The Steel Cage is one of wrestling's oldest gimmick matches. The appeal is simple. Four steel walls keep all of the competitors inside, and all of the other wrestlers and managers out. Cage matches are a great response to matches ending in DQ because of interference, as it usually produces a decisive victor whether matches end in pinfall, submission, or escape.
The classic steel cage has spawned more imitators than almost any other idea in pro wrestling. But none are as good as the original. So, needless to say, this list will be leaving out the Elimination Chamber, War Games, Triple Cage, Hell in a Cell, Thundercage, Kennel from Hell, Punjabi Prison, and yes, Tower of Doom matches. That still leaves a lot of great cage matches. The steel cage has decided almost every major title - NWA, WCW, WWE, IC, US, WWE Tag Team, just to name a few. The visual design of the steel cage has also evolved - going blue in the WWE, adding a door, all the way to the current design that lowers from the ceiling.
In honor of the WWE Extreme Rules 2015 main event pitting Seth Rollins and Randy Orton in a steel cage for the WWE Title, this list will look back at our favorite cage matches.
These great matches span 30 years and three different national wrestling companies. Some of the matches contest world titles, WrestleMania main event spots, and tag titles. The ones that don't involve titles can still settle a rivalry. If you so choose, most of these are available on the WWE Network for you to enjoy.
15 No Mercy 2000: Chris Jericho vs. X-Pac
This cage match had no title in the balance, wasn't a main event, and was somewhat buried in the midcard during Y2J's first year in the WWE. That all being said, it still delivered a very entertaining match between two of the WWE's best light heavyweight wrestlers.
14 Survivor Series 2001 - WWE/WCW Tag Team Title Unification: The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz
13 IYH Breakdown 1998 - #1 Contender Match: The Rock vs. Ken Shamrock vs. Mankind
This match was a hidden gem in the Attitude Era, as all three of these guys had fought in the past and would continue fighting in the future. The clash in styles saw Mankind's hardcore brawling, Shamrock's MMA background, and The Rock's classic blue-chipper grappling all colliding in the steel cage.
12 Rebellion 2001 - WWE Intercontinental Title: Edge vs. Christian
It was a shame to see the Edge and Christian split somewhat lost in the shuffle of the Invasion storyline. This underrated cage match between the brothers (they were still considered brothers at the time) got stuck on the UK Rebellion PPV, but still managed to steal the show. It stands out for having the old school colored bar style cage instead of the sturdier version that lowers from above.
11 Extreme Rules 2011 - WWE Heavyweight Title: John Cena vs. John Morrison vs. The Miz
After The Miz won the WWE Title in one of the worst WrestleMania main events in history, there was a lot of pressure on the WWE. This match was the main event of a great card returning WWE to form.
10 Unforgiven 2005: Matt Hardy vs. Edge
Matt Hardy and Edge would end their long in-ring and out-of-ring rivalry with this great cage match. This match all centered around Lita being caught between the two former tag team rivals.
9 Halloween Havoc 1994 - WCW World Title Retirement Match (Special Referee: Mr. T): Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair
Getting Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair in the same steel cage is good enough for me. However, this also happens to be a pretty solid match that lived up to the hype, as Hogan and Flair were icons that were still young enough to put on a good match.
8 8. SmackDown! - World Heavyweight Championship: CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy
7 SummerSlam 1990 - WWE World Title: The Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude
6 St. Valentine's Day Massacre 1999: Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon
The match shouldn't have been so good, considering McMahon isn't exactly an elite wrestler. However, it had a really fun opening sequence with Vince being able to avoid the Texas Rattlesnake and the cage. When the match did eventually kick off, it became interesting as a main event spot at WrestleMania was hanging in the balance.
5 Starrcade 1985 - NWA US Title: Magnum TA vs Tully Blanchard
What's better than a cage match? An I Quit cage match. It's uncomfortable to watch when a legend screams like an animal into the mic when asked if they quit, but there was no other way to end this legendary feud.
4 Starrcade 1983 - NWA World Heavyweight Title: Ric Flair v Harley Race
Flair and Race are two of the best wrestlers of all time and they were facing off for the biggest title in the world, at the biggest show in the world at that time. So, it's no surprise this 30 year old match has stood the test of time.
3 Unforgiven 2000 - WWE World Tag Team Titles: The Hardy Boyz vs. Christian & Edge
This match was very clever when it came to using the cage and the escape stipulations. Because both teammates have to touch outside to win, the heel champs were able to isolate and attempt to pin one of the Hardys while the other was on the outside. Eventually ladders got involved (naturally), and the Hardys were able to reverse the dynamic and win the titles with a conchairto on Edge. There's also a great standout spot with Lita hitting a cage-assisted hurricanrana off a ladder.
2 Extreme Rules 2013: Brock Lesnar vs Triple H
1 SummerSlam 1994 - WWE World Heavyweight Title: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart
This brother vs brother match that headlined SummerSlam isn't just one of the best Cage matches of all time, nor onlu one of the best World Title matches of all time - it's one of the best matches of all time, period.
Owen Hart would never win the WWE title before his untimely death and he never came closer than this war with his brother. It's jarring to see Bret Hart, the excellence of execution, in such a brawl, but Bret proved that he can excel in any style of match. Owen and Bret went full throttle in the cage for 30 minutes and the ending, with Owen being trapped, would be often imitated, but never duplicated.
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