15 Steel Cage Structures that Shaped WWE (and Beyond!)

The Evolution Of The Steel Cage Match

Photo Credit: WWE.

The steel cage match is the most enduring gimmick match of all time. Throughout the years, the premise of "lock two people in a ring with no escape and have them kick the snot out of each other" has always been appealing to wrestling fans.

Some reinventions of the match type have succeeded in becoming legendary in their own right. Other attempts have failed dismally and are relegated to the long list of wrestling’s bad ideas.

Today we will be focusing on the ever-changing history of the structures themselves, and not necessarily the numerous additions of match types and stipulations that go with them. Otherwise, we will be here all day going through every EXTREME BARBED WIRE ELECTRIFIED LAND MINE DEATHMATCH OF DOOM! and such. So I apologize, Kennel From Hell fans, as that was literally a Hell In A Cell with a Cage inside. And dogs. And stupidity.

1- The Chicken Wire Match

Jack Bloomfield Vs. Count Rossi. The first recorded cage match, a Chicken Wire match, took place on June 25th, 1937 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The first steel cage match took place sometime in the 1930s, but the first one officially on record was between Jack Bloomfield and Count Rossi in Atlanta, Georgia June 25th, 1937.

The original cages were basically just chicken wire either wrapped around the ring, or constructions prepped up inside the ropes that resembled something of an MMA octagon serving the sole purpose of no escape and no interference during the match.

Of course, wrestling back then was presented as a faux sport, and a no escape bout inside chicken wire or fencing would be used as a brutal way to end a rivalry.  The cages themselves wouldn’t really be utilized for any spectacular spots until a few decades later…

2- The Traditional Steel Cage

The King of Memphis Wrestling, Jerry Lawler in a steel cage classic against Randy Savage in December of 1983 for the Southern Heavyweight Championship
Photo Credit: WWE.

It was around the 1960s that the Steel Cage, as we know it today, took shape, using a more reinforced structure that resembled actual fencing.

Some companies would fit their cages snuggly around the ring ropes, whereas others, such as Memphis Wrestling, would have larger cages that engulfed some of the surrounding ring area.

Being the King of Memphis Wrestling, Jerry Lawler would compete in many of these match types, including a classic against Randy Savage in December of 1983 for the Southern Heavyweight Championship.

Jimmy Snuka’s Leap Of Faith: The Birth of the Superfly Splash

Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka on top of the steel cage at Madison Square Garden on October 17, 1983, before creating one of those memorable MSG moments of all time.
Photo Credit: WWE.

However, it was earlier that year on October 17th, 1983, when the stipulation finally reached its full potential.

During the climax of Jimmy Superfly Snuka vs. Don Muraco, Snuka clambered up the side of the cage, stood at the top, then leaped onto his opponent to the crowd’s amazement.

It was a very important moment in wrestling history and one that is recounted on this very website by Evan Ginzburg.

How Jimmy Snuka’s Iconic Move Transformed The Steel Cage Match

Photo Credit: WWE.

Mick Foley: “Jimmy Snuka created that moment for me – a moment that was about so much more than just an athletic dive from the top of a steel cage. It was professional wrestling as art.”

Although not necessarily the first leap off the cage (Snuka himself said it was a move he perfected on the indies and house shows), it was the first time it was seen on such a large scale, and transformed the cage match from not only being a brutal feud ender but into an epic bout where amazing highflying daredevilry could take place.

One person in attendance that night was a young Mick Foley, who described how the fight inspired him in his Facebook obituary of The Superfly.

Mick Foley Shares His Admiration For Jimmy Snuka’s Superfly Splash

Photo Credit: WWE.

"Had it not been for this moment in time in October 1983, it’s highly unlikely that I would have created any moments at all within the world of professional wrestling/sports – entertainment.

“Jimmy Snuka created that moment for me – a moment that was about so much more than just an athletic dive from the top of a cage. It was professional wrestling as art, and Snuka that night was the consummate artist, painting on his own unique canvas in the most famous arena in the world.

He painted with his body language, his intensity, his facial expressions – especially with those eyes – so that the slightest glance to the top of the cage created a literal buzz among the 20,000 in attendance – like a fuse being lit, leading to a powder keg of anticipation, resulting in the rarest of explosions; a crowd pop so loud and emotional that all I need do is close my eyes and I can hear it all over again, as real to me now as it was that night at The Garden over 30 years ago."

Steel Cage Evolution: From Chicken Wire To Chain Link And Beyond

Photo Credit: AEW.

Despite having a redesign during the ’80s and ’90s (more on that in a second), the linked fence cage is still the basic design most promotions use as their blueprint when building a lethal lock up.

3- Ring Of Honor’s Scramble Cage: A Leap Of Faith Made Easy

Photo Credit: WWE.

The majority of cages nowadays have a more structurally sound and supported rim on the top should any performer feel the need to take a leap of faith.

Ring of Honor takes it one step further by adding boards to each corner of their Scramble Cage, a match type where you can’t win by escape, and the cage is there to serve the sole purpose of something to jump off.

Steel Cage Structure: From Gimmick To Institution

Photo Credit: WWE.

Then, of course, you have all the added props needed to suit an event’s needs, such as barbed wire, razor wire, electricity, etc., but as I said previously, today, we are just looking at the structures themselves.

4- The Blue/Black Bar Steel Cage

Photo Credit: WWE.

WWE’s blue bar cage’s first appearance took place on April 7, 1986, at WrestleMania 2. The match featured Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy.

Commentator Jesse Venture would inform the viewers at home, "This isn’t exactly a normal steel cage. Usually, it’s a cyclone fence, but in the case of King Kong Bundy, he’s about 450 pounds, he needs a reinforced cage."

The WWE’s Big Blue Cage: A Match Made For Giants

Shawn Michaels faced off against former tag team partner Marty Jannetty with a score to settle in 1993 inside a blue steel cage.
Photo Credit: WWE.

This is actually partly true.  Back in the day, you could only win a WWF steel cage by escape only, so to avoid the anti-climatic spectacle of seeing Hogan and Bundy scramble to the door like two siblings fighting over who’s next in the bathroom. The fencing was swapped for large blue bars that the WWE standard of giant statured superstars could clamber up and over gracefully.

This was the WWF trademark cage for almost 13 years until it eventually changed back to the fencing. The trouble with the barred cages was that they were heavy and took time to set up. They obstructed the TV audience’s view, and some superstars would complain about the stiff metal being too painful.

5- Vince Gets A Taste Of His Own Medicine in a Black Cage

Photo Credit: WWE.

The change wouldn’t come until after the final barred cage match, now painted black to fit in with the company’s "attitude" between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Mr. McMahon at In Your House: St Valentines Day Massacre 1999. Maybe it took the boss taking a few bumps himself in the agonizing structure to realize how painful it truly was.

6- The WarGames Cage

Photo Credit: WWE.

Dusty Rhodes came up with the premise of the WarGames match after watching the third Mad Max movie "Beyond Thunderdome." In 1987, the NWA presented "WarGames: The Match Beyond" as part of its Great American Bash tour.

The First WarGames Match

The first WarGames saw The Road Warriors, Paul Ellering and Dusty himself take on the Four Horsemen, and it was a huge success. It became a staple of NWA/WCW, Usually taking place at the Fall Brawl PPV.
Photo Credit: WWE.

The first WarGames saw The Road Warriors, Paul Ellering, and Dusty himself take on the Four Horsemen, and it was a huge success. It became a staple of NWA/WCW, Usually taking place at the Fall Brawl PPV.

The giant cage surrounded not one, but two rings, and had a roof on top. It was a perfect battleground for two large teams to have a faction war, and a premise so beloved it made a successful comeback in 2017 as an NXT TakeOver event, sans roof (not that the roof was really utilized anyway).

7- The Three Cage Steel Cage Match

Photo Credit: WWE.

Many people think the Three Cage Match was a Vince Russo idea from the dying years of WCW, used as cross-promotion for the Ready To Rumble movie. Still, the first "Doomsday Cage" debuted almost a decade earlier in World Class Championship Wrestling in May 1988 with the WCCW Triple Dome of Terror.

The triple cage would make another appearance soon later at the 1988 Great American Bash, intended as an expansion of WarGames.

The premise varies but usually involves three stacked cages of different sizes, with two wrestlers starting at the top and having to fight their way to the bottom.

8- Triple Stacked Steel Cage Match

Photo Credit: WWE.

Also worth mentioning is the 1996 WCW Uncensored cage, which saw the Mega-Powers do battle against an evil super faction consisting of members of both The Four Horsemen and The Dungeon Of Doom!

This triple stacker was made of equal size cages over a ring at the ramp’s top surrounded by scaffolding. This meant that no one in attendance could actually see anything, which, to be fair, was probably a good thing.

Very rarely have any potential high spots actually occurred during this match, the only one of note being on May 7th, 2000, at Slamboree (the one that WAS a tie-in with the Ready To Rumble movie) when Mike Awesome chucked poor old Kanyon off the first cage and onto a well-placed crash mat below.

9- The Dome Steel Cage

Photo Credit: WWE.

Legend has it the third Mad Max film inspired WCW’s dome cage. No, dear reader, you haven’t just accidentally started re-reading an earlier entry.

The Thunder dome, later re-named Thunder Cage for legal reasons, was a round cage where the top would curve in, preventing any chance of escape, which could be mistranslated into preventing any high spots, which the fans could mistranslate as preventing any excitement.

It failed to be as beloved as WarGames, even with the dumb addition of an electric chair during Halloween Havoc 1991’s "Chamber Of Horrors" bout. Not even poor old Abdullah The Butcher pretending to be murdered by electricity could save that monstrosity.

The dome cage concept wasn’t a complete failure, though, as it would end up working better for six-sided ring promotions, like AAA’s Dome of Death or TNA’s Steel Asylum.

10- Hell In A Cell

Photo Credit: WWE.

Rumor has it the Hell In A Cell was originally created because Vince couldn’t copy write the term "steel cage match." The truth is Jim Cornette came up with the design based as a combination of the old Memphis Wrestling cages and the WarGames roofed cage.

Debut Of Hell In A Cell: Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels

Photo Credit: WWE.

It made its debut at Bad Blood 1997, serving as a battleground of a feud match between Undertaker and Shawn Michaels.

In an interview with the now-defunct shootinginterviews.com, Jim Cornette explains how the idea of Hell In A Cell came to be.

"It was the blowoff match between Undertaker and Shawn, but at the same time Shawn needed to come out as the champion, and he was the heel, so how do we have a blow-off cage match…

I have always loved the ring they had in Memphis, in later years, which encompassed the ring area too, so you could come out from under the ring, or you could fight outside on the floor, and I also liked WarGames because it had a top on it.

“So what about we combine those two? What if we had a giant cage, plus I got a budget now. I’m able to throw out ideas, and people would pay to have this **** made.

Hell In The Cell Part One Results

Photo Credit: WWE.

"The Undertakers brother shows up. To get his power over, he rips the goddamn cage door off; that’s the only way to get in or out."

Although the spots may not be as famous or as life-threatening as Mick Foley‘s legendary escapades a year later, Michaels vs. Undertaker laid the blueprints for all Cell matches to come. Brutal action, the fencing being used as a weapon, dizzying brawls on the roof, and of course, the plummet off the side through a table. It’s a match some people consider the greatest of all time and this writer’s personal favorite.

Recommended: UNDERTAKER and MICK FOLEY Talk about Their Legendary Hell in a Cell Match

Hell In A Cell: The Bigger, The Better

Photo Credit: WWE.

The structure grew bigger and less flimsy during the 2000s and got a new lick of red paint in 2018. To this day, Hell In A Cell remains the brutal feud ender that the original fence cage matches were used for back in the day.

11- WCW Asylum Steel Cage

Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner vs. UFC legend Tank Abbott in a WCW Asylum Steel Cage match
Photo Credit: WWE.

In 2000, when WCW was trying everything they could to keep the ship afloat, Scott Steiner started giving out weekly challenges to anyone who had the courage to face him in an Asylum Cage! (Not to be confused with TNA’s Steel Asylum dome cage)

It was effectively a giant birdcage, one that resembled ye old-timey 1930s chicken wire cages. The reasoning behind this particular set-up was to invoke an MMA feel, as Big Poppa Pump was feuding with legit ex-UFC fighter Tank Abbot at the time. However, the short bouts not only looked worked, but they also looked more scripted than a normal wrestling match! If you think an Irish whip looked hokey enough against the ropes, you should wait until you see it performed off regular fencing.

12- The Elimination Chamber

Photo Credit: WWE.

The Elimination Chamber is a mash-up of everything that made the previous cage matches successful. WarGames clearly influenced the timed entry format, but the climbable pods, the "bulletproof" glass, and the steel chain fencing gave the structure it’s own brutal element.

Six wrestlers, two to start, and the other four locked away. Every five minutes, a wrestler’s chamber is unlocked at random—the last man standing wins.

The first chamber debuted November 17th at Survivor Series 2002 and was an extremely harsh and painful environment to work in.

In episode 74 of the Something to Wrestle podcast, Bruce Prichard mentioned, "It is the most unforgiving, painful thing in the world, and the guys got on it and where like, oh my god, this thing has no give at all. Very unforgiving and difficult to work in.

"I don’t think anybody really took into consideration the unforgiveness of the damn thing, but kudos to the talent, they did the best they could with what they had."

13- Improving The Elimination Chamber Cage

Photo Credit: WWE.

After almost fifteen years of ignoring superstars agonizing screams, WWE finally constructed a new, more human flesh-friendly chamber in 2017.

The added height gives more room for jumps and bumps off of the chamber pods, and those out of rings falls to the steel floor are a little less bone-breaking thanks to the new black matting.

14- The Punjabi Prison Steel Cage Match

Photo Credit: WWE.

I have never been to a Punjabi Prison, but something tells me they resemble our western prisons more so than they do this bamboo monstrosity.

How The Punjabi Prison Steel Cage Match Came About

Photo Credit: WWE.

Originally a concept for monster heel The Great Khali to battle against The Undertaker at the Great American Bash in 2006, Khali was eventually replaced by the Big Show, so the match had no South Asian connections whatsoever other than the name (Khali would eventually enter the construct a year later at No Mercy against Batista).

Randy Orton Fights Jinder Mahal In A Punjabi Cage Match

Photo Credit: WWE.

For ten years, we thankfully have only had to endure two of these matches thanks to how stupid the idea is.

Two cages made of bamboo, one around the ring apron and a second, bigger cage around that. The first one to escape wins.

The Punjabi part? I guess that’s all down to the competitor’s ethnicity, which explains why it made a comeback in 2017 for Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal. You know, what with Jinder being Canadian and everything.

15- Shark Cage Match

Photo Credit: WWE.

We hate to end this article on a down note, so bear witness, dear reader, to the five-star classic that is Cheif Jay Strongbow vs. Don Kent in a SHARK CAGE MATCH!

The Secret History of WWE’s Dusty Rhodes

Dusty Rhodes left an indelible mark on people in and out of wrestling. But what was the American Dream like when the cameras weren't around?
Photo Credit: addlesses of Deviant Art.

Dusty Rhodes never had the physique of a wrestling god, but his charisma and innate ability on the microphone more than made up for that. When his name is mentioned, words of kindness and a lispy impression always ensue.

But what was the American Dream like when the cameras weren’t around?

Read: Dusty Rhodes: Secret History on the American Dream

Dusty Rhodes A&E Biography: An Honest Review

An award-winning wrestling documentarian gives his take on the recent WWE Legends Dusty Rhodes A&E Biography.

“It’s a winner, but I do have a few qualms.”

Read more here: Dusty Rhodes A&E Biography: An Honest Review

Dusty Rhodes and His Fairly Unknown Talent!

Late-great wrestling manager Gary Hart once wrote about the time Dusty Rhodes showcased a talent unbeknownst to some!

Late-great wrestling manager Gary Hart once wrote about the time Dusty Rhodes showcased a talent unknown to some!

Learn more: Dusty Rhodes and His Fairly Unknown Talent!

Dusty Rhodes and Tully Blanchard Attempted Murder on Live TV

Magnum TA had just come back from a near-fatal car accident when he made some comments about Tully Blanchard. Blanchard came out and sucker-punched Magnum, which caused Dusty Rhodes to come out with a baseball bat and beat Tully Blanchard to near death on live television.

Take a close look at the events causing Dusty Rhodes to come out with a baseball bat and beat Tully Blanchard to near death on live television!

Read more: Dusty Rhodes and Tully Blanchard Attempted Murder on Live TV

Rhodes and Murdoch: Tales of The Texas Outlaws

The Texas Outlaws: Murdoch and Dusty Rhodes.

“Unfortunately, the rebelliousness that made ‘The Texas Outlaws’ D. Murdoch and Dusty Rhodes such a great team was also their downfall in Australia!”

Learn more: Tales of The Texas Outlaws: Murdoch and Dusty Rhodes

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Tim Buckler, a senior writer here at Pro Wrestling Stories, has been an author for over a decade, penning articles for sites such as WhatCulture, Screen Rant, Inside The Ropes, and many more, but his heart will always belong to Pro Wrestling Stories. He also presents a pop culture radio show entitled "The Little Telly Upstairs," which airs every Thursday 8-10 pm on Radio Woking, featuring news, views, and music from film, television, comic books, video games and, of course, Pro Wrestling. Follow him @blockbusterman on Twitter for more of his ramblings!