In professional wrestling, specialty matches or “gimmick” matches, are usually fought to end a storyline rivalry. In a regular contest, combatants are required to wrestle within the rules, and if they don’t, they are disqualified. Whereas in “gimmick” matches, there are no rules and the wrestlers can legally use any objects around the ring. In these kinds of battles, the only job the referee has, is to count the pin fall or listen for a submission from a wrestler. In this article, I will discuss three of the many specialty matches in wrestling: “Hell in a Cell,” The “Barbed Wire Match,” and The “I Quit” Match. Many readers will have others at the top of their list, but these three, in my mind, are really dangerous and nail-biting.

“Hell in a Cell” is considered one of the most brutal matches in World Wrestling Entertainment. Some of the wrestlers say it is a “career shortener” because of its dangerous nature. The structure of the “Cell” is similar to the steel cage, with a couple of differences. Unlike the cage, the “Cell” is twenty-feet high, and weighs more than five tons. It also surrounds not only the ring, but also the ringside area. The wider space allows the wrestlers to compete outside the ring. There is also a roof at the top, which creates a “cell” effect.

The Undertaker has been involved in most of the “Cell” matches, including an extremely memorable one against Mankind (Mick Foley). Now, when Foley wrestled in Japanese promotions, and in the original ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling), he was known for his violent and extreme matches. When he entered the WWE and developed his “Mankind” persona, fans didn’t know what to think of it. They didn’t boo, nor did they cheer. So, Foley and his opponent decided to make the match memorable.

As Mankind made his way to the ring, he tossed a steel chair to the top of the cage, and climbed up. Undertaker made his entrance, and climbed the cell to meet his opponent. At that point, the audience and the commentators knew something big was bound to occur. Mankind attacked his opponent with several chair shots. After Foley beat ‘Taker with the chair, the combatants moved towards a corner of the cage. Mankind attempted a suplex on his larger opponent. But, it was blocked, and Undertaker mercilessly punched Mankind. With Foley and ‘Taker at the edge of the cage, “The Dead Man” grabbed Mankind by the shirt and hair, and tossed him from the top of the cell through the announcers booth below. Medical personnel, WWE officials, and Foley’s friend, Terry Funk came to check on him. The fans and the commentators were speechless.

As he was being wheeled away on a stretcher, Mankind got up, and climbed on to the top of the cell again to meet his opponent. With the two wrestlers face-to face, the Undertaker pounded Mick with his fists. Then Foley was grabbed by the neck, and was choke slammed through the roof of the cage, falling to the mat below. As Mankind fell, the steel chair he brought at the beginning of the match, followed him on the way down, knocked him out, and broke one and a half teeth. With Mankind bloody and beaten, the Undertaker nailed his “Tombstone” reverse pile driver to end this brutal battle.

Foley suffered a bruised shoulder, damaged kidney, broken teeth, and a list of other injuries, yet he was smiling. The audience developed more respect and admiration for Foley because of what he was willing to go through to make the match memorable, and to give the audience a moment they will never forget. There have been almost twenty “Hell in a Cell” matches, but there may never be another one like the classic between Mankind and the Undertaker. This match lived up to the “Hell in a Cell” name. It was pure torture. It was brutal. It was dangerous. At times, loud sighs were heard, and at other times, there was total silence.

As dangerous as “Hell in a Cell” is, the “Barbed Wire Match” is among the bloodiest of all matches. There are different types of “Barbed Wire Matches,” but I will only talk about a couple.

The “No Rope Barbed Wire Match” occurs when the ring ropes are replaced with Barbed Wire. In the original ECW, a match of this magnitude took place between Sabu and Terry Funk. Near the conclusion of the match, Sabu was going for one of his signature aerial moves. In the process, he became tangled in the barbed wire, which produced a gash on Sabu’s body, and required a hundred stitches. Despite that, he continued the match, and became the new ECW Champion.

“Barbed Wire Massacre” is a match similar to the “Barbed Wire Match.” The ring ropes are replaced with barbed wire. There are also barbed wire boards, and many other weapons surrounding the ring. The wrestlers had access to everything, and utilized anything they could get their hands on. In 2005, TNA (Total Non-Stop Action) Wrestling, staged this battle between Abyss and Sabu. It was a brutal and bloody contest, which saw Sabu pin his opponent with his “Arabian Face Buster” (flying leg drop) finisher, while Abyss was caught between two barbed wire boards.

One of the main events at the WWE’s “No Way Out” event in 2005, pitted John “Bradshaw” Layfield (JBL) against the Big Show in a “Barbed Wire Steel Cage Match.” It is similar to a regular cage match, except the top of the cage is covered in barbed wire, and the cage door is locked, making it tougher to escape. It was a physical battle which ended in controversial fashion. The Big Show choke slammed JBL through the ring, then he ripped open the cage door and escaped. But, when the “World’s Largest Athlete” choke slammed JBL through the ring, it allowed his opponent to emerge victorious since JBL escaped the cage first. Big Show thought he won, but he was wrong.

The “I Quit” match is dangerous because in order to emerge victorious, one wrestler has to utter the words “I Quit” to the spectators, and viewers watching at home. That alone, is humiliating. So, the wrestlers put themselves through more pain than usual, especially if a championship is at stake.

A memorable “I Quit” match took place at the Royal Rumble in 1999, between the Rock and Mankind. It was a vicious battle. The ending came when the Rock handcuffed Foley’s hands behind his back, and pounded his opponent’s head with several hard chair shots, which echoed throughout the arena. Mankind was knocked out, but didn’t utter the words “I Quit.” Instead, a tape-recording of Foley saying those words were played over the public address system, thus making the Rock the winner.

Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero had two “I Quit” matches. The first was held on the October 20, 2006 edition of Smackdown. Heading into the battle, Rey’s knee was legitimately injured. Knowing his opponent was injured, Chavo repeatedly attacked Mysterio’s knee with a steel chair, until the masked superstar was forced to say “I Quit.” The rematch occurred almost a year later on Smackdown, but with a different result. Rey emerged as the winner, in the same manner he lost the last match between the two. With Chavo’s leg tangled in the ropes, Mysterio grabbed a chair, and repeatedly attacked his opponent’s knee, forcing him to say “I Quit.” The pain was excruciating. His facial expression reflected physical agony, and Chavo had no choice but to surrender by saying the two words he didn’t want to say – “I Quit.”

The types of matches I discussed are all brutal and can cause legitimate injuries. These ‘gimmick’ matches are usually bloody and extremely violent. It’s tough to choose a favorite, but in my opinion, I think “Hell in a Cell” is the best. There is no escape, the cage can be used as a weapon, and there is a good chance that something happens that will leave the audience speechless.

All these dangerous matches, while entertaining at times, eventually take a toll on the bodies of the wrestlers. If only there was a way to avoid the magnitude of pain and suffering wrestlers endure to provide entertainment. If only.

Azeem Kayum

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