WWE will present its most ‘extreme’ Premium Live Event next month when Extreme Rules emanates from Philadelphia on 8 October.
The show already has multiple stipulation matches announced, with fans clearly eager to see the WWE Superstars in the more violent setting.
To get you in the mood for all things extreme, GiveMeSport counts down the ten best stipulation matches in WWE history.
Before we do that though, let’s look through some of the honourable mentions that didn’t quite make the cut, but are definitely worth mentioning.
- Bret Hart vs Owen Hart – Steel Cage match – SummerSlam 1994
- Undertaker vs Shawn Michael – Hell in a Cell – Bad Blood 1997
- John Cena vs Edge – Last Man Standing match – Backlash 2009
- John Cena vs JBL – I Quit match – Judgement Day 2005
- The Undertaker vs Triple H – Hell in a Cell – WrestleMania 28
10. Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon – Ladder match – WrestleMania X
This has gone down as one of the most iconic WrestleMania moments of all time, and it’s easy to forget it was one WWE’s first ‘extreme’ type matches outside of the big blue cage.
It was certainly the first ladder match shown on a major WWE show and it’s one that has gone down in wrestling folklore. The beauty of this match – but probably not so much for this countdown – is that it really wasn’t really about the ladder.
In more modern times, the ladder is the central focus and how to use the steel for the biggest possible spot, but with Michaels and Ramon they told the story around the prop and then used it as a garnish on the match.
With two Intercontinental Championships hanging above the ring and both claiming to be the ‘real’ IC champ, it was Razor who finally climbed the rungs to grab both belts a secure his place in WrestleMania showreels for years to come.
9. Johnny Gargano vs Tomasso Ciampa – Chicago Street Fight – NXT TakeOver: Chicago II 2018
The most modern of picks where Gargano and Ciampa literally put everything on the line during their epic war against each other during NXT’s black and gold peak. The pair had already battled through a hardcore match, but in this sequel, they upped the ante once again to devastating effect.
With an animosity that had been building up for over a year between the former tag team partners, the pair used that fuel to make the most of the Street Fight stipulation and pulled off some truly memorable spots that encapsulated their hatred for each other.
Including Gargano’s Air Raid Crash from the top of the equipment tables and through a table and the finish that saw Ciampa hit Johnny with a DDT onto the exposed wooden surface of the ring. Pure emotion and pure story turned into a killer hardcore fight.
8. New Day vs The Usos – Hell in a Cell match – Hell in a Cell 2017
A rare example of a Hell in a Cell match that didn’t need massive death-defying spots or extreme violence to make it work, and a feud that warranted its setting rather than just fighting because it happens to a PPV with a cage involved.
The New Day and The Usos are the two best tag teams of his generation and their rivalry hit its peak in 2017 with a collection of matches that was topped off by this battle inside Hell in a Cell.
Xavier Woods was the MVP of the match, using custom kendo sticks, musical instruments and all manner of creativity not seen in the cell before – he also was on the end of a beating after being tied to the turnbuckle, too. It proved that Hell in a Cell didn’t need to be all about blood and big spots to find the right combination of stipulation and story for the setting to succeed.
7. Edge & Christian vs Hardy Boyz vs Dudley Boys – TLC match –
A match that didn’t just spawn a stipulation, but one that would go on to form a whole pay-per-view centred around TLC.
Three teams that defined an era for both tag team wrestling and the final embers of the Attitude era, going at it in the second TLC match against each other – and this time on WWE’s grandest stage.
A second TLC outing meant more violence, more spots, and bodies absolutely everywhere. There’s Lita, there’s Rhyno and there’s Spike Dudley, too, just to add to the chaos of this enthralling attraction match.
Its car crash telly at its best, topped off by the iconic shot of Jeff Hardy taking Edge’s spear whilst dangling twenty feet in the air, that will go down as one of the greatest ever moments in WWE.
6. Mankind vs The Undertaker – Hell in a Cell match – King of the Ring 1998
The no-brainer choice. WWE fans, lapsed wrestling fans and even non-wrestling fans would be aware of King of the Ring 1998 and Undertaker vs Mankind. It’s the match that made the Hell in a Cell and cemented Mick Foley’s status as a hardcore legend.
Yet, the match is only ever really about two iconic moments. As Taker and Foley headed to the top of the structure, we first saw the Deadman throw Mankind off the top of the cell and through an announce table, falling roughly twenty feet.
Then, after Foley somehow recovered, he was chokeslammed through the steel and onto the ring canvas in a spot that wasn’t planned, and one that really could have killed him. The match was pretty much that, but it remains one the most famous moments in WWE history.
5. Edge vs Mick Foley – Hardcore Match – WrestleMania 22
Edge wanted to prove that his ‘Rated R’ nickname was more than just a cool tag and what better way to do it than to face the hardcore legend that is Mick Foley on WWE’s biggest stage.
Yes, this is a hardcore match but it’s not just about the props and violence involved, but two masters of their craft telling a story through the mass of weapons around them.
There were thumbtacks, barbed wire bats, blood and even Edge in combat pants to hammer home this wasn’t a ‘wrestling’ match, but it’s the ending that set this match alight…get it?
As Edge came crashing through Foley and through the ropes onto the outside and onto a table that was set on fire. The sight of Foley in flames has become another image to add to the Mania moments vignettes.
4. Kurt Angle vs Shane McMahon – Street Fight – King of the Ring 2001
Long before Shane McMahon became nothing more than a sweaty groan on WWE TV, he was the bright-eyed boy of Vince, who would put his life on the line to defend the McMahons – and it often led to particularly dangerous circumstances.
His dealings with Steve Blackman could easily made this list, but it’s hard not to include his legendry battle with Kurt Angle at King of the Ring.
It’s a match where Angle spends most of the bout toying with his opponent and inflicting pain just to make a point to the mouthy son of WWE’s evil owner.
However, what lives long in the memory is the moment Angle tries to suplex Shane through the sheet of glass on the stage.
Unfortunately, the first attempt is foiled by Angle hitting the wrong glass and so McMahon instead crashes against it rather than through it. Never one to disappoint, the pair then repeat the spot with Shane this time going through the glass as planned. All in the name of entertainment.
3. The Rock vs Mankind – I Quit match – Royal Rumble 1999
A match that lives in infamy thanks to its inclusion in the classic Beyond The Mat documentary (check it out, kids), this was Mick Foley living up to his hardcore persona with a brutal I Quit Match with The Rock.
This was during the heyday of Corporate Rock – fake adidas pants and baggy top included – and the pair vied for the WWE Championship where it felt like the kitchen sink was the only thing not thrown in the direction of Mankind.
Foley jumped off ladders, he fell into electrical cables and most brutally of all, took ten unprotected shots to the head from a steel chair while handcuffed with his hands behind his back. It’s not pretty, it hasn’t aged well, but it plays such an important role in the story of both The Rock’s and Foley’s WWE career.
2. Triple H vs Shawn Michaels – Non-sanctioned match – SummerSlam 2002
Sometimes in stipulation matches the gimmick of the match gets in the way of the story, but not in this instance because it was all about the story.
This was Shawn Michaels coming back from ‘retirement’ to face his former best friend Triple H, who in his absence had usurped HBK in becoming a main event star in WWE.
Hunter’s turn on Michaels in the build to this match gave the bout the perfect narrative that was then fuelled by the non-sanctioned stipulation, and made the bout feel more personal and as far away from a wrestling match as it needed to be.
Once inside the ropes the pair, with Michaels decked in street clothes, continued to tell that same story and although there were hardcore spots – including Michaels’ elbow off the ladder – this remained about the relationship between the two. Which is why it’s seen as one of SummerSlam’s greatest ever matches.
1. Triple H vs Cactus Jack – Street Fight – Royal Rumble 2000
You could probably make an educated guess that Mick Foley would have been number one, but don’t let the stipulation fool you into thinking it was another all about the violence.
Not at all. This is another and the best example of using a stipulation to further a brilliant story and feud. In an attempt to dethrone WWE’s evil bully, Foley unleashed Cactus Jack on Triple H with Hunter giving a performance of a lifetime upon the reveal.
That story bled into the match, where the pair innovatively used an array of weapons to inflict pain and to hammer home their storyline issues.
There were tables, chairs, crowd brawls and a lot and lot thumbtacks too, as two of the all-time greats tore the roof of Madison Square Garden. With Triple H sneaking a win after his Pedigree on to a ring full of drawing pins. It’s brutal, it’s hardcore, but it’s bloody brilliant, too.