There’s nothing quite like the excitement, drama and intensity of a well-executed steel cage match-up. Often used in grudge matches that require more violence and brutality than regular meetings, the steel cage has made its mark in the world of professional wrestling with many classic matches taking place in the structure over the years.
Since WWE’s first cage match at WrestleMania 2 between Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy, there have been countless great matches in multiple promotions. According to Dave Meltzer and the ‘Wrestling Observer Newspaper’, which steel cage ranks best?
10 Alastair Black Vs. Johnny Gargano, WWE NXT 19 Dec 2018, 4.25*
A steel cage meeting between Aleister Black and Johnny Gargano on NXT television was a great, if not mediocre, match. Given their classic match at NXT Takeover: War Games, the same level of execution in terms of intensity and drama was largely lacking. Regardless, the in-ring work was great even without the necessary crowd investment to make it happen.
Unfortunately, a meaningless finish with Tommaso Ciampa would help Gargano, his former blood competitor that year, get the win, and would go on to defeat Black later in the match. A very good, if not flawed, steel cage fits here.
9 Edge Vs. Kurt Angle, WWE SmackDown May 30, 2002, 4.25*
This May 2002 edition of SmackDown saw a great feud between Edge and Kurt Angle during their rivalry, one of the best of them all together in a steel cage. Great back-and-forth in-ring work with great drama in the final third, as Hulk Hogan interfered to send Angle back into the cage to defeat Edge with a top rope spear. While not a Steel Cage Classic, their third meeting in May 2002 featured a strong match from Angle and Edge.
8 Kurt Angle Vs. Samoa Joe, TNA World Heavyweight Championship, TNA Lockdown 2008, 4.25*
A classic clash for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship as Kurt Angle defended against the one and only Samoa Joe in one of many great TNA meetings between the two. Thanks to the MMA-style unification of the cage, it was one of the rare cases where this style was used to perfection in professional wrestling.
Adding to the big fight experience, the two traded technical offense in a great display of psychology and urgency, incorporating mat wrestling, submissions and counters. Joe would eventually defeat Angle to become the TNA World Champion in a great steel cage match.
7 Edge Vs. Matt Hardy, WWE Unforgiven 2005, 4.25*
In 2005, it was a fantastic steel cage match in the intense rivalry between Edge and Matt Hardy. Taking place at the 2005 Unforgiven PPV, these two brought down the house with a great mix of exciting action and impressive storytelling. In a spectacular performance, Hardy was the ultimate babyface hero, opposite whom Edge masterfully played his role as a despicable heel. With the red-hot crowd fired up for the action as Hardy hit a breathtaking leg drop from the top of the cage for the win, all venues were brutal. Overall a great fight.
6 Patal Vs. AJ Styles, TNA Lockdown 2005, 4.25*
A fantastic main event at TNA’s Lockdown PPV in 2005, in which AJ Styles and Abyss faced off for a chance at the NWA Heavyweight Championship. The dynamic here was excellent with the monster Abyss against the explosive babyface Styles, as the match started early with the two brawling through the crowd. Once Styles opened up, the crowd roared and kicked into another gear of brutality.
Fantastic use of the cage and countless weapons with Styles selling Abyss’ powerful offense brilliantly and fighting prowess with spectacular counters. The Styles Clash to Thumbtacks was incredible, as was a great tournament victory from Styles returning to the ring at sunset.
5 Randy Savage Vs. Ted DiBiase, WWE World Heavyweight Championship, WWE on MSG Network, 4.5*
It was an old-school WWE World Heavyweight Championship with ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage defending against rival Ted DiBiase in a hotly contested steel cage match at Madison Square Garden. The storytelling and character work was impeccable with Savage (along with Virgil at ringside) overcoming adversity in epic fashion to the adoration of the crowd, as they roared in approval. A great brawl-style match that had an intensity that was so enticing about Savage’s matches at the time, with a red-hot finish, Savage fought off both DiBiase and Virgil to retain the victory.
4 Kurt Angle Vs. Mr. Anderson, TNA Lockdown 2010, 4.5*
Another great match was between Kurt Angle and Mr. Anderson at TNA’s Lockdown PPV in 2010, where the rivalry took place in spectacular fashion inside a steel cage structure. The intensity and storytelling was excellent with Blood Out against Angle, who did everything he could to further taunt Angle, the blood only enhanced the match here. Despite already winning the match, the moonsault from the top corner of the cage was absolutely epic in a brutal spot. The crowd was all over the place as Angle got the victory in a fantastic ending to the two’s rivalry.
3 Tam Nakano vs Natsupoi, STARDOM Fight at the Top – Nagoya Summit Battle, 4.5*
It was a spectacular match for the fantastic Japanese women’s stardom promotion last month, with Tam Nakano and Natsupoi facing off in a brutal grudge match inside the steel cage. The intensity and brutality was off the charts with incredibly exciting, violent crimes from both women. The stipulation of having to pin your opponent before escaping added to the drama, although the style of the match was different, with easier pinfalls than usual. Regardless, Nakano hurled everything at each other with an overwhelming emotion, choking Nastupoi from the top of the structure. Amazing fight from top to bottom.
2 Bret Hart Vs. Owen Hart, WWE World Heavyweight Championship, WWE SummerSlam ’94, 5*
This is an all-time classic in the legendary rivalry between brothers Bret and Owen Hart in this epic SummerSlam meeting. After a sensational WrestleMania 10 clash, the two met once again in the steel cage, and they didn’t disappoint with a masterclass of storytelling, drama, and intensity using skillful terms. Escape is not attempted but fits the story of two brothers doing everything to defeat each other. Of course, the in-ring work was spectacular, with Bret retaining his title after draining Owen to complete an epic steel cage match when the crowd roared at the climax of the drama.
1 The Young Bucks Vs. Lucha Brothers, AEW Tag Team Championship, AEW All Out 2021, 5.75*
It was an instant classic between the Young Bucks and the Lucha Brothers in this 2 on 2 steel cage match at AEW’s All Out PPV last September. It was an incredible display of tag team wrestling, as always, when these two teams faced off in a bid for the AEW Tag Team Championship. The sequences are breathtaking, the intensity of the graphics along with the blood add to the story and great creativity and athleticism are on display throughout. Jaw-dropping spots as well, especially Ray Fenix’s dive off the top of the cage as the finale capped off an epic bout with the Loucha Brothers emerging as champions in spectacular moments.