Match Gimmicks from the Past That WWE and AEW Should Bring Back

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2021

Match Gimmicks from the Past That WWE and AEW Should Bring Back

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    December is normally the time of the year for the annual Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view, but WWE has chosen not to do that show in 2021.

    Considering Extreme Rules could barely qualify with that name this year after having such little emphasis on the stipulations, this is just another example of WWE dropping the ball with some of its gimmicks lately.

    However, some match types haven't been seen in ages and are long overdue for their return.

    Granted, it's understandable why a First Blood match hasn't happened in a while due to how dangerous it is and how advertisers wouldn't be happy about that much blood. Likewise, there hasn't been a need for a Buried Alive match without The Undertaker.

    However, there are a handful of gimmick match types that aren't too outlandish and should come back in 2022, whether it be with WWE or All Elite Wrestling.

    Let's break down five of the best options that should return soon.

Flag Match

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    To think WWE has only had a grand total of 14 televised flag matches since 1988 seems incredibly low. It's such a simple concept and so easy to execute, as well as a natural means to capitalize on feuds based primarily on people's home countries.

    These days, there's less of the American hero versus foreign invader xenophobic trope, but it still does happen from time to time. For instance, Imperium recently cut a promo on NXT about how uncultured everyone else is because they don't speak multiple languages like they do.

    This would also be a fantastic means to do NXT vs. NXT UK in a return of Worlds Collide, if that came back in 2022. All it takes is two flags on opposing sides of the ring and fans tend to eat it up.

    AEW missed an opportunity to do this with Cody Rhodes and Anthony Ogogo in May, but there are opportunities to do this without needing to make it about anyone's countries of origin, too.

    Capturing the flag doesn't have to be about Stars and Stripes. It can also be as simple as a blue team and a red team.

    Imagine "Hangman" Adam Page leading the charge with a Dark Order flag and that stable backing him up in a match against The Elite with Kenny Omega waving a flag with their logo on it.

Three Stages of Hell

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    At face value, Three Stages of Hell may seem like a normal 2-out-of-3 Falls scenario. After all, it does revolve around someone needing to win twice to get the victory.

    However, this contest is what happens when those three decisions are injected with some adrenaline and the fans know each segment will be worth its own price of admission.

    This is because all three must have a stipulation to them, and "a regular wrestling match" doesn't count. Instead, these must be things like a submission match, cage match and Last Man Standing bout.

    WWE hasn't done one of these matches since John Cena beat Ryback at Payback 2013.

    It would be nice if the company used this to spice up Hell in a Cell, with three different gimmicks taking place inside the cage.

    Alternatively, AEW could do its own variation. Perhaps that could be saved for the next time MJF and Darby Allin lock horns. They've already gone down the route of a regular wrestling match at Full Gear, and the babyface has proved himself one of the most entertaining in the company at hardcore matches.


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    Battlebowl was a WCW variation of Survivor Series, in which teams were formed through a random draw, leading to some interesting partnerships. Often, enemies were paired up or two people who couldn't be more different from each other had to find a way to work together to succeed.

    Unlike how WWE tries to make every Raw and SmackDown team unable to get along for Survivor Series only to have it all mean nothing in the long run, Battlebowl gave these wrestlers an incentive. The members of all the winning teams were entered into a Battle Royal for some sort of prize, such as a title opportunity.

    Superstars have no reason to care about winning Survivor Series for Team Raw if they get nothing, but if they had to work with their teammates to possibly earn a shot at a championship, maybe Kevin Owens wouldn't have walked out on his squad this year.

    If only to play around with the strange pairings that would normally never happen, putting someone like Bobby Lashley with Rick Boogs or Lance Archer with Fuego Del Sol, Battlebowl would make for an interesting event.

    Who knows, this could be how either company stumbles upon the next great odd-couple tag team.

Cyber Sunday or Taboo Tuesday

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    While not a singular match type, the gimmick of Taboo Tuesday or Cyber Sunday as an overall concept should make its return.

    In an age when social media interaction is prevalent, why has WWE shunned the show where fans get to pick some of the elements of the matches? Wouldn't that drive Twitter engagement through the roof and get the buzz the company is looking for?

    It can't be all that difficult to plan when viewers are given multiple-choice options. All WWE has to do is think of two extra outcomes for each contest in case they win the polls.

    Being able to pick who fights a champion can show WWE which Superstars are more popular. Giving fans three match stipulations to choose from also lets them feel like they're in charge, rather than criticizing WWE's decisions.

    If WWE is too afraid to do it, AEW should do something similar for an episode of Dynamite. Ideally, the whole show could be themed around this as another special episode like Beach Break or Winter is Coming, with every match given some sort of fan-participation element.

    That way, two straight hours would be dominated with tweets mentioning AEW, bringing more attention to the brand and showing the fans they have a say in what the company puts out.

Championship Scramble

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    There have only been four Championship Scramble matches in WWE history, with three taking place at Unforgiven 2008 and one at The Bash 2009.

    Admittedly, these can be a bit of a mess. Two Superstars start the match with a new one entering after a certain interval. After all participants have entered, a five-minute timer starts. Whoever scores a pinfall or submission is considered the interim champion throughout the bout. When the time is up, whoever had the last decision is the winner.

    This could be simplified. All participants should start at the same time. For an added boost, maybe it could be Falls Count Anywhere to make it more chaotic and allow more flexibility for pinfalls.

    A concept like this would apply to the 24/7 Championship extremely well, as that's already chaotic with everyone trying to pin the champion whenever the rule is in effect.

    What's the harm in bringing this back to try to sell viewers on tuning in for Raw or SmackDown? Advertising this type of match with people like Becky Lynch, Liv Morgan, Rhea Ripley, Nikki A.S.H. and Doudrop would make for something different instead of a standard Fatal 5-Way we've seen many, many times.


    Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.