Put a lid on it! The dangerous history of Casket Matches

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November 20, 2012

Grave beginnings

A competitor awakes. His head throbs. His spine tingles. He opens one eyelid. Then another. Pure darkness. He reaches his hand up. His palm slams against a hard, flat surface. On his left, the same thing. On his right, the same again. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. Claustrophobia begins to set in. “Where am I?” he panics. He’s just had the unfortunate distinction of coming up on the losing end of a Casket Match.


The 20-year history of the diabolical Casket Match dates back to The Undertaker’s beginnings in WWE. After The Deadman debuted at 1990’s Survivor Series (WATCH), he ran roughshod all over the WWE roster. One by one, opponents would fall to the devastating Tombstone Piledriver. And in the early days, Undertaker would slide his victims into a terrifying body bag. It didn’t earn any more wins, but it did make an emphatic statement.

In a noteworthy early career moment, the towering rookie attacked Ultimate Warrior and locked him inside a casket on an edition of Paul Bearer’s “The Funeral Parlor” (WATCH), a segment shown on “WWE Superstars.” Their rivalry was settled at Madison Square Garden in a Body Bag Match with the objective being to seal the other competitor inside the macabre container. (WATCH) It was a precursor to Casket Matches, which would debut less than a year and a half later, and would become a WWE mainstay for the next 16 years.

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