Gimmick matches are as much a part of modern-day wrestling as rest holds and fan disappointment. Matches such as Ladder Matches, Table Matches, Last Man Standing Matches, Iron Man Matches and many, many others have given wrestling fans some of their fondest memories of the business, so it’s perhaps no surprise that promoters across the world regularly use gimmick matches to create exciting, entertaining and hopefully profitable matches. However, it is also the case that promoters can get a little carried away when trying to create the next great gimmick match. Wrestling is a creative industry, so you can expect people to experiment, but there are only a handful of ways you can tinker with something as specific as a wrestling match and still make it good. On the other hand, there are literally thousands of ways in which you can mess with a match’s formula to the point where people would rather watch their own grandmother have a hysterectomy. Considering that the last great WWE gimmick match (the Elimination Chamber) was introduced in 2002, there are literally hundreds of matches that failed to capture audience’s imaginations or money and these are some of the best. Or should that be worst? I dunno, but the point is, these matches stink, really, really bad. Enjoy.
15 The Asylum Match
This already feels like a lifetime ago.
Before Dean Ambrose was the Intercontinental Champion and before Chris Jericho had even considered writing his list, the two were embroiled in a feud in the spring of 2016. What began as animosity between the two soon grew over the weeks and months, as Ambrose constantly tormented Jericho by interrupting his Highlight Reel segment and even destroying his famous light-up jacket. No, Ambrose was not the heel here, but I can see your confusion.
The two first met in a pretty decent singles match at Payback, but had their big blow-off match the next month at Extreme Rules. The two would meet in a brand new match never seen in wrestling before – The Asylum Match. The two men would be locked in a cage and the only way to win would be to pin or submit your opponent, perhaps using the various items that were attached to the side of the cage walls. If you’re thinking this sounds a lot like a Full Metal Mayhem match from TNA, you’re wrong, because WWE said this was the first of its kind and, as we know, they never, ever lie to us... The match was pretty slow and pretty confusing (why would you want to climb all the way to the top of a cage just to jump back down and hit someone with something?), so it’s safe to WWE won’t be putting on another one of these any time soon. It did have a thumbtack spot, however, which the sadist in me very much enjoyed.
14 The Bloodbath Match
As stupid as this was, this match may be one of the most important in WWE history.
Edge and Christian were not always the loveable, goofy frat boys that we all know and love today. They actually began their careers in WWE as... vampires. Yep. Vampires. God, I hate the '90s. As a part of The Brood, Edge and Christian came under the tutelage of fellow vampire (ugh) Gangrel, and would regularly use their scare tactics of dosing people in “blood” (which I really hope was fake) to put opponents off. They were also the ones responsible for the hanging of The Big Boss Man at WrestleMania XV, so that’s something, I suppose.
This match came about when Gangrel betrayed Edge and Christian to team up with The Hardy Boyz, forming the imaginatively-titled group, The New Brood. Edge would later battle Gangrel in the first and only Bloodbath match, where the objective was to be the first to dump a bucket of “blood” (again, really hope it was fake) over your opponent. The concept was silly and it felt wrong that a wrestler could lose a match just by having something thrown over him, but, as I mentioned earlier, this match did have some pretty important consequences for the WWE. During the match, as Gangrel looked set to defeat his former protegee, the lights went out. When they came back up, Gangrel was covered in blood and, standing next to him, bucket in hand, was Christian. Edge would reunite with his former stablemate that very night and the two would go onto have one of the best tag team runs of all time. Almost made me take it off this list. Almost.
13 The Crybaby Match
I have one word to describe this match – eeeeeeeeeewww.
Razor Ramon and The 1-2-3 Kid (X-Pac for all you Attitude Era buffs out there) are best buds in real life. As members of The Kliq, they had immense backstage power in WWE during the late-'90s and, along with fellow members Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Kevin Nash, dictated most of the company’s main event scene for almost half a decade. It’s perhaps no shock to learn that Ramon and Kid were involved in a high-profile feud, after The Kid defeated Razor in a shocking upset on Raw. The two would later team together after earning one another’s respect and win the World Tag Team Championships, but their partnership was not to last. I wish it would have done, because we could have spared this awful match.
Said awful match went down at In Your House 6 and was about as good as you might expect something called a “Crybaby match” to be. The loser of the match, The 1-2-3 Kid, was placed in a diaper as punishment for his loss and was subsequently covered in baby powder and milk. Because being diapered in front of a live crowd of 5,500 people just wasn’t bad enough. Even though there was no special way of winning this match, the aftermath was enough to put it on this list. It wasn’t even funny in an embarrassing way; it was just embarrassing and WWE would do well to never return to this awful stipulation. Especially considering the current crop of WWE talent. Can you imagine – Kevin Owens, in a diaper. I get shivers at the thought.
12 The Tuxedo Match
I think once any match has had Howard Finkel and Harvey Wippleman in it, it’s well and truly dead.
Matches where you have to strip your opponent down have been a part of wrestling for decades, but, for some reason, this match type has just never been able to stick around. The match begins with two men in smart evening wear and the objective is, as you may have guessed, to remove your opponent’s clothing before he removes yours. The most famous (unfortunately) instance of this match took place in January of 1995 and pitted longtime manager Harvey Wippleman against Hall of Fame ring announcer Howard “The Fink” Finkel. Hooray? Fink won the match, but lost all of his dignity as his own clothes were almost entirely removed. There have been some tuxedo matches since then, but they are few and far between and I think I know the reason why – men are terrible.
This match, at its most basic, is essentially a bra and panties match, but with men. However, WWE history is littered with bra and panties matches (where the objective is for two women to see who can strip their opponent first), whilst the tuxedo match is a rarity. The reason for this is, sadly, that wrestling, for a long time, had a very misogynistic, backwards view of women. Most of the female roster throughout WWE’s history were hired solely to entertain the horny male audience by looking sexy and doing sexy things, one of which was strip other women. It’s sad that this match type became so popular in the WWE (it’s a playable match type on numerous WWE video games) whilst the men of the company very rarely had to go through the same degrading process. Women are presented a lot better in WWE nowadays, but it’s important to remember that, not so long ago, they were really, really mistreated by the company. Rant over.
11 The Gulf Of Mexico Match
This has got to be the most specific match type in wrestling history. It can literally only happen in one part of the country.
Whilst a lot of these stupid matches happened decades ago, when wrestling was still in its campy, pantomime stage, there can be no excuses for this stinker, as it took place in 2008. This odd match occurred on an episode of WWE’s version of ECW, emanating from Corpus Christi, Texas, which, apparently, is near the Gulf of Mexico. The match pitted ECW Champion Chavo Guerrero (now there’s an odd phrase) against his challenger for the upcoming Royal Rumble pay-per-view, CM Punk. The two had been feuding for some weeks by this point, so it was decided that the only way to decide who was the better man was to put these two titans, these two mighty men in a match so brutal, so inhumanely destructive that only the strongest man would survive. This match, nay, this form of torture, could be ended in only one way, one horrifying, blood-curdling way... by throwing your opponent into the Gulf of Mexico. Wait, what?
Yes, this absolute mess of a match saw the two men who were supposed to be feuding over this brand’s top belt brawl outside and attempt to chuck each other into a river. And people wonder why the ECW Championship died in WWE. The action in this match was fine, but it was pretty hard to take a match that boiled down to “push him in the water” seriously. Punk got the win after hitting a GTS on Guerrero, which sent him into the Gulf, presumably to be horribly mutated by the various waste that has been dumped there over time. Maybe that’s how he managed to beat Punk at Royal Rumble; he got superpowers from the polluted Gulf! Nailed it. But seriously though, pollution is really bad and everyone who does it should be ashamed of themselves.
10 The Bungee Match
I thought we could all use a laugh after my little rant.
Any casual WWE fans desperately scrolling through the network trying to find Triple H vs Big Show in a Bungee Match will be thoroughly disappointed, as this match did not take place in WWE. It took place in a short-lived promotion called the Global Wrestling Federation in 1992 and pitted wrestlers Steven Dane and Chaz Taylor (you know, those guys) against one another. If you want any storyline or context to this match, then good luck, because I couldn’t find a damn thing about the build-up to this.
The match was pretty simple in its concept; two wrestlers, each one attached to a bungee chord, fighting in a small pod suspended high in the sky. The winner was the first person to push the other wrestler out of the pod, forcing them to bungee jump. Whilst the element of danger was most certainly there in this match, it was just so boring to watch. There was no space in the pod for anything more than a few punches to be thrown and, because of restrictions with cameras, this match was filmed from the ground, meaning we could only get a small glimpse of the, ahem, “action”. A bad idea from a pretty unsuccessful federation, The Bungee Match has been consigned to its rightful place at the bottom of wrestling history. Just don’t expect this one to spring up again any time soon.
9 The Shark Cage match
Jeez, what is it with wrestlers fighting in confined spaces?
Some of you wrestling historians out there might be aware of a promotion called World Class Championship Wrestling, which existed in Texas in the 1980s and very early 1990s. It was run by the famous Von Erich family and was home to groups such The Fabulous Freebirds. WCCW was a pretty successful and popular organisation in its time and many regard Fritz Von Erich, the man in charge of the company, to be somewhat of a wrestling genius. This is probably why this stupid match happened in WCCW before Fritz took over.
In 1977, WCCW was known as Big Time Wrestling and was a part of the National Wrestling Alliance. It was here that this dumb match would be fought between Chief Jay Strongbow and Don Kent. And when I say dumb, I mean really, really dumb. The match had the same basic rules as a normal cage match, but was on a much, much, much smaller scale, as the two men were trapped inside of a shark cage, which could barely fit one of them in, let alone both. The two men grappled and... well, that was it really (there was no space to do anything else) with the door swinging open wildly as they did so. Yeah, that’s right, the door wasn’t even locked! How this match went beyond thirty seconds, I’ll never know. The worst part was, this match only ended after interference. Seriously? I could have won this match on my own and I’ve got the wrestling capability of wet pasta. A stupid concept with boring execution and an awful finish, the cage involved here might have been designed to keep people safe, but nothing could protect the audience from this dumpster fire of a match.
8 King Of The Road Match
The last few matches might have been bad, but at least they didn’t happen on a pay-per-view.
The PPV in question was WCW Uncensored 1995. This was the same show that featured Haku vs Jim Duggan in a martial arts match, Arn Anderson vs Marc Mero in a boxing match and Randy Savage vs Earthquake. Yet, somehow, none of these matches were the worst thing on the card. Oh no, that was the very first match on this show. The match in question featured a large truck pulling a cage full of hay around, whilst two wrestlers inside the cage battled to be the first to blow the horn of the truck, which would win the match. Wow, it must have taken some pretty awful wrestlers to agree to this match. Who were the participants? Ok, it says here that they were two guys named The Blacktop Bully and Dustin Rhodes. Well, I’ve never heard of those two, so they must have been ba... wait a second, the Blacktop Bully was Smash in WWE! (And Repo Man too.) And Dustin Rhodes is Goldust! Good lord, this isn’t going to help either of them get into the Hall of Fame.
The match was pre-taped, so we didn’t have to sit through all of the madness of two grown men fighting in some hay, but it was still a slog to watch. The camera angles were usually obscured by the cage and the constantly moving truck made it difficult for either performer to actually execute any effective moves. Wrestling matches held outside of a ring can be good, but not when the surface the men are fighting on is moving as well. The worst part of this debacle was that both men ended up getting fined for bleeding during this match, as this was against WCW’s policy at the time and the match was heavily edited as a result. I tell you, if a match being edited for having blood in it at a pay-per-view called Uncensored isn’t the true meaning of irony, then I don’t know what is.
7 The Scaffold Match
If you loved the Bungee Match, then boy, are you in for a treat here.
Taking the extreme part of wrestling to another level, this match type combined elements of hardcore wrestling with tradition Japanese Sumo wrestling in a way that nobody asked for or, indeed, wanted. The basic premise to this match is simple; two men are suspended high about the ground on some scaffolding and the winner is the first to push the other off. Simple, right? Yes, but also, highly crazy and impractical.
Firstly, like the Bungee Match, it’s really hard to film this match, on account of the height. Secondly, it’s really hard for the audience at the actual show to see what the hell is happening, so there’s no real way they can get invested in the match, which dampens the overall presentation. Thirdly, throwing people off of stuff is really dangerous. At least the Bungee Match had some sort of safety harness to it, whereas this match type can only be made safe (and I use that term sparingly) by having something break the losing wrestler’s fall, which doesn’t always work.
For example, at an Xtreme Pro Wrestling (XPW) event in 2002, wrestler, Vic Grimes, had his ankle dislocated after being thrown forty feet off some scaffolding by fellow wrestler and professional lunatic, New Jack. Jack later claimed that this was done on purpose in revenge for an injury he had sustained a few years earlier in a match with Grimes, which Jack obviously handled in a mature and reasoned way. The Scaffold Match might seem appealing for the pure danger-seekers of wrestling fans, but practically, it just doesn’t work all that well. Especially when New Jack is involved. That man is insane.
6 San Francisco 49ers Match
This one is really weird.
WCW was not a good place to be in 2000. The company was getting its ass handed to it by the WWE, Vince Russo and David Arquette had been World Champion in that one year and the last few decent talents were being snapped up by the WWE quicker than you could say “on its last legs”. In an attempt to claw back some viewers, WCW went all in on its gimmick matches and, thus, the 49ers match was born. However, unlike most births, this was nothing to celebrate.
This bout pitted Booker T and Jeff Jarrett against one another and was like your traditional pole match (not a great start), but featured four boxes hanging above the corners of the ring, one of which contained the WCW Championship. Oh yeah, that’s right, this match was for the world title. Things were really that bad. The other boxes also had stuff in them, including a blow-up doll and a picture of Scott Hall. Why? I literally have no idea. The match ended when Jarrett was thwarted in his attempts to capture the last box by... Beetlejuice from The Howard Stern Show? What the hell is this match? And why is it named after a baseball team? So many questions. Booker won and, thankfully, the match was over, but not before the future Hall of Famer was left baffled after the belt fell out of the box before he could grab it. Nice one, Booker. This was a bad match with a bad run-in on a bad show for a bad company and we can all be very thankful this only happened once.
5 The Chamber of Horrors Match
This damn match.
This match took place at WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 (not the first time we’ll see Halloween Havoc on this list) and featured some pretty high-profile talent; Scott Hall, Vader, Mick Foley, The Steiner Brothers, Abdullah the Butcher and Sting were all involved. Sounds like a fool-proof line-up, right? Well, as the old saying goes, never underestimate the ingeniousness of fools.
The match premise was simple, and by simple I mean completely ridiculous. The ring was surrounded by a large cage, which was filled with various pieces of Halloween-themed garbage (caskets, prop zombies, pumpkins, etc.) and the only way to win was to the place one member of your opponent’s team into the “Chair of Torture,” a large electric chair in the middle of the ring, and turn it on, electrocuting them. If that sounds like it could be deemed as attempted murder, that’s because it could.
The match was an absolute mess with people brawling all over the cage, all whilst trying to awkwardly manhandle their opponents into the chair. The match was won when Scott Steiner belly-to-belly suplexed Abdullah the Butcher into the chair and Cactus Jack, believing Scott to be in the chair, pulled the lever that set the chair off, electrocuting Abdullah and losing the match for his team. Nice one, Mick, no wonder Stephanie McMahon chewed you out so much when you were Raw GM. The absolute height of WCW’s campy cartoon era, the Chamber of Horrors Match was so bad it was, well, bad and there’s a reason we’ve never seen its like again. At least, I hope we haven’t. Please don’t do this, WWE, Bray and Randy deserve better.
4 The Kennel from Hell Match
You knew it just had to be on here somewhere.
The Hardcore Championship was a wonderfully weird championship that existed in WWE from 1998-2002. What made it so unique was the fact that it could be defended at any time in any place, regarding there was a referee present to count the pin or submission. This meant that the title changed hands over 200 times during its existence in some of the weirdest and most unexpected places imaginable. The nature of the championship also meant that, even when the title was being defended in a scheduled match, things could get a little strange. Enter The Kennel from Hell match.
Taking place at Unforgiven 1999, the match stemmed from a rivalry between Hardcore champ, Al Snow, and the Big Boss Man. It began when Boss Man kidnapped Snow’s beloved pet dog, Pepper, after failing to capture the title from him on an episode of Smackdown. Snow later went to Boss Man’s hotel room, looking for Pepper, only to find Boss Man had prepared him a lovely steak to say sorry for his heinous actions. However, it soon transpired that the steak was not beef or lamb or pork, but it was, in fact, Snow’s precious dog, which Boss Man had killed and served to him. I told you this championship was weird. In revenge, a match was made for Unforgiven that would see the two men trapped inside the ring by a steel cage, which itself was surrounded by the Hell in a Cell. The winner was the first man to escape both structures, however, the path between the cage and the Cell was obscured by another terrifying obstacle – a pack of rabid, crazed, flesh-eating guard dogs! Well, that’s how WWE sold it, anyway. When the actual match came around, the dogs were more interested in laying down, defecating and, umm, “getting down to business” than trying to maul Snow and the Boss Man, so the one thing that made this match special was completely nullified. An interesting match concept, but one that was always doomed to fail, this match is proof that, in showbusiness, you should never work with animals. Also, don’t kill and eat people’s dogs. That’s some more free advice for you, there.
3 The Monster Truck Sumo Match
Told you we hadn’t seen the last of Halloween Havoc.
Perhaps the most infamous of all of WCW’s gimmick match blunders, The Monster Truck Sumo match went down at Halloween Havoc 1995 and pitted WCW Champion, Hulk Hogan, against his latest rival, The Giant, known to modern-day wrestling fans as Big Show. The Giant was a part of The Dungeon of Doom, a stable of supernatural beings devoted to ridding the world of Hulkamania, and it was decided that the best way to do this was to challenge the Hulkster to a match where two giant trucks pushed one another around on a rooftop until one of them was pushed out of a ring of cones. Couldn’t make this stuff up, could you? The match was about as exciting as sounds; the action, if you could call it that, was slow and boring and it was just so hard to take a match involving a giant yellow truck with huge plastic arms on the side seriously. Hogan won the match, but this was far from the end of this storyline. We weren’t that lucky.
After the sumo match, Hogan and The Giant brawled on the rooftop, getting dangerously close to the edge. After lunging at Hogan and missing, The Giant lost his footing and fell off the building, presumably to his death. I’m not kidding, this actually happened. WCW was so weird. That’s not even the end of it; The Giant would return later that same night to challenge Hogan for the WCW Championship, which he won after interference from The Dungeon of Doom, including the debuting Yeti, a man wrapped head-to-toe in bandages that had been thawed form a block of ice on the Nitro before the pay-per-view. Take a moment to process all of that, it’s a lot to get a grip on. So, not only was this match boring, slow and ridiculous, but it also led to one of the dumbest main events in wrestling history. If I so much hear the words “monster truck” on a wrestling show now, that’s it, I’m running for the hills. I cannot sit through this again.
2 The Hog Pen Match
This one is funny for a multitude of reasons.
Despite its faults, WWE has actually used this match three times over the years, with the first instance coming in 1995. Considering the objective of the match – to be the first man to throw your opponent into a pen of live pigs –, it’s no surprise that one of the participants in this bout was pig farmer character, Henry O. Godwinn (his initials spell “HOG”, d’ya get it?), but it’s the other participant that might surprise you – it's none other than multi-time world champion and current WWE COO, Triple H. Trips was portraying his “Connecticut Blueblood” character at the time – a stuck-up rich man who looked down on those he saw as lesser than himself – and the feud was centred around Triple H (who went by the name Hunter Hearst Helmsley at the time) despising Godwinn, who represented the common man. Why they thought the best way to settle their dispute was by throwing each other into a muddy pigpen, I’ll never know.
The match took place at In Your House 5 and the action wasn’t all that bad, it was just soiled by the presence of a massive pig pen in the background. The action wasn’t the only thing that was soiled, as, after Helmsley won the match by back body dropping Godwinn into the pen, Godwinn pulled Helmsley into the pen with him and proceeded to beat the snot out of him, covering the two of them in pig slop in the process. It did the job of embarrassing the snobbish Helmsley, but it was still a bit laughable watching two grown men batter each other inside a pig enclosure. However, as I said earlier, this hasn’t stopped WWE from bringing the pen back twice more; once to pit Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff against one another and again in a match between Vickie Guerrero and Santina Marella, which was Santino Marella dressed as a woman. I think it’s safe to say that, when the Henry O. Godwinn is the third-most legitimate competitor you’ve had in a match type, it’s time to bury that match type, deep, deep in the ground.
1 The Punjabi Prison Match
Ah, The Great Khali’s main event push. What a time to be alive.
A lot of successful wrestlers have their own specialist match types. Mankind had the Boiler Room Brawl, Kane had the Inferno Match and you could argue that The Undertaker had two specialist matches (Casket and Hell in a Cell). This is perhaps why, when attempting to promote the seven-foot tall Indian monster, The Great Khali, WWE decided to give him his own special match. They needed to do something after all; Khali could barely walk, let alone wrestle a competent match and fans were not impressed by this lumbering giant getting a push over their favourite wrestlers. To try and put Khali over, a revolutionary new match was conjured up for The Great American Bash pay-per-view in 2006; The Punjabi Prison Match. The match would see the ring enclosed in two separate cages, one four-sided and the other eight-sided, both being constructed out of bamboo. Because Punjab is full of bamboo? I don’t know, I failed geography. Like the Kennel from Hell Match, the objective was to be the first to escape both cages, only this time the danger would come from the height of the cages and the sharp ends of the bamboo. Sounds like nothing could go wrong, right? Well, as it turns out, things went wrong before the first match even got underway, as The Great Khali, the man this match was specifically designed for, didn’t even appear in the match.
Khali was supposed to face The Undertaker in this match at The Bash, but wasn’t declared medically fit to compete, due to high levels of enzymes in his liver. For God’s sake, Khali, even your injuries are boring. Undertaker was then scheduled to face Big Show in the match for... reasons and the two giants plodded through this bout for a mind-bending 21 minutes and 35 seconds. I’d rather have spent that time having a lobotomy, because this match was slow. It took an age for the men to escape the first cage and they didn’t even make it over the top of the second one, as Taker won the match after Big Show threw him through the side of the cage, breaking it and sending The Deadman spilling to the outside, winning him the match on a technicality. 21 minutes and 35 seconds for a technicality! My God.
Khali did eventually get his chance to step inside this plant-based penitentiary when he faced Batista at No Mercy 2007 for the World Heavyweight Championship, which Batista won in a thankfully much shorter time of 14 minutes and 47 seconds. When you lose your first attempt at your own match and don’t even feature in the first one, you know it’s time to give up and, thankfully, WWE has never brought this awful idea back. But hey, what with Jinder Mahal getting a push now, you never know. Could be time to get those bamboo knives out one more time.