The eWrestling Encyclopedia

Two out of three falls match

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In professional wrestling, a two out of three falls match, or a best of three falls match, is a series of three matches (often between two wrestlers or two teams of wrestlers), in which wrestlers attempt to win the majority of matches.

Two out of three falls bouts originated in the very origins of professional wrestling itself; the early professional bouts before the 1920's, most of which were shoots rather than worked bouts, were decided by this method, with one fall being fought in the Greco-Roman style, and the other fall in the catch as catch can freestyle-derived style. The third fall's style was determined by the toss of a coin.

On occasion the three individual matches in a best-of-three match are contested under different rules so as to maintain audience interest - the three different match types are often referred to as the Three Stages of Hell. The typical "three stages" configuration often begins with a standard one-fall match, followed by a match with a slower pace (eg. a submission match), and ending up with a fast-paced or gimmick match (eg. a steel cage match). The three matches are usually held one after another, with just a short break between "falls", although on occasion the matches are held over the span of multiple shows (making the match more like a true best-of-three series) or spread out over the course of one show (with unrelated matches between them).

Longer series matches (eg. best of five falls, best of seven falls) are also used, albeit rarely. Even more rare, however, is a series match involving three or more groups of wrestlers. Series matches are often booked to the final fall to hold the audience in suspense, unless they are squash matches, where a sweep is almost always the norm. This is also the predominant match-up in lucha libre (dos de tres caidas). Before the mid 1970s, the majority of title matches were 2 out of 3 falls.

In some title defense two out of three falls matches, the title cannot change hands if one of the victor's falls were determined by countout or disqualification, as under regular rules a title can not changes hands under these circumstances. In other two out of three falls matches, the title in question may change hands provided at least one of the victor's fall is determined by conventional methods.

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