In pro wrestling, eras come and go, and within those eras, new match styles are born, but unfortunately they don’t always stand the test of time. The reasons may vary on why some matches completely disappear: fans lose interest, the match type is only built for specific wrestlers, or possibly, it’s just too graphic for today’s product.
No matter the reasons, for every horrible idea, a great one was created that should make a return for a new generation of fans to enjoy. Imagine putting three rings next to each other, and filling them with sixty wrestlers, all vying for the title, or a chance at the title. Although it’s a bit of a production nightmare, with battle royal rules, the match itself is madness for the first few minutes.
This article will look to the past, and bring back ten matches that should make a comeback, even if they don’t necessarily fit today’s environment, which has grown particularly stale within the WWE. Gimmicky matches can come off as campy or overdone, but when used very sparingly, their impact is much greater. The following matches may not all be home-runs, but sometimes it’s not a bad thing to shake things up.
So, let’s get right to the list of forgotten matches!
10 War Games
Two rings are completely surrounded by a cage, which eventually will be filled with two teams of either four or five wrestlers. It starts out as one-on-one for five minutes; each team has a member enter every two minutes thereafter. The no-DQ match lasts until one member from either team is pinned, submitted, or knocked out.
War Games was used primarily in WCW from 1987 until 1994, most famously pitting teams against the ultimate heel (bad guys) stable, the Four Horsemen. WWE’s Elimination Chamber is a modern twist on this match, but doesn’t include teams or the two ring setup. Using today’s roster, with the way the Wyatt Family is growing, a group of faces (good guys) could band together and take them on in this throwback.
9 First Blood
The rules are fairly simple in this one, the match is no disqualification (DQ), and whichever wrestler bleeds first, loses the match. It’s a perfect match to use as the climax for a particularly brutal feud between two wrestlers. From 1998 until 2008, there have been ten First Blood matches in the WWE, the first being between Kane and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and the most recent, John Cena vs. JBL.
The main problem with this match today is WWE - a PG product - does everything they can to hide blood in matches. If a wrestler is cut mid-match, doctors will sometimes attend to them right at ringside or if they are showing previous footage, it will be switched over to black and white. I don’t know about you, but “Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose: First Blood” sounds like a PPV match worth checking out.
8 Championship Scramble
As the name states, this match is always for a title, and involves five or six wrestlers, who are looking to get the final pin to become champion. It starts as a one-on-one match, with each wrestler entering every five minutes, once everyone is in the ring a predetermined time starts, whoever gets that last pin before time runs out, is the winner.
In 2008 and 2009, WWE used this match four times for the ECW, World Heavyweight, and WWE titles, respectively. For whatever reason, it was quite popular for a short period of time, and then was never used again in the company. This is definitely a match that could be brought back, as a nice fit within the current WWE environment.
7 Boiler Room Brawl
When you think of WWE’s “Attitude Era”, this is typically one of the first matches that come to mind, thanks mainly to its name and format. It starts out – as you can imagine – in a boiler room, where two wrestlers fight until one of them is able to escape the room. This match was basically built around Mankind, who was involved in all four of these matches in the WWE.
It seems when his character was further developed and/or changed to Cactus Jack and Dude Love, the Boiler Room Brawl was no longer needed and hasn’t been seen since. This match requires darker/brooding characters to be more effective, so if used today, it would need guys like Kane, Ambrose, or Kevin Owens to get their brawl on.
6 Inferno Match
The ring is completely surrounded by fire and the only objective is to set your opponent…on fire. Sounds pretty scary, right? Well, it is, and that’s why only four matches have occurred within the WWE, all of them involving Kane. In terms of theatrics, it’s beautiful to see the flames surround the wrestlers and leap up in the air after big spots.
This match is pretty limited as Kane is basically required to be involved, and nobody really wants to see Kane anymore. In 2013, WWE did have a “Ring of Fire” match with Kane and Bray Wyatt, which had the theatrics of the fire, but they didn’t have to set each other on fire to win the match. That PG version of this match just didn’t work, so maybe down the road, two fully clothed wrestlers will be able to take advantage of the Inferno Match, in its proper form.
5 Buried Alive
Another no-DQ match that tends to spill out of the ring in a hurry, with the objective of tossing your opponent in an open grave and burying them with dirt, via shovels or bulldozers. Between 1996 and 2010 this match has been used only five times in the WWE, each time involving The Undertaker.
With Undertaker’s wrestling days coming to an end, someone else would have to take the torch for this match, and with plenty of sinister characters on the roster, this one could easily make a comeback. Although most gimmicks today couldn’t just simply “return from the dead”, it would be a good way to write-off a character, and allow for them to be repackaged. Although, the concept is not exactly PG, it’s not really graphic either, so putting it on a PPV would probably draw plenty of attention.
4 World War 3
Sixty men all vying for a chance at the title – or the title itself – in a battle royal style match that spans three rings. As each ring empties out to a specific number, the remaining wrestlers consolidate to one ring, and continue to battle. The idea is extremely creative, although, as a fan, trying to watch it on TV is a bit rough as three mini-cams were used to show the action.
Today, including NXT and some part-time Legends, the WWE’s roster could easily handle a match this size to main event a PPV. How cool would it be if the WWE World Heavyweight title became vacant, and the only way to immediately decide the next champion would be to use this format? Everyone love battles royals!
3 Bra & Panties
An extremely overused match during WWE’s Attitude Era in which two women wrestlers would strip each other down to their bra and panties, the first to do so, won the match. Obviously, the WWE is trying to portray itself in a completely different way today, especially with the “Divas Revolution” storyline where wrestling is being put ahead of sexuality and drama.
There is a way to utilize this match even today by having a heel authority figure make two face women wrestlers fight in this match, or they’re fired. The story could continue as both woman wrestle, they decide to have a regular match, and the loser would just take their own clothes off at the end to signify a proper ending to the match. Highly unlikely this will ever return, but it would bring massive heat to the authority figure, while also gaining great support for the two wrestlers involved.
2 Loser Leaves Town
Typically, this is just a singles match with the stipulation being whichever wrestler loses, must leave the promotion. This match was extremely popular during wrestling’s “territory days” as it was pretty common for wrestlers to jump around to different promotions. Now, WWE tends to use a “Retirement Match” as a way to send off their veteran wrestlers, like Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair.
Although wrestlers don’t jump around quite as often today, it would be a good way to send off any wrestler WWE didn’t plan on resigning when their contract ran out. If anything, it would give even lower-tier guys a final send off match, that they might not otherwise receive.
1 Gauntlet Match
This starts out as a basic singles match until one person is pinned or submitted. A per-determined amount of wrestlers will come out after that, one at a time, until a final winner is determined. Most often today, this match is used against a face, as a type of punishment where they usually face three or more different heel wrestlers, increasing in difficulty as they move along.
It would be fun to give this match a twist, and book it for a title that includes six to ten wrestlers. This match could easily be used these days, and would provide something different from the usual, predictable stuff that WWE has been putting on for the past couple years.
Get each of these matches in a PPV, and watch wrestling fans’ interest dramatically increase!