Many types of wrestling matches, sometimes called "concept" or "gimmick matches" in the jargon of the business, are performed in professional wrestling. Some of them occur relatively frequently while others are developed so as to advance an angle and such match types are used rarely. Because of professional wrestling's long history over decades, many things have been recycled (many match types often being variations of previous match types). These match types can be organized into several loose groups.
The singles match is the most basic of all professional wrestling matches, which involves only two competitors competing for one fall. Victory is obtained by pinfall, submission, knockout, countout or disqualification.
Matches are often contested between two (or more) teams, most often consisting of two members each.
On most occasions, one member of the team competes in the ring with one or more of his or her teammates standing behind the ropes. Wrestlers switch positions by "tagging" one another, usually similar to a high five and, as a result, these teams are referred to as tag teams. This can create tension during the match as an injured wrestler in the middle of the ring attempts to reach his or her teammates, often with the heel team preventing them from doing so. In typical tag team matches, standard wrestling rules apply with a match ending by pinfall, submission, countout, or disqualification.
Promotions usually have established tag teams that most often compete in team matches rather than singles matches, though teams will often break up to pursue a singles career, usually via a turn. Teams often consist of real-life friends or relatives. On other occasions, teams are booked together by promoters based on their face or heel alignment in order to increase the amount of wrestlers on the card or to advance multiple storylines at once.
Promotions usually have a tag team championship for a team of two wrestlers, and on rare occasion allies of the reigning tag team will be allowed to defend the title in the place of one of the reigning wrestlers under the Freebird rule. Though common in Mexican lucha libre, at one point, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) had a championship for teams of three.
WWE also can have three (triple threat) or four (fatal four-way) tag teams going against each other.
Matches in which the entire team competes at once is often referred to as a tornado tag match, specifically in WWE. Matches can be held under standard rules or as a specialty match, such as a steel cage match or a ladder match. (If it is a title match and one team DQs the titles will not change unless one of the members of that team has been eliminated then the titles will change hands)
Tag team matches are occasionally held under elimination rules; that is, the losing wrestler is eliminated from the match, but his/her team is allowed to continue with their remaining members until all members of one team is eliminated.
One famous example of this match is the Survivor Series match held in WWE at their annual Survivor Series pay-per-view. Teams of four or five, though on some occasions as many as seven, compete under elimination rules. All other standard rules apply, and team members may tag in and out in any order. While some teams are already established stables, others may need to recruit members for their team.
In lucha libre promotions, a torneo cibernetico is a similar type of match between teams of up to eight wrestlers who enter in a predetermined order.
Winner takes all match
A winner takes all match is a match in which both wrestlers (or teams if a tag team match) are champions going into the match, and the winner receives the championship of the loser, thus "taking all".
A specific type of winner takes all match, when both belt are then merged, in a championship unification, that match is known as a unification match.
Empty arena match
An empty arena match is a hardcore match between two or more wrestlers that takes place in an arena devoid of fans. The only people present are the competitors, referee, commentators, and cameramen. The match is broadcast, or videotaped and played later. An example of this is the WWF championship match between the Rock and Mankind that took place in Tucson, Arizona, at the Tucson Convention Center during the WWF's Super Bowl halftime show on January 31, 1999. One of the earliest and best known empty arena matches occurred in 1981 in Memphis, Tennessee, at the Mid-South Coliseum between Jerry Lawler and Terry Funk.
Falls count anywhere match
A falls count anywhere match is a match in which only pinfalls can take place in any location, negating the standard rule that they must take place inside the ring and between the ropes. As such, this also eliminates the usual "countout" rule. As the match may take place in various parts of the arena, the "falls count anywhere" provision is almost always accompanied with a "no-disqualification" stipulation to make the match a hardcore match, so as to allow wrestlers the convenience to use any objects they may find wherever they wrestle.
A variation of the rules states that once a pinfall takes place, the pinned wrestler would lose the match if they are unable to return to the ring within a specific amount of time — usually a referee's count of 10 or 30. If the pinned wrestler makes it to the ring in this time, the match continues. Under these rules, all pinfalls must take place outside of the ring, technically making the match no longer falls count anywhere. Occasionally, this stipulation is listed as having a specific territory in which falls count (e.g. the state, county, or general location the match is in).
The flag match is essentially the professional wrestling version of capture the flag. For the match two flags are placed on opposite turnbuckles, each representing a specific wrestler or team of wrestlers and the objective of the match is to retrieve the opponent's flag and raise it while defending the flag in the wrestler's corner. If the referee is knocked down and cannot acknowledge the win, the defender can put the flag back in its place, thus resetting the match.
An Anthem match is a variant of a flag match with the added stipulation that the national anthem of the winning wrestler's or team's home country will be played in the arena after the match similar to an Olympic medal celebration. This can be used to promote patriotism for the face wrestler or heat for the heel wrestler.
In a Trading places match the two participants must dress up as each other. In addition to dressing up as the other, a participant also uses the other's entrance theme as his own.
Women's match types include those in which women wrestle wearing only lingerie, bikinis, schoolgirl outfits, wet clothing or nude. In nude matches in the Naked Women's Wrestling League, the female referee would also display varying degrees of nudity.
A handicap match is any match pitting one wrestler or team of wrestlers against a team of wrestlers with numerical superiority such as two against one, three against two etc. Normally the babyfaces are outnumbered with the heels having more members on their team to provide an unfair advantage. In some two-on-one handicap matches, the team with superior numbers act under tag team rules, with one person in the ring at a time. In others, such as tornado tag team matches, all competitors are in the ring at the same time. In the 1980s and 1990s, handicap matches were used in preliminary matches involving large star wrestlers (usually heels), such as King Kong Bundy, Big Van Vader or Yokozuna, who – as a way to get a monster heel persona/gimmick over with the crowd – would completely dominate their opponents despite the latter's superiority in numbers.
Iron Man match
An iron man match is a multiple-fall match with a set time limit. The match is won by the wrestler who wins the most falls within the limit, by either pinfall, submission, disqualification, or countout.
A lumberjack match is a standard match with the exception that the ring is surrounded by a group of wrestlers not directly involved in it. These wrestlers, known collectively as lumberjacks (female wrestlers serving in this manner are sometimes called lumberjills), are there to prevent the wrestlers in the match from getting out of the ring. The groups of lumberjacks are typically split up into groups of faces and heels who occupy opposing sides around the ring. Usually, the "opposing" lumberjacks (that is, face lumberjacks if the wrestler is a heel, and vice versa) swarm the wrestlers if they leave the ring and force them back in it. Occasional interference from the lumberjacks is not uncommon, or is an all-out brawl on the outside involving most of the lumberjacks. Early lumberjack matches even featured the lumberjacks wearing stereotypical lumberjack clothing in keeping with the lumberjack theme, though this is generally no longer done. A common theme is for the lumberjacks to consist entirely of heel wrestlers to stack the odds against the face competitor.
Variations of this match include the "Canadian" lumberjack match, in which the lumberjacks are equipped with leather straps, the "extreme" lumberjack match, competed under extreme rules, and TNA's "fan's revenge" lumberjack match, during which fans equipped with straps act as lumberjacks and are encouraged to whip wrestlers.
In two kinds of matches, a wrestler does not win by pinfall or submission, but only by stripping their opponent of their clothing. Historically, these types of matches were contested between managers or valets, due to their supposed lack of wrestling ability. In the Attitude Era, however, full-time female wrestlers (known formerly as Divas in WWE) began engaging in strip matches for the purpose of titillation.
The match is contested in a large container filled with various substances, typically between two female individuals who may or may not have experience with wrestling. Substances can include anything from mud to chocolate milk. Sometimes, specialty substances are used for certain occasions e.g. gravy for Thanksgiving and egg nog for Christmas.
Occasionally, a match would take place under the rules of a different type of contest. Like professional wrestling matches, the matches would be worked, with the participants not being in the perceived danger and the winner being predetermined.
The professional wrestling version of a boxing match has standard boxing rules applied to it. Wrestlers wear boxing gloves and the match is contested in rounds with fouls given out, though the matches are generally worked and end with one wrestler cheating and using wrestling maneuvers.
The professional wrestling version of a mixed martial arts (MMA) match and has standard MMA rules applied to it. As in MMA, pinfalls are not a valid method of victory.
For a sumo match, the ropes are removed from the ring and standard sumo rules apply. The first person to step outside of the ring or touch the mat with any part of the body except the soles of the feet is the loser.
Hardcore wrestling is a subset of professional wrestling in which some, any, or all of the traditional rules do not apply. Most often this simply means there are no-disqualifications, which itself eliminates countouts, sometimes allowing decisions to take place anywhere. Other common euphemisms for hardcore matches are "street fight" (which suggests wrestlers are to dress in normal street clothes), "extreme rules" match, "ultraviolent rules" match (hardcore rules matches exclusively in CZW that usual involve ladders, tables, steel folding chairs, thumbtacks, barbed wire, weed whackers, light tubes, and fire), HardKore X-Treme match (A version of the hardcore match except weapons include flaming tables, flaming chairs, razor wire, sheets of glass and weapons wrapped in barbed wire), no holds barred match, and the "good housekeeping" match (which emphasized the use of kitchen implements as weapons).
Some promotions, such as Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, the International Wrestling Association of Japan, International Wrestling Syndicate, Extreme Championship Wrestling, Big Japan Pro Wrestling, and Combat Zone Wrestling, have specialized in hardcore matches, with "standard" non-hardcore matches being the exception. World Championship Wrestling utilized the term "Raven's rules" for hardcore matches involving the wrestler Raven. They also created their own specific brand of hardcore match, for which bouts were to begin backstage rather than in the ring.
A barbed wire steel cage match is one of any number of matches that uses strands of barbed wire in some capacity. Simply using barbed wire in an otherwise regular steel cage match does not make the match a barbed wire steel cage match; the barbed wire must be part of the match's design. Other variations are the razor wire steel cage match, a similar concept to that of the barbed wire cage match, however the barbed wire is replaced by razor wire and is wrapped around the top, corners, and walls of the cage, and barbed wire razor wire steel cage match is the same as the barbed wire cage match, however the top, corners, and walls of the cage are covered with barbed wire, then also further covered with razor wire.
The Clockwork Orange House of Fun match, known as "Raven's house of fun" or simply "house of fun", was created by professional wrestler Raven (legit, as Raven pitched the idea himself to TNA's creative team). It is a singles match for which poles attached to the ring posts measured about five to six feet above the turnbuckles, with single chains wrapped from and hanging on the poles to various points on the ring itself with many weapons hanging from and attached to steel chains above the ring, sometimes with sides of a steel cage attached to and erected on the ring. In the first match the use of weapons is legal, and the only way to win was to put an opponent through two tables after throwing them off "Raven's perch" (a small scaffold), but afterwards it was changed to falls-count-anywhere rules.
In a Fans Bring the Weapons match, all the weapons are provided by the fans prior to the show. Sometimes the weapons will be in the ring before the match starts, although occasionally weapons will be handed to the wrestlers during the action. This match type gained popularity in the now defunct ECW. Designated a "Believers' Backlash" match in Lucha Underground.
In a first blood match is a no-disqualification match in which the first wrestler to bleed loses the match. Depending on the nuances of the stipulation, this might include bleeding noses. There have been matches where bloody noses count. In a variation called "sadistic madness", created by Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, the opponent must be bleeding before a wrestler can legally pin them. Although there are no-disqualifications, outside interference cannot be seen causing the participant to bleed. A variation, the Doomsday chamber of blood, takes place inside of a barbed wire topped cage.
A Last Man Standing match is a hardcore-style match in which a wrestler will lose the match if they are unable to answer a ten-count after being downed, similar to the knockout rules of a boxing match. To avoid losing, the downed wrestler must be on their feet by the count of 10, but they can not lose by leaving the ring for 10-count (ring out) if they are still on his feet while recovering. A similar type of match is the Texas death match (a.k.a. Mexican death match), in which a wrestler must be pinned or made to submit before the referee will begin the ten-count.
A no-countout match is a regular match in which both competitors can stay outside of the ring or stay down for longer than the standard 10 or 20 seconds.
A No Disqualification match, also known as a no holds barred match, or sometimes as an "anything goes" match, "boot camp" match, "Raven's rules" match, or "extreme rules" match, is a match in which neither wrestler can be disqualified, allowing for weapons and outside interference. The key differences between a no holds barred match and a standard hardcore match are that falls must be made in the ring and there is less emphasis on the use of weapons. Such a match can also be known as an unsanctioned match or street fight.
No-disqualification matches may be used in feuds in which a challenger may have won matches against the champion, but did not claim the championship because the champion was disqualified (championships usually only change hands via pinfall or submission).
Unless stipulated, a no-disqualification match can end in a countout. Those that cannot are no-disqualification, no-countout matches.
A barbed wire massacre is a match where the ring ropes are replaced with barbed wire and the weapons themselves are wrapped in barbed wire as well. Made popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s by small American wrestling leagues, as well as overseas Japanese promotions during the 1990s.
A submission match is typically a match in which pinfalls, count-outs and disqualifications are not legal and the match could only end by making an opponent tap out to a submission hold. A very famous variation of this match is an "I quit" match in which a wrestler has to beat their opponent and force them to say "I quit".
As professional wrestling seeks to also tell a story, some matches are made solely for the purposes of advancing the plot. This typically involves the loser of a match being penalized in some way.
In a Scaffold match whoever falls off the scaffold is declared the loser. A variation named "elevation X", uses a scaffold in the shape of the letter X.
A last chance match, also called a "do or die" match, is a championship match in which the challenger, if he does not win the title, is banned from challenging for it again as long as that reigning champion holds it. Rarely, the loser may even be barred from challenging for that title for as long as they remain employed at the company. (An example of this is Slammiversary XI, when Sting was defeated by defending champion Bully Ray in a no holds barred variant of this match and was barred from challenging for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship again no matter who held it).
"Loser leaves town" is a generic term for any match in which the loser has to leave the current promotion or sub-division. These matches were most often held during the "territorial days", when wrestlers frequently jumped from company to company. It was held with greater frequency in WWE during the brand split; the losing wrestler typically left the brand (Raw or SmackDown), only to go to the other brand.
The retirement stipulation can be applied to just one wrestler or both wrestlers in a match can be wrestling for their careers. More loosely, the term can refer to the last match of a (usually "legendary") wrestler's career. Such a match is designed to be a last hurrah, showcasing the wrestler's talent one last time for their fans.
A match similar to a singles match with the exception that the loser must kiss the winner's bare foot. Such matches included Bret Hart vs. Jerry Lawler during the 1995 King of the Ring and Lawler vs. Michael Cole during the 2011 Over the Limit pay-per-view. A similar variation of this match is the kiss my ass match, which the loser has to kiss the winner's bare buttocks and was prominently held during WWE's Attitude Era.
Luchas de apuestas (literally "gambling fights") are matches in which both wrestlers wager something specific (the mask or hair) on the outcome. The loser of the match then loses the item, being forced to take off their mask or be shaved bald. It is also possible for a wrestler to put someone else's item on the line, with the same stipulation applying in the event of a loss. These matches have a storied history in Mexico. Upon unmasking, it is not unheard of for a wrestler's real name and information to be published. As a form of further humiliation, the loser can be forced to physically hand the mask they just lost to the winner.
The most popular types of wager are the mask of a masked wrestler or the hair of a non-masked wrestler, most commonly put against each other in mask vs. mask (in Spanish: máscara contra máscara), mask vs. hair (máscara contra cabellera), or hair vs. hair (cabellera contra cabellera) matches. Throughout Mexico, when masked wrestlers lose their masks, they are not allowed to compete under a mask with that same gimmick. In addition to masks and hair, championships, or careers — as a form of retirement match — can be put up as the wager in any combination.
In matches in which hair is on the line, the heel wrestler generally loses the match, as it is designed to humiliate him. Among notable wrestlers who have lost such matches, Gorgeous George, Adrian Adonis, Jeff Jarrett, Kurt Angle, Molly Holly, and CM Punk were all heels when on the losing end of hair vs. hair matches.
While most wrestlers (especially female wrestlers) end up growing their hair back out, in some cases the wrestler may tend to keep a shaved head as part of their look. For instance, Angle's kayfabe explanation was that he could not regrow it despite using Rogaine, hair tonic, and even fertilizer. In reality, he was already going bald naturally, with many jokes about his receding hair line having been made on TV long before his head was shaved; his wife, Karen, had wanted Angle to shave his head. Angle would briefly regrow it for his role in the movie Warrior before shaving it again. Some, such as Molly Holly and CM Punk, wore wigs or masks to hide their head until enough hair had grown back in for them to forego wearing a wig or mask.
Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal, also known in WWE as "Raw Roulette", is not a match type itself, but a way to assign a type to a match that does not yet have one. Before the match a wheel of fortune featuring a number of match types is spun, with the match landed on being used for the night. WWE usually made use of this when Raw was in the Las Vegas area.
Though most matches take place in and around the ring, some are designed specifically for more exotic locales. The majority of these matches take on the name of their setting, often appending "brawl" to the end, and are generally hardcore by definition. The following is a list of locale-based variations that supplant or replace the standard rules.
The Belfast brawl match was first contested on an episode of WWE's SmackDown television program, and saw Finlay face The Great Khali. The match must be won by pinfall or submission, and there are no countouts and no disqualifications.
A boiler room brawl starts in a boiler room, with the winner being the first wrestler to successfully get out. Mick Foley participated in all of the WWF-run boiler room brawls under his persona Mankind.  World Championship Wrestling used a match with similar rules, naming their match and its location the Block.
A street fight is a match without disqualifications, in which falls count anywhere. Two holiday themed variants also include specially themed weapons for the day in question.
A Trick or Street fight is a Halloween-themed match, named after the Halloween tradition "trick or treating", involving Halloween-themed weapons including pumpkins, buckets of candy, bowls full of water and apples, skeletons, witches' brooms, gravestones, candy cane themed kendo sticks, plus common wrestling weapons such as tables and chairs.
A Miracle on a 34th Street Fight is a Christmas-themed match, named after the movie Miracle on 34th Street, involving Christmas-themed weapons including fire extinguishers, pumpkin pies, presents, Christmas trees, Christmas wreaths, candy cane themed kendo sticks, bowling balls, and teddy bears, plus common wrestling weapons such as tables and chairs.
Two types of matches take place in parking lots, the parking lot brawl and the iron circle match. They are essentially the same thing, two wrestlers fighting in a parking lot, the major difference being the iron circle match takes place in the middle of a multitude of cars parked in a circle with their headlights on, while the parking lot brawl tends to be in a sparser location. Both wrestlers are allowed to use everything around them. This includes the using the cars as weapons and anything found around them. First one to pinfall or submission is the winner.
Though the use of foreign objects, the matches generally take the name of the weapon being used ("Singapore cane match", "Chairs match"). In the following list of weapon-based matches additional rules have supplanted or replaced the standard rules.
The Crazy 8 match, used mostly in the defunct Pro Wrestling Unplugged promotion, involves placing a championship belt at the top of a scaffold with the first wrestler to retrieve it being declared the winner. Placed in and around the ring for the wrestlers to utilize during the match are one side of a steel cage, two trampolines, and four rope swings.
A ladder match is a match in which a specific object (usually a title belt or a contract) is placed above the ring—out of the reach of the competitors—with the winner being the first person to climb a ladder and retrieve it. This is often used in WWE with their Money in the Bank matches. The ladder may be used as a weapon.
The King of the Mountain match is described as a "reverse ladder match". Instead of retrieving an object hanging above the ring, the winner is the first person to use a ladder to hang a championship belt above the ring—after having scored a pinfall or submission (pinfalls count anywhere) to earn the right to try. A wrestler who has been pinned or forced to submit must spend two minutes in a penalty box.
A tables, ladders and chairs match, often abbreviated as TLC match, is an extension of a ladder match with chairs and tables also being present as legal weapons. The first ever TLC match took place between Edge and Christian, The Dudley Boyz and the Hardy Boyz at the WWF event Summerslam 2000. Since 2009, WWE has held a pay-per-view in December named TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, which features this match as its marquee matches. The match has two variations. One is competed as a ladder match, which the person/people must retrieve an object suspended above the ring. The other as a traditional style match won by pinfall or submission. In TNA's "Full Metal Mayhem" variation, steel chains are also permitted along with tables, ladders, and chairs.
A pillow fight is a match held for which pillows and a bed are placed in the ring. The pillows may be used as weapons, but other than that, standard wrestling rules apply. A variation, the Lingerie Pillow Fight, requires the participants to wear lingerie. Another variation, the Pajama Pillow Fight, requires the participants to wear pajamas.
In this variation, only the named object may be used as a weapon. Examples include the steel stairs match, barbed wire baseball bat match, pillows, thumbtacks match, etc.
A chairs match, also known as a steel chair match, is a standard weapons match with chairs being the only legal weapon.
A kendo stick match, also known as a Singapore cane match or dueling canes match, is a standard weapons match with a kendo stick being the only legal weapon. Often, the ring will be lined with many kendo sticks for the wrestlers to use. Hardcore wrestling promotion Combat Zone Wrestling has used this match with fluorescent light tubes instead of kendo sticks.
The Object on a Pole match, whose name is usually derived from the object being hung, i.e. "Brass knuckles on a Pole", "Steel chair on a Pole", "Singapore cane on a Pole", "Paddle on a Pole", "Necklace on a Pole", "Contract on a pole", "Michael Shechter on a Pole", "Mistletoe on a Pole" or "Judy Bagwell on a Pole" , is the spiritual forebear of the ladder match. In this case, an object is placed on a pole that extends from one of the four turnbuckles on the ring with the wrestlers battling to reach it first. Unlike the ladder match, however, reaching the object doesn't usually end the match; it simply allows that wrestler to use it as a weapon. This is not a no-disqualification match; the weapon on the pole is merely an exception to the disqualification rule. However, this is sometimes a no-disqualification match in which any weapon, plus the one on the pole, can be used. This match is referred to by many wrestling critics as a "Russo Special", due to the propensity of WCW booker Vince Russo's use of Pole Matches during his tenure at the company.
Multiple variations of the "Pole match" exist. In some cases the match is closer to the ladder match, in that reaching the object does end the match. In others there will be objects above all of the turnbuckles. Further still, there can be a mixture of the two, with an object placed at (though not above) each turnbuckle, one to end the match, the rest to be used as weapons. Total Nonstop Action Wrestling used a "Pole match" as a setup to another match, placing objects at four of their six turnbuckles with the promise that the first wrestler to reach each object would be allowed to use them weeks later at an already scheduled cage match. In a "Feast or Fired" match each case contains a contract to fight for a TNA World Heavyweight Championship, TNA Tag Team Championship or TNA X-Division Championship, with the final case contains a pink slip, mean the holder of that case would be fired immediately, but if the person holding the X-Division title shot briefcase went on to win that title, it cannot be cashed in right away for the World Heavyweight Championship (Option C).
In a straitjacket match you must fully dress your opponent into a straitjacket, and the most common method in doing so is to first knock the opponent out or to render him unconscious by submission holds (mostly a chokehold and/or a hold to weaken the arms and/or shoulders). It made its televised debut on TNA when Samuel Shaw beat Mr. Anderson by first rendering him unconscious with a chokehold and then putting him into the straitjacket. On WWF Raw in June 1999, Ken Shamrock, who was the only participant confined to the straitjacket, still won his match with Jeff Jarrett after forcing him to submit to a headscissors submission hold.
A strap match, known by many names and done with many slight variations, is any match in which the competitors are placed on the opposite ends of a restraint to keep them in close physical proximity. By definition the strap—and anything tied to it — are considered legal and in play weapons. The most common rule for victory is for one wrestler to have to go around the ring, touching all four corners in order and without stopping, although they can also end in pinfalls. At WCW's Uncensored 1995, Hulk Hogan actually dragged non-participant (Ric Flair) to all four corners in order to win his strap match against Big Van Vader. Because of the strap's legality, and subsequent use as a choking device, submissions are generally not allowed.
The strap match is one of the most varied forms of professional wrestling match type, both in name and implements used, with the name used generally coming from the implement used and one or both of the participants gimmicks (i.e. Russian Chain match, Yappapi Indian Strap match, Samoan strap match, which was the signature match of Umaga, Texas Bullrope match, Country Whipping Match). Common restraints include a belt, bullrope (length of rope with a cowbell in the center), steel chains, one to two foot "leash", or leather strap. In the dog collar variation, the wrestlers are connected at the neck by dog collars.
Tables matches can be contested with tag teams, under both elimination and one fall rules. It is common for tables matches to also include a "no-disqualification" clause, which turns them into hardcore matches by nature (although this variation may also be alternately known as a Hardcore Tables Match). In some tag matches, a person can save his teammate by breaking the table with his own body. Apparently this does not count against the team. A more "extreme" version, the Flaming Table match requires the table to be set aflame before an opponent is put through it. Another variation is the two out of three tables match. There is also another type called the three table showdown, which can only be won when one wrestler puts his opponent through three tables, but it does not have to be at the same time.
For a taped fist match the wrestlers are allowed to tape and/or wrap their hands to allow them to punch harder without damaging their hands. In one variation, the Taipei Death match, the taped fists are dipped in super glue, then broken glass.
Some matches take place in specific enclosed environments. Although the majority of these enclosures are set up either in or around the ring, some of them are placed apart from it. In all cases, the structure itself is considered "in play" and most enclosure-based matches are decided by pinfall or submission unless specific other stipulations are made beforehand.
Steel cages are one of the oldest form of enclosures used in professional wrestling. The earliest known "steel cage matches" of any kind took place on January 9, 1936 in Caruthersville, Missouri, in a card that included two such "chicken wire fence" matches between Lon Chaney and Otto Ludwig, and Joe Dillman vs. Charles Sinkey. These matches took place in a ring surrounded by chicken wire, in order to keep the athletes inside, and prevent any potential interference. They have evolved a great deal over time, changing from chicken wire to steel bars to chain-link fencing (the latter is now the standard, due to it being cheaper to manufacture, lighter to transport, and more flexible and thus safer for the wrestlers).
A steel cage match is a match fought within a cage formed by placing sheets of mesh metal around, in, or against the edges of the wrestling ring. The most common way of winning is by simply escaping the cage, either over the top of the cage wall and having both feet touch the arena floor, or by escaping through the cage door with both feet touching the arena floor. The other occasional ways to win a steel cage match are by pinfall, by submission, though these are less common stipulations in the modern era, an even less likely stipulation is that weapons can be thrown into the ring by the wrestlers' managers.
It is possible to have one wrestler attempting to escape over the top of the cage wall while another tries to escape through the cage door. In Mexico, steel cage matches are won by just climbing to the top of the cage wall. In Impact Wrestling's past, the matches were often called "six sides of steel" as the cage surrounded their six-sided ring.
In TNA, this match was between two wrestlers (or up to 6) fighting inside a chamber. Wrestlers who were not involved in the match surrounded the chamber. About 5 minutes into the match, the outside wrestlers throw weapons into the chamber. This match only ends when one wrestler knocks out his opponent.
The match, exclusively in Ring of Honor wrestling (ROH), in which the ring is surrounded by a steel cage with four wooden platforms at the corners of the cage to make the "high risk" wrestling moves. All participants are allowed to be inside and outside the cage at any time.
The cage-based match, came from Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling (ECCW), in which the 8-feet-high steel cage which surrounds the ringside area with the top wrapped in barbed wire and "extreme" weapons scattered around the ring and ringside area. Disqualifications, count-outs and rope-breaks do not apply. The winner shall be decided by pinfall, submission or being unable to stand up at 10-count.
Also called a Tower of Doom, the Doomsday Cage is a three-story cage – the middle one split into two rooms – all of which house wrestlers. The object of the match is for a team of wrestlers to fight their way from the top cage to the bottom, where pinfalls and submissions come into play. In the later days of WCW, it was referred to as a Triple Decker Cage match, a reference to the match type being used in the finale of the film Ready to Rumble.
A specific kind of enclosure match run by WWE inside a 4-sided cuboid made from open-weave steel mesh Chain-link fencing, which extends beyond the ring apron, leaving a gap between the edge of the ring and the cell wall. As opposed to a conventional steel cage, the cell fencing continues across the top, hence the name 'cell'. Unlike a standard cage match, there is no escape clause (and it has been fairly common for Hell in a Cell matches to spill out of the cell and even onto the ceiling of the cage), the match can only be won via pinfall or submission. The pinfall or submission can happen anywhere and anything not nailed to the floor may be used as a weapon. The cell may be used as a weapon. This type of match outside of the WWE is considered a cage match since most promotions do not consider escaping from the ring as a victory.
Because of the "literally anything goes" rule, this match developed an infamous reputation in its early years. Many wrestlers were legitimately injured during these matches (most notably Mick Foley), and the unbelievable bumps taken during these matches are talked about even to this day. In kayfabe, it is regarded as the most dangerous match in the entire promotion. Jim Ross has referred to the cell itself as "a demonic structure" that is "custom built for injury." There have been 40 Hell in a Cell matches to date, with The Undertaker competing in 14 (with his last at WrestleMania 32), more than any other WWE performer. The first match was between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels in 1997.
The ring is surrounded by an electrified steel cage. The cage can be used as a weapon. The only way to win is by pinfall or submission.
The Elimination Chamber, which was created by Triple H and introduced by Eric Bischoff for WWE in 2002, is a large, circular steel cage that surrounds the ring entirely, including creating a grated floor area on the apron. Inside the cage, at each turnbuckle, is a clear pod in which competitors in the match wait to join the match. As the name implies, wrestlers are eliminated one-by-one via pinfall or submission until only one remains. An Extreme Elimination Chamber took place at the 2006 December to Dismember pay-per-view, each waiting wrestler was given a weapon. Since 2010, WWE has held a pay-per-view of the same name every February, with this match type as one of its marquee matches. In Germany, WWE refers to this match as a "No Escape" match because of fears over a reference to gas chambers in The Holocaust.
In an Inferno match the ring is completely surrounded by flames once both contenders have entered the ring. The only way to win is to set your opponent on fire. Inferno matches usually end on the outside of the ring; this way, paramedics can assist the unfortunate loser of the match. Due to the potentially graphic or dangerous nature of this type of match, it is very rarely seen in North America. In fact, there have only been five to this date in the WWE, all of which have involved Kane.
The first inferno match took place in the mid 80's (1987) at the Juan Pachin Vicens coliseum in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The first WWF Inferno Match was between Kane and The Undertaker at the 1998 Unforgiven pay-per-view. Kane had been thrown out of the ring and The Undertaker had no way of attacking him. The match ended in The Undertaker's victory.
A variation of the Inferno match, dubbed a Ring of Fire match, took place at SummerSlam in 2013, when Kane faced Bray Wyatt. While the ring is surrounded by flames just like in a standard Inferno match, the match is decided by pinfall or submission and not by burning your opponent. WCW also attempted an Inferno match, known as the Human Torch match, at The Great American Bash in 2000 between Sting and Vampiro.
The Punjabi Prison match, named after the Punjab state that The Great Khali (the match's founder) is billed from, consists of two large steel-reinforced bamboo cages. The first is four sided and stands 16 feet (4.8 m) tall, while the second has eight sides and stands 20 feet (6 m) and surrounds the first.
The inner cage has a four-foot (1.2 m) by four foot door on each of its sides, with a referee standing by to open them at a wrestler's request. Each door may only be opened once and is only allowed to remain open for sixty seconds, after which it is padlocked. Should all four doors end up locked before the wrestlers escape, they are forced to climb out over the top, where the bamboo is fashioned into spikes. Between the two cages are sometimes placed two tables, on which are weapons (both "medieval" and "bamboo" variations of standard wrestling weapons) There are also extended straps at the corners of the cage which can be used to choke the opponent. Once a wrestler has escaped the first cage, he must climb over and out of the second cage, with the first wrestler having both of their feet touch the arena floor is the winner of the match.
The match was revived in 2017, but as part of a series of changes relating to safety after the Chris Benoit incident in 2007 WWE eliminated the spikes on the bamboo and the straps used to choke opponents.
World Championship Wrestling's Thundercage, based on the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, is a large domed structure of steel bars engulfing the ring. Although it does not have a top, the sides curve in to prevent escape.
Mexico's AAA promotion tweaked the concept with the Domo de la Muerte ("Dome of Death"), which uses a similar cage but only allows victory by escaping through a hole at the top center. This variation is also used in TNA, where it was called the TerrorDome, or more recently the Steel Asylum. In AAA it is typically used for multi-man "luchas de apuestas" (bet matches), with the last man standing in the cage losing his mask or hair.
The Thunderdome is a variation on the Thundercage, with the area near the top of the cage electrified. The only way for a wrestler to win the Thunderdome match is to have their opponents' "terminator" (usually a manager who stands outside of the ring) throw in the towel to stop the match. In another variation of this match, each pinned competitor in the match is handcuffed to the cage. The last man left is given a key to unlock his teammates to attack the other team, who are still handcuffed.
A triple cage match involves three cages stacked on top of each other, with each cage decreasing in size from the bottom up.
Two variations exist, in one competitors begin in the ring inside the lowest cage and must make their way to the roof of the third cage where an object is suspended, with the winner being the first competitor to obtain the object and exit the cage. The other, dubbed the Tower of Doom match had two teams of five make their way down from the uppermost cage to the bottom, with victory achieved when all five members of a team escaped a door there. The cages were cut off from each other, with doors controlled from outside by referees, who only opened them for two-minute intervals.
Sometimes suffixed with the tagline "The Match Beyond", the WarGames match features two rings surrounded by an enclosed steel cage (perhaps with a roof) with two teams (or sometimes three) facing one another. In Extreme Championship Wrestling, this was known as an Ultimate Jeopardy match.
A Dixieland match (named for TNA President Dixie Carter, who "invented" the match) is a hybrid steel cage/ladder match. The wrestlers start the match in the ring enclosed in a steel cage. To win the match, a wrestler must first climb out of the cage, then go up the entrance ramp where a championship belt is hung from the ceiling, and finally climb a ladder to retrieve the belt. The first match of this type occurred during the Impact Wrestling: Final Resolution taping on December 3, 2013, as Magnus defeated Jeff Hardy to become TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
Similar to the WarGames match utilized in WCW, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling's Lethal Lockdown consists of a single ring enclosed by a steel cage with two teams facing off with each other. The staggered entry system is identical, but weapons are permitted and are even provided. When all competitors have entered the ring, a roof is lowered onto the top of the cage, with various weapons hanging from it. Victory can be attained by pinfall or submission. This match has become a staple of TNA's Lockdown pay-per-view event, but has also made appearances at other TNA pay-per-views.
The Xscape match was featured annually at the Lockdown all-steel-cage pay-per-view in April. This variation of the Lockdown Match has 4–8 competitors and is a two-stage process. The first stage is a standard pin/submission elimination contest, with eliminated wrestlers leaving the cage through the door until there are only two wrestlers left. The last two competitors then face off; the only way to win at this stage is to climb out of the cage all the way to the floor.
An Asylum match was a match created by Scott Steiner held within a small chain link cage in the shape of a circle placed in the middle of the ring. Victory occurred only by submission.
On May 16, 2016, a variation to the steel cage match, called the Ambrose Asylum match, was introduced and scheduled between Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho at Extreme Rules, where weapons are suspended above the cage and escaping the cage is not a means of victory, leaving only pinfall or submission.
Some matches have a container stationed in or near the ring, with the object of the match being to trap the opposing wrestler in it. Many of these matches take the name of the container, such as Ambulance match and the Casket match. A similar type of match aims to rest opposing wrestlers somehow, and the match often takes the name of the restraining device - for example, the Stretcher.
Common containers used for these matches are caskets (connected to The Undertaker's Deadman persona, either using a typical coffin or a double-deep, double-wide casket, sometimes specially designed for specific opponents The Undertaker takes on), body bags, ambulances, dumpsters, hearses (known as a "Last Ride match", also connected to The Undertaker gimmick), and stretchers.
An Ambulance match is fought under hardcore rules; the only way to win is for one wrestler to force their opponent into the back of an ambulance and close the door.
A Buried Alive match is a No-Holds-Barred match in which the object is for one wrestler to throw his opponent into a grave dug out of a large mound of soil placed outside the ring. Once in the grave, the wrestler must bury his opponent in soil to the referee's discretion. Equipment ranging from shovels and wheelbarrows to bulldozers are often made available to completely bury the opponent. All buried alive matches thus far have had The Undertaker as a competitor.
The casket match (originally known as the coffin match) has a casket near the ring, with the object of the match being to trap the opposing wrestler in it. The casket match began its life as a one-off coffin match in the 1970s fought between Dusty Rhodes and Ivan Koloff. The coffin match was revived by The Undertaker and first appeared at the Survivor Series as the coffin match against Kamala. However, with 16 casket matches played, only 11 of them has the Undertaker won. In addition to WWE, the casket match has recently been adopted for use in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and Lucha Underground, with Lucha Underground denominating it as the Grave Consequences (subsequently Graver Consequences) match.
A dumpster match is a hardcore match which is won by forcing your opponent into a dumpster. The first one was at WrestleMania XIV, pitting The New Age Outlaws against Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie.
A Last Ride match is a hardcore match in which the victory condition is for one wrestler to force their opponent into the back of a hearse, close the door, and drive it out of the arena. The first match of this type occurred at No Mercy when The Undertaker challenged John "Bradshaw" Layfield for the WWE Championship, although a match was held previously with similar stipulations.
In the stretcher match, one wrestler must incapacitate their opponent to such an extent that they are able to get them onto a stretcher and roll them to the finish line; usually past a line at the top of the entrance ramp. It cannot end in a pinfall, submission, countout, or disqualification. The first match of this type was different as a wrestler lost if after being pushed out of the ring, four medics were able to load him on a "carry" stretcher, pick him up all the way, and start walking out with him.
Multi-competitor match variations
On some occasions, a match may be held between more than two individual wrestlers or teams.
The most common example of a non-elimination match is the three-way match (known as a triple threat match in WWE and a triangle match in WCW among other promotions), in which three wrestlers compete under standard rules with the first competitor to achieve a pinfall or submission being declared the winner. One distinction from a singles match is that these matches usually exclude disqualifications or count-outs. In many promotions, there are typically no distinctions between the two terms. Variations are the four-way match (known as a fatal four-way in WWE), the five-way match or the six-way match, involving four, five or six wrestlers, respectively. American independent promotion USA Xtreme Wrestling (USA Pro Wrestling) hosted a match involving 8–12 competitors known as the 8 Ball Challenge. These types of matches can be used in certain situations to take a title off a wrestler without weakening him in the process.
On some occasions, multi-competitor matches are contested under similar rules as a tag team match. Two competitors start the match in the ring while the other wrestler(s) wait outside the ring for a tag from another wrestler, often achieved by touching an unsuspecting competitor in the ring. Variations of this include a Four Corners Survival or Six-Man Mayhem match in Ring of Honor. Competitors are permitted to leave their position and attack wrestlers outside of the ring, such as when one or both wrestlers have been thrown over the top rope.
WWE features a match called the Championship Scramble in which none of the wrestlers are eliminated. Two wrestlers start the match and every five minutes another wrestler enters until all five participants are present. After the last wrestler enters, there is a predetermined time limit. Each time a wrestler scores a pinfall or submission, he becomes the interim champion. Such reigns are not recorded as title reigns. The winner is the wrestler who scores the last pinfall or submission before the time limit expires. The Unforgiven pay-per view of 2008 is arguably the most prominent showcase of this match type, as all three world titles were contested under a Championship Scramble match.
Matches involving a larger number of competitors are typically elimination matches. These matches may begin with all of the competitors in the ring at the same time, or may have a staggered start, with wrestlers entering at timed intervals. The standard match rules apply as wrestlers may leave their position and attack other wrestlers outside the ring, with a twist that should the wrestler be pinned or forced to submit, he is eliminated from the match. A common elimination match type was popularized in ECW and known as the Three way Dance, with the name lending itself to a 1995 Supercard.
A multi-competitor match type in which wrestlers are eliminated until only one is left. Typical battle royals begin with 20 or so participants in the ring, who are then eliminated by being thrown over the top rope and having both feet touch the venue floor (this is sometimes referred to as the "Shawn Michaels rule", due to the 1995 Royal Rumble, in which he was thrown over the top rope, hung on to the top rope and only had one foot land on the floor). A variation known as the "Reverse battle royal" existed in TNA.
A Gauntlet match, also referred to as a Turmoil match, is a quick series of one-fall one-on-one matches. Two wrestlers begin the match and are replaced whenever one is eliminated (by pinfall or submission). After a predetermined number of wrestlers have competed in the match, the last person standing is named the winner. A Gauntlet match may also be played out in multiple "parts" as part of a storyline (in which a face wrestler must face a series of a heel wrestler's underlings before facing the heel himself, for instance) – this was common in World Championship Wrestling in the early 1990s. A participant involved in a Gauntlet match may be said to be "running the gauntlet" (in most cases this designation being reserved for those who are involved for most of the match).
It could also be a one-on-three/four handicap match. Unlike tag matches, the three/four man team will challenge the person handicapped individually until he is knocked out, at which time the match is over.
As a tag team match, the Gauntlet match sees two tag teams begin the match and are replaced whenever one team is eliminated. This version is sometimes referred to as "Tag team turmoil match".
The most famous variation of the Gauntlet match is WWE's Royal Rumble, a match that combines the concepts of a battle royal and the gauntlet match. In the match, a number of wrestlers, whom enter at different timed intervals, aim to eliminate their competitors by tossing them over the top rope, with both feet touching the floor. The winner of the match is the last wrestler remaining after all others have been eliminated.
Sometimes, a match is considered as a series of smaller matches, which may take place concurrently, consecutively, or even in different shows. The most common form of a series match is extending the one-fall concept to a series of falls, the most common being the best two out of three (known as a two out of three falls match). These types of series matches are often booked to the final match to emphasize the equality of the wrestlers involved, however, longer series may be shortened due to storyline or other factors. Series matches may involve the same match throughout, or may use different matches for some or all of the series. A series match may or may not involve the same wrestlers throughout (such as when a main competitor is forced to use a substitute in the event of an injury partway through).
A Beat the Clock challenge match is a match in which wrestlers must defeat their opponent before the clock runs out. In doing so, the victorious wrestler usually gets some type of reward in return, such as inclusion in a title match, for instance. In a variation on the November 20, 2013 episode of NXT, two wrestlers completed a match, with the match duration being used as the marker for two other wrestlers to complete their match.
The Elimination Chase, first used in WWE's version of ECW brand in 2007, is a series of multi-competitor, one fall matches, with the loser of the fall being eliminated from future matches until one competitor remains.