Hey, Bleachers. My name is PS Maraj, and this is a list about the 10 best gimmick matches in the history of pro wrestling.
When you watch professional wrestling more than once a week, regular 1-on-1 or tag team matches start to get boring after a while, which is why wrestling promoters came up with gimmick matches. Whether it's used as the theme of a pay-per-view (Money In The Bank, Hell In A Cell, TLC etc), to rekindle a feud or to end an ongoing rivalry, gimmick matches are one of the many things that make pro-wrestling great.
Perhaps no company in history has created more gimmick matches than WWE. The Iron Man match, Hell in a Cell, the ladder match and countless others have all been thought of by Vince McMahon and his staff.
However, TNA, WCW and many other promotions have created different gimmick matches, which remain very popular to this day, which is why I have decided to list the top 10 gimmick matches ever created in pro-wrestling.
The only criteria is that the match must be used in either WWE or TNA today.
And on each slide, there will be a video containing the highlights of my favorite match contested under whatever gimmick the slide featured.
Hope you enjoy.
We kick off this list with the always entertaining Last Man Standing match. The current version of the older Texas Death Match (the only difference being that no one has to be pinned), the only rule is that you must incapacitate your opponent to the point that he cannot make it to his feet before the referee counts to ten.
Over the years, we have witnessed many Last Man Standing matches, with the first one in WWE done in 1999 at St Valentine's Massacre between Mankind and The Rock. They're always great for either ending a big feud, or making it even bigger.
It has remained very popular in WWE over the years. We usually get to see about one or two a year, the most recent of which was in two months ago at WWE ppv Extreme Rules between Randy Orton and CM Punk.
The first match on this list to be innovated by Shawn Michaels, Hell In A Cell has remained a staple to WWE television for many years, even getting its own ppv in 2009. Basically, it's a cage match, only the the cage surrounds the ring and is not connected to the canvas. The only way to win the match is by pinfall or submission.
Unlike a normal cage match, escaping the cell is not one of the ways to win. However, participants have been able to escape the cell many times before. On two occasions, Mankind vs Undertaker and The Armageddon Hell in a Cell match in 2000, participants have even climbed to the roof of the cell and thrown off the top, both times by Undertaker, to Rikishi and Mankind, respectively.
Unfortunately, like many gimmick matches, Hell In a Cell has been tuned down recently due to the PG era, which is part of the reason it is so low on the list. Superstars are no longer allowed to even exit the cage anymore.
However, it was still an ingenious creation by WWE and has given us far to many moments for it to not be included in this list.
The Two out of Three Falls match pretty much explains itself. You have to get two wins over your opponent to win the match. Usually, it's a pretty elementary match, but sometimes, WWE takes it up a notch and instead uses its evil twin, the three stages of hell match. This means that the falls in the match can take pretty much any gimmick. (e.g. the first fall could be a street fight, the second could be a stretcher match and the third, if one is needed, a ladder match) This match is usually the perfect one to end a feud with and has been used to end such feuds as: Triple H vs Stone Cold, Triple H vs Shawn Michaels (see video), John Morrison vs Dolph Ziggler and Triple H vs Randy Orton.
Probably the best feud-ending match in all of wrestling, the Iron Man match is, in my opinion, one of the greatest gimmick matches WWE has ever created. First seen at Wrestlemania 12, between old rivals, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, the Iron Man match has been done 4 times since then, while the hour long iron man match has been done 3 times since then.
For those of you who don't know, the rules of an Iron Man match are that two wrestlers fight each other in singles competition for a set period (usually one full hour, though Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels had a half hour iron man match in 2005). During the time period, the wrestlers must get wins over each other, because at the end, the one who has the most wins is declared the winner. If both wrestlers have the same number of wins at the end of the hour, sudden death rules are sometimes used, although sometimes the match is simply ruled as a draw.
Iron Man matches are rarely used (the last one was Cena vs Orton in 2009), but when they are, you know you're in for a treat.
The No. 6 spot goes to the "paradise of pain," the Elimination Chamber, as I'm sure you've heard Michael Cole say numerous times, The chamber is 16 feet high, 36 feet in diameter, weighs over 10 tons and comprises of two miles and six tons of chain.
The match starts with two wrestlers inside the chamber, while the other four are trapped inside glass pods. Every five minutes, one pod opens. Contestants are eliminated by pinfall or submission. The match is known for its fast-paced action as well as for the wrestlers' use of the chamber to inflict damage on their opponents.
The first Elimination chamber match was done in November 2002, and since then, there have been all of 13 of these brutal matches. Of course, the brutality of the match has had to be diminished to comply with the PG rating, but the Elimination Chamber pay-per view is still one of the most entertaining WWE pay-per views of the year.
The No. 5 spot on this list goes to the brainchild of none other than Chris Jericho, The Money In The Bank ladder match. Basically, it is a ladder match involving multiple wrestlers (six to 10). The object is to climb a ladder and unhook a briefcase held 15 feet above the ring. The briefcase holds a contract that guarantees its owner a World title shot anytime, anywhere, and is valid for up to a year.
Money In The Bank is almost always won by a midcarder and always signifies a push to the top for said midcarder, as no Money In The Bank winner has ever failed to win a World title after cashing in.
The match is well-known for its incredibly sick spots. These are pretty much guaranteed at every MITB match and many can be seen in the video above.
Money In The Bank used to be exclusive to Wrestlemania until last year, when it was given its own pay-per view called Money In The Bank, which will be on this Sunday, as you all probably know.
In my opinion, the best gimmick match ever created by TNA and the signature of the X Division, the Ultimate X match gets the No. 4 place on this list. Its creation dates back to August 23 2003, when Michael Shane defeated Frank Kazarian and Chris Sabin to win the X division title. Since then, it has been done 25 times, the most recent being last Sunday at TNA's Destination X, where Alex Shelley defeated Shannon Moore, Amazing Red and Robbie E to become No. 1 contender for the X division belt.
The objective of the match is to grab either the belt or the large red X hanging above the ring. Two cables, connected to steel structures rising from the four corners of the ring, cross 15 feet above the middle of the ring. The X is placed at the point where the cables cross. The match usually features more than two participants, but there have been two one vs one Ultimate X matches before (Mr. Anderson vs Kazarian and Douglas Williams vs Brian Kendrick).
The match is widely known for its incredible fast paced and often high-risk aerial action and is one of the few things that I still like about TNA.
Hell In A Cell, Elimination Chamber, Punjabi Prison. All these matches and more are descendants of the original gimmick match, the Steel Cage Match. First taking place in Atlanta, Georgia on July 2 1937, the Steel Cage Match has become a staple in all of pro-wrestling. The basic idea of the match is that surrounding the ring, there is a steel cage made of chain link fencing (it was chicken wire at first, then Steel bars and now chain link) The only ways to win are by pinfall, submission or escaping the cage.
Steel cage matches are still widely used in pro wrestling today, the most recent being on WWE Raw two weeks ago in which Alberto Del Rio defeated the Big Show.
One of the most exciting and unpredictable matches of all time, the Royal Rumble is definitely the greatest of Vince McMahon's creations. It's basically a battle royal match in which a set number of participants try to eliminate opponents by tossing them over the top rope with both feet hitting the floor. Two participants start in the ring, and every two minutes, a new participant enters the fray until all of them (usually 30) have been released. The winner is the last participant still in the ring after everyone else has been eliminated. The winner of the match is rewarded with either a WWE or World Heavyweight title match at that year's Wrestlemania.
The reason the Rumble is so exciting is because, unlike nearly everything else in WWE, it is unpredictable. Even though it's a fact that a lot of the time, most participants have zero chance of winning the match, enough of them do that it makes the match the one of the most exciting to watch every year.
That's right, the father of TLC, Money in the Bank and Ultimate X, the Ladder match is without a doubt, the greatest gimmick match in the history of professional wrestling. Invented by Dan Kroffat in the Stampede Wrestling promotion in Canada and made famous by Bret Hart, Vince McMahon, Scott Hall and Shawn Michaels, this match has remained one of the most popular gimmick matches in all of wrestling. The last one being at Extreme Rules 2011, in which Christian defeated Alberto Del Rio to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
The rules are simple. There is an object suspended 15 feet above the middle of the ring. The objective of the match is to climb the ladder and unhook the object. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. Because in order to do that, you need to incapacitate your opponent/s so you actually have a chance to climb the ladder. The need to do this usually causes some great spots and many times leads to a great match, as long as the competitors are capable (like the ones in the video).
One of the main reasons I picked the ladder match, though, is its ability to give us moments. Whether it's Edge spearing Jeff Hardy from 15 foot high ladder, Chris Jericho putting Benoit in the Walls of Jericho on the top of the ladder or Christian climbing the ladder to obtain his first ever World Heavyweight Championship, the Ladder match has always been and will always be a spectacle to behold in the world of professional wrestling.
Well that's it for this list. Feel free to like it if you did, leave a comment and become a fan if you want to see more of my work.