The 6 Most Disastrous Gimmick Matches in Wrestling History
Even with its crazy costumes and ludicrous storylines, pro wrestling would be boring as shit if every story was settled in a standard "two guys, three ropes, four corners, and a Foot Locker employee" matchup. That's why the history of the sport is a never-ending list of increasingly ridiculous (and dangerous) gimmick matches. As you can imagine, sometimes these go horribly wrong. Or wonderfully right, depending on your point of view:
Hayabusa vs. Mr. Gannosuke in an Anus Explosion Death Match
In 1999, Japanese company Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling held the first-ever Anus Explosion Death Match, where a lit firework up the ass was not only 100 percent legal, it was how to win the match. While these wrestlers certainly could have pinned their opponent or made them submit, when you have the option to stick a small explosive into your opponent's ass crack, light it up, and let it fly, why wouldn't you take it?
The Asses of Fire match was the latest chapter in a heated rivalry where the masked Hayabusa (actually an impostor named Mr. Gannosuke) fought the unmasked H (who was the original Hayabusa back when HE wore the mask Mr. Gannosuke was currently wearing). Confused? Just focus on the buttcracker and you'll be fine. It takes some time to get there though -- surprisingly, neither man is willing to just let the other set his asshole on fire. They spend the first eight minutes engaging in a standard wrestling brawl that spills out into the crowd and all throughout the building. Then, Hayabusa breaks out a pair of handcuffs.
"Now bring out the Gimp."
He beats down H some more, throws him into the ring, and teases a boring-ass pinfall victory. But before the count is over, he pulls H up, handcuffs him to one of the corners, and strips him down to his thong. Thousands of fans stand in their seats, all thinking one thought: I paid money to see this happen. This is my life now.
"If anyone asks what I did tonight, I'll tell them I was snorting crack in an alley. It's less embarrassing."
With H helplessly stuck in place, Hayabusa grabs the explosive, sticks it in his rival's butt, and lights it. Within seconds it shoots off, prompting the announcers to sympathetically laugh their nuts off. This wasn't semi-professional chuckling -- these guys shriek and cackle like schoolchildren whose teacher just sat on a tack.
"This is the way my dignity ends. Not with a whimper, but with a bang."
They (and the victorious Hayabusa) were apparently the only ones who enjoyed this match -- fans, having taken time to evaluate their own life choices, decided anal explosion simply left too much of a stain on their beloved sport and their own souls. As far as we know, it was never attempted again.
Terry Funk vs. Chris Candido vs. a Horse that Tries to Kill Them Both
By the year 2000, World Championship Wrestling had fallen completely off the rails, foregoing basic rules of pro wrestling like "don't make a 100-pound actor your World Champion" and "it's all make-believe." By forgetting that second rule, WCW came this close to having two of its wrestlers die on the air. Cause of death? Angry horse kicks to the face.
The setup was innocuous enough, with Chris Candido challenging Terry Funk for the WCW Hardcore Title. The rules of a hardcore match are simple: beat your opponent's skull in with anything you can get your hands on. Oh, and pinfalls count anywhere on the planet, meaning not one millisecond of this match has to take place inside the ring. And, in fact, they take less than a minute to leave the goddamn arena entirely.
Uber customers hire Terry Funk at their own risk.
Candido tosses Funk into the back of a truck and drives 90 seconds over to a nearby stable. That's the telltale sign your company is going places, when your flagship show airs live to the world 200 yards from an acre of livestock. Once the truck stops, the fight begins, with the usual wrestling weaponry in full supply -- garbage cans, folding tables, bales of hay, and a wheelbarrow full of horse manure, which Funk eats with gusto.
"This company feeds me shit every day -- how's this any different?"
And then, the horses. The captive audience of Mr. Eds are already cheesed off because two angry blobs of flesh are yelling and grunting and throwing things right in front of them. So you can imagine the stress when the two blobs actually enter one of the fucking stables to further do battle. Why do they do that? Because the script told them to, duh. The horse inside that stable, however, is unaware of such scripted shenanigans. All he sees is chaos. He initially does all he can to stay away, but once Funk piledrives Candido and Candido's leg brushes the horse, shit gets real:
And with that, the match officially becomes unglued.
Yes, a one-ton horse just judo-kicked Terry Funk square in the fucking shoulder, coming within inches of splattering his brain all over the stable walls. He then tries to kick Candido too, who wisely backs off. Funk, on the other hand, apparently thinks "horse tries to take my title" is in the script, as he straight-up challenges his equine assailant with, "You fucking horse! I'll kick your fucking ass!"
"See this scrawny, defenseless ref? That's gonna be you, horse. That is gonna be fucking YOU."
Funk ultimately wins the match, which is a decent consolation for almost dying on the job in front of millions. Sadly, Horse vs. Funk never materialized, as animal cruelty was one of the few things even WCW wasn't stupid enough to try.
Chief Jay Strongbow vs. "Bulldog" Don Kent in a Shark Cage Match
Cage matches are among the oldest and most popular gimmick bouts in wrestling history. Normally, they look like this:
This is the part where 8-year-old you yells, "Climb out, you idiot! He's on the ground! CLIMB!"
See? Plenty of room to run around and smash in the faces of people you don't like. Compare that to what Big Time Wrestling used for their 1977 Shark Cage match:
This is the lamest phone booth pile-in ever.
Wrestling's known for lying about everything, but this time they told the Lord's truth. They promised a shark cage, and by God they delivered, squeezing two big men -- Chief Jay Strongbow and "Bulldog" Don Kent -- into the tiniest of spaces and ordering them to make an entertaining match out of it.
"And no fucking. That would be cheating."
This is despite their near-complete inability to move -- holding the match inside a goddamn phone booth would've afforded them more wiggle room.
Since neither man could fall down, pinfalls were a complete non-factor. To win, one of these men would have to escape the cage. This required a suspension of disbelief of superheroic proportions on the viewer's part, since either man could reach the escape route -- the door -- without even taking a step. Oh, and it's a shitty shark cage, so the door keeps swinging open by itself. It first happens barely a minute into the bout, meaning if Bulldog had suffered a brain aneurysm and fell backwards, he would've won in record time.
He would have joined the audience, whose brains went dead out of sheer boredom 58 seconds ago.
Of course, since the door isn't supposed to open until much later, the referee immediately shuts it and everybody acts like it never happened. And 10 seconds later, when the door opens again, the valiant doorman moonlighting as a referee does it all over again.
A hungry shark's wet dream.
And AGAIN -- that goddamn door will not stay shut, almost like it's embarrassed and is doing everything in its power to end the match. Meanwhile, Strongbow and Bulldog continue to punch one another forever because there's no room to do anything else. After yet another bit of door rebellion, the referee finally gets the idea to jam a screwdriver in its hinges. That might have worked, except Strongbow immediately confiscates it (and accidentally opens the door again) to use as a weapon, even though he never actually does.
That dude's sign speaks for us all.
Finally, another wrestler interferes to help Strongbow escape the cage. Now that the door absolutely, positively has to open, it obviously does not. Strongbow has to visibly struggle to unstick the lock and win the match, which further convinces us that that shark cage had become sentient and spent the duration of the match in a state of open protest.
"Oh, you want to leave? Eat your opponent and I'll consider it."
Trish Stratus vs. Stacy Keibler in a Gravy Bowl Match
Like most people, Vince McMahon enjoys Thanksgiving. Unlike most people, he once chose to celebrate it by having two of his employees roll around in a giant wading pool filled with thick, brown gravy.
Back in 2001, the then-WWF booked their Women's Champion, Trish Stratus (who could actually wrestle), against Stacy Keibler (who could actually date George Clooney) in a Gravy Bowl match.
With extra stuffing.
For the title, because a true champion doesn't just pin her opponent or make her submit -- she does so while rolling around in a tub of creamy meat juice. But first ... dinner?
"Don't bother saying grace, I've already forsaken you all." -God
For whatever reason, the WWF decided to have these girls sit down for a lovely meal before rolling around in the gravy. This being wrestling, the meal immediately degenerates into a food fight. Mashed potatoes are flung everywhere, Keibler gets slimed with a pitcher of apple cider, and Trish damn near snaps her neck while taking an old-timey saloon ride right into a wall. Yes, even in perhaps the most pointless segment in wrestling history, somebody almost got hurt.
"Artists must suffer for their art."
Finally, they enter the gravy pool so this five-star extravaganza can truly begin. And while McMahon was obviously envisioning sexy here, clearly none of this was tested in advance (which would have presumably led to at least one employee asking, "So, what were you picturing when you thought 'gravy-covered women trying to violently drown each other,' Vince?"). We should also note that the "gravy" looks like collected dirty water from a bunch of post-match showers.
"It ... it tastes like mankind smells ..."
After one minute of pulse-pounding gravy-ish action, Trish grabs Keibler in a weak chinlock -- the pain is somehow enough to cause Keibler to tap out. She does so by meekly slapping the surface of the gravy, like any hardened ring vet would. Frustrated by the loss, she pushes the referee into the not-gravy, which, unbelievably, might be the sexiest part of the entire match.
She did the same thing to Clooney after he said no to commitment.
Yet, somehow, we don't doubt that in that crowd was at least one young boy who found himself getting his first weird boner. That boy is now a serial killer.
The Chamber of Horrors and No-Rope Electric Barbed Wire Matches
Back in 1991, the WCW train had not yet fallen off the rails, but their conductor was already dangerously drunk. This would explain Halloween Havoc's Chamber of Horrors match, a Dagwood sandwich of bad ideas.
Eight wrestlers, a big cage surrounding the ring, a tiny cage inside the ring, and an electric chair inside the tiny cage. Yes, an electric chair -- Texans everywhere just shit themselves with envy. Strapping your opponent into the chair and pulling the "Fatal Lever" would end the match. Luckily for the world's newest corpse, a team of ghoulish morgue interns (WCW called this show "Halloween Havoc" for a reason, goddammit) was on hand to safely carry him off to the cooling board.
They needed all these guys in case every wrestler killed himself out of sheer embarrassment.
The match itself was everything you'd expect from eight guys stumbling around a Russian nesting cage, biding time until one of them had to die. The fans had no idea what to think, because they couldn't see any of it. Those suffering at home got to see the almost-action thanks to something called a "refer-eye" -- a camera placed on the referee's head, a gimmick that was such a raging success that it was never used again.
Some poor unpaid intern worked all night on that pun, and for nothing.
Finally, evil wrestler Abdullah the Butcher grabs nice wrestler Rick Steiner and forces him into the chair. Abdullah's partner, evil crazy wrestler Cactus Jack, climbs the big cage in order to flip the lever. Luckily for Steiner, Jack is also incredibly stupid and takes forever to do his one job. This gives Steiner time to wake up and throw Abdullah into the chair. Jack finally hits the lever, and ...
Poor Abdullah melts in a massive fireworks display that sends dangerous sparks flying within inches of the front row. Eagle-eyed viewers may note that this is not at all how an electric chair works. Or electric anything, fortunately. Abdullah's death lasts about two minutes, by the way, before he wakes up and immediately starts attacking everybody. So there are a lot of flaws in the science; they should have hired an advisor or something.
"OK, now hold that pose for the rest of eternity or it won't make any sense."
We should note that at least one gimmick from the match did get used again: 15 years later in Japan (where we're starting to think wrestling might actually be the weirdest part of the culture), they took the Chamber of Horrors, removed everything but the supposed electrocution, replaced the ring ropes with barbed wire, and gave the world the No-Rope Electric Barbed Wire match:
The two women in the match, Megumi Kudo and Combat Toyoda, don't so much wrestle as they find convenient reasons to whip one another into the electrified barbed wire:
At least she got a two-count. A one would've been too fake.
Without looking into it, we're going to assume that absolutely everyone involved in that match is now dead.
The WCW Junkyard Invitational Match
We're starting to think WCW had issues. That's the only explanation for booking something like the Junkyard Invitational match: a borderline prison riot that almost ended with the "winner" getting burnt alive for real.
In July of 1999, 14 wrestlers were ordered to spend 15 minutes beating the piss out of one another in a real-life junkyard. With actual weapons, not those pissy breakaway tables and hollow kendo sticks the weenies in the ring always use. The goal was simple: escape the junkyard. Also, don't die, which damn near happened 30 seconds in. A member of the tag team Public Enemy decides to test whether 911 truly was a joke by lifting a car and chucking it eight feet to the ground. If any wrestler were there, they would have been crushed and Mr. Enemy would've learned what an actual prison riot looks like.
"Oh, my bad. You dead?"
In addition to attempted negligent homicide, this "match" is just a series of men beating the actual shit out of one another -- caving in car roofs, swinging bumpers and mufflers like baseball bats, and turning simple hubcaps into handy-dandy concussion creators. Much of this, by the way, happens while the wrestlers are barely filmed or completely off-camera (there was only one cameraman, who found it shockingly difficult to capture mass chaos in a giant junkyard by his lonesome), rendering their hard work totally useless.
At least their moms recognized them, unless they already flipped over to King of the Hill.
The clusterfuck finally ends when Fit Finlay (playing the always-progressive role of an angry Irish guy who loves to fight) climbs the fence to escape and win. But first, the explosions. To add a bit of romantic ambiance to the spectacle, WCW lit a few garbage fires and littered them throughout the junkyard.
Which was risky, considering they're just like ThunderCat signals for stabby hobos.
One of these big metal candles ends up toppling over and setting a nearby car ablaze. With the wrestlers fighting mere feet from the flames, Finlay kicks over yet another flaming bin to keep the others away while he escapes. This only barely works, because seconds after Finlay walks away from the fire, this happens:
"The fire is in on the whole thing. I know all about these wrestling tricks."
Finlay's prize for coming within inches of actual death wasn't a belt, money, or even a promise to get booked like an actual athlete going forward. Nope, he got a trophy -- an ugly, broken, crooked trophy made out of used car parts.
"This'll look great next to my soccer trophy made entirely out of the other goalie's bones."
Thanks to pitch darkness, you could barely see the trophy on TV. In fact, you could barely see anything. Along with the eternal blackness, the camera was Cloverfield-levels of shaky, and half the match was aired from the POV of a damn helicopter. When future archaeologists dig up this film, they'll think it was just a news report covering the downfall of civilization.
And they'll only be sort of wrong.
For more bad wrestling events, check out The 8 Most Insane Moments in Professional Wrestling and The 5 Most Baffling Celebrity Cameos in Pro Wrestling.
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