The history of the cage match in wrestling is an interesting one.
While violent and bloody stipulations didn’t become commonplace until the 1980s/1990s, the history of the cage match goes back decades prior to that.
The match type has been used to end feuds, win championships and end careers in incredibly exciting and entertaining ways. It has been used by all major companies and is a staple of modern-day pro-wrestling.
In this article, we’ll talk you through the history of the cage match, describe what exactly a cage match is and the first time the match type took place in the WWE.
Plus, we’ll reveal the different match types that were inspired by the original cage match in wrestling.
What Is A Cage Match?
The cage match in wrestling is one of the most exciting match types there is.
It is usually a feud-ender. It pits two fierce-rivals against one another in an arena where neither can run away from the other – inside the ring, surrounded by a steel cage.
In some cases, the use of the cage is to keep others out, rather than keeping the wrestler in. In feuds like Dusty Rhodes vs The Four Horseman, the cage was to keep the Horseman from attacking Rhodes during his match against Ric Flair.
The rules of the match are simple. It is similar to a regular, where you can win by pinning your opponent or forcing them to tap out. In WWE, you can also escape the cage to win, which sort of ruins the whole idea of the match.
In AEW, the only way to win the cage match is by pin fall or submission. The first cage match in the promotion was between Cody Rhodes and Wardlow, and was also the debut of Wardlow.
The First Cage Match Ever
The first cage match in wrestling was said to take place in 1937. This is decades before the WWE would first employ the match, and was a lot earlier than most people would have guessed.
The match saw Jack Bloomfield defeat Count Petro Rossi, although very little is known about the content of the match. Bloomfield won the bout in Atlanta, being the first man to win a cage match in history.
One difference between this and the modern day cage match was a key one – the cage itself. While in the modern day the cage is made from thick, steel bars, back then it was made with much cheaper and flimsier chicken wire.
This soon evolved into taller, more sturdy cages that surrounded the ring. Soon, the match was used all over the country and found it’s way all across the world.
What Was WWE’s First Cage Match?
The first Steel Cage match in WWE history took place between Bruno Sammartno and Stan Hansen, on August 7th, 1976.
The match took place in the middle of the card in a WWE event in Madison Square Garden. Back then, the company was called the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) and Bruno Sammartino was the reigning World Heavyweight Champion.
The cage match was for the WWE Championship and was a classic 1970s brawl. Hansen was a legend over in Japan, but he performed very well in his title match against one of the all-time great WWE Champions.
In true WWE fashion, the first cage match ended in Bruno Sammartino escaping the cage and retaining his WWE Champion. The cage match would evolve over the years following its debut and become a series of different match types in the WWE.
Variations Of The Stipulation
Since the debut of the cage match in 1937, the idea has been spun-off into a variety of different matches that still adhere to the spirit of the original.
The most famous is the Hell in a Cell match. It took the first steel cage in WWE, made it taller and added it roof. It also made it wider, leaving room for the wrestlers to fight on the floor, yet still inside the cage.
This lets wrestlers introduce weapons into the match. Introduced during the Attitude Era, the first Hell in a Cell saw the debut of WWE Hall of Famer Kane.
War Games is also a take on the first cage match. First created in the NWA by Dusty Rhodes, the match places two wrestling rings inside one giant cage. Then, two teams of up to twelve battle it out until one team gives up.
This match has been used in WWE, WCW and now in AEW as well. It has become a fan-favourite stipulation, and looks to be a feature of WWE’s Survivor Series every year from now on.
The Elimination Chamber was a derivation of the War Games match, which itself is a derivation of the cage match. Triple H was inspired by Dusty Rhodes’ creation when thinking up the Elimination Chamber, and it is a match type that has it’s own year pay per view named after it.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.