Stretchered to the breaking point
Rolling in at No. 9 on the list of WWE.com's Most Extreme Matches is the Stretcher Match. The rules for this grueling contest appear deceptively simple: debilitate your opponent to the point that you're able to lay them atop an ambulance gurney. Then, simply wheel said gurney across a predetermined line to claim victory.
Sounds as easy as a leisurely Sunday drive, right? Only if you had to wrestle a bear for the keys.
In a Stretcher Match, there are no pinfalls, no submissions, no count-outs and no disqualifications. Plainly stated, Superstars must pummel an opponent so severely -- while maintaining enough strength and coherence -- that they're able to heave their adversary onto a gurney, then roll it across the victory line. This is a match requiring not only stamina and determination but also an utter disregard for your rival's well-being.
In 2008, a pair of legendary Superstars more than exceeded those requirements. At One Night Stand, Batista took issue with Shawn Michaels for sending their longtime friend and mentor Ric Flair into retirement at WrestleMania XXIV. Toward the end of their classic Stretcher Match, after trading perilous rides on the gurney, The Animal finally wore down HBK, incapacitating him with a back-wrenching Batista Bomb before hoisting Michael's limp body aboard the gurney and racing across the yellow line.
In similar, brutal fashion, just five days after the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania, the Brothers Hardy resorted to a Stretcher Match in hopes of settling their vicious sibling rivalry. After Matt had prevailed in an Extreme Rules Match at WrestleMania, Jeff felt confident his time had arrived. He zeroed in on his brother with a Swanton Bomb outside the ring, but the elder Hardy evaded the maneuver, causing Jeff to crash land onto the empty, unforgiving gurney. A chair to the skull deblitated Jeff further before Matt rushed the gurney and his unconscious brother over the line.
While the possible injuries in a Stretcher Match are seemingly endless, the stipulations do not necessarily require a Superstar to test their fear of heights or confined spaces. What is unquestionably required, however, is a test of both determination and resolve - a resolve to inflict enough damage on an opponent as to render them incapacitated. As a result, there are few better yardsticks to measure a Superstar's will -- and contempt for an opponent -- than the Stretcher Match.