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The Question: What's Your Favorite Stipulation Match?

By James Guttman, James Bullock, and Dan Crocker Aug 25, 2016 - 9:02 AM print

It's time for another edition of "The Question" - We Want Insanity's weekly answer to something we all have our own opinion on. See what we have to say and then share your own. That's what questions like this are for...

What’s Your Favorite Stipulation Match?

James Guttman:

I wracked my brain for a decent answer to this. From the yellow bamboo Punjabi Prison match to the “unforgiving Hell in a Cell” to the TLC match that caused Jim Ross to wonder how a person learns to fall off of a 20 foot ladder, there are tons of specialty bouts that get people all excited when they are announced.

And now, I make a choice that is sure to piss off Bullock, Crocker, and many others who didn’t consider my choice when looking through the list.

The Royal Rumble.

OK. Go ahead. Get all mad. Sure, it’s not a traditional one-on-one bout, but neither is TLC or Elimination Chamber. The Royal Rumble is nearly 50 years younger than the steel cage match and is so special that it only happens once a year. It was invented in my lifetime and had a PPV named after it long before TLC, Hell in a Cell, or any other stipulation-centric pay shows.

I love the Royal Rumble. Every January, we get a snapshot of what the entire WWE rosterverse looks like. If you need a refresher in weird gimmicks, top stars, and hokey special guests, you need nothing more than to look at that year’s Rumble for a reminder of what that particular year had to offer. It’s like the red carpet of the World Wrestling Federation…if the red carpet had people punching each other…which, when you think about it , would make the red carpet events much more fun.

I loved the Rumble from day one. I remember watching its initial debut when I was 10 years old. It was 1988 and the show was broadcast on the USA Network. No one even knew the name of it. From Gorilla Monsoon to Lord Alfred Hayes, we had people calling it the “Rumble Royal”. It was mired in confusion and, when it came to pass and finally played out, the bout was more unique than anything I had seen up until that point and, to be frank, anything I’ve seen since.

The weirdest thing about the first Royal Rumble? I remember that Bobby Heenan wasn’t there. That’s not the weirdest part. I remember him saying that he was going to be in “Barbados”. I have no idea why I remember that. I have had instances where I've run through my house searching for the cell phone I was holding in my hand, yet I remember 30 years later where Bobby Heenan took his fabricated vacation during a WWF event. That’s how my brain works.

To this day, the Royal Rumble remains my favorite WWE event each and every year. It’s the one show that gives the wrestlers the power to truly make the match. Aside from the finish and few spots here and there, the entire thing is about the talent working with each other to give us a one hour showcase of their abilities. There’s something inherently wonderful about that. Simply put, the Royal Rumble is everything that wrestling should always strive to be.

James Bullock:

In a world featuring multi-tiered Steel Cage Deathmatches, Fights Without Honor, Elimination Chambers, Ladder matches having both belts and briefcases hanging from the ceiling, various objects including Judy Bagwell and Viagra on a pole, and even bouts that end when someone bleeds first (Randy Orton probably would’ve liked his “SummerSlam” match with Brock Lesnar end after the first sighting of blood from his CZW level cut), the fact is simplicity and what made me a fan of wrestling – characters I’m emotionally invested in clashing to determine the better wrestler – is what makes up my favorite stipulation match: a Two Out of Three Falls match.

And I don’t mean “Three Stages of Hell” or any of the variations – I’m talking about a straight up Two Out of Three Falls encounter built around the story of one wrestler trying to defeat another two times in one night. What always intrigued me about stipulation was the story that could come from it. When I was a kid it was usually the heel winning the first fall, the fan favorite picking up the second fall in shocking fashion with a roll up or something when it seemed like he/she was facing the certainty of defeat, then a decisive fall where the two would go all out featuring the victorious babyface winning with their finisher in grand fashion or the villain taking the victory through nefarious means. As the years progressed I witnessed more variations of the story including the roles being reversed on who won the first fall, the winner getting two falls in a row without a third confrontation, and even a few time limit draws. There were tag team bouts held under the stipulation where moments like Ax & Smash switching with Crush of Demolition to almost steal the Tag Team title from The Hart Foundation. Or how Austin Aries became one of the biggest names on the independent wrestling scene by going over seventy-five minutes with Bryan Danielson and winning. And then there was Sara Del Rey besting Sarah Stock in, arguably, her greatest SHIMMER title defense against Sarah “Dark Angel” Stock where they told a true “David vs. Goliath” style encounter. Two Out of Three Falls matches appease my hunger for extended bell-to-bell action that usually tells the story of a valiant hero either overcoming or succumbing to the talents or dishonorable actions (or both) of an opponent that may or may not be hated by a majority of audience wanting to see that wrestler face defeat on two occasions in a single night.

Dan Crocker:

I'm not a fan of a lot of gimmick/stipulation matches. I've never liked the Battle Royal for example. It's just a chaotic mess most of the time. At least half of the match is just a bunch of people throwing punches that have no effect, and there's no real drama until close to the end. Then, there are the matches that seem too dangerous. The Scaffold match seems like a way to end a career early. Like, for real.

Maybe I'm just old, but that seems like a good way to blow out a knee. Of course, I once pulled a muscle putting a shirt on.

Some gimmick stipulation matches are pretty awesome though. In the right hands, the Ladder match can be amazing. Sure, it's also dangerous but there seems to be a little room for error in it. My favorite gimmick match, however, might seem a little boring to some people. I've always loved a good “I Quit” match. In the hands of two very good technical wrestlers, there is just so much drama. Unfortunately, these days no one wants to be the person who submits, so these matches often have some sort of controversial ending. Boo on that. The power of the submission hold should be brought back to professional wrestling. It's used in MMA all the time and those folks seem to be doing pretty well.

You can always just beat someone up enough that they quit. That's fun, too. But, I always preferred the matches where two great wrestlers with great submission finishers squared off. It's sort of a lost art, but man those could be great. Check out the classic below.

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