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WWE Over the Top Rope

Dear Scott, 
I am watching the Best of the King of the Ring set, and arrived at the Davey Boy Smith/Shawn Michaels match from 1996. A spot in the match confused me and made me wonder if it was ever officially verified by the WWF at any point as to what the rules on over-the-top-rope DQs were in the promotion.
I can only think of three instances where it was directly brought up and each one was decidedly different.
Wrestlemania V--Hulk Hogan dumps Randy Savage clear over the top rope onto the floor, and Jesse Ventura nearly has a heart attack in outrage demanding an automatic disqualification be called. Gorilla Monsoon was indifferent to it. My assumption at the time was that this was a case of Jesse being the heel and Gorilla being the oblivious face and that the WWF just didn't have that rule.
Survivor Series 1993--The Heavenly Bodies regained the Smoky Mountain tag title beating the RNR Express in a match where the top rope rule was directly referenced as it pertained to Smoky Mountain. The main point was gotten across that it would have been a DQ in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, but that it was being contested under WWF rules on that night and therefore it wasn't a DQ. So I thought that pretty much cleared it up. Until....
King of the Ring 1996--Smith has Michaels up in a military press position, walks backward, hits the ropes, and Michaels goes sailing down the floor. Vince McMahon immediately begins screaming that it should have been an automatic disqualification because Bulldog did it intentionally with guest commentator Owen Hart arguing that Bulldog was simply fatigued and Michaels slipped.
Under that rationale, it could be argued that the WWF had a much stricter guideline on what was and was not to be considered an intentional throw over the top rope. Thus having an over the top DQ rule, but that it had to be blatantly deliberate (unlike the NWA and other promotions where even an Irish whip ending up with a wrestler going over the top could have been grounds for a DQ by some referees.)
So was there ever a time where the top rope rule was made clear cut that you can recall?

Sure, over the top rope was never a DQ in WWE.  Gorilla and Vince said stupid stuff all the time, like when Gorilla got mad that Randy Savage should have been disqualified for clotheslining Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania 3...DELIBERATELY.  If over the top was a DQ, then George Steele and the Berzerker would have been disqualified in every match they were in, ergo, it wasn't ever grounds for disqualifying someone.  Plus they liked to have the opposite rules as the NWA just to tweak them anyway.  


  1. Don't forget Province of Quebec rules!

    That whole concept flew so far over my head at the time.

  2. The idea of DQ'ing on a throw over the top seems silly to me, but i'm from a different generation of fan where even a giant like the Undertaker goes flying over the thing without a second thought

  3.  It really makes Battle Royals seem pretty badass though.

    "WHOA, this move is so dangerous that it's normally banned, but tonight 19 of these 20 guys are gonna have to survive it!"

  4. In the instances of WMV and King of the Ring, I think the commentators were both trying to get over the fact that the over the top rope throws were less about winning the matches and more about a malevolent intent to injure the other guy. Not necessarily a dq for the action of throwing the guy over the top rope, more about trying to injure the opponent. 

  5. I totally didn't understand that as a kid and was pissed when the Quebecers won.

  6. I've always hated WCW's "over the top rope is an automatic disqualification" rule, because it made absolutely no sense and half the time they just completely ignored the rule anyway.

    Case in point, Spring Stampede '94. Muta gets disqualified by backdropping Steve Austin over the top yet in the very next match, Sting clotheslines Rude over the top, clearly deliberate and he should have been DQ'd yet it was completely ignored.

    Another great example is Bash At The Beach '95, where Randy Savage suplexed Ric Flair over the top to the floor. Bobby Heenan rightfully points out that Savage should have been disqualified while Tony Schiavone makes the all-time dumbest cover-up ever made by an announcer (at least until the Tank Abbott-Big Al match at SuperBrawl 2000) when he claimed that it was not a deliberate throw over the top even though SUPLEXING somebody is as deliberate as you can get.

  7. A much more interesting discussion is the evolution of top rope eliminations in battle royales.

    From the Best of the WWF Vol.1 Coliseum Videos, Rocky Johnson pressed S. D. Jones over his head and gently placed him on the apron over the top rope to win the match.  Special Delivery immediately got in the ring to celebrate with his fellow brother, without ever touching the floor.  So in the early 80's, merely going over the top rope constituted an elimination.

    Somewhere along the line, people could start going over the top rope and hitting the apron, but remain in the match if the could get back into the ring before touching the floor.

    At the 1992 Royal Rumble, Savage would jump over the top rope to the floor to get at Jake Roberts, but was then allowed to re-enter the match, which meant that, not only did one have to go over the top rope to the floor, but one must be actively thrown over the rope by another person to constitute an elimination.

    Then in the 1995 Royal Rumble, Shawn Michaels won despite going over the top rope and touching one foot on the floor, thus establishing the rule that one must go over the rope and have BOTH FEET touch the floor.  Jerry Lawler would take this even further in a later battle royale, standing and hopping on one foot while completely separated from the ring to avoid elimination.

    And in recent years, John Morrison and Kofi Kingston have re-iterated that FEET must touch the FLOOR for an official elimination.

    I'm sure there's many other twists and turns along the way, but that's what I came up with off the top of my head.

  8. Anyone know when they eliminated the over-the-top rule in WCW? They make a reference to it during the Nitro match where Scott Hall first showed up, and maybe during the Hogan heel turn match at BATB, so I know they kept it until at least mid 1996.

  9.  I want to say it was sometime in spring 1998 but don't quote me on that.

  10. And The Duchess Of Queenbury rules or whatever Regal was using at backlash 2001.

  11. clearly it was gone by 97.

  12. A clothesline over the top rope was never a disqualification. I think Jim Ross explained it in a match once, you have to "propel" your opponent over the top rope, i.e. a throw or a backdrop. 

    In regards to the suplex thing, I've heard that explained (pretty sure by JR) that both guys have to be in the ring for one to be disqualified, so since Savage is standing outside the ring he can't be disqualified for that action. 

  13. Actually, it was still used as late as December '97; There was a Buff Bagwell/Lex Luger match on Nitro that month that ended in a DQ due to that mind-bogglingly dumb rule.

    I don't believe they ever gave an official announcement on the elimination of that rule, but I would guess that the rule was eliminated sometime between January-March 1998, coincidentally right around the time that they briefly banned the powerbomb due to the legit injury that Paul Wight suffered from a botched Kevin Nash powerbomb.

  14. That rule gets a bad rap due to the Bill Watts era, and unfortunately Bill tries to use that to excuse all the other stupid rules he came up with, but his point about the over the top rule still stands: it's not about banning something, it's about having another rule that a heel can break to add drama to the match. Making it illegal makes it seem more dangerous, so when someone does it the babyface can sell the hell out of it and make it seem like a killer move for a relatively easy bump.

    None of that excuses the "no moves off the top rope" rule that dumbass Watts instituted, or the lack of mats on the outside.

  15. Actually; Jesse wanted an automatic DQ on Hogan because Hogan was going to ram Savage into the post outside (he also had a heart attack for a lack of DQ when Warrior hit Rude with the belt outside at Summerslam 1989). Which is also silly and there is no consistancy on the rule. I guess some DQ's are upon the decision of the referee.

  16. I remember that cuz Bagwell had "Beat" Luger on Nitro like 4 times through some sort of bs technicalities and going around calling himself the new total package.

    So you would think that Luger goes over at Starrcade, OF COURSE NOT, THIS IS WCW WHERE THE BIG GOOFS PLAY!

    Bagwell goes over Luger AGAIN on PPV after 2 NWO run ins and Norton hits Luger with Steiners dog collar.

    Luger then obliterates Bagwell on the next Nitro.



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