Some matches take place in specific enclosed environments. Although the majority of these enclosures are set up either in or around the ring, some of them are placed apart from it. In all cases, the structure itself is considered "in play" and most enclosure-based matches are decided by pinfall or submission unless specific other stipulations are made beforehand.
Cages are one of the oldest form of enclosures used in professional wrestling. According to some historians, the first "cage match" of any kind took place on June 25, 1937 in Atlanta, Georgia. This match took place in a ring surrounded by chicken wire, in order to keep the athletes inside and any potential interference out of the action. They have evolved a great deal over time, changing from chicken wire to stee; bars to chain-link fencing (the latter is now the standard, due to it being cheaper to manufacture, lighter to transport, and more flexible and thus safer for the wrestlers).
A steel cage match is a match fought within a cage formed by placing sheets of mesh metal around, in, or against the edges of the wrestling ring. The ways to win a steel cage match are as followed; either pinfall, submission, or by escaping the cage (over the top or through the door) and having both feet touch the arena floor. Total Nonstop Action Wrestling had a six-sided ring, hence the phrase "six sides of steel." This was changed, however, when TNA switched to a conventional four-sided ring.
Hell in a Cell
- Main Article: Hell in a Cell
This match is the signature contest of Martin McAlmond in the IWE. The Hell in a Cell match has the ring surrounded by a steel, chain-link fence cage with a roof. It allows no countouts or disqualifications with pinfall or submission being the only way to win. Hell in a Cell is rarely used due to its alleged brutality. The cage door is closed and locked with a chain and a padlock, but Hell in a Cell matches have occurred where superstars fought outside the cage or even on top (as during the Martin McAlmond/Mick Foley match), and on one occasion a pinfall took place outside the cage. The debut match took place at the October 1997 pay-per-view Badd Blood: In Your House in which Ryan Barnhart and Martin McAlmond participated. Since 2009, IWE has held a pay-per-view in October named IWE Hell in a Cell which features this match as its marquee matches.
Doomsday Cage match
Also called a Tower of Doom, the Doomsday Cage is a three story cage—the middle one split into two rooms—all of which house wrestlers. The object of the match is for a team of wrestlers to fight their way from the top cage to the bottom, where pinfalls and submissions come into play.
An inferno match is a special type of match where the ring is completely surrounded by flames. The only way to win is to set your opponent on fire. Inferno matches usually end on the outside of the ring; this way, paramedics can assist the unfortunate loser of the match. Due to the potentially graphic or dangerous nature of this type of match, it is very rarely seen in North America. In fact, there have only been four to this date. The flames allegedly reach heights of six feet tall and temperatures of 500`F.
Electrified Cage match
The ring is surrounded by a steel cage which is electrified. The cage can be used as a weapon. The only way to win is by pinfall or submission.
Elimination Chamber match
- Main Article: Elimination Chamber
The Elimination Chamber is a large, circular steel cage which surrounds the ring entirely, including creating a grated floor area on the apron. Inside the cage, at each turnbuckle, is a clear "pod" where four of the six competitors in the match must wait to be released to join the two who start at the opening bell. As the name implies, wrestlers are eliminated one-by-one via pinfall or submission until only one remains. An Extreme Elimination Chamber took place at the 2006 December to Dismember pay-per-view, where a weapon was given to each wrestler waiting in a pod. The metal is black and the chambers are made of 'bulletproof glass'. The chamber is in diameter and is composed of 16 tons of steel and of chain. Since 2010, IWE has held a pey-per-view in February names IWE Elimination Chamber which features this match as its marquee matches.
Lion's Den match
The Lion's Den match aimed to mimic the look and feel of mixed martial arts matches. A sloping, angular, steel cage was set up, with rules stating that the only way to achieve victory was through knockout or submission.
Punjabi Prison match
The Punjabi Prison match, named after the Punjab region that Reg Hageman (the match's 'founder') is billed from, consists of two large bamboo cages. The first being four sided and standing 16 feet (4.8 m) tall, while the second has eight sides and stands 20 feet (6 m) surrounding the first.
The inner cage has a four foot (1.2 m) by four foot door on each of its sides, with a referee standing by to open them at a wrestler's request. Each door may only be opened once and is only allowed to remain open for sixty seconds, after which it is padlocked. Should all four doors end up locked before the wrestlers escapes, they are forced to climb out over the top, where the bamboo is fashioned into spikes. Between the two cages are sometimes placed two tables, upon which are weapons (both "medieval" and "bamboo" variations of standard wrestling weapons). Once a wrestler has escaped the first cage, he must climb over and out of the second cage, with the first wrestler having both of their feet touch the arena floor being declared the winner.
World Championship Wrestling's Thundercage, in the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, is a large domed structure of steel bars engulfing the ring. Although it does not have a top, the sides curve in to prevent escape.
Mexico's AAA promotion tweaked the concept with Domo De La Muerte, which uses a similar cage but only allows victory by escaping through a hole at the top center. This variation is also used in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, where it is called the Steel Asylum. In AAA it is typically used for a multi-man luchas de apuestas with the last man standing in the cage losing his mask or hair.
The Thunderdome is a variation on the Thundercage, with the area near the top of the cage electrified. The only way for a wrestler to win the Thunderdome match is to have their opponents' "terminator," usually a manager who stands outside of the ring, throw in the towel to stop the match. In another variation of this match, each pinned competitor in the match is handcuffed to the cage. The last man left in the match is given a key to unlock his teammates to attack the other team, who are still handcuffed.
Triple Cage match
A Triple Cage match involves three cages stacked on top of each other, with each cage decreasing in size from the bottom up.
Two variations exist, in one competitors begin in the ring inside the lowest cage and must make their way to the roof of the third cage where an object is suspended, with the winner being the first competitor to obtain the object and exit the cage. The other, dubbed the Tower of Doom match had two teams of five make their way down from the uppermost cage to the bottom, with victory achieved when all five members of a team escaped a door there. The cages were cut off from each other, with doors controlled from outside by referees, who only opened them for two-minute intervals.
- Main Article: WarGames
Sometimes suffixed with the tagline "The Match Beyond", the War Games match features two rings surrounded by an enclosed steel cage (with a roof) with two teams (or sometimes three) facing one another. One man from each team starts out with another from either team at random entering the cage via a timed interval. The winning team must get a member of another team to submit after all members of each team are in the cage. In XCW, this was known as an Ultimate Jeopardy match, with a stipulation for each participant which would be enforced if he caused his team's loss.
Similar to the WarGames match utilized in WCW, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling's Lethal Lockdown consists of a single ring enclosed by a steel cage with two teams facing off with each other. The staggered entry system is identical, but weapons are permitted and are even provided. When all competitors have entered the ring, a roof is lowered onto the top of the cage, with various weapons hanging from it. Victory can be attained by pinfall or submission. This match has become a staple of TNA's Lockdown pay per view every April, where every match is contested inside a cage, but has also made appearances at other TNA pay per views.
The Xscape match is featured annually at the Lockdown all-steel-cage pay-per-view in April. This variation of the Lockdown Match has 4–6 competitors and is a two stage process. The first stage is a standard pin/submission elimination contest, with eliminated wrestlers leaving the cage through the door until there are only two wrestlers left. The last two competitors then face off; the only way to win at this stage is to climb out of the cage all the way to the floor.