On April 27th, WWE will be putting a new spin on an old favorite at The Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia. Arguably the most popular PPV outside of Wrestlemania is The Royal Rumble. Thirty men enter the ring and the only way to be eliminated is to be thrown over the top rope. Now take that match and add 20 more superstars and that’s what you are going to get in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. But that isn’t the only specialty match we’re getting. We also are getting a steel cage and a casket match. WWE is no stranger to adding gimmicks to matches to make them more interesting and keep the product from getting stagnant. Some are exciting, some are dangerous, and some are downright strange. Here are 10 of the weirdest gimmicks WWE has put on.
Steel Cage Match
One of the tried and true formats for match gimmicks. You take two men, surround the ring with steel grating, and let them go at it. Usually, the way you win this match is by escaping the cage, either by unlocking the door or climbing out the top. It’s on the more tame end of the spectrum when it comes to how bonkers the gimmicks can get but is one of the more often used ones. It can benefit any style. A brutal brawl like Bret and Owen Hart going at it can be made even more intense. Or you can put high fliers like The Hardys in there and watch them climb around the top and give them even greater heights to drop from.
A match originally conceived in the 1970’s found new life when it was revived by none other than The Undertaker. To win this match you put your opponent into a casket–and close it. That’s the whole gimmick. The Undertaker has used this match format extensively facing off against the likes of Kane, CM Punk, and Bray Wyatt. It was even a casket match that caused Shawn Michaels first retirement after facing off against The Undertaker for the WWE Championship at the 1998 Royal Rumble when he sustained a severe back injury. It’s a fun concept… that probably will have trouble staying relevant without The Undertaker.
Take a steel cage match, add a roof to the cage, and then throw in another ring. Then you would have a WarGames match. NXT brought this format back recently when The Undisputed Era, The Authors of Pain, and Roderick Strong with SAnitY fought in November 2017. It has a super intense name but seems like somewhat of a lazy format. “Hey, you know what would make this steel cage match better? A second ring…”
When it comes to gimmicks, the WWE loves putting people in enclosures. This is one of their more interesting iterations of the locked up gimmick. Take one cage, put it inside another cage, and make those cages out of Bamboo. Add in the fact that the first time it was used the bamboo shoots were all sharpened on top making it far more dangerous for the superstars to climb out. It has only been used three times to date. Originally created by The Great Kahli, it received its name from the Punjab region that he was billed from. It was revived in 2017 by then WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. Thankfully the spikes were not part of this second iteration. It’s an awkward match that is physically hard for the audience to watch since they have to do so through two layers of bamboo. This one might not be making a fourth appearance…
Kendo Stick On A Pole Match
There are a couple different versions of this match but this is one of the more insane. They put a pole on one of the ring posts and hang a kendo stick on it. The first person to climb up the turnbuckles and grab the Kendo stick… gets to beat the living crap out of their competitor with it…It can be an exciting stipulation– unless you’re Bayley and you refuse to use it on Alexa Bliss. It’s only the entire gimmick of the match.
Let me just open with how thankful I am these are a thing of the past.
The purpose of this match is to disrobe the other competitor. There is technically a men’s version called a tuxedo match but the more popular version was the Bra and Panties version. At one point the WWE treated its women’s division as nothing more than eye candy, so they would put them in matches where the only way to win was to strip down the other woman to her bra and panties. Thankfully the WWE has moved towards gender equality in booking and has a monster women’s division right now so matches like this are a thing of the past.
Tables, Ladders, and Chairs
This match seems commonplace now, even having a PPV dedicated to it. But if you break it down it’s insane that this exists. You allow people to use tables and chairs as weapons and throw a bunch of ladders around to use as you see fit. Climb up them and jump off? Drop your opponents onto one? Swing it around like a giant blunt weapon? Sure, all of the above in a TLC match. Add in the fact that there is usually a prize hanging above the ring that you need to climb up a ladder to get and you have a recipe for absolute destruction. If you want an example of how good this type of match can be I highly recommend checking out TLC 2 at Wrestlemania 17 (listed as X-Seven). It pits the Hardys, The Dudleys, and Edge and Christian in a triple threat for the Tag Team Titles. It’s a wonder those men can even still walk afterward.
Kiss My Ass Match
No that is not an ironic title for a match, the name is very literal. The loser has to kiss the bare butt of the winner. It’s as simple as that. This was popular in the Attitude Era but has seemingly disappeared in the PG Era. A lot of big names had to pucker up on live TV and kiss someones rear end. It’s a degrading action that is incredibly awkward to watch. Not many people miss Kiss My Ass Matches.
First Blood Match
One of the more brutal additions to the gimmick roster, to win a first blood match you must make the other man bleed. Yep, if you bleed first you lose. This was another stipulation that found more success in the Attitude Era. Since the move to the move to PG Era, the WWE is mostly against having talent bleed on purpose. Nowadays we are shocked when we see crimson on the superstars, like when Brock Lesnar opened up Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 34. But back in the late 90’s and early 00’s wrestlers would fight in these matches, sometimes using specific moves known to cause bleeding or using a method called blading. Blading is when a wrestler would take a hidden blade and make a small cut, usually on the face since it is prone to bleeding profusely and then reveal the wound to the audience. It is a somewhat barbaric match that isn’t likely to resurface.
Buried Alive Match
Think about the aforementioned casket match, now use a hole in the ground instead. The buried alive match is an unnerving match in which one competitor literally tries to murder the other one. To win you have to throw your opponent into a pit… and bury him… Another match that is reserved for The Undertaker, you can see why the WWE has steered away from this one. Kids are always going to try what they see on TV–burying their friends alive may not be something you want them to try.
WWE has tried a lot of different things to keep the product vibrant. Thankfully some of these mentioned gimmicks seem to have been left in the past. Hopefully, they stay there…