Sunday, October 9, 2011

Boo: Open Casket

Dusty Rhodes vs. Ivan Koloff: the first casket match
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

With the birth of the Undertaker in WWF in 1990, it was only a matter of time before we'd see this type of match.  Although in researching the topic (yes, I do research these blogs, but many of them are based on memory) I found that Dusty Rhodes and Ivan Koloff actually had the first casket match.  Back then they called it a coffin match.  You can watch it here.

This match is from the 1970's and was a Texas Death Match, with a casket in the middle of the ring. It all came about because Ivan Koloff said he was going to bury all American wrestlers.  Of course, the American Dream wouldn't take those words lightly.  There were several falls in the match, with a 30 second rest period between.  Rhodes ended up knocking Ivan into the coffin and got the win.  There was no lid to shut him in, he just had to land into the box.  Then he was carried away from the ring in the coffin.  I'm not sure why they counted pins in this match.  But hey, it was the 70's, right.

Nailing the Kamala coffin shut
The casket match was given new life in 1992 at the Survivor Series.  The Undertaker, now wrestling as a face, had had some trouble with Kamala.  I believe 'Taker beat the Ugandan Giant by disqualification at Summer Slam, but that wasn't enough.  As as Survivor Series approached, Paul Bearer and Undertaker were seen constructing a special casket.  This was indeed custom built for Kamala as it has the two stars and half moon, just like the big man's body paint.  Taker won the match after cracking the urn across Kamala's head and rolling him into the casket.  If I remember correctly, the storyline was that the experience changed Kamala and that lead to his face turn and pairing with Reverend Slick.

Taker gets an early advantage
The next casket match wasn't such a good experience for the Undertaker.  He lost to Yokozuna at the Royal Rumble when a group of heels attacked him.  I think there was a camera or something inside the coffin and some weird camera affects made it look like the Undertaker had "gone to the other side."  They sold the angle well, as it was done to give 'Taker some much need time off.  He would return with a vengeance at Survivor Series '94 and beat Yoko.  This was another huge casket, as you might imagine.

There were several more casket matches down the road, I actually saw one live at a Raw/Superstars/Colosseum Home Video taping in St. Louis.  Undertaker won again, this time rolling Kama (aka The Godfather & Papa Shango) into the coffin.  Taker seemed to be on a roll with these matches, until Goldust beat him during an Intercontinental title defense at an In Your House PPV.  Mankind had been hiding inside and popped out to help Goldie get the win.  Despite the fact that I was  a big Goldust mark at the time, I remember being shocked Undertaker lost, and in a casket match no less.

Up in flames
Another big casket match loss for the Undertaker came against Shawn Michaels at the 1998 Royal Rumble.  After he was placed into the coffin, Kane set it on fire.  It was finally the turning point in their feud and lead to the Undertaker beating his baby brother at Wrestlemania 14.

As one might expect, most of the casket matches done in the WWE have involved the Undertaker.  In fact, I could only find two that he did not participate in.  But his cohorts in the Ministry of Darkness (Mideon and Viscera) defeated Triple H in a casket match in 1999.  Then three years later, Kane beat Triple H in one on Raw.

A TNA casket match, D'Lo flies high
I could only find one non-WWE casket match.  It was a TNA show back in 2003.  Sonny Siaki defeated D'Lo Brown.  That match was much like the original one with Rhodes and Koloff.  The casket was inside the ring, and not ringside.  That allowed Siaki and Brown to use the casket as a weapon.  They threw each other into it denting the top of the coffin before finally ending the contest.  At one point D'Lo dropped Siaki on the casket and hit him with the Low Down.  But things turned bad for D'Lo when Jamal arrived and helped Siaki win the match. Despite the fact that Siaki was in the casket first, D'Lo hadn't shut the lid.  

It's a bit dusty.
Chad and I saw the Undertaker's casket match win over Mark Henry at Wrestlemania 22.  We also got to see some of his old caskets on display at Axxess.  It's part of the Undertaker's Graveyard set up.  The famous golden casket could be seen, as well as the one Undertaker used to beat the Big Show at Survivor Series 2008.

From what I can tell, the last casket matches happened in 2009 with a series between Taker and CM Punk.  Many of these matches happened overseas.  Now that the Undertaker is wrestling a lot less, I wonder if the casket match will become a thing of the past.

*Update:  A reader pointed out that I failed to mention the Abyss-Pope casket match from TNA's Final Resolution in 2010.  My bad.  It was an oversight.  Abyss won that contest after choke slamming the Pope into the open casket and closing the lid.

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