With the unveiling of the Asylum Match in Extreme Rules, which is similar to Raven’s House of Horrors match, WWE has shown its intention of bringing that bit of hardcore into the fray once again. With the ratings tumbling because of various flaws in the system, WWE can rely on their old friends with stipulations to gather all sorts of fans and get their stock back up in the high. The ‘extreme’ matches have always been a favorite for wrestling fans, as we tend to enjoy all kinds of stipulations and watching a wrestler get pummeled by a chair or onto some thumbtacks only makes the match more enthralling.
The introduction of the PG era put a halt at the inflow of some hardcore stipulations and put to rest many kinds of ‘extreme’ matches, with the others being watered down a lot. Gone are the days where we see the use of barb-wired bats or legitimate street fights and the PG era has even abolished the use of chairs onto one’s head because of the concussion policy in the WWE. The company now produces very bland extreme matches which can be a success if the men participating can pull it off very well, and because of the impressive talent they mostly manage to pull off some thrilling hardcore matches without having to go overboard or bloody.
But the old fans did get the taste of some very exciting and brutal hardcore matches in the Attitude era and mostly in the Ruthless Aggression era. Some of the most innovative hardcore matches came in the Attitude era with the Hardcore Championship’s anytime, anywhere to be defended stipulation made for some regular, great hardcore action and the Ruthless Aggression era gave some of the most brutal, terrifying matches in history of the WWE.
15. John Cena vs Brock Lesnar - Extreme Rules 2012
One of the most vicious matches in the WWE’s Extreme Rules history, John Cena and Brock Lesnar provided a slobber knocker of a fight which was more of a legitimate street fight than wrestling. After returning the night after WrestleMania 28, Lesnar would target Cena to make a statement. They would brawl in the coming weeks (with Lesnar seriously breaking Cena’s nose) and an Extreme Rules match would be set up at Extreme Rules. Lesnar would dominate Cena all match long, busting him open in mere minutes into the match and pummeling him with stiff and very ‘real’ moves and punches while tying his feet in chains. An emphatic F5 looked like the end of the match, but Super Cena kicked out after a late count and rallied back to defeat this beast after a steel chain to the head and an AA on top of the steel steps to put an end to this gruesome match.
13 Vince McMahon vs Shane McMahon - WrestleMania X-Seven
The Daddy-Son battle would have quite a personal side to it as Shane was fighting for his mother who was drugged by Vince, now with Trish Stratus as his ‘partner’. Mick Foley would be the special referee as Stephanie would be at Vince’s side. Shane started the match by beating his father with kendo sticks and TV monitors, but Vince got the upper hand when Shane crashed through an announcer's table. Trish would bring Linda (seemingly senseless) to the ring to see her son get beaten but would fight with Stephanie and both ladies got escorted out by Mick Foley who also got a chair shot for helping Linda. As Vince was thrashing his son with garbage cans, Linda shockingly rose up to hit a low blow to Vince as Shane would cover his dad with cans and hit the coast to coast for the win. The fact that both of these non-wrestlers could put their bodies on the line to do this shows how dedicated the McMahons are towards the business.
12 D-Generation X vs Legacy - Hell In A Cell 2009
This was the perfect ending to a very good feud between the two teams, with Legacy trying to oust the ‘old guard’ in DX. Rhodes and DiBiase were some ruthless, persistent heels in this feud, not backing away after a loss in their first match at SummerSlam and targeting Michaels’ leg to win the 2nd one at Breaking Point. In the penultimate match inside the monstrous structure, it seemed they had the upper hand as they worked their way into eliminating Triple H early and keeping him out of the Cell. A two on one assault began on Michaels inside the cell and although no blood was involved in this match (cause of the PG Era), the intensity and compelling heel-work by the two made it a really emotional battle. Triple H finally managed to get in the cell using a bolt-cutter and DX got the upper hand by eliminating DiBiase to the outside and pummeling Rhodes with a chair and HHH’s sledgehammer to get the win.
11 Sabu vs Rey Mysterio - ECW One Night Stand 2006
Sabu vs Rey Mysterio for the World Heavyweight Championship was a brilliant mix of extreme and technical, high-flying wrestling with both men showing their skills in an exciting, hardcore encounter. The match began on a technical note but soon the ‘toys’ were introduced to get some great spots, as both men used chairs and tables to synchronize with their high-flying moves. Sabu really shined in the match despite his age as he almost ousted Mysterio in his athletic moves, and gave quite a ‘holy s***!’ moment when he hit a DDT to Mysterio off the top rope onto a table on the outside. This move kayfabe knocked both wrestlers out as the match ended in a no contest. Both men definitely won in this enthralling battle which was the best that night.
10 Kane vs The Undertaker - Unforgiven 1998
The Kane and Undertaker rivalry is known for many of its matches, but the Inferno match to take place at the Unforgiven: In Your House PPV in 1998 was one of the most iconic matches in this legendary feud. The first ever one to take place in WWE, it was one where the ring would be surrounded by fire on all of its four corners. The two men put on a great match despite being surrounded by this terrible heat from the fire, and even though all safety measures were ensured one had to be careful. They put on a great match, with Paul Bearer interfering and gaining that heel heat and the two brawny, big men also gave some athletic, risky moves which saw the flames rise each time they thumped each other. Kane would try to escape after being thrown over the top rope (but not being burned) but with some assistance from Vader, Undertaker would make Bearer bleed and finally set Kane on fire to win the match.
9 Elimination Chamber - Survivor Series 2002
There have been many a matches inside the demonic chamber of the Elimination Chamber, but one could say that the first one is still the best. Having a good, unique mix of wrestlers in the match was built-up very well and executed phenomenally. From having some awesome spots like Rob Van Dam executing a Five-Star Frog Splash from on top of the chamber pods to Kane, it was quite a grueling encounter with the newly developed chamber being used to crack open the wrestlers. Shawn Michaels entered as the last entrant and was targeted by Y2J and Triple H. Kane was eliminated after taking 3 finishers from Y2J, HBK and Triple H and Jericho got a Sweet Chin Music to get eliminated. This culminated into the personal rivals to be the ones remaining, as Michaels took massive punishment and gave an awesome moment by jumping off the chamber pod to execute the elbow. Finally, Michaels overcame the odds to hit he Sweet Chin Music and win as his victory and the match itself will be remembered for a long time for its first brutal display of the barbaric structure.
8 JBL vs John Cena - Judgement Day 2005
John Cena has a tremendous track record in ‘I Quit Matches’, but his very first such match against JBL in 2005 made for one of the bloodiest, gruesome matches in the Ruthless Aggression era. Coming off a bitter rivalry, this match had a brilliant intensity to it as both wrestlers tried to tear each other apart to make the counter-part say ‘I Quit’. Both had their share of offense, but the match really picked up when JBL hit Cena with a vicious chair shot to the head which led him to bleed profusely. They moved their brawl to the ramp where JBL tried to continuously choke Cena to say ‘I Quit’ but he rallied each time and busted JBL open as well. It ended when Cena was threatening to hit JBL with an exhaust pipe and JBL said ‘I Quit’, but Cena hit him with it afterwards anyways. Poor JBL!
7 CM Punk vs The Miz vs Alberto Del Rio - TLC 2011
One of the better main events of the TLC PPV, 2011’s main event of CM Punk defending his WWE championship against The Miz and Alberto Del Rio in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match was an amazing, hardcore match with the right utilization of the tools. Punk was double teamed by the heels in Miz and Del Rio but soon it all broiled into chaos as the toys were brought in to play with chairs and ladders being used to hurt each other. Some of the bumps the wrestlers took in the match on the ladders and tables made for some amazing spots, and each wrestler was given their own time to shine. Del Rio using the ladder and chair to apply his arm-lock was pretty innovative and Punk and Miz throwing off his ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez was a great moment too. They didn’t have to go totally extreme but maintained that hardcore manner to the match which ended when Punk broke free of being chained by the Miz and won after eliminating both rivals.
6 Kurt Angle vs Shane McMahon: King of the Ring 2001
Kurt Angle and Shane McMahon put on a hell of a fight at King of the Ring 2001, as their street fight is renowned for having some epic moments which looked legitimately terrifying. It started off with Angle having the upper hand and dominating Shane with suplexes, but the ‘prodigal son’ brought the fight to him with the use of kendo sticks, trash-cans and metal plates. Shane would try a shooting star press but land on the trash-can and then they would rough it out in the entrance ramp. Here we’d get one of the most ‘holy s***!’ moments in WWE history as Kurt Angle hit 3 belly to belly suplexes on Shane (who landed on his neck) to get him through a glass door. Shane rallied back inside the ring but would fall to an Angle Slam from the top of the rope. Shane McMahon would prove the daredevil inside him to give us one of the most hardcore matches of all time.
5 Edge vs Mick Foley - WrestleMania 22
Mick Foley is a wrestler who has no care for his body and just doesn’t think twice before doing an ‘extreme’ moments which are countless in his life. After making his return to the WWE, Foley had to put the ‘Ruthless Aggression’ into the era and he so did in a hardcore match vs Edge in WrestleMania. And boy was it ‘hardcore’ as it brought to show many of Foley’s beloved ‘toys’ as he brought the barbwire to sting edge and the barb-wire bat to tear him down. Edge would go insane after a point of time as he assaulted Foley with the barb-wire bat continuously before bringing thumb-tacks, but got a taste of his own medicine when he was put through the tacks by Foley. The Hardcore legend seemed to get the upper hand by having both Edge and annoying girlfriend Lita in a barb-wire claw, but was hit by the bat by Lita on the ring apron as she lit a table on fire and Edge speared Foley right through it making for one of the most shocking moments in the era. Not only did the match make Edge the proverbial ‘Rated R Superstar’, but elevated Foley to a higher cult status if there ever was one.
4 6-Man Armageddon Hell In A Cell - Armageddon 2000
Just imagining 6 men being inside a monstrous element like the Hell in a Cell cage is enough to ascertain the brutality of the match, and knowing that it actually happened among 6 of the toughest men the company has produced, one could know that it was ugly. Stone Cold, The Rock, Kurt Angle, Triple H, Rikishi and the Undertaker all went at it inside the cage for Angle’s WWE championship and it was utter chaos. Things soon spiraled onto the outside where Austin took on HHH and Undertaker and Rikiski climbed on top of the cage. Stone Cold sent HHH into cars windows and HHH retaliated by giving him a few hard bumps as the Undertaker was pummeled with a chair by Rikishi. Vince McMahon tried to come and ‘tear apart’ the cage at one point when commissioner Mick Foley took him out as the match produced an ‘OMG moment’ when The Undertaker threw Rikishi on top of the car sent by McMahon. The other wrestlers(in the ring now) were shocked by this and went at it again, as Kurt Angle got an opportunistic win to put an end to this hell-ish match which had everyone bruised at the end and this was never replicated again.
3 Cactus Jack vs Triple H - Royal Rumble 2000
It’s the return of our friend Mick Foley, now with his persona of ‘Cactus Jack’ which is the most hardcore of his gimmicks as he took on Triple H for his WWE championship in a street fight in the 2000 Royal Rumble. After months of brewing rivalry, both of them took it too each other and didn’t hold back with the weapons either, as various weapons from Barbie(Jack’s toy) to chairs to tv monitors being used. Triple H tried to run out at one point but was pummeled by The Rock and sent back, where he was greeted by Barbie and Cactus. Jack also introduced his friends- the thumbtacks but it went against him as he was body-slammed into it and then HHH hit a pedigree on top of these thumbtacks to finish the match. Both men were bloodied and bruised after this match, and must’ve lost some months of their career due to the grueling battle.
3. Triple H vs Shawn Michaels - Armageddon 2002
This match happened when a heated rivalry between these two boiled over towards the breaking point, as a 3 stages of hell match was to determine the winner in a personal rivalry. The first match would be a street fight and the best among the 3 as the fresh contestants gave it their all by using all sorts of weapons like garbage cans, chairs etc to try to decimate their opponents. The fight soon went over to the outside where Triple H tried to hit Michaels with a flamed barb-wire bat but Michaels countered and hit him instead. Both bloodied superstars went to the ring where HHH would win the first bout. The second, inside a steel cage would have both of them thumping each other in the cage and as Ric Flair entered to help HHH, Michaels hit both of them with steel chairs and hit Triple H with a flying body from top of the cage to win the second match. The third would be evenly matched and just as HBK seemed to be winning after hitting HHH with a superkick, Triple H would claw back and throw him onto a pile of tables and win this gruesome match which left both of them with dangerous wounds.
2 Hardy Boyz vs Edge and Christian vs The Dudleys - WrestleMania X-Seven
This match is probably THE best tag team match in the history of wrestling itself, as it completely revolutionized and changed the landscape of the tag team format forever. All the three teams got their moments to shine and the usage of the tables, ladders and chairs in this TLC match actually gave the feeling that yes, it was a TLC match. The Dudleys and Hardy’s both hit their signatures on tables and someone taking hard bumps throughout the course of the matchThe match got even more exciting when Rhyno, Lita and Spike Dudley intervened to help their teams and got into the action as well, with Lita taking a 3D. But if one imagined that it couldn’t be more epic, they were wrong as the spot of the night and probably one of the top spots in Wrestlemania history happened when Edge speared Jeff Hardy(who was hanging on the title belts almost 15 foot high) to the mat. Then Bubba Ray Dudley and Matt Hardy were sent through a pile of tables set up by the Dudleys as Rhyno helped Edge and Christian to win this phenomenal match after which they weren’t being able to move properly- which is understandable.
1 The Undertaker vs Mankind - King of the Ring 1998
Well it’s pretty obvious that Mick Foley will be on top of any ‘hardcore’ list related to Wrestling, as he showcased his eccentric daredevil against a hell in a cell match against The Undertaker in King of the Ring as Mankind. Mankind climbed up the cell right as the bell rang and taunted Undertaker to follow, as the two wrestled on top of the cell. But the shocking moment came when Undertaker tossed Mankind down through the announcers table and JR followed suit with some epic commentary as everyone in the arena and watching thought that he’s probably dead. He was being escorted back by medics and friend Terry Funk, but climbed back on to the cell to brawl again with the Undertaker. What happened afterwards was stunning for the audience as well as the wrestlers, as The Undertaker delivered a chokeslam onto the top of the cell and the cell broke with Mankind falling into and through the ring. Camera’s detected one of his teeth being up his nose as the maniac went on the match, getting a small upperhand on the Deadman and using the cell to his advantage. Mankind rallied back to hit his signatures and finishers on chairs to the Deadman, but got chokeslammed onto thumbtacks and tombstoned to end this amazing battle which made these two the icons they are today, and elevated Foley to god-like status among fans.