Gimmick Some Lovin': The Doomsday Cage Match
In each edition of Gimmick Some Lovin', we take a look at one iteration of a gimmick match available on the WWE Network. Some are iconic for their success, others for the extent to which they flopped, and some just... happened.
We defined a "gimmick match" as, in any way, adding a rule/stipulation to or removing a rule from a match, changing the physical environment of a match, changing the conditions which define a "win", or in any way moving past the simple requirement of two men/women/teams whose contest must end via a single pinfall, submission, count out, or disqualification.
We've spent the last few articles looking at matches featuring strange structures, stranger rules, and Ric Flair taking abuse, but they've mostly turned out to be enjoyable experiences; as with our first venture into World Championship Wrestling territory, let's dig in to a dud combining all of those things: The Doomsday Cage Match from WCW Uncensored 1996, featuring Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage versus almost every heel on the WCW roster, namely the Dungeon of Doom and the Four Horsemen, aka The Alliance to End Hulkamania.
Professional wrestling in the mid-1990s was facing an identity crisis: the World Wrestling Federation and its closest competitor, WCW, were selling almost exclusively to their core demographic in families and young children. Both companies' product was marked by bright colors, broad characters, and heels and babyfaces defined as strictly as possible.
This approach was met with much derision in popular culture; between the performers seemingly going straight from one job to the ring (like I.R.S., Duke "The Dumpster" Droese, or Bob "Spark Plugg" Holly, among many others) and men whose seeming hatred led them to threaten each other with the mildest of language, wrestling seemed to be at its silliest.
However, an upstart company on the East Coast sought to change all that, and presented a show that proudly flaunted wrestling's silly stereotypes. Extreme Championship Wrestling gave its viewers more violence, bloodshed, and sexual content than the two biggest companies could dream of, and readers of magazines like Pro Wrestling Illustrated began noticing the stark differences between ECW and the shows getting nationwide attention.
ECW's notoriety among adult wrestling fans, alongside the children WCW and WWF tried to reach who were now ageing into their teens, put pressure on the Big Two to adopt more extreme influences into their own shows. The WWF began easing up on language restrictions while introducing more frequent (and more intense) no-holds-barred brawls, not to mention envelope-pushing characters like Goldust and Mankind.
WCW, on the other hand, created an entire annual show dedicated to allegedly easing their notoriously strict restrictions on the matches their performers produced, Uncensored. Featuring future entries in this series like the "King of the Road" match between Dustin Rhodes and the Blacktop Bully (which, contrary to the show's title, was heavily edited to censor the presence of blood, for which both competitors were fired) and a strap match between Hogan and Vader, the show was an unmitigated failure.
Two matches on the show failed to crack a positive star rating from Dave Meltzer, and the highest-rated match was the Hogan-Vader strap match main event where Hogan managed to win by beating, you guessed it, Ric Flair, getting 3.5 stars.
For 1996, the company decided to up the ante with more matches, fewer stipulations, and a massive and convoluted structure which would play host to the most lopsided handicap match not booked by The Authority (and one guess as to who does the job).