wrestling / Columns

Top 7 Gimmick Matches That Need To Come Back

November 11, 2022 | Posted by Steve Cook
Cody NJPW Bloody Image Credit: NJPW

I’m Steve Cook, and I’m always open to suggestions. Unlike many of my Internet wrestling writing compatriots, I’ve never claimed to be infallible. Pro wrestling companies aren’t infallible either. We’ve seen gimmick matches thrown out there, done once or twice & cast aside like bad boy/girlfriends. This leads me to a suggestion I got at [email protected], which is an e-mail address you all can reach me at with suggestions for lists, columns, or anything other than junk mail. I get plenty of that.

How about a top 7 gimmick matches you would give another chance.IMissMarkingOut

A great suggestion! There are plenty of great ideas for gimmick matches that haven’t been used in awhile. Some gimmick matches have been run into the ground lately, like those matches involving ladders that I never want to see again but have to once every main show because that’s apparently what the people want.

What haven’t they seen in awhile that we might sell them on again? Let’s find out…

7. Tuxedo Match

There are few more humiliating things to do to a person than strip them of their clothing. It’s kind of weird that wrestlers get worked up about this sort of thing, as most of them go out on television to fight in clothing barely less revealing than their underwear on a regular basis. It’s probably more about the value of the clothing, especially when it comes to something like a tux. Ric Flair used to talk about how his suit cost more than peoples’ houses, so it’s understandable that he’d get upset when somebody ripped it off of him.

Typically, Tuxedo Matches featured managers, ring announcers, broadcasters and other folks we didn’t see in the ring. Sometimes you’d see tough guys like Ted DiBiase & Jim Duggan have them, but on mainstream television it was usually comic relief. Perhaps now that we’re seeing more male managers on TV than we have in decades, the Tuxedo Match will make a comeback. Far more likely we see a Tuxedo Match than a Bra & Panties Match. The B & P match was always a failure in wrestling psychology to me, as fans would cheer when the babyface got stripped. You don’t want the fans to cheer when their favorite loses, right? Yet, whenever Trish Stratus competed in a Bra & Panties match, all the Trish fans were happy if she lost.

6. Body of Water Match

There are few things more fun in wrestling, or life in general, than when somebody gets chucked into a body of water. Vince McMahon knew this, that’s why he always threw people in his pool when he had them over to the mansion the first time. Growing up, WCW’s Spring Break shows were annual highlights since we knew that somebody would take a bump into the pool at some point. WWE shows in Corpus Christi, Texas were at an arena that happened to be next to the Gulf of Mexico. This resulted in several incidents with wrestlers & objects being tossed into the gulf, much to the pleasure of the fans.

The high point of this was probably a match CM Punk & Chavo Guerrero had while they were feuding on the ECW show. In order to win the match, the winner would have to deposit the loser into the Gulf of Mexico. After much drama, Punk got the win and avoided what would have likely been his first bath in a month or so.

People getting tossed into water equals ratings. I don’t make the rules. The next show that runs Corpus Christi needs to bring it back.

5. Island Death Match

Antonio Inoki & Masa Saito had all sorts of problems with each other in 1987. New Japan Pro Wrestling knew this issue had to be settled. So they place them on Ganryƫ-jima Island and let them settle their business in an Island Death Match. Inoki & Saito fought all over the island for two hours before Inoki finally got his hand raised. Apparently New Japan did this gimmick again on the same island with Hiroshi Hase & Tiger Jeet Singh four years later.

Listen. I know most wrestling promotions out there can’t afford an island. But we’ve seen UFC run events on “Fight Island”, which is apparently part of the United Arab Emeriates. WWE has taken in at least $400,000,000 from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since their little deal started. There are 1300 small islands off the coast of Saudi Arabia. You can’t tell me that this can’t be arranged. WWE could certainly have some feud blown off on one of these Saudi Arabian islands, and they could collect millions of dollars, and plenty of fans would be happy to watch it and spew the company line about how Saudi Arabia is great & praise MBS and all that nonsense about how it’s great that women can wrestle in trash bags now.

I expect this to happen within the next couple of years.

4. Battle Bowl: The Lethal Lottery

I’ve heard all of the reasons why this didn’t work out. Getting people that didn’t usually work together to do matches led to awkward results. Making strange partnerships became predictable. I get all of that. But I would absolutely watch a show where partners were drawn out of a tumbler/hat/whatever leading to a battle royal where one wrestler would come out on top. I’m a person that loves variety and random teams, and I think most wrestling fans would fall into that boat as well. It’s just a matter of selling it, and planning things out in a proper way.

I’m not sure if the original people that planned out the Lethal Lottery know this or not, but pro wresling is apparently a work. That’s what I’m told. If you tell these folks far enough in advance that they’re in a match, they can probably plan something out. You could theoretically tell wrestlers their matches in advance without leaking them out to the Internet sites, if you have the right wrestlers under contract. We know there are some wrestlers out there that will sing like canaries to certain reporters…you just have to leave them out, and it won’t be a loss because most of those people can’t work anyway.

Done the right way, the Lethal Lottery with a bunch of people teaming leading to a Battle Bowl battle royal could be a pretty great PLE or PPV draw.

3. Championship Scramble

Unforgiven 2008 saw WWE debut the Championship Scramble. It would pit a champion against four challengers. Two wrestlers would start the match, then the other three would enter in five minute intervals. A pinfall or submission during the match would result in a new interim champion, and at the end of twenty minutes the person who had scored the most recent decision would become the official champion. It was a fun idea, and gave folks like Brian Kendrick, Shelton Benjamin and other non-regular main eventers a chance to be WWE Champion for a few minutes during the match.

The main problem: WWE ran three of these matches in one night. The WWE, World & ECW Championships were all defended in Championship Scrambles. It’s the same thing that WWE would do with other gimmick matches over the years. I think it’s an idea worth re-visiting, though I think it would need a bit of a tweak. I’d make the other wrestlers pin or submit the “interim champion” instead of just pinning or submitting whoever to force a temporary title change. I feel like this didn’t get enough of a chance from WWE decision-makers at the time, and could be done better today.

2. Bunkhouse Stampede

The Bunkhouse Stampede was one of those Dusty Rhodes ideas. It was a battle royal with the added element of wrestlers being allowed to wear street clothes and bring any weapon to the ring they thought would help them win. Jim Crockett Promotions would run them across the territory in the weeks after Starrcade in order to keep interest in the product up while taking time to set up new feuds for the new year. The winners of Stampedes in various cities would typically meet in a final Stampede, which was won by Dusty Rhodes every year it took place because of course it was.

Unfortunately, the Stampede is largely remembered for being the focal point of a disappointing PPV. After the disaster that was Starrcade 1987, JCP was able to get a date that the WWF wouldn’t oppose them on PPV. Instead, the WWF opposed them on the USA Network, holding their first Royal Rumble event. It didn’t help that the Bunkhouse Stampede show ended up being a colossal bore, with a listless undercard and a Stampede that for some reason involved a steel cage. Steel cages & battle royals go together like peanut butter & ketchup. Trying to eliminate somebody by depositing them over the top of a cage makes no sense, even by current wrestling standards.

That being said, a Bunkhouse Stampede without a cage seems like a concept worth revisiting, and probably would have in AEW if Cody Rhodes had gotten that trademark first.

1. First Blood Match

We’ve seen wildly different perspectives towards blood from wrestling promoters in recent years. Paul Levesque recently did an interview where he pontificated about how wrestlers shouldn’t be shedding blood, which is a fine take but somewhat hypocritical considering the matches that got Triple H over back in the day involved a lot of blood being shed. The blade was a friend of many wrestlers of Triple H’s generation and the generations before. WWE cancelled that blood stuff awhile ago, and even though there are many changes being made to WWE programming, we can’t expect the policy on blood to be one of those things. Meanwhile, AEW features people getting busted open on a fairly regular basis. Every match Jon Moxley has seems to result in somebody wearing the crimson mask.

The First Blood stipulation would work well for both WWE & AEW. WWE fans are starved for seeing some blood, so the prospect of seeing somebody get busted open would be quite the draw. On the AEW side, it’d be like when Steve Austin & Kane had a First Blood match at King of the Ring 1998. Fans thought Austin would get busted open if somebodyi touched his forehead. Pretty sure that got a good buyrate.

As different as our top wrestling promotions treat blood, a First Blood match could do big business for both of them.

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Steve Cook