Before we can reinvent the steel cage match, we have to revisit the history of the steel cage match to find out the origins of where it came from, why it was used, and how it was used in the past. Supposedly, the first ever cage match was held in Atlanta in 1937 between Jack Bloomfield and Count Petro Rossi. The cage was constructed using chicken wire and the idea of the cage match was to keep the two combatants inside the cage and protect from any interference from the outside.
I would imagine that most people reading this weren't around for the first ever cage match but over the 77 year history of this type of match, there have been many incarnations which include Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy at Wrestlemania 2, Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart at SummerSlam 1994, Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich at Star Wars 1982, Ric Flair vs. Harley Race at Starrcade 1983 and Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum TA at Starrcade 1985 just to list a few of what some consider the greatest cage matches of all time.
We can remember the big blue cages and the various other styles of cages we have seen over the years but the cage match has evolved significantly over it's 77 year lifespan. We have seen the invention of Hell in a Cell and the Elimination Chamber as well as the failed idea of a Punjabi Prison match. We have also seen a cage become adopted in real fighting with it being a staple in the UFC and various other cage fighting promotions. With all these innovations and uses for the cage one thing has remained the same and that has been the purpose of the cage. The purpose of the cage is to keep the combatants from running away from each other as well as preventing anybody from coming in to interfere. As it was said in Thunderdome; "Two men enter, one man leaves". That's the type of mentality we no longer have about cage matches today because it lacks the type of twist or danger we could once associate with it.
The cage match has lost it's ability to do this. The cage no longer provides the same type of danger it was once associated with because other incarnations of the cage match have been invented which have promoted that dangerous environment. The cage no longer provides protection for the two combatants as outside interference is easily achieved and often encouraged. The cage no longer becomes an arena for two combatants to fight a fair fight but rather a prison where one party becomes trapped and outnumbered.
If the cage match is going to provide the type of awe and danger it was once thought to have, we have to give it a little spark, quite literally. My proposal to solve the problems with the current day cage match is to electrify the cage. If you consider the dynamic, electrifying the cage gives the cage match all of the elements it once had when the idea was thought up all those years ago. Suddenly, outside interference is next to impossible. Anybody trying to climb the cage would most certainly be shocked. Anybody trying to run away would also be shocked. That leaves only one alternative to leave the cage; win the match. The door is locked shut, the cage walls are electrified and your only option becomes to beat your opponent fair and square.
I must stress how important it is that the door be locked. I have never understood or liked the idea that a guy can simply walk out the door and win the match. In the time it takes to climb the cage, you could walk out one hundred times. The door on the cage should be used just to enter the ring, not win the match. When you have won the match, the cage is unplugged and you are allowed to escape. Or, to the man who is crazy enough, climb the cage and endure the pain as you attempt to escape. In either situation, winning a cage match begins to mean a lot more than it use to.
Of course, electrifying the cage means hooking it up to something that looks like it would generate a tremendous amount of electricity but in reality it wouldn't do a thing. It would simply serve as a visual aid to make the cage seem like it's actually dangerous when it is not. The real electrical charge could be powered by something of very low power which would give the wrestlers a very small shock, like a hand buzzer toy for example. The talent could sell it with no risk of injury. Plus, think how much more being thrown into the cage would mean? Of course, a heel could always cut the power to the cage as there are loopholes in just about everything but it would, at the very worst, be something we've never seen before.
Some of you may enjoy this idea, some of you may hate it. Those of you who hate it are most likely thinking it's a barbaric idea, far too extreme, over the top, insane and unnecessary. To you I ask, what do you think people thought when they first saw a cage fight in 1937? I argue, probably the exact same thing you are saying now about an electric steel cage match. Let's put the shock back in cage matches. Any and all puns intended.
What say you, Cagesiders? Want to literally make cage matches the most electrifying match in sport and entertainment?