The steel cage: at one time the biggest stipulation match in wrestling. It was the feud decider. Two enemies hate each other? Lock the suckers in a cage and let them fight to the death. It was usually designed to hinder the poor innocent heel because he couldn’t get out and no one else could get in. That was supposed to be the whole point of the cage anyway but then someone came up with the ‘escape over the top or through the door’ rule that I dislike. Instead of having two guys fight it out, it became a race to see who could escape first, it was all so…cowardly.
Sure it provided moments of drama and it could piss off the fans when the dastardly no good heel just managed to hit the floor first but give me Tully Blanchard no longer able to run away finally getting what was coming to him courtesy of Magnum TA over some hokey climb over a cage. Nowadays the cage match has become so overused and has lost all it’s appeal but at one time it was THE match. This week I’ll look at three cage matches from down the years including, funnily enough, an ‘escape’ one, which is pretty ironic. Don’t ya think?
– Madison Square Garden, 17/10/83
IC Title. Jimmy Snuka vs. Don Muraco (c)
This is an escape to win stipulation and yeah this match is just a tad famous. Snuka is at the height of his popularity here, Muraco, the IC Champion, at the height of his heelishness. I really need to see much more of Don Muraco, incredibly overlooked wrestler. 15 foot high steel cage was always just a slight exaggeration. If it’s 15 feet high that would make Big Show 14 feet high. But then wrestling has always been about exaggerations, Shawn Michaels, one of the greatest of all time being one such example. Patterson makes a good point on commentary before the match when he says that if Muraco loses the belt, he loses what is most important to him: money.
Heenan used to mention that frequently too, money should be talked about more these days. Too much focus on WORKRATE~! these days where the quality of the match takes priority over the result, ignoring the fact that wrestling at it’s most basic form is about win/loss records and win bonuses.
Muraco is led to the ring by the ruggedly handsome Captain Lou Albano. Muraco kicks the cage’s ass while waiting for Snuka, more than likely held up by another murder and another McMahon cover up (ALLEGEDLY). Snuka is with Buddy Rogers and gets a big pop from the Gawden. A certain Mick Foley can be seen in the crowd when Snuka circles the ring. Snuka finally in, door closes and the crowd erupts with anticipation. Snuka kicks his ass to start but gets Slingshotted into the cage, busting him open already. Muraco goes after the wound. They fight on top of the cage and Muraco takes control as Snuka is now wearing the proverbial crimson mask. Muraco with the classic Greco Roman Kick to the Spuds but Snuka fights back and busts Muraco open. Snuka kicks his ass some more, see because he hates him. Snuka Headbutts him but Muraco falls backwards, out the cage door for the win. Ok that finish wasn’t bad I guess.
Snuka is pissed, pissed I tells ya and throws Muraco back in the cage, Suplexes him and in one of the most iconic moments in wrestling history, climbs to the top of the 800 ft high cage, gives the Superfly signal and leaps on to Muraco with his Splash (a SPLASH, my how times have changed), in an instant inspiring a number of wrestlers including Mick Foley and Tommy Dreamer to become wrestlers. In the case of Dreamer that was probably not a good thing. ZING. Snuka had actually done the Cage Splash before in a match with Backlund but missed. This is probably the most famous cage match in history all thanks to the post match antics. The actual body of the match isn’t that long even if it was going pretty good.
– WCW Starrcade 1986
NWA World Tag Team Titles. The Andersons vs. Rock N’ Roll Express (c)
My love affair with all things Anderson continues. Along with the Midnight Express and the Hollywood Blondes probably the greatest heel tag team in history. Opposite the ring here probably the greatest babyface tag team in history. They hate each other, put them in a cage and it is on like King Kong smoking a bong, playing ping pong in Hong Kong.
The Andersons pretty much wrote the book on heel tag wrestling, wrote the book and then used the book to smack some poor sap upside the head for a pin with feet on the ropes of course just to make good and damn sure. Rock N’ Roll Express wrote the book on babyface tag team wrestling to the point that the traditional tag formula with the babyface getting cut off before making the hot tag is largely associated with them with the babyface often referred to as ‘playing Ricky Morton’. I have no idea if they get so in character that they grow a mullet, snort coke and sleep with skanky ringrats.
Morton and Gibson are the tag Champs here, The Andersons want the belts off the two stinkin’ teeny bopper chasing punks. Andersons look extra surly here like they’re really hungover and looking to shake it off by putting knots on heads. They just don’t make them like The Andersons anymore, wrestlers who sank whiskey shots not protein shakes, drank all night, wrestled for an hour and then drank some more, wrestlers that looked like they could kick your ass and you didn’t dare find out if they could or not. Nowadays so called badasses have friggin’ Myspace profiles. You know what Harley Race does with the internet? Harley Race wipes his beer drinking, ring rat satisfying, head pummelling, sideburn sporting, gun toting, grizzled, surly, old ass with the internet. As for the pasty little 150lbs nerds soaking wet with an anvil, a piano and Yokozuna in their camp little backpacks on the indies, I’d fancy my chances against most of them and I’m a lover not a fighter. Samoa Joe plays a tough guy on TV but you ask Dick Murdoch about tough. If he wasn’t dead that is, but even then he kicked God’s ass for dare taking him so soon.
The training bra wearing teenyboppers are hootin’ and hollerin’ for Morton and Gibson before the match starts. Southern girls love mullets and wonky eyes I guess. ‘Blowjobs’ are an integral part of wrestling through, the girls want to see them and where the girls go, the boys go and they all have to buy a ticket. The WWE could be doing a lot more with Batman and Robin for instance, they’re both just so gosh darn dreamy. Two grumpy old farts like Regal and Taylor making them ugly will work.
The crowd heat does not stop for the entire match by the way. The Andersons are sporting rather spiffy ring jackets. Rock N’ Roll’s intro of ‘And now, get ready to boogie!’ is quite hilarious for some reason, kudos to the announcer for saying it with a straight face. Crowd heat for their intro is so loud you can barely hear the announcer. Morton and Gibson are so pug ugly but Morton was fantastic in his role as sympathetic babyface pleading with the girls in the front row for help when Jim Cornette tanned his backside with the tennis racket, the females wanted to mother him. I still love the smoky arena with the lights turned out on the audience, it’s just really atmospheric.
Ole starts with Gibson who soon gets dragged to the wrong side of town but ducks out of it before Arn can take him to the woodshed. Gibson bounces Arn off the unforgiving bah Gawd steel cage to the delight of the sadistic females. Arn wants no more of that and tags in Ole who doesn’t do much better. Morton and Gibson still in control, yeah like that’s going to last. Finally Gibson misses a knee in the corner and Arn pounces on it like Lita on a penis. The Andersons take apart the left leg like his leg pissed in their cornflakes in somewhat of a change of formula with Gibson played the role usually reserved for Morton. Quick tags, more cutting off Gibson, more leg stomping goodness while Gibson crawls around the ring in agony. Man that leg really must have pissed off The Andersons. Arn works it over while mouthing off to Morton calling him a pansy ass punk that wouldn’t know a real woman if she tied him to the bed and did dirty things to him. Gibson finally makes the tag to a big pop but Morton gets his ass kicked too and the status quo is reserved as Ole stands on his face and Arn nails him with a picture perfect Spine F’n Buster. That no good, bent eyed, hairy piece of white trash Gibson breaks up the pinfall. Fans have a collective heart attack as Arn cuts off Morton’s tag attempt but Morton fights back and Arn does his great punch drunk, swinging wild punches selling. Morton is this close to making the tag when Ole, ever the asshole, runs in and squashes the hopes and dreams of the teenyboppers. Morton gets a Small Package for 2 and all four are in the ring. Ole goes for a Bodyslam on Morton, Gibson Dropkicks him, Morton on top for the victory as my ear drums burst. The Andersons kick their ass after the match because they’re The Andersons and they haven’t had any dinner.
I think this may have actually been edited on this (watched it on that steel cage WWE DVD), I have this on tape somewhere and could have sworn it was longer than just under 15 minutes, but whatever, this rules. Two teams fantastic in their respective roles locked in a cage in front of a super hot crowd, THAT’s professional wrestling daddy. The Andersons kept Gibson’s left leg and sold it on ebay that night. True story.
– WCW WrestleWar 1991
Wargames. Ric Flair/Sid Vicious/Barry Windham/Larry Zybysko vs. Sting/Brian Pillman/Steiners
Wargames is awesome and then some. If God was a wrestling match stipulation, he’d be Wargames. Well he wouldn’t be late 90s Wargames, Robbie Williams would be late 90s Wargames. Dusty Rhodes, the innovator of the match is the colour commentator which in itself is a late Christmas present for me. Eerie silence as the huge cage gets lowered and Fat Tony Schviovovnvovnviovnvne goes over the rules.
Arn Anderson was injured the night before the match, Zybysko is his replacement. Flair has Jim Herd regulated haircut here and was on his way to the WWF within a few months of this match. Pillman’s shoulder is taped up thanks to a good old fashioned Horseman beatdown.
Windham and Pillman start the match. These two at one time were two of the absolute greatest around. Windham wasn’t quite at his late 80s peak here but these two were just so ridiculously talented, they just made everything look so easy. Had Pillman not been injured and then not, you know, died, his Loose Cannon character would have been a pretty significant part of the Attitude era when it really took off in 98 and 99. It was a character tailor made for that era and an extended Austin vs. Pillman deal would have drawn big.
Pillman kicks Windham’s ass to start and introduces flesh to steel and steel kicks flesh’s ass. Windham is bleeding two minutes in as is the Wargames tradition. Pillman goes after the wound with right hands and bites and Windham continues to get his ass kicked for the remainder of the period. The heels of course win the coin toss as is the Wargames tradition and the World whooo Champion is in next. ‘Taking names, taking numbers and kicking booty’, boy you got that right Dweam. Flair begs off giving Windham enough time to jump Pillman and they work over his injured shoulder.
Sting in next to a big pop, Flair of course backs off because he’s Ric Flair. Sting kicks both their asses and no sells some Flair chops as is Sting vs. Flair tradition. Man I hope Sting gave Flair a cut of his pay cheque every month for the rest of his career. The Living HA Legend is in next and he works over Sting as the heels take control. SID threatens a camera on the outside, leading to the stress related resignation and subsequent gory suicide of the camera. Rick Steiner in next, he dishes out Steinerlines like they’re on sale. Flair of course gets busted open because bleeding along with penis exposing are his favourite pastimes. SID is in last for the heels so all the babyfaces quit out of fear and retire from wrestling because they don’t want none of that. Scott Steiner in last and now the match really begins. Steiner cleans house (not literally, although that would be hilarious. Scott Steiner showing up at your house like an angry roid raging Kim and Aggie). SID and Rick Steiner make a really loud call right in front of the camera, the silly billies. Stereo Figure Four Leglocks on all the heels to a big pop. More big time, hate filled, intense ass whooping all round. SID isolates Pillman, launches him right into the cage roof and in an infamous moment, picks Pillman up for a Powerbomb whose legs get caught in the cage roof and dumps him right on his head in a very nasty moment. SID never being the sharpest spoon in the drawer Powerbombs him a 2nd time and Pillman is out cold. El Gigante runs in and pulls Pillman out, the ref calls the match off for the heel victory.
Really good Wargames match, not quite up to the standard of the original or the Sting’s Squadron vs. Dangerous Alliance ones but still right up there on the Wargames list.
P. S. You smell.