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, countout, K.O or disqualification.
Matches are often contested between two (or more) teams, most often consisting of two members each.
Tag team match
On most occasions, one member of the team competes in the ring with one or more of his/her teammate(s) standing behind the ropes. Wrestlers switch positions by "tagging" one another, usually similar to a high five. (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/her teammate(s), 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, such as WWE, 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, WCW had a championship for teams of three.
Tornado tag team match
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.
Elimination tag team match
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.
Winner Takes All match
A Winner Takes All match is a match where 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". Another "Winner Take All" match is when all standard wrestling rules apply, but a championship can change hands on a countout or disqualification.
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. e.g. The Rock vs Mankind during the WWF's Super Bowl halftime show on January 31, 1999. One of the earliest and best known empty arena bouts occurred in 1981 in Memphis, TN at the Mid South Coliseum between Jerry Lawler and Terry Funk. Empty arena matches are rare, and usually accompany other, filled-arena matches, due to the cost of renting an arena and not selling tickets.
Falls Count Anywhere match
A Falls Count Anywhere match is a match where 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 will lose the match if he is 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).
Generally, falls counting "anywhere" still has a de facto limitation that the falls occur somewhere inside the arena (due to the legitimate legal ramifications of having a wrestling match on a turf where the owner does not give his consent), but at St. Valentine's Day Massacre: In Your House, an extreme example occurred where Hardcore Holly pinned Al Snow literally on the banks of the Mississippi River.
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. 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.
A Handicap match is any match where one wrestler or team of wrestlers face off 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 matches, all competitors are in the ring at the same time.
Iron Man match
- Main article: 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 said time 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 fleeing 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, nor 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.
- Main article: Strip matches
In two kinds of matches, a wrestler doesn't 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 as Divas in WWE) began engaging in strip matches for the purpose of titillation.
Bra and panties match
- Main article: Bra and panties match
A bra and panties match is so named because it takes place between any number of female competitors, with the winner being the first to strip her opponent down to her bra and panties. For example, one of the first ever Bra and Panties matches, being a tag team match, pitted Lita & Trish Stratus, representing the WWF, against Stacy Keibler & Torrie Wilson, representing WCW, in WWF Invasion.
A tuxedo match is similar to the Bra and panties match, where the match is contested between two male competitors in tuxedos. To win, a wrestler must strip their opponent's tuxedo off.
Evening Gown match
An evening gown match is similar to the bra and panties match, and is usually contested by two female competitors. The victor of the match is the wrestler who removes the evening gown of her opponent.
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 will take place under the rules of a different type of contest. Like pro wrestling matches, the matches will be worked, with the participants not being in the perceived danger and the winner being predetermined.
Arm wrestling match
An Arm wrestling match, in the context of professional wrestling, is a form of a basic arm wrestling contest.
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.
A Pillow fight is a match held between divas 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.
Barbed wire steel cage match
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. Another variation is razor wire Steel Cage Match is the same as the barbed Steel cage match, however the barbed wire is replaced by razor wire and is wrapped around the top, corners, and walls of the cage.
Fans Bring the Weapons match
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 popular fame in the now defunct ECW.
First Blood match
A First Blood match is a no-disqualification match where in order to win a wrestler has to make his opponent bleed. Or, rather, depending on the nuances of the promotion and the angle surrounding the match, the first person to bleed loses, regardless of source. There have been matches where bloody noses count.
Last Man Standing match
- Main article: Last Man Standing match
The Last Man Standing match is a hardcore-style match where the only way to win is by knockout. That is, a wrestler will lose the match if they are unable to answer a ten-count after being downed, similar to the knockout ruling of a boxing match. To avoid losing, the downed wrestler must be on his or her feet by the count of 10, but he can't lose by leaving the ring for 10-count.
No countout match
A no countout match is a regular match where both competitors can stay outside of the ring or stay down for longer than the standard 10 or 20 seconds.
No Holds Barred match
A No Holds Barred match, also known as a no disqualification match, or sometimes as an Anything Goes match, Boot Camp match or Raven's Rules match, is a match where 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. A match that does not observe disqualifications, where pinfalls must take place in the ring, can also be known as an unsanctioned match, or, street fight.
No Holds Barred matches may be used in feuds where a challenger may have won matches against the champion, but did not claim the championship because the champion was disqualified (championships may only change hands via pinfall or submission).
A Taipei Deathmatch is a match where the wrestlers' fists are taped and dipped into glue and in broken and crushed glass, allowing shards to stick to their fists. Win by pinfall, submission or escape.
Barbed Wire Massacre
A Barbed Wire Massacre Match is a match where the ring ropes are barbed wire and the weapons themselves are wrapped in barbed wire as well. Made popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s by small wrestling leagues, as well as overseas in Japan.
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.
Loser Leaves Town match
Loser Leaves Town is a generic term for any match where the loser has to leave the current promotion or brand. These matches were most often held during the "territorial days", when wrestlers frequently jumped from company to company. It was held with somewhat greater frequency (though still not nearly as common as in the past) in WWE during the Brand Extension, where 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. Further still is a more legitimate retirement match, the last match of a (usually "legendary") wrestler's career. In this case it's designed to be a last hurrah, showcasing the wrestler's talent one last time for their fans.
Kiss My Foot match
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 had to kiss the winner's butt and was prominently held during WWE's Attitude Era. On two occasions this has been referred to as 'Kiss Me Arse', once for a match taking place in England and once for a match between Irish wrestler Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler.
Luchas de Apuestas
Luchas de Apuestas (literally "gambling fights") are matches where 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 the 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 he 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 where hair is on the line, generally the heel wrestler loses the match, as it is designed to humiliate the heel wrestler. 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 couldn't 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 then-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 has grown back in for them to forego wearing a wig or mask.
Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal
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 either a "wheel of fortune" or roulette wheel featuring a number of match types is spun, with the match landed on being used for the night. This is often done when Raw broadcasts in the Las Vegas area. In one instance, the same concept was used on WWE SmackDown, where it was referred to as "Sin City Smackdown."
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.
Boiler Room Brawl
A Boiler Room Brawl starts in a boiler room, with the winner being the first wrestler to successfully get out. World Championship Wrestling used a match with similar rules, naming their match and its location The Block.
Parking Lot Brawl
Two types of matches take place in parking lots, the Parking Lot Brawl and the Iron Circle match. They're 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 superstars 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. WWE had a "Latino Heat Parking Lot Brawl" on SmackDown! in 2003, contested between Eddie Guerrero and John Cena, with various WWE superstars watching and cheering on the match. Eddie Guerrero won the match via pinfall following interference from Chavo Guerrero, and a Frog splash from Eddie Guerrero.
Pig Pen Match
A Pig Pen Match takes place in a pig pen full of pigs, placed near the stage. The match could be won by pinfall and submission. The match can also end by throwing your opponent into the pig pen.
Miracle on 34th Street Fight
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, pies (specifically pumpkin pie), presents, Christmas trees, Christmas wreaths, candy kendo sticks, bowling balls, TV monitors, steel chairs, Santa Socko (used by Santa Claus himself), (and of course, teddy bears). The latest match was held between Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt on Dec. 22, 2014 Christmas edition of Raw.
Trick or Street Fight
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 kendo sticks, (and, of course, tables and chairs). The latest Trick or Street Fight was held between Dolph Ziggler and The Miz on Oct. 29, 2015 Halloween edition of SmackDown.
Chicago Street Fight
A Chicago Street Fight match is based around the brutal fights once held in Chicago, Illinois. There are no disqualifications, and falls count anywhere (meaning pinfall and submission attempts can happen anywhere). The first official Chicago Street Fight match contested was on the WCW's pay-per-view event WrestleWar 1990, the match participants being The Road Warriors against The Skyscrapers in Greensboro, North Carolina. At Extreme Rules 2015, Luke Harper challenged Dean Ambrose, being the latest Chicago Street Fight, which Dean Ambrose won via pinfall.
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 count outs or disqualifications.
Though the use of foreign objects, the matches generally take the name of the weapon being used ("Singapore Cane match", "Nightstick match"). The following is a list of weapon-based matches where additional rules supplant or replace the standard rules.
Crazy 8 match
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.
- Main article: Ladder match
A ladder match is a match where a specific object (usually a title belt and rarely a contract for a title) 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.
- Main article: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match
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 Boys and the Hardy Boyz at the WWF event Summerslam 2000. Since 2009, WWE has held a pay-per-view in December named WWE 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 this variation, only the named weapon may be used as a weapon. Examples include the steel stairs, 4x2 wrapped in barbed wire, the metal baseball bat, etc.
(Object) on a Pole match
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", "(WWE) Contract 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
A Strap match, known by many names and done with many slight variations, is any match where 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.
Russian Chain Match
A Russian Chain match is a match when both wrestlers have a chain strapped to their wrists. There are no pinfalls, submissions, disqualifications, or countouts. The only way to win is by touching all four corners (indicated with colored lights) without losing your forward momentum. If you lose your forward momentum, then the referee must wave off all your lights and you must start again. The first Russian Chain Match in WWE was conducted at Extreme Rules in 2015 where John Cena defeated Rusev to retain the WWE United States Championship.
A Tables match is a match in which, to win, ones opponent must somehow be driven through a table by their opponent. It can only be won with an offensive maneuver.
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 team mate 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.
Table to fall match
This match type is unique as the wrestler first has to put his or her victim through a table. After, the wrestler can pin or have the victim submit. A fall in this match can only happen after being put through the table, and if the victim kicks out, gets out of a submission, or rope breaks, the wrestler must put the victim through another table. You can have only one chance to pin/submit at a time, so going through more than 1 table will not give you more chances to fall. Fire is permitted. Regularly, no other weapons but the tables are allowed, and falls have to happen in the arena.
Taped Fist match
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.
Cages are one of the oldest form of enclosures used in professional wrestling. According to some historians, the first "cage match" of any kind took place on June 25, 1937 in Atlanta, Georgia. This match took place in a ring surrounded by chicken wire, in order to keep the athletes inside and any potential interference out of the action. 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 ways to win a steel cage match are by pinfall, by submission or by 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. 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.
Doomsday Cage match
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.
Hell in a Cell
- Main article: Hell in a Cell
A specific kind of enclosure match run by WWE wherein a large cage that extends beyond the ring apron is lowered around the ring, leaving a narrow gap between the edge of the ring and the cage wall. The fencing of the cage also extends around the top of the cage, 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. There is no disqualification and the wrestlers are free to do whatever they must to win. 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 (namely, 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. J.R. has referred to the cell itself as "a demonic structure" that is "custom built for injury." There have been 30 Hell in a Cell matches, The Undertaker and Triple H have been in 21 combined. The first match was between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels in 1997.
Electrified Cage match
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.
Elimination Chamber match
- Main article: Elimination Chamber
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" where four of the six competitors in the match must wait to be released to join the two who start at the opening bell. 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, where a weapon was given to each wrestler waiting in a pod. The metal is black and the chambers are made of 'bulletproof glass'. The chamber is in diameter and is composed of 16 tons of steel and of chain. Since 2010, WWE held a WWE Elimination Chamber every February, featuring this match type as one of its marquee matches. In 2015, this event was replaced with WWE's new pay-per-view event Fastlane. The Elimination Chamber returned as a WWE Network exclusive on May 31 to decide a new WWE Intercontinental Champion and WWE Tag Team Champions.
An Inferno match is a special type of match where 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 four to this date in the WWE, all of which have involved Kane.
The first 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 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. The match was won by Bray Wyatt.
WCW also attempted an Inferno match at the Great American Bash in 2000 between Sting and Vampiro.
Punjabi Prison match
The Punjabi Prison match, named after the Punjab state that The Great Khali (the match's 'founder') is billed from, consists of two large bamboo cages. The first being four sided and standing 16 feet (4.8 m) tall, while the second has eight sides and stands 20 feet (6 m) surrounding 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). 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.
This match was similar to Battlebowl. Up to 100 wrestlers can compete in the match. It is split into two rings with 50 wrestlers in each. The only way to be eliminated is to be thrown over the ropes. No matter where you hit, whether its apron, floor or barricade you are eliminated. When 25 wrestlers are left in each ring stage 2 begins. This stage is when all 25 wrestlers get into one ring and there is no elimination. After a 5 minute period, the match turns into a battle royal where elimination is gained by throwing your opponent over the ropes and to the floor. When 5 wrestlers remain stage 3 begins. This then turns into a 5-Way match where pinfall eliminates an opponent. When 2 wrestlers are left, the match turns into a last man standing where KO is legal. The final wrestler left wins.
Triple Cage match
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 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.
- Main article: WarGames match
Sometimes suffixed with the tagline "The Match Beyond", the War Games match features two rings surrounded by an enclosed steel cage (with a roof) with two teams (or sometimes three) facing one another.
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 restrain opposing wrestlers somehow, and the match often takes the name of the restraining device - for example, the Stretcher.
These matches are often fought using hardcore rules, or at the very least rules that allow wrestlers to do more without being disqualified. In team matches, an entire team typically has to be placed in the container to lose. In some cases, the restrained wrestler must be taken past a certain point ringside in order for a victory.
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, no pinfalls, no submission, no DQ, no count-out and the only way to win is for one wrestler to force their opponent into the back of an ambulance and close the door. WCW held an Ambulance match in 2000 that functioned under similar rules to a Stretcher match.
Buried Alive match
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 dirt placed outside the ring. Once in the grave, the wrestler must bury his opponent in dirt to the referee's discretion. This is usually ten scoops of dirt done in the style of a standard ten-count. 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. In team matches, an entire team typically has to be placed in the casket to lose. The Casket Match began its life as a one-off 'Coffin' Match in the 1970s fought between 'The American Dream' Dusty Rhodes and 'The Russian Bear' Ivan Koloff. The Coffin match was revived by The Undertaker and first appeared at the Survivor Series as the Coffin match against Kamala. The Coffin Match was fought under largely standard WWE rules, with the addition that after pinning the opponent, one then had to place the opponent into a coffin and nail it shut in order to officially win the match. Later Casket matches would use the format of the modern day Casket match in which a wrestler needed only to throw an opposing wrestler into the casket and shut the lid, as opposed to sealing it closed. The Casket match has seen repeated use since the standard was established in 1994 for a match between The Undertaker and Yokozuna. They remain largely synonymous with the Undertaker, although Kane, his storyline half-brother, has been known to participate in them as well.
Last Ride match
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 in which The Undertaker challenged John Bradshaw Layfield for the WWE Championship, although a match was held previously with similar win conditions (Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Kane). There are no pinfalls, no submissions, no count-outs and no disqualifications.
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, count-out, or disqualification. Examples include: Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show, Edge vs. Kane, Finlay vs. Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton vs. Rob Van Dam, Batista vs. Shawn Michaels, Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy or Randy Orton (with Ted DiBiase & Cody Rhodes) vs. Triple H (as part of Three Stage of Hell)., and John Cena vs. Kane.
Multi-competitor match variations
On some occasions, a match may be held between more than two individual wrestlers or teams.
Basic non-elimination matches
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), where 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 omit disqualifications. In many promotions, there are typically no distinctions between the two terms. The Four-Way match (known as a Fatal 4-Way in WWE) is similar, but involves four wrestlers.
On February 15, 2016, Stephanie McMahon announced on Raw the first ever Fatal 5-Way match, with five wrestlers in the ring (first pinfall/submission decides the winner). American independent promotion, USA Xtreme Wrestling (USA Pro Wrestling) hosted a match involving 8–12 competitors known as the 8 Ball Challenge. At WrestleMania XXX, a "Vickie Guerrero Invitational" match was held between 14 female competitors with the first wrestler to achieve a pinfall or submission being declared the winner.
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 or unofficial champion, and such reigns aren't recorded as official reigns. The winner is the wrestler who scores the last pinfall or submission before the time limit expires. The most recent Championship Scramble in WWE was at The Bash in 2009, where Tommy Dreamer successfully retained the ECW Championship against Christian, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry and Finlay.
Basic elimination matches
Most matches involving a larger number of competitors are typically elimination matches. These matches may begin with a normal start, where all of the competitors are in the ring at the same time when the match begins, or may have a staggered start, in which wrestlers enter at timed intervals.
The most common example of an elimination match is the Three-Way Dance, where the first fall eliminates only the pinned or submitted wrestler. The Three-Way Dance was popularized in Extreme Championship Wrestling, where it became a regular specialty of the promotion. The name Fatal 4-Way Elimination match is often used in place of the Four-Way Dance. Some promotions use a tag format for the match, whereby only two wrestlers are inside the ring at the same time while other competitors stand on the apron, such as a Six-Pack Challenge in which six wrestlers compete with four wrestlers outside the ring.
Double Jeopardy match
A variant of a four-way elimination match in which the competitors are divided into two pairs, with only the members of each pair able to eliminate one another. Once two wrestlers have been eliminated, the two remaining competitors face one another.
- Main article: Professional wrestling battle royal
A multi-competitor match type in which wrestlers are eliminated until only one is left. Typical battle royals begin with 20 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 Gauntlet 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 (where 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).
The Gauntlet may also be referred to as a Turmoil match, a likely backformation from Tag Team Turmoil, which is used to denote a Gauntlet involving tag teams. In singles gauntlet matches in World Championship Wrestling, pins were counted without the need of the single man being on top of the gauntlet member.
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.
A tag-team variation, called "Tag team Turmoil" is a match where two tag teams begin the match and are replaced whenever one team is eliminated (by pinfall or submission).
Ashley Massaro won the first ever Bra & Panties Gauntlet Match at New Year's Revolution (2006) after lastly eliminating Lisa Marie Varon mostly known as her ring name, Victoria, Tara as the last female to enter the ring.
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). At WrestleMania 2000, there was a triple threat two-fall match, rather than using a best-of format, due to each fall being for a different championship, in this case the Intercontinental and European Championships.
Three Stages of Hell match
The Three Stages of Hell match is a variation of the two out of three falls match where each fall is contested under different rules. This match has been featured at No Way Out (2001), Judgment Day (2001), Armageddon (2002), The Bash, and Payback (2013). Sacramento has held the most 3 Stages of Hell matches in their city, hosting two out of the five matches. The match was originally called a two out of three falls match, before being changed to the Three Stages of Hell match.
Beat the Clock challenge match
A Beat the Clock challenge match is a match where usually two wrestlers face off against one another and must defeat his or her 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. A variation on this occurred on the November 20, 2013 episode of NXT. This Beat The Clock challenge had two wrestlers complete a match, and that time was used as the marker for two other wrestlers to complete their match, and so on. The wrestler to earn the fastest time was to be named number one contender for the NXT Championship.
The first ever Divas Beat the Clock challenge occurred on the August 31, 2015 episode of Raw. Paige, Becky Lynch and Charlotte each faced a different competitor to earn a WWE Divas Championship match against Nikki Bella at Night of Champions.
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.