Inspired by the recent Independent Empire podcast right HERE where the Deathmatch scene and unprotected chairshots to the head. At the end of the day, professional wrestlers who do Deathmatch wrestling do it because they want to or they have a passion for it. I was a deathmatch fan long before I was a Puroresu man that readers of The Indy Corner may have noticed by my reviews, and while personally I may have shifted towards Japan and NJPW, Noah, Dragon Gate, I’d still watch deathmatch shows of Big Japan and FREEDOMS and the big Deathmatch shows in the States like Game Changer Wrestling and Vicious Outcast Wrestling.
Combat Zone Wrestling was one of the first companies I discovered when I got into the wrestling, I was scrolling through the Sky listings and came across the short lived Wrestling Channel, I believe they also showed stuff from Japan but at the time I was fascinated with the H8 Club and it’s various incarnations of Nick Gage, Nate Hatred, Justice Pain and Wifebeater, former CZW owner John Zandig and Lobo. Back then CZW was killing it in my perspective and they ran with WXW and Big Japan with the Triangle of Ultraviolence.
While CZW no longer seem deathmatch orientated and increasingly less so with rumours that this years Tournament of Death might be the last as the company distances itself from its Ultraviolent past and WXW no longer lives up to the extreme in its name, the last remaining member of the former Triangle still does, Big Japan. And in Japan is where Deathmatch wrestling made its presence known.
IWA Japan, W*ING and FMW in Japan drew great crowds back in the 90’s often drawing good numbers to the Korakuen and doing massive numbers at stadiums. IWA Japan’s King of the Deathmatches drew a crowd in the tens of thousands and FMW in the same stadium in Kawasaki that was headlined by Terry Funk and Atsushi Onita drew a reported 41,000.
While it’s unlikely we’ll see numbers that good again either in Japan or the States for this scene, it indicates there was a crowd for it and wrestlers that are passionate about it, albeit in smaller numbers today, Big Japan still can draw a decent crowd at big events Ryogoku Kokugikan 2017 drew over 3,000.
While the old Triangle is all but dead to me barring Big Japan, a new partnership was formed between FREEDOMS, Game Changer Wrestling and Desastre Total Ultraviolento who share talent, FREEDOMS often bringing in Violento Jack, Ciclope and Miedo Extremo as do GCW, who has brought in Daisuke Masaoka and DTU have brought numerous GCW talent to Mexico and brought Jun Kasai and Kenji Fukimoto from Japan to Mexico.
A recent highlight of this relationship has being the breakthrough of Miedo Extremo and Ciclope who have become fan favourites in GCW and are their current tag team champions. Both men provided the biggest shocks of the recent Tournament of Survival 3 when they met each other in the final after beating Markus Crane and Nick Gage, Ciclope won in the end. Ciclope has been built up in America so he’s win while a surprise, is something the GCW fans can get behind.
GCW drew a decent crowd to the show, reports suggesting somewhere in the 1,000s. They book for longevity, for example the trio of encounters Nick Gage and Matt Tremont that had myself at home on the edge of my seat, unlike other companies that when they do deathmatches, their a bit more flash in the pan and if a wrestler is unfamiliar to fans, their win won’t go over with native fans as Jimmy Havocs TOD win didn’t go over well with the fans stateside.
Vicious Outcast Wrestling are also a great promotion in the deathmatch scene, running an annual tournament in September called Lords of Anarchy, whose recent booking also showcased a long term rivalry between G-Raver and Conor Claxton.
There’s so much more companies out there that provide this but if you want the best, GCW, VOW, DTU, FREEDOMS and Big Japan is usually where it is at these days. The scene is still alive whether you like it or not, and that’s not going to change in the near future.
‘What I do is Deathmatch wrestling and that shit is real. Barbed wires real. Glass is real. Tables are real. Chairs are real. I like to fucking wrestle. And excuse me if I like to some fucking weapons in my wrestling matches, some lighttubes. And glass. And fire. That’s what makes me different from other motherfuckers.’ – Nick Gage
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