So, my dear wrestling fans, I can hear your thoughts.

That Eric Bischoff sure came up with a great idea in that Elimination Chamber thing. The guy must be a genius to think that one up. Well, it was a great idea that produced a really good match that had cool spots, big bumps, and tons of history, but it was far from original. Let me take you back on the road that led us to the 2 miles of chain. The first cage matches are somewhat disputed. There were certainly fights solved in warehouses that were fenced off. Now, these weren’t wrestling matches, that we know of at least, but it is safe to say that bets were placed and fights took place frequently. This could be seen as not only the genesis of the cage match, but for UFC, King of the Cage, and unfortunately, Bloodsport. The first wrestling cage match, then called a fence match, took place in the 1950s. The cage match was the idea of Paul Boesch, the man who also invented Mud Wrestling, as a match for his friend Bull Curry. The matches were violent by the standards of the day, but the matches caught on, and made their way across the world. There were variants on the cage, like the old WWF blue bar cage, but the idea remained the same for decades. It wasn’t until 1987 that things changed, and for once, Dusty Rhodes did something other than close out a buffet. The NWA had a tour every summer that went around the country. The 1986 version had done very well, both at the box office and in the ring, but they needed a way to turn around some bad times in the land of Flair. Dusty, the booker at the time, had an idea, a ring with a roof on it, to keep the other guy from running out of the cage. The match may have originally been planned for Flair to meet Dusty one on one. Instead, there had been an on-going feud between the Four Horsemen, consisting of Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson and Lex Luger, and the Road Warriors with the SuperPowers, made up of Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Kolloff. The 8 men had had some great matches, and always got good heat. The plan then changed to putting the eight of them, with each team’s manager making it an even ten. To give enough room for 10 men, they made it a double ring with the roofed cage around. The match had interesting rules: The first two men entered and fought for 5 minutes, then a coin toss determined who would send the third man in. That team had the advantage of being 1 up on the other team four times through out the match. Every five minutes, the teams would alternate sending in a different guy. After all the contestants were in, the Match Beyond began, where you had to make one member of the other team submit. The Road Warriors forced JJ Dillon to submit after more than 40 minutes of fighting. The War Games/Match Beyond became a regular event, with some very good results. In 1992, Paul E. Dangerously’s Dangerous Alliance of Larry Zybysko, Arn Anderson, Rick Rude, Steve Austin and Bobby Eaton met with Sting’s Squadron of Sting, Ricky Steamboat, Nikita Koloff, Dustin Rhodes(Goldust) and Barry Windham. The match was by far the best thing in WCW that year and featured blood and great storytelling on the way to a Stinger victory. After the success of the War Games, everybody tried to come up with another innovative cage design. In 1988 World Class Championship Wrestling came up with the Triple Tower of Doom, a match where wrestlers simply competed to see who could get to the top of three stacked cages and win prizes for people in the audience. Yep, one of the classic bad ideas that came from the mind of Fritz Von Erich. And, if it’s a bad idea,

somebody will try and rip it off, so the NWA stole it for use in the 1988 Great American Bash. The match was so bad, they never did it again…or at least not until the film Ready to Rumble, where the end fight takes place in the Triple Tower. Strange for them to wait 12 years to call it back to action for the film. They did something along the same lines with Hogan and folks in the mid-90s, but again, it’s better left unsaid. There was a worse idea that played off the War Games concept. For Halloween Havoc 1991, The WCW planned a Chamber of Horrors match, a match contested in a special cage that surrounded the ring side area, but also filled with tons of weapons, and an electric chair that descended to the ring, compete with an oversized switch. You won the match by putting a member of the other team in the chair and throwing the switch. Really. The match featured legendary brawlers Abdullah the Butcher and Cactus Jack. The match was terrible, and ended with Cactus Jack having to pretend to be stunned before throwing the switch on his own partner. One of, if not the worst match of all time, it entertains to this day in the same way that Driven will in the coming decades. The world of the cage match pretty much stayed the same until 1997 and the WWF payper-view Badd Blood. The event had a huge cloud over it from the beginning: Brian Pillman, the Loose Cannon, had passed away in his hotel room the night before and the rest of the event had been below average and much of the crowd seemed out of it. The feud between Undertaker and Shawn Michaels had been going on for several months and this was to be the big match where they debuted UT’s brother Kane. They came up with a great idea: Hell in the Cell. A large, roofed cage that surrounded the ringside area like in the Chamber of Horrors. The match was brilliant, with Michaels taking a huge bump off the top of the cage through a table. The event became an annual event, with famous matches between UT and cactus Jack, UT and Brock Lesner and Mick Foley and HHH. The Hell in the Cell did lead to the legendary Kennel from Hell match at Unforgiven 1999. The match featured a regular cage inside of a Hell in the Cell with a bunch of dogs in between. The match sucked hard, and in an attempt to show it’s disgust, one of the dogs took a crap on the mats. Still, every other Hell in the Cell is well worth finding on video, with most available on Amazon. The Elimination Chamber was highly influenced, but also innovated in many of its methods. There had been Penalty Box, also called Shark’s Cage matches in various areas over the years, where one wrestler would have to wait in a small cage for a period of time or until a fall occurred, but none of these ever used plexiglass, which may have been the first time that plexi had ever been used in wrestling. The cage itself was made of chains, which had been used in wrestling for years in chain matches, where two wrestlers would be chained together to keep either from running away, but I can’t find any evidence of it being used as a cage of any sort. The raiser platform has been used as part of entry ramps for decades, but surrounding the ring was a brilliant idea, even if it was hard on the boys’ backs. We’ll likely see the Elimination Chamber again, not only because of the quality of the first event, but because Vince dropped 500,000 dollars American on the set up.