved because Vince, in an attempt to stop the match, had ordered the truck to come out and pull the door off the cell, to which it did — however, this only made the match more of a mess from McMahon’s perspective. Now the wrestlers were battling outside and on top of the cell, ultimately leading to Rikishi plummeting down to the back of the truck.
Rikishi spoke about the scary fall with Kayfabe Commentaries.
“That match was crazy. I think that’s a fitting name for it, ‘Hell in a Cell.’ Yeah, six guys in there actually trying to beat the shit out of each other, throwing each other into trucks, cars, hitting you with steel cans, and so forth.” Rikishi said about the match before moving onto the bump he took.
“Man, when they asked me to take that bump… This was Taker’s signature ‘I’ll make you famous’ move. What that means is he’s gonna make somebody famous by throwing ’em off the cage. I think the year before was Mick Foley.
“That year, I knew he was going to make somebody famous, but I damn sure didn’t know it was going to be me. When they came to me about taking that fall there, I actually didn’t even really think about it, man. But when they told me ‘backwards,’ I think that’s where we had a problem, man. And then they were telling me how they wanted me to take the fall into a dump truck.”
Rikishi revealed that Shane McMahon is just as much of a daredevil off-camera as he is in front of it.
“Now I will say this on record. Shane McMahon actually climbed this cage and actually convinced me that it was easy to do. He climbed up, they backed up this tow truck or whatever, it was filled with the hay, and this kid went up to the top of the cage, and he actually took the bump, not once but twice!
“I did [a practice bump], and it went good the first time… But when it came time for the show, the tow truck- the bed that came out there for the practice didn’t have these rails. Now, these rails are metal rails. So during the show, they backed up the truck, and it wasn’t the same truck that came out there; it was a truck with rails. Now mentally, I got kind of nervous because if I didn’t hit my cue the right way, I would’ve landed on that rail. I could have seriously had an injury, but thank God, that night, Taker kind of guided me the right way, and when he went to send me off, I looked at him and said, ‘Hey, tell my family I love them.’
“When I landed, everybody look at the video, my lips couldn’t stop shaking because of the adrenaline. I was actually just really shaking, and really I didn’t know if I was okay because I was kind of frozen.
“When they brought me to the back, they drove the tow truck, and I had a standing ovation back in the locker room. So, once you see ‘Kishi do that, you’ll never see me do that again.
“Till this day, I have a bad hip from the effects of that bump there because when I landed, I went directly through the hay and then the cushion that they had in that truck, I could feel the springs when I hit the metal part of the bed, and it’s just, you know, till this day I have problems sometimes.”
Such a star-studded matchup that we will likely never see again because of the risks involved with so many top guys taking part. This was a one-off wrestling match type that leaves a memorable mark in the history of professional wrestling.
2. The Barbed Wire Steel Cage
JBL, the former longest-reigning WWE Champion in Smackdown history, was just like Kurt Angle during his 2000 reign — a happy to cheat and walk out with the title under any means necessary kind of champion.
Maybe not as extreme as Commissioner Foley’s answer with a Six-Man Hell in a Cell match, but Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long had his own answer to JBL’s cheating. Not a regular steel cage match- a barbed wire steel cage match! This way, JBL’s minions like Orlando Jordan and The Basham’s couldn’t get involved. The door was solid shut, and there was no way to avoid the barbed wire. JBL was challenged by facing The Big Show.
The match itself wasn’t too dissimilar to a regular steel cage match. The only time the barbed wire ever had an impact was when JBL thought he was immune to it and attempted to climb out of the cage on a couple of occasions. Also, when Orlando Jordan and The Basham’s did their run-in, they were unsuccessful in helping JBL thanks to the barbed wire and were escorted out by Teddy Long shortly after.
As a whole, the barbed wire steel cage match which took place at the 2005 No Way Out pay-per-view was acceptable. This was one of those wrestling stipulations where the general consensus was that it wasn’t great but not terrible either. Without a doubt, the most memorable part of the match was the finish. In fact, the finish was so good it ultimately contributed to the match not being a failure. Big Show and JBL were both on the top rope, clubbing blows back and forth until Big Show delivered a devastating chokeslam to the then-WWE champion from the top rope down to the canvas. The impact was huge. It left a hole in the ring where JBL had landed, and Big Show looked destined to become the new champion heading into WrestleMania 21 as JBL laid there looking unconscious. Big Show used his strength, broke the chains holding the door together, and walked out to the sound of the ring bell, thinking he had just become victorious. Well, to not only The Big Show’s surprise but to the audience’s surprise also, JBL was announced the winner. He had crawled under the ring through the hole that was left there, beating Big Show to the floor on the outside.
The creativity of the finish was quite brilliant. JBL then went on to lose the WWE Championship to John Cena at WrestleMania 21, the first of his sixteen World Championship reigns.
3. Extreme Elimination Chamber
December to Dismember, the 2006 WWE ECW pay-per-view is almost certainly brought up whenever the worst ever pay-per-views are debated. The show only had two matches that were announced prior to the event, one of which was The Hardy’s vs. MNM, a match that didn’t feature a single ECW branded superstar.
The other match promoted was the main event, an Extreme Elimination Chamber match, one of those one-off wrestling stipulations where the concept was that the two starting competitors would start out the Chamber match traditionally, battling it out one-on-one within the confines of the structure. The catch was that the four wrestlers in their pods waiting to be unleashed all had a weapon to keep them company. The four pods each contained a table, a crowbar, a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire, and a steel chair.
The Elimination Chamber match on its own is deemed to be one of the most extreme of the wrestling stipulations out there, but the idea of adding weapons to it didn’t seem too bad. It was the booking that killed this match, along with all the filler matches throughout the event.
The original lineup for the Extreme Elimination Chamber match was The Big Show, Rob Van Dam, Test, Bobby Lashley, CM Punk, and Sabu. Fans were annoyed before the match even begun, as ECW original Sabu was involved in an angle where he was attacked backstage and taken to the hospital, leaving a void in the lineup, a void Hardcore Holly filled.
CM Punk, in particular, was red hot at this time, an up and comer in the WWE scene. It was not long before the Extreme Elimination Chamber match that CM Punk was endorsed by DX on a Survivor Series pay-per-view, and it was clear that a star could be brewing here. Paul Heyman, one of CM Punk’s earliest believers, envisioned big things for him and wanted to kickstart his stardom at this event.
Big Show was also happy to do the job and make a star out of Punk, seeing his potential. Paul Heyman, the mastermind behind the original ECW, did his best to try making this show a success, but despite several idea pitches, Vince stuck to his own guns. CM Punk was the first eliminated. Bobby Lashley went on to win the match and the ECW championship. The match and the event left a sour taste in many people’s mouths.
December to Dismember was so bad that it was the reason Paul Heyman wasn’t involved in the WWE stratosphere for almost six years. Paul explained in an interview with The Sun back in 2008.
“The final straw was the December to Dismember pay-per-view. That show was just a wreck. I knew it going in. I kept trying to pitch different things for the show that week, that weekend, and even the day of the show. All day long on the day of the show, I kept coming to Vince, saying: “The people are going to throw this back in our face.”
The undercard and general build-up for the show were maybe the worst a pay-per-view has ever seen. Paul mentions his displeasure and reveals the booking ideas he had for the show.
“I thought the undercard was horrible. I thought that the design of the show itself made no sense. I just felt that the entire layout of the show, the entire complexion of the event, was a downer. I also thought that we were doing Bobby Lashley no favors the way he was going to win the title.
“Lashley winning the title, especially if you eliminate Rob Van Dam and CM Punk early, would be leapfrogging over RVD and Punk. Van Dam was the sentimental favorite, and Punk was the kid that all the crowd was getting behind, and they wanted to see the upset. If you don’t appease the need for the audience to see that new hero gets crowned like Punk did the week before at Survivor Series when DX let him say, ‘Are you ready?’ then the audience will feel ripped off. If you don’t put that spotlight on Van Dam, with whom the paying customers have just taken this long ride back into the title chase, then the paying customer will feel ripped off.
“My opinion was to start the chamber off with the Big Show saying, ‘I’m a seven-foot-tall, 500lb giant, I’m gonna mow through every one of you.’ And the first to take him on would be Punk. Playing to the fact that UFC is so hot and in the public consciousness, Punk chokes out Big Show in the first round of the Elimination Chamber, four-and-a-half minutes in, and now the champion is out. You know for a fact, before any two contenders lock up, I’m getting a new champion at the end of this match. Then, the first guy to come out after Big Show vs. Punk would be Van Dam. You let Van Dam and Punk fight it out, and then you start feeding in the heels. Vince hated this. He especially hated the fact that Big Show liked it.”
This was the last ever WWE ECW Pay-Per-View. The ECW brand never gained momentum and was dismissed in 2009.
It wouldn’t be until 2012 when Paul Heyman would return to WWE to align himself with Brock Lesnar, a partnership still going strong today.
4. Asylum Match
Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho shared a notable feud together in 2016. Chris Jericho, who saw most people as ‘stupid idiots’ in his most recent run with WWE, gave Ambrose no exception to that perspective.
Both men had their own TV segment, Jericho, with the ‘Highlight Reel’ and Dean with ‘The Ambrose Asylum.’ Shane McMahon decided to cancel Jericho’s edition of the Highlight Reel and replace it with the debut edition of The Ambrose Asylum. Ambrose came out and took over Y2J’s own show prompting Chris Jericho to become livid. The two fought it out at the 2016 Payback pay-per-view, with Dean Ambrose leaving as the victor.
Leading up to the next Extreme Rules pay-per-view, pleasantries were not exchanged between the two, and their rivalry had become more personal. Chris Jericho had committed the insidious act of destroying Ambrose’s plant, a plant so dear to him he had named it Mitch. In response, Ambrose destroyed Jericho’s famous light-up jacket.
Whilst Jericho was interested in Ambrose paying up the $15,000 that his jacket cost, Ambrose had another idea — a challenge issued to Jericho to face him one of the more unique wrestling stipulations seen in recent years, The Asylum match.
The rules were as followed and explained by The Lunatic Fringe himself:
It was to take place inside a steel cage. Though unlike a normal steel cage match, escaping would not mean victory. You could only win by pinfall or submission. The catch was that there was an abundance of weapons lingering above the steel cage, which either of the two could grab and use to their advantage. Weapons like a mop, a straitjacket, nunchucks, a fire extinguisher, an Indian strap, a 2×4 wrapped in barbed wire, and even a replica pot plant (which commentator JBL joked was Mitch’s song) was available to use.
Ambrose won in a shocking finish that saw thumbtacks being used for the first time under the PG setting. After teasing the thumbtack spot for a while, Jericho attempted to hit a Codebreaker on Ambrose, but Ambrose was able to hang on to Jericho mid-move and drop him onto the tacks. Then to rub salt in the wounds, he delivered the Dirty Deeds on an ailing Jericho. The reception to the Asylum Match received was very mixed, more so leaning towards the negative side of things despite a surprising finish. The crowd was also mild. It was definitely not one of the more memorable of wrestling stipulations.
Jericho, on his podcast, Talk Is Jericho, revealed he was happy with the match and thought it was great and gave a reason as to why the crowd was ‘dead.’
“We had kind of a dead crowd because we had that amazing four-way match right in front of us, but you still got to work the match, and we built it. We built it well.” Jericho adds, “[It was] a great match in a different way from the four-way. The fans were going bonkers at the end, and that’s what it’s all about. Sometimes, you’ve got a quiet crowd, and you build it. It’s like ‘Stairway To Heaven.’ It starts out slow and quiet, and it ends up with a crashing guitar crescendo, and that’s what you want, so a great weekend.”
The four-way in question was The Miz vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens.
The mastermind behind the match wasn’t even Vince McMahon. According to Jericho, the whole concept for this match, including the tack spot, was all an idea he and Ambrose came up with.
“We were really surprised, Ambrose and I because we came up with the idea for the Ambrose Asylum. We were surprised that Vince allowed us to use the tacks! It hadn’t been done in 10 years. It [has] been that long between tack bumps. And when the finish came in, and Ambrose was going over, I had to take the bump on the tacks. I had to. He can’t take the bump on the tacks and then go on to win. It just wouldn’t make sense that way. I think we had to protect this crazy bump because, in my opinion, no one really knows what a bodyslam feels like or a suplex. But everyone knows what it’s like to get poked with a needle or get a thumbtack stuck in you. We’ve all had that happen, so people know when it happens, it hurts! And you can actually feel that and empathize with it, [or] relate to it, so I was like, ‘You know what, man? We have to use these tacks and make it like it’s a pit of fire like it’s the worst thing that could ever happen to you.’
“So, another thing, too, is you want to tease this. So when [Dean] poured the tacks out, it’s like, ‘What if we do a bunch of spots where people think, okay, they’re really screwing with us now in the fact that they’re pouring out these tacks and teasing us.’ Can you imagine how mad people would have been if we would have teased the tacks and never actually used them? So anyways, tease it, tease it, tease it, finally, I go for the Codebreaker, and he slams me down on the tacks and goes straight to the DDT. That’s the finish, the Dirty Deeds.”
Jericho admits although the tack bump was painful, the anticipation of it was worse:
“The worst part of that bump was the anticipation of it, thinking about it during the match and [wondering] what’s it going to feel like. Finally, when I jump up there, and he’s holding me for three, four, five seconds before he actually deposits me into the tacks, it’s really intimidating. Like, ‘What’s it going to feel like?’ And then, when I got slammed into it, it’s more like a shock. Like, it’d be like if you were standing on the dock waiting to jump into a lake with ice on the top. Like, you know it’s going to be cold, and it’s that first moment of jumping into the water where you’re just like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ That’s kind of what it felt like, and to take that bump onto the tacks that way, it was a shock like getting slapped in the face. Now, it hurt a lot, but it’s not like it was stabbing daggers or anything like that. It was just weird, uncomfortable, [and] some of them went down my pants.”
Of all the 69 tacks stuck in him, Jericho reveals the most painful spot.
“When I took that bump and got up, selling it and screaming, and half of it’s real because you’re screaming about it, and then, when he gave me the DDT, of course, you put your hand down, and three of those tacks got stuck in my hand. I don’t know if you guys saw that. I held it up towards the camera because I was like, ‘If I get tacks in my hand, I want people to see this. Those hurt so bad’. My hand still hurts right now. My back is okay. My elbows are okay. Still hurting, but the hand, it really, really [hurts]. I guess it’s like a splinter in a lion’s paw or something like that. Those are the ones that hurt the most. And then, when he turned me over to cover me, all of those tacks were down my pants, and if you watch, my shoulders are down, but I’m arching my back up because I didn’t want to have my back pressed down again.”
The thumbtacks were the standout part of this wrestling stipulations match, but not the most painful weapon used. The Indian strap takes that prize.
“That was the worst part, that Indian strap. Gosh, he hit me with it a couple of times, and then I had to turn and try to stop it with my legs. That was a shoot. It killed me.”
Was it worth it? Jericho answers, “I’ll tell you this, 69 tacks were pulled out of my body after taking my one and only tack bump. It was worth every penny of it. Worth every moment.”
Almost a year later, on the April 24, 2017 episode of RAW, Ambrose gifted Chris Jericho a new jacket. A feel-good ending to this brutal feud.
5. House of Horrors
The WrestleMania 33 match between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt had some very odd moments.
Bray Wyatt, a master manipulator, decided he was going to play some mind games with Randy Orton. Now, Bray is no stranger to mind games. His eery promos, menacing laugh, and the upside-down crab-like walk he does to put off his opponents are all main parts of his repertoire, though, for Bray, that wasn’t enough for the big stage of WrestleMania. He took his mind games up a notch. The ring projected moving maggots, worms, and cockroaches throughout the match, which was all orchestrated by the disturbing mind of Bray Wyatt in an effort to gain the upper hand over Randy Orton. It didn’t work; Randy won.
Seeing bugs projected on the ring was seriously strange, and if you were a betting man, you’d bet that it wouldn’t get any weirder than that. But it did.
At the following Payback pay-per-view, which took place on April 30, 2017, Bray Wyatt presented Randy Orton with the challenge of facing him inside his ‘House of Horrors’ – one of the most bizarre wrestling stipulations on WWE television in some time.
Leading up to the match, the vast majority of the wrestling fans had no idea of what this ‘House of Horrors’ match would entail. Also adding to the strangeness of it all was the fact that Bray lost his WWE Championship at WrestleMania, yet the House of Horrors match wasn’t for the title, and Bray never got a rematch for it.
The fans in attendance at the SAP Center in San Jose all had to watch on the titantron, and almost immediately, the match was viewed negatively before it really began. WWE didn’t even try to make out the illusion that it was happening live. Randy Orton traveled via limousine to Bray’s House of Horrors and outside of the limo was a dark sky. In San Jose, at the time it was airing to the audience, it was still daylight outside. Randy Orton, on arrival, said to himself, ‘What the hell?’ — the same question the viewers asked themselves as they watched on.
Randy was ready to fight Bray inside the spooky house but not before a tractor moving with no assistance drove on by. Inside the house were baby dolls hanging by the ceiling as Bray and Randy continued to fight. They attempted to use household items like frying pans against each other, simulating what looked like an awkward domestic dispute between two angry brothers.
Bray pinned Orton down by pushing a refrigerator on top of him and then leaving back to the arena via the same limo that dropped Randy off. It wasn’t until later in the show that Bray arrived and made his way to the ring. Randy Orton, against the odds of a refrigerator pinned against him and Bray leaving first, popped up behind Wyatt in the ring, leaving fans once again scratching their heads as they pondered what kind of transportation he got that was far superior to Wyatt’s. After all these wild scenes took place, Bray won the match thanks to a Jinder Mahal interference.
After the match, it was quickly discovered that the house was in Richmond, Missouri, more than a 24-hour drive away from the arena in San Jose. Just another addition of hilarity to the match.
Another discovery shortly made after the match was that the house the infamous match took place in was on sale for a reasonable price of $36,000! According to real estate website Zillow, the house ended up selling for $32,000 and was sold on May 28, 2017, three months after the match.
The match is looked back on in infamy, but we assume there is one happy wrestling fan who now owns a part of history.
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