Some of them are especially crowd pleasing and occur relatively frequently, while others are developed so as to advance an angle, and thus, such match types are used rarely. Specific match types in professional wrestling are often notable due to either their frequent use, logistics of setup, or a memorable instances of such a match. Often, specialty matches are used as a finale to a popular or infamous storyline.
Because professional wrestling's existence has spanned over one hundred years, and many things in it have been recycled, many gimmick match types are actually variations of previous gimmick matches, match types can be organized in to several loose groups. The following is a list of common or otherwise notable match types.
Variations of singles matches
The standard wrestling match (or One Fall match) involves two wrestlers attempting to win the match through either pinfall or submission while not getting disqualified, or "counted out"—caught outside of the ring for a referee's count of 10 or 20, depending on the companies' rules.
In matches where championships are being contested, the champion typically retains the title in the event of a disqualification or countout finish, no matter which competitor was disqualified or counted out in what is known as the "champion's advantage". Commentators and bookers generally explain it as saying the challenger "must beat" the champion. Playing into this, some storylines have heel champions attempting to protect their title by intentionally causing such losses.
Some of the most common variations on the singles match restrict the possible means for victory: only pinfalls are permitted in a Pin only or Pinfall match, only submissions in a Submission match, etc. Another variation is a Time Limit match in which a match is contested until a time limit is reached or a wrestler achieves victory - in the event of the former, a separate method (audience reaction, "judges", or even a rematch) is used to determine the winner. Time Limit matches were invented during the vaudeville days of professional wrestling as a way to stop matches that lasted well into hours. A Battle of Respect is often held in tribute to another wrestler, where all means of victory are removed (that is, wrestlers simply wrestle each other for a fixed amount of time, without victory taken into consideration).
The following matches have their own articles due to them being commonplace, and thus information about these matches are in their own articles:
- Barbed wire match
- "I Quit" match
- Iron Man match
- Monster's Ball match
- Two out of three falls match
- Ultimate X match
A Blindfold match, which is known by a number of nicknames, is any match where one or both wrestlers participates with their vision supposedly obscured—often after one of them has been blinded as part of an angle. Traditionally this is done with a blindfold, hence the usual name, but matches have also taken place with competitors in different kinds of blackout hoods and masks (not to be confused with standard wrestling masks).
The original Catch-as-Catch-Can match was a match most often seen in the early 1900s. It allowed any hold that was not intended to inflict injury, resulting in matches that focused on submission or mat based wrestling.
A second type of match, also dubbed Catch-as-Catch-Can, has a stipulation added to it that the match not only ends with a pinfall or submission, but any wrestler who leaves the ring and steps foot on the arena floor, by force or by choice, is immediately disqualified.
Empty Arena match
An Empty Arena match is a hardcore match between two or more wrestlers which takes place in an arena void of fans. The only people present are the competitors, referee, and camera person(s). The match is broadcast, or video taped and played later.
Falls Count Anywhere match
A Falls Count Anywhere match is a match where pinfalls or submission 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. It should be noted that, as the match may take place in various parts of the arena, Foley, Mick. Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks (p. 193) 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 state 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).
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 object 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 or team will be played in the arena after the match.
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, or three against two. 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.
Hangman's Horror match
The Hangman's Horror match, which was (legitimately) created by Raven, has dog collars hung on the ring ropes. In order to win the match, a wrestler has to hang their opponent from one of the collars until they can no longer continue.
An Inferno match is a match which takes place with the ring surrounded by fire coming from gas fed pipes. The match, technically contested under no disqualification rules, only ends when one wrestler is able to set either the other wrestler or an article of the opponent's clothing on fire.
Similarly, a Human Torch match only ends when one competitor sets the other on fire, but does not have flames surrounding the ring.
Iron man match
- Main article: Iron Man match
An Iron man match is a match which is set to go a specific amount of time—usually 30 or 60 minutes—with the competitor with the most decisions at the end of that named the victor. On the occasion of a draw, a sudden death "final fall" may be requested by either side, with the other able to accept or decline.
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—or sometimes lumberjills when they're female—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. 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 variation of this match is called a Canadian Lumberjack match, in which the lumberjacks are equipped with leather straps. Another variation, the Extreme Lumberjack match is competed under Extreme Rules and the Fan's Revenge Lumberjack match, allowed fans of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling to act as the lumberjacks for a match between Jeff Jarrett and Samoa Joe.
A [move] match is a match where the first wrestler to perform a specific move is the winner. The move is usually a signature move of both wrestlers involved, in which case a stipulation can be added that the loser is no longer allowed to use the move—or on the case of large wrestlers a generic move (e.g. bodyslam) that is notoriously hard to perform on both wrestlers. The match usually takes the name of the target move (e.g. Chokeslam challenge, Bodyslam match) or is more genericized to "Finisher match" if both wrestlers are trying to perform their finisher to win.
(x) Rules match
A [x] Rules match is a match contested under specific, often undisclosed, rules where the "x" is replaced by a title usually meant to sound traditional (Duchess of Queensberry) or boastful for one combatant. The angle of many of the matches has one wrestler, usually the heel, challenging another to a match to be contested under some kind of rules without going in to detail, then making up rules in their favor as the match progresses and feeding them to the ring announcer.
A Scaffold match takes place, in whole or in part, on a piece of scaffolding erected above the ring. The match can end in one of two ways; either with one wrestler pushing another off of the scaffold to the ring below, or with a wrestler retrieving a flag from the opposite side of the scaffold and return it to his own. Scaffold matches have a (legitimate) air of danger about them, as the bump from such a height is hard to protect against and objects such as card tables are placed in the ring to attempt to cushion the fall.
Elevation X, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling's variation of the scaffold match, has two scaffolds placed above the ring intersecting to form an "X", with the only way to lose being to fall from the structure.
Any time a usual referee is replaced with someone unusual for a specific reason it is referred to as a Special Referee or Special Guest Referee match. The special referee is often a celebrity, a manager, or another wrestler—with the latter sometimes showing a bias for or against a competitor.
Special Outside Referee
A Special Outside Referee, also known as Special Enforcer or Special Guest Enforcer; is someone charged with the task of keeping interference out of the match or to become the in-ring referee should the original referee be incapacitated.
There are two kinds of matches which are contested where 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.
Bra and Panties match
A Bra and Panties match is so named because it takes place between two female competitors and the winner is the first one to strip her opponent to nothing but their bra and panties. An evening gown match ends the same way, but instead of the women starting out the match in regular clothing or ring attire they begin in the evening gowns of the title. Xtreme Pro Wrestling went further with the idea; having a Buck Naked match, during which one competitor was supposed to be stripped completely.
A Tuxedo match is contested between managers and/or ring announcers with at least one of them being male. It is the precursor to the Bra and Panties match, and takes its name from the fact that both competitors begin the match dressed in a full tuxedo.
Two out of three falls match
- Main article: Two out of three falls match
A Two out of Three Falls or Best of Three Falls match is a match where not one, but two, decisions have to be won by a wrestler or tag team before the match is officially over. This used to be the standard match for professional wrestling, back in the days when wrestling was mostly legitimate.
A variant, the best of seven series, has a maximum of seven matches instead of three, with the winner being the one to score four wins.
Non-wrestling singles variations
Some matches do not actually involve wrestling, instead relying on other sports or physical activity to determine a winner and a loser. Common types of matches include arm wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, mixed martial arts, and sumo.
Arm wrestling match
An Arm wrestling match, in the context of professional wrestling, is a worked 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 women 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.
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 but the soles of the feet is the loser.
- Main article: Hardcore wrestling
Hardcore wrestling is a subset of professional wrestling where some or all of the traditional rules do not apply. Most often this simply means there are no disqualifications, which itself eliminates countouts, allowing decisions to take place anywhere. In fact, many so-called "hardcore match types" are merely euphemisms for the same sort of "rule-less" match, with the name meant to emphasize certain aspects of hardcore wrestling or to point out one specific difference. The most common euphemism is the Deathmatch, often with some kind of prefix (i.e., "Texas Deathmatch", "Lights Out Deathmatch") used to promote the supposed risk of injury wrestlers may sustain during the match. Other common euphemisms for hardcore matches are Street Fight or Bunkhouse Brawl (both of which suggest wrestlers dressing in normal street clothes), Extreme Rules, No Holds Barred match, and Good Housekeeping match (which emphasized the use of kitchen implements as weapons).
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. This rule became the basis for the video game WCW Backstage Assault.
Clockwork Orange House of Fun match
The Clockwork Orange House of Fun match, also known as Raven's House of Fun, was created by professional wrestler Raven during his time in TNA Wrestling. It's a singles match for which a chain link wall is erected on one side of the ring with chains wrapped from it to various points on the ring itself with weapons hanging from them. but afterwards it was changed to falls-count-anywhere rules.
First Blood match
A First Blood match is a match where in order to win a wrestler has to make his opponent bleed.
Hard Ten match
The Hard Ten match was created by Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. It is contested on a points system, where the points are earned for the use of weapons. The first person to earn ten points — and be up by at least two points — wins. Regular strikes with a weapon are worth one point, while putting an opponent through a table is worth five. Unlike the tables match, a wrestler simply moving out of the way so that an opponent puts themselves through a table does count in this match type.
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. In order to avoid losing, both the wrestler's knees must be off the ground by the count of 10. A similar type of match is the Texas Death match, where a wrestler must be pinned or forced to submit before the referee will begin the ten-count.
Light tube Deathmatch
A Light tube Deathmatch is a match where a wrestler seeks to throw their opponent into a cache of light tubes before winning by pinfall or submission.
No Count-Out match
A No Count-Out 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 Disqualification match
A No Disqualification match, also known as a No Holds Barred match, is a match where neither wrestler can be disqualified, allowing for weapons and outside interference. The key differences between a No Disqualification match and a standard hardcore match are that falls must be made in the ring, there is less emphasis on the use of weapons, and often the Count-Out rule is still in effect for No Disqualification matches.
No Rope Barb wire Deathmatch
The regular ring ropes are removed from the ring in a No Rope Barbed wire Deathmatch, and barbed wire is strung up in their place.
Sadistic Madness is a match created by Total Nonstop Action Wrestling in which an opponent must be bleeding before a wrestler can legally pin them. A variation, the Doomsday Chamber of Blood, takes place inside of a barbed wire topped cage.
A Taipei Deathmatch is a match where the wrestlers' fists are taped and dipped into broken and crushed glass, allowing shards to stick to their fists.
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.
Last Chance match
A Last Chance match, also called a Do or Die match, is a championship match where, if the challenger does not win the title, they are barred from challenging for it again as long as the winner holds it.
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.
Luchas de Apuestas
Luchas de Apuestas (literally translated from Spanish to fight of bets) 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's 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's 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.
Types of wagers
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 a masked wrestler loses their mask, they are not allowed to compete under a mask with that same gimmick. In addition to masks and hair, championships, — as a form of retirement match — can be put up as the wager in any combination.
A Retirement match is any match where, should a wrestler lose, they are forced out of the company. 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 wrestlers talent one last time for their fans.
Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal
Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal, also known 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.
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.
Bar Room Brawl
A Bar Room Brawl is a multi-competitor match held in a bar. During the match wrestlers are encouraged to drink while fighting, and the "last man standing" is declared winner. Wrestlers can be eliminated from the match both by the standard pinfall and submission method of victory or by simply becoming too (kayfabe) drunk to continue the match. A one on one Bar Room Brawl is basically a no disqualification match held in a bar or a bar setup.
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 utilized a match with similar rules, naming their match and the area it took place in 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.
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 the Casket match and Ambulance 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 match or Handcuff match. In a Stretcher match, a wrestler loses the match when he is unable to get up.
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 this match are ambulances, caskets, dumpsters, and stretchers. In addition to these is a Buried Alive match, for which a wrestler must bury their opponent — to the referees discretion — in a mound of dirt that has been placed in the arena to secure victory.
Though the use of foreign objects is illegal under the standard rules of professional wrestling, some match types have been devised to allow in specific objects under certain conditions. The object in question is usually related to one or both of the wrestlers gimmicks or was in some way instrumental in the angle that led to the match taking place. In either case, 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, exclusive to Pro Wrestling Unplugged, involves placing a championship belt at the top of a scaffold with the first wrestler to achieve 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 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 often used in WWE with their Money in the Bank matches at Wrestlemania.
King of the Mountain match
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.
Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match
- Main article: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match
A Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match, often abbreviated to the simpler TLC match, is an extension of a Ladder match with chairs and tables also being present as legal weapons.
(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", "Singapore Cane 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.
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.
Another, uncommon, variation is to replace to the pole with another form of elevation, usually when the "object" in question can't safely be hung in the air for an amount of time.
A Strap match, known by many names and done with many slight variations, is any match where the competitors are paced 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. Because of the strap's legality, and subsequent use as a choking device, submissions are generally not allowed.
Names and variations
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, Indian Strap 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.
A Tables match is a match in which to win a wrestler must put their opponent "through" a table — that is, a wrestler must use some offensive maneuver on their opponent that causes them to contact and break the table.
It's important to note that, in most cases, in order for a table's breaking to count, an opponent must be directly responsible for it. Accidents, such as a wrestler falling on a standing table and it breaking, a team mate knocking a partner through a table, or a table's leg breaking while a wrestler is on it usually doesn't count so that a match can go to the pre-planned finish. Only on rare occasions with the referee "declare" that such an incident is enough to end a match, usually to some kind of "controversy".
Tables matches can be contested with tag teams, under both elimination and one "fall" rules. A more "extreme" version, the Flaming Table match requires the tables be set aflame before an opponent is put through it for it to count towards a win.
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. A variation of the match exists, the Taipei Death match, in which 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" on any kind took place on July 2 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.
A steel cage match is a match fought within a cage formed by placing four sheets of mesh metal around, in, or against the edges of the wrestling ring. The most common way of winning modern cage matches are either pinfall, submission, or by escaping the cage and having both feet touch the arena floor. Total Nonstop Action Wrestling refers to their cage matches as Six Sides of Steel in reference to their six sided ring necessitating a six sided cage.
Cage of Death
The Cage of Death match is a steel cage with various weapons and objects.
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.
Electrified Cage match
For this match the cage is electrified. Usually the only way to win is by escaping the cage, though some companies allow a pinfall to decide victory. The electricity is turned on and off at intervals, allowing the participants a chance at escape or otherwise utilize the cage structure.
Elimination Chamber match
- Main article: Elimination Chamber
The Elimination Chamber is a large, circular steel cage which 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 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 36 feet in diameter and is composed of 10 tons of steel and 2 miles of chain.
Gangsta's Paradise is an Extreme Championship Wrestling cage match featuring teams of wrestlers fighting inside the cage with weapons in play.
Hell in a Cell match
- Main article: Hell in a Cell
Hell in a Cell is a steel cage erected around the ring, with a roof on top and space on the arena floor between the cage and ring. Victory can be achieved by pinfall or submission.
Punjabi Prison match
The Punjabi Prison match, named for the Punjab region of India and Punjab region of Pakistan, consists of two large bamboo cages. The first — four sided and 16 feet (4.8 meters) tall — surrounds the ring, while the second—20 feet (6 meters) tall with eight sides — 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 escapes, 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, upon which are weapons (both "medieval" and "bamboo" variations of standard wrestling weapons). Once a wrestler has escaped the first cage, they must climb over and out of the second cage, with the first wrestler having both of their feet touch the arena floor being declared the winner.
World Championship Wrestling's Thundercage, like the Thunderdome in 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.
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 in the match is given a key to unlock his teammates to attack the other team, who are still handcuffed.
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 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. 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.
Lion's Den match
The Lion's Den match aimed to mimic the look and feel of mixed martial arts matches. A sloping, angular, steel cage was set up, with rules stating that the only way to achieve victory was through knock out or submission.
The Mud match is a match in which the ring canvas is replaced by a pool of mud. Other liquids can also be used to form the pool, with the name of the match taking the name of the liquid: an Eggnog match is one where it is held in a pool of egg nog, while a Gravy match (or a Gravy Bowl match) is held in a pool of gravy. Other materials include pudding, whipped cream, and the K-Y Jelly lubricant, as popularized in the movie 'Old School'.
Tag team match variations
- Main article: Professional wrestling tag team match types
Generally, almost all singles match types can be adapted for use in tag-team competition, with minor variations. However, there are certain match types which are designed with tag teams in mind - these can be found in the tag team article.
Multi-competitor match variations
Wrestling matches may involve multiple competitors in a free-for-all setting. Because of the number of people involved, these matches are booked on rare occasions and with great care as to ensure that no competitor is left out of the action. Multi-competitor matches are often broken down to those that do involve eliminations (i.e. where the number of competitors in the match is slowly reduced over time), and those that do not. For the former, when a wrestler is eliminated, they are then sent to the back (with any reappearance being considered a run-in and thus grounds for disqualification).
Championship elimination matches, of course, necessitate the elimination of the champion before a new champion is crowned. When wrestlers enter the match at different times, the champion may reserve the right to enter last (or at a position of their choosing) - and it is often the champion who is among the last two remaining. In non-elimination matches, however, the champion need not be involved for the title to change hands, in order to discourage the challengers to team up against the champion. A common flow to the championship non-elimination match has the champion systematically beaten up before the challengers bicker amongst themselves to see who will pin the champion, which leads to the challengers attacking each other - to the point that the challengers are unaware of the fact that the champion has recovered.
There may also be the case where a wrestler is disqualified or counted out in a non-elimination match - in many cases the match continues without the wrestler in question, or else the entire match becomes void. Because of the complex nature of dealing with disqualifications and countouts, many promotions implicitly have a no-countout or no-disqualification clause in multi-competitor matches simply to dodge the issue.
Eliminations in tag team matches are handled differently - two prevalent cases are that the losing individual must leave the ring area and the team continues without that member, or the team must retire as a group.
Basic non-elimination matches
The most common example of a non-elimination match is the Three Way match (Triple Threat is trademarked by WWE), where three wrestlers battle it out under standard rules. In many promotions, however, there are typically no distinctions between the two terms. The Four-Way match is similar (the Fatal Four Way match is trademarked by WWE), but involves four wrestlers. Popular American independent promotion, USA Xtreme Wrestling (USA Pro Wrestling) hosted a match involving 8 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.
The Triangle match combines elements of tag team wrestling with multi-competitor wrestling. In this match contested by three competitors, one of the competitors must remain outside the ring, to await a tag from either of the other two combatants. Thus, while being tagged out may afford time to recuperate, one cannot win unless they are tagged back in. The Six-Pack Challenge is similar, but involves 6 wrestlers, with 4 men outside the ring at a given time. The Triangle match can be expanded to accompany more wrestlers (i.e. the Four Corners match is a match where four wrestlers are involved).
Six-Man Mayhem is a unique multi-competitor match used mainly in Ring of Honor. It involves six wrestlers, with two actively in the ring, and four others outside standing at the turnbuckles. Instead of tagging in and out to become legal, the outside wrestlers enter the ring using "Mexican" rules—entering the ring as soon as another leaves. The WWF has used this match, calling it a Six-Pack Challenge.
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 one wrestler, reducing the match to a standard one-fall match. The Three-Way Dance (when not used as a synonym of the Triple Threat match) is a specialty of Extreme Championship Wrestling. A Four-Way Dance is similar except it involves four wrestlers and some promotions use a tag format for the match instead of having all the wrestlers in the ring at the same time. The Fatal Four-Way Elimination match is often used in place of the Four-Way Dance.
- Main article: Battle royal (professional wrestling)
A match in which wrestlers are eliminated upon being thrown over the top rope and out of the ring, with both feet touching the floor of the venue.
Final Wars Brawl
This match has two wrestlers in a steel cage for thirty minutes with other wrestlers entering at a timed interval to help out one of the opponents.
Football Classic match
Two cages are placed at ringside, inside each of which is locked a manager with a weapon. The key for each cage is fastened to a football. Two teams of wrestlers must try and gain possession of the football and take it over to their manager's cage, use the key to unlock the cage, then use the manager's weapon to attack the other team. To get the ball to the cage, the wrestlers must pass it between themeselves and attack any opposing wrestlers who have possession of the ball. In his autobiography; Mick Foley describes the match as "A fun, fan-inclusive cross between keep away, monkey in the middle, and kill the guy with the ball."
A Gauntlet match is, in a sense, a quick series of one-fall one-on-one matches. Here, two wrestlers begin the match, and are replaced whenever one is eliminated (by normal means), with the last person standing being 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, where it was referred to as a Slobber Knocker. A participant involved in a Gauntlet match may be said to be "running the gauntlet", although in most cases this designation is 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. Recently in WWE, the match has commonly been referred to as a Cruiserweight Open whenever involving cruiserweights.
The match has two (or more) teams of between 3 or 12 members to a team and before the match there will be a coin toss to see which team switches out first. Every 3 or 5 minutes the teams will switch. The first team to get a pinfall wins. It is sometimes contested under hardcore rules.
- 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. One man from each team starts out with another from either team at random entering the cage via a timed interval. The winning team must get a member of another team to submit after all members of each team are in the cage. This match was made famous by NWA's annual Great American Bash and later WCW's Wrestle War before becoming a tradition at their annual Fall Brawl pay-per-view event from 1993-1998.
In ECW, this was known as an Ultimate Jeopardy match.
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 every April.
The Xscape match is featured annually at the Lockdown all-steel-cage pay-per-view in April. This variation of the Lockdown Match has 4-6 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.
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. 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).
Beat the Clock match
Beat the Clock match is the name given to each match in a series of matches between different wrestlers to see which wrestler can win their match in the shortest amount of time, generally with some kind of prize or contendership being bestowed to the overall winner. Each wrestler involved competes in one match, and it is generally assumed that these wrestlers do not face each other. A loss removes a wrestler from consideration, and in the case of a match exceeding the current "target time" will on occasion end as a time-limit draw.
The Elimination Chase, first used in World Wrestling Entertainment's 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.
Three Strikes, You're Out!
The Three Strikes, You're Out! match (often shortened to Three Strikes), is one where wrestlers must achieve three victories of a specific nature in a specific order before the other. The name of the match is taken from baseball, referring to the notion that losing three times would entail losing the match. Because of the format, wrestlers may be attempting to fulfill different victory conditions. Like generic series matches, these are often booked so as to have both wrestlers have two "strikes" against them, with the final victory condition being a particularly brutal manner (for example, Last Man Standing). The most common arrangement for the three strikes are pinfall, submission, and knockout, with the entire match being fought under no disqualification rules.