In just 10 days, the Elimination Chamber makes its annual appearance in the WWE landscape. Twelve men in total will compete in two different chamber matches, the 14th and 15th instances of the match's history.
As the chamber grows to be 10 years old in 2012, let's look back at other great cage match concepts and rank them, from the ones that were just too much to those that made a great impact. There are some that are often forgotten and others that probably should be wiped away from wrestling record books.
Here are 10 of the greatest cage match variations that WWE and the promotions they own have ever had in their history.
There was potential with this match, but there are just so many problems with it. For one, a gimmick match like this is only as popular as the superstar attached to it. The Inferno match had Kane and Hell in a Cell had The Undertaker. The Punjabi Prison match had The Great Khali. Strike one right there.
Strike two goes to the 16-foot inner cage that participants begin in. While they could just climb over the top, which is fashioned with pointy bamboo ends, there are four doors that are four feet by four feet to escape from. Once you request to open one, you have 60 seconds to get through it before the door closes and stays locked. If you can’t get through any of those doors, have fun climbing over.
The last straw is the massive 20-foot outer cage. The only way to escape and actually finish this match is to climb over it. Sure, there was the spot in the first try with the match where Big Show and The Undertaker broke through the outer structure. It just makes things so limited. The outer cage is so large that going out by the ramp is the only way to avoid not climbing on people.
This match was so bad that they only did it twice. That’s two times more than they should have.
It’s a WCW original, which means it was just going to be ridiculous. There are three cages stacked on one another. This isn’t like a Triple Cage match, in the sense that you start on the top cage in this match. There is scaffolding to make it up there, but you can’t use that scaffolding to get out. In fact, the only way to get out of the top cages is by going through trap doors in the floor. When you get to the bottom cage, you need to escape through the door.
Then again, this is WCW we are talking about. Nobody is quite sure of the rules. In this one and only try at this match, a pinfall and an escape were done to win. Was anyone confused? You better believe they were.
Before Hell in a Cell, there was the Thundercage. Not to be confused with an electrified steel cage, which is so ridiculous that it isn’t on this list, the Thundercage was WCW’s massive cage match with huge steel bars. There was an opening on top, but the top had curled metal bars, which deterred climbing out from the top. It was the Texas Stadium of steel cages.
TNA would later use the idea for their Steel Asylum match concept.
With MMA as big as it is today, it is surprising that the Lion’s Den never really returned. The WWE would use it in the late '90s to showcase their brawling amateur fighters. It was much more successful than Brawl For All, in the respect that nobody absolutely hated it.
There were problems with it. While it would seem like more of a brutal match and go away from the pro wrestling path, the den itself was positioned in the corner of the arena next to the entrance ramp. This made it almost impossible for 80 percent of the arena to enjoy it.
It still reminds me of Ready to Rumble when I see it, but this was somewhat intriguing. It brings on the awful memories of David Arquette being given a world championship.
With that in mind, this was an interesting concept, but not one I would imagine seeing as a regular occurrence. It was just too much of the steel cage for one match.
The WarGames idea is still a popular idea in the wrestling community. In fact, every time that WWE seems to eliminate a pay-per-view concept, there’s at least a few fans clamoring for a WarGames revival.
The concept, for those who have never seen one, is a match with two rings side by side and a massive cage that covered both cages at once. Think of a rectangular Hell in a Cell. Members would enter the cage at different intervals until all men in the four-on-four or five-on-five match had entered. At that point, a way to win would become valid.
There were no disqualifications or pinfalls in the cage and the only ways to win were from knockout or submission of one of the men. This led to a bunch of gruesome brawls in NWA and WCW over the years. That may be why we don’t see it in the PG version of WWE. Still, it was a unique type of match to see.
The classic cage just doesn’t get beat by many of these gimmick cage matches. Even in a world where the Elimination Chamber and Hell in a Cell have their own pay-per-views named after them, the steel cage match is still a useful benefit to have around. The cage makes its appearance at nearly every house show main event and can even make an appearance on TV, at pay-per-views or as dark matches at any show.
The cage can always be used to end a feud as, despite all of these extreme concept matches, the cage will always have a chance to be the last match in a program. There will always be a place for the steel cage match.
When Hell in a Cell debuted during the Attitude Era, it seemed like it was just another gimmick match that wouldn’t last. It sure felt that way when Al Snow and Big Boss Man faced each other in a match with dogs on the outside, known as a Kennel From Hell match at the time. That wouldn’t quite make it, but the cell itself would.
From Mankind falling off or through it to Rikishi being tossed onto the back of a truck from it, the memorable spots from Hell in a Cell are countless. When it became its own pay-per-view inspiration a few years ago, it was clear that the cell would stand the test of time.
I know that I already mentioned the steel cage, but I still have a soft spot for the old-school look of the blue steel cage. It looks more like an obstacle from the classic American Gladiators, but that plays into the novelty of it. My main hope is that RAW goes old school one more time and has a cage match with this classic blue cage being used one more time.
The chamber tops its own list, and there is no surprise about that. Hell in a Cell reigned supreme, but it put six men inside for the first time ever at Armageddon 2000. This probably got the ball rolling on the Elimination Chamber. The Chamber swallows up the ring and the ring area and includes four pods to hold the other four participants.
It’s 16 feet high, 36 feet in diameter, uses two miles of chains and 10 tons of total steel. Those are all simple and accurate numbers to look at and respect the awe-inspiring chamber. Since 2002, the chamber has reigned supreme as the grandest cage match in the wrestling world.