Columnist Rob Pasbani takes you through the best casket matches, trick or treat matches, graveyard matches and all the best in Halloween and wrestling crossover.
It’s October and that only means one thing, it’s spooky season! And, obviously we here at KNOTFEST know a thing or two about putting on a scary mask for a good time. One thing that Knotfest and pro wrestling shares is a flare for showmanship, and Halloween season is a great time for some fun, sometimes very silly, but always spooky wrestling matches, with cool gimmicks attached to them.
So in the spirit of the Halloween season, I want to talk about 13 of my favorite “spooky” wrestling matches.
When you think of spooky wrestling matches, the first wrestler to come to mind has to be the Undertaker. The character was tailor-made for spooky season, as gone through many goth iterations. One of Undertaker’s signature matches is the iconic casket match. To win the match, you must place your opponent in the casket. Of the many casket matches the Undertaker has competed in, none are more iconic than his showdown with the mighty Yokozuna at Survivor Series 1994. The end of the match features some great supernatural special effects. I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it.
In 1996, Undertaker was spending most of the year battling his arch-nemesis Mankind in various vicious matches. A casket match wasn’t enough for these two rivals. A new match was created – a Buried Alive match! To win the match, you have to (wait for it) bury your opponent alive! The match was scheduled for October 1996 and many wondered how the hell they would pull this stunt off. Much like with the casket match, the villain facing the Undertaker needed help from other heels leading to another awesome supernatural finish.
For All Elite Wrestling star Abadon, it’s spooky season all year long. While Abadon typically hones their craft on the AEW Youtube shows, last Halloween, Abadon got a moment to shine on the big stage, winning an opportunity to face then AEW Women’s World Champion, Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. in a Halloween-themed Trick or Treat match. To me, this was the night Abadon became a superstar and I hope AEW features them again on television soon.
Before there was Hell In A Cell, WCW tried a new concept with the Chamber of Horrors match at their signature Halloween event, Halloween Havoc (which is still, in my opinion, the coolest name for a PPV ever). The match featured the oversized El Gigante, the legend Sting, and The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott Steiner) taking on the vicious team of Abdullah the Butcher, The Diamond Studd (Scott Hall), Cactus Jack, and Big Van Vader. To win the match, you were supposed to lock one of your opponents in the electric chair, and SHOCK them. The production crew must have not tested things because the ending came off so bad that it was good. An iconic fail in wrestling history!
In the late 90s, two of the coolest characters in wrestling were Sting and Vampiro, and two natural foes met in WCW in a graveyard for a very cool scene straight out of a horror movie before ending the match in the ring. This won’t be the last time Vampiro appears on the list.
If you were to ask me who the modern Undertaker is, it’s the recently returning Bray Wyatt. Wyatt is all about playing mind games, and during the lockdown era of COVID, WWE got creative with their WrestleMania 36 match featuring Bray and one of the biggest stars in WWE history, [andhisnameis] John Cena. The match featured Bray forcing Cena to go through a ton of mind games, and essentially wrestle a match in his head, going through all his insecurities with metaphors like what if Cena was in the nWo. It was a very clever, unique, and dare I say… spooky idea!
AEW’s daredevil Darby Allin is no stranger to spooky matches. Yes, he got his name from Grems frontman Darby Crash and shock rocker GG Allin. AEW’s Darby put a new spin on the Undertaker-signature casket match by unveiling a coffin match. A wooden contraption that is very much used as a weapon, and sometimes is full of spikes. Darby had a great match with Andrade, but in his previous coffin match, Darby pulled off his finishing move, a backward stage-dive like jump he calls the coffin drop through the coffin. It was wild.
Impact Wrestling had their own spin on a coffin and casket match, called the last rites match. The match featured the icon Sting and TNA’s franchise monster, Abyss. Unfortunately, the match is more remembered for its blunders than for its storytelling, but it’s still a worthy entry.
Zombies in wrestling? Wouldn’t be the first time. But, last year WWE sold a huge cross-promotion to Netflix for their Army of the Dead movie, including a crossover with a match at WrestleMania Backlash last year. During the Damien Priest vs. Miz match, zombies started rising from the crowd, shocking both wrestlers. Damien was able to fight them off, but the Miz was not so lucky. Somehow, he made it out alive.
Here is a deep cut from the Attitude Era. WWE had a literal vampire on their roster in Gangrel, and eventually he formed a group with Edge and Christian known as The Brood. Gangrel loved to drink blood, and after he and Edge went their separate ways, they decided to settle their difference, the only way they know how – in a bloodbath match, natch. To win, you must soak your opponent with blood. This is the type of match that networks would never allow WWE to have today, but all bets were off in the late 90s.
Vampiro is back on the countdown in another spooky graveyard match, but this time his opponent is a disciple of the Gene Simmons character from KISS – the demon! Yes, there was a point where KISS crossed over with WCW and it was pretty gosh-darn glorious. There were even plans for wrestlers based on all the KISS members, but ultimately the idea was dropped as part of a cost-cutting initiative before WCW shut down. Oh, the spooky matches they could’ve had.
What this match lacks in stipulations, it makes up for in substance as this is one of the earliest, and also best street fights on American PPV. This match is worth it all for seeing Terry Funk piledriven through a gosh darn pumpkin!
Halloween isn’t the only time for spooky matches in old-school TNA. No, Christmas is also a time for spooky matches, like making a Christmas tree out of barbed wire and using it as a weapon. TNA’s franchise monster Abyss takes on Black Reign (the former Goldust), Rellik (that’s killer spelled backwards) and Shark Boy. The match is a total mess but in the best way possible.
Do you enjoy pro wrestling? Knotfest Wrestling has a bi-weekly column filled with wrestling news. Read previous editions of this column here. You can always follow me @robinjection on Instagram and Twitter and @Squaredcirclpit.