Pro Wrestling

10 Most Ridiculous Gimmick Matches In Wrestling History Source:

When a simple one-on-one match just isn’t enough, wrestling organizations around the world have come up with an array of gimmick matches to elevate feuds and ratchet up the intensity. Some gimmick matches have become important parts of wrestling, such as the Cage Match, the Ladder Match, and the dreaded Hell in a Cell. And then there’s the gimmick matches that make you ask the question “Who thought this was a good idea?” as nonsensical rules, convoluted stipulations, and terrible ideas converge into matches that many people who be happy to have erased from existence. And yet, some of the truly ridiculous gimmick matches on this list have happened more than once!

10. Sumo Match

While WrestleMania 21 may be one of the best Manias of all time, it also contains one of the strangest ideas WWE ever came up with. In their constant search for mainstream attention, WWE decided to sign famous sumo wrestler Akebono, and promoted a sumo match between him and The Big Show at WrestleMania. Akebono barely showed up for the build, and it’s unlikely that many people in North America even knew who he was, but that wasn’t even the biggest issue with this match. That would be the fact that while The Big Show is really big, he had absolutely no experience with sumo wrestling, which is actually serious business. Meanwhile, Akebono was the first non-Japanese born yokozuna (the highest rank of sumo) with a career that spanned over a decade. As a result, the whole thing lasted roughly a minute before Akebono shoved Big Show out of the ring, winning the match in front of thousands of fans who had absolutely no idea what was going on. Akebono would actually go on to a moderately successful pro wrestling career in Japan, while North American audiences were left only with the unpleasant sight of Big Show in far too revealing sumo gear. Source:

9. King of the Road

Imagine if you will, a match fought entirely in the bed of an 18-wheeler that is in motion the entire time. Does it sound like a good idea? Well, the braintrust in WCW thought so, as they placed Dustin Rhodes and the Blacktop Bully inside that very environment for the first (and only) King of the Road Match. As you’d expect, it was terrible, as the wrestlers had to deal with both an enclosed space and the motion of the vehicle, and were unable to string together anything resembling a coherent wrestling match. In fact, it was made even worse by the fact that WCW’s crack production team had clearly edited and re-assembled the footage of the match with a hatchet (the match was pre-taped ahead of time, in several takes), a fact which was clearly visible to anyone watching (in several instances, the time of day quite obviously changed from scene to scene). To make matters even worse, both Rhodes and Bully bladed during the match (possibly in an attempt to give the match something the crowd might pop for), violating WCW’s policy about deliberate blade jobs, and were immediately fired after the show. Source:

8. Punjabi Prison Match

Not only did WWE still run this gimmick match after Great Khali, the gigantic Indian wrestler who was as immobile in the ring as he was enormously tall, had to be pulled from it due to a Wellness issue, they saw how horribly it went with two slightly better wrestlers (well, Big Show and Undertaker, which makes that a barely valid statement), and still used it a second time! Honestly, it wasn’t so much that the match concept was bad as it was WWE’s insistence on using large, slow, terrible wrestlers to show it off, as well as the fact that the rules were excessively convoluted. See if you can follow along: The match involves two bamboo cages, one with a door on each side that surrounds the ring like a normal steel cage, and a second, larger cage that circles the ringside area. Both are open at the top, although the inner cage is topped by spikes. During the match, any competitor can request one of the four doors be opened, but the door will only remain open for sixty seconds, after which time it was padlocked shut. If all four doors are locked, the only way to escape is by climbing out. Once in between the two cages, the only way to win is to escape the outer cage. Nice and simple, right? Source:

7. Junkyard Invitational

Another on the long list of WCW’s bad ideas was the Junkyard Invitational, which attempted to cash in on the hardcore-loving fanbase that had come to dominate the Monday Night Wars era of wrestling. The match took place in an actual junkyard, full of destroyed vehicles, twisted steel, and the constant threat of gangrene. We can’t even tell you the full list of wrestlers in this match, because to this day nobody is entirely sure, and the match was badly shot in near-total darkness, making watching it an effort in futility. Several competitors ended up seriously injuring themselves in the course of this brawl, which was eventually won by Fit Finlay, revealing that apparently the condition for winning was to leave the junkyard, something nobody had actually explained beforehand. Source:

6. San Francisco 49ers Match

If there’s one thing you should know about Vince Russo, it’s that he loved matches where the objective was to retrieve an object from a pole. In WCW, this was taken to new and insane levels, including (but not limited to) pinatas, stun guns, Buff Bagwell’s mother, Viagra, and a DNA testing kit. No, we’re not kidding, all those matches existed. But perhaps his crowning achievement in insane pole matches has to be the infamous “San Francisco 49ers Match”, which had absolutely nothing to do with the actual football team of the same name. The match consisted of four blind boxes on poles, one at each corner of the ring. Three of the boxes contained “gags”, which turned out to be a blow-up doll, a Coal Miner’s Glove (also known as “a glove”), and a picture of Scott Hall. Again, we’re not kidding. The fourth box contained the WCW World Title, because in case we forgot to mention, this was actually a World Title match. Oh, and the boxes were poorly made, resulting in the title actually falling out and landing at ringside before anyone could actually retrieve it. Hey, guess why WCW isn’t around anymore! Source:

5. King of the Mountain

Let’s move away from WCW for a moment and towards the company that basically imitated it, right down to their horribly convoluted gimmick matches that didn’t make any sense. Yes, it’s TNA, who designed a very special sort of ladder match for their annual Slammiversary Pay Per View, and we mean “special” in the horribly impolite way. The rules of the King of the Mountain match are simple…actually, that’s a lie, the rules are incredibly complex. It is a multi-man match where the only way to win is to carry the TNA World Title up a ladder and hang it above the ring. However, you only become “eligible” to hang the belt if you have pinned or submitted someone else in the match. If you get pinned or submit, you must spend two minutes in a penalty box outside the match. If any of that made sense to you, there are medical professionals who are trained to deal with your issues. For everyone else, it was a ridiculously convoluted set-up that had twice the chaos and none of the charm of a regular ladder match. Source:

4. Scaffold Match

The scaffold match actually saw quite a lot of use in WCW and its predecessors, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a crazy idea that led to worse matches and actually caused serious injuries to more than one competitor. The concept is actually very simple: an honest-to-goodness scaffolding is set up inside the ring, and you win by pushing your opponent off. Aside from the obvious dangers of falling off the structure, there was very limited space to work with. Combine that with the fact that scaffolds aren’t the most stable of objects, and the end result is matches full of wrestlers gingerly moving around at a great height, trying to make sure they don’t fall off. And let’s get back to the whole “falling from a great height onto a wrestling ring” part of the entire deal, because it was doing that which caused legendary manager Jim Cornette to seriously blow out his knees, resulting in permanent damage. And that was a best case scenario! Fortunately, WCW eventually retired the concept of the scaffold match, but not before trying to modify the rules to involve capturing an enemy team’s “flag” to win, which at least removed the need for someone to attempt to cripple themselves, but didn’t improve the match quality one bit. Source:

3. Blindfold Match

Seriously, how did this match not only come into existence, but also get dug out of mothballs repeated over the years? The idea of a match where both opponents are completely blinded by masks must have sounded clever to somebody in order to be a featured match at WrestleMania VII (it was totally Vince McMahon). However, in practise, there wasn’t a lot of fun in watching two wrestlers pretend to stumble around the ring and not actually wrestle a match. Obviously, they actually could see through the masks, because a true blindfold match would be even dumber, but that just means there was no real excuse for the horrendous match quality. Despite the fact that the original was considered one of the worst WrestleMania matches of all time, WWE (and even other companies) have pulled out the blindfold gimmick on several occasions, although thankfully it’s usually in inoffensive comedy matches that don’t last very long. Source:

2. Kennel From Hell

Whenever someone tells you that everything that happened in the Attitude Era was awesome, you need to remind them of this match (and if they don’t change their mind, get them to a doctor immediately). In order to get revenge for his dog Pepper, who had been killed and cooked into Chinese food by the Big Boss Man (everything about that sentence is already terrible, and we haven’t even gotten to the match yet), Al Snow demanded a match inside the dreaded Kennel From Hell. The Kennel, it was revealed, consisted of a steel cage surrounded by the Hell in a Cell structure, with allegedly ravenous dogs patrolling in between. The only way to win was to escape the cage, avoid the dogs, and walk out the Cell door. It did sound vaguely threatening in theory, but in practise, the match was terrible, the layered cages made it impossible to watch, and the dogs spent more time attempting to hump each other and pooping than resembling anything ferocious. Technically, Al Snow emerged victorious, but trust us, nobody really won that match. Source:

1. Reverse Battle Royal

We talked earlier about TNA’s crazy take on something resembling a “reverse ladder match”, but the insanity didn’t stop there, and the end result was possibly the dumbest match ever created: the reverse battle royal. In it, competitors start on the floor and fight each other in an attempt to get inside the ring. Once half the wrestlers are in, the rest are eliminated and the match proceeds like a normal battle royal, until the final two entrants are left, at which point it becomes a normal one-on-one match. The match had several obvious technical limitations, mostly revolving around the fact that cameras at wrestling events aren’t generally set up to cover a match involving a mass of humanity that takes place almost entirely at ringside, and the fans in attendance also couldn’t see most of the “match” (which might have been a blessing in disguise). And if you guessed that the ridiculous stipulation resulted in at least one easily preventable injury as wrestlers struggled to adapt to the rules, you’d be correct! The original match won several awards for Worst Match of the Year, but because TNA built an entire wrestling promotion around not learning a single thing, they actually used the gimmick a second time! Source:

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.