History of the Death Match


The origins of Deathmatch Wrestling is in large part, a mystery. Lot’s of speculation, suggestions, and guesses, but not much concrete proof. No one really knows who first used a foreign object in a wrestling match, but it is documented as starting in Puerto Rico. The “hardcore” match didn’t even exist, it was occasional use of foreign objects, such as a chair. The use of such objects became semi-popular with the use becoming more frequent, thus blood in matches becoming more widely done. By 1989 wrestlers such as Abdullah the Butcher, The Sheik, Atsushi Onita, and Terry Funk were top stars, and in large part due to their violent, bloody matches including chairs, barbed wire and so on.

Also in 1989, Atsushi Onita started a “hardcore” promotion in Japan called FMW (Frontier Martial-arts Wrestling) with the likes of Tarzan Goto, Terry Funk, and others. The “Deathmatch” was born. By now the “hardcore” or “deathmatch” style included not only chairs and tables but barbed wire, fire, bricks, nails, and even explosives.

By the mid-1990s a number of the “Godfathers” are retired or no longer doing that style and younger stars like Sabu, Cactus Jack, Vampiro, Masato Tanaka, Mike Awesome, Kintaro Kanemura, Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, and others are dominating, and revolutionizing the style. The “Deathmatch” was taken to new extremes by these young lions. [Courtesy of eBay user ID: angelicsbeauty15906]

Barbed Wire Matches

The standard barbed wire match is to wrap horizontally three strands of the wire between the ropes, stretching around all four ring posts. On occasions, the barbed wire was wrapped vertically around the ropes (Spider Net). In these matches, anything goes, and victories are settled by pinfall, submission or until a participant can’t continue.

No-Rope Barbed Wire Match:

At first, this style of match was only promoted in Japan. More recently, ECW has held events like these, but not very often. Basically, in a no-rope barbed wire match, the ropes are completely removed and replaced with barbed wire. The matches are generally fought under Streetfight rules.

No-Rope Explosive Barbed Wire Match:

This is when the wire is either electrically charged or primed with small explosives. When the wrestler’s skin brushes against the wire, there are small explosions.

Barbed Wire Cage Match:

There are different variations of a ‘barbed wire cage’ match. Sometimes, the cage is almost completely constructed out of barbed wire, while other times a standard cage is simply put up when a barbed wire match is taking place to stop any of the participants from running away.

In most of Japanese barbed wire cage matches, the barbed wire is wound in and out of the cage, and the wire is usually either electrically charged or primed with small explosives. Also, the ropes are completely removed, resulting in maximum carnage.

Barbed Wire Baseball Bat Match:

W*ING was the first promotion to stage barbed wire baseball bat matches, and they were only really contested on a few occasions.

In the standard barbed wire baseball bat match, a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire is placed in the center of the ring. Both participants stand at opposite sides of the arena and after the count of ten, they rush down to the ring, and the first one to pick the bat up can legally use it on his opponent.

Barbed wire baseball bat matches like the one described above haven’t been contested for a while. However, baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire are often used as added extras in more dangerous matches. For example, in a no-rope barbed wire match, there may be a baseball bat lying in the ring, which can be used on opponents. Or perhaps, in a ladder match, a barbed wire bat is hung in the air.

They are usually now also set on fire, just to inflict that extra damage on the opponent.

Barbed Wire Bumps Match:

In a barbed wire bumps match, at ringside, there are huge boards laden with truckloads of barbed wire. Inside the ring, a pretty normal match takes place, but when either wrestler is thrown out of the ring, it gets a little more brutal.

Also, in FMW, Mr. Pogo and Atsushi Onita contested barbed wire bumps matches where, at ringside, mixed in with the wire, were landmines. Landmine matches usually only occur outside. The only one to be contested inside was held on 28/8/94, where Onita fought Aoyagi. Onita was horribly cut up during the match, Also, in December 1994, at an arena in Tokyo (not Korakuen Hall), FMW held a series of matches with Onita (under the Great Nita gimmick) and Tarzan Goto (under his Ho Chi Ming) gimmick against Mr Pogo and Hisakatsu Ohya, which had landmines at ringside.

Barbed Wire Boards Match:

Barbed wire board matches are basically the same, except there is much less barbed wire involved. In a barbed wire bumps match, ringside is completely covered in wire, but in a barbed wire boards match, there are individual boards surrounding the ring, which can be easily picked up and used on the opponent.

In all the matches of the IWA Japan King Of The Death Matches Tournament, there were a few barbed wire boards surrounding the ring except in the finals where the barbed wire boards contained llandmines

Barbed Wire Spider Net Match:

Barbed Wire Spider Net is when the ring ropes have barbed wire vertically wrapped around them. There haven’t been many matches of this kind, some that come to mind are the May 4th ,1992 W*ING match that featured Mr. Pogo and Super Invader vs. Mitsuteru Tokuda and Yukihiro Kanemura, the match ended after Super Invader delivered a top rope splash onto Yukihiro Kanemura with his chest covered in barbed wire. Also, Cactus Jack faced Yukihiro Kanemura with the ring ropes covered in Spider Net type of Barbed Wire and on two opposing sides of the ring, there was glass and barbed wire.

Barbed Wire Brick Match:

IWA Japan is the only promotion to have sanctioned barbed wire brick matches. Basically, at ringside, there are piles of bricks with barbed wire wrapped around the centre of them. They can be legally used on your opponent in any way. In the Terry Funk vs Cactus Jack finals at Kawasaki Stadium on 20/8/95, there were bricks underneath the ring. Cactus Jack and The CryptKeeper fought Leatherface and Shoji Nakamaki in a Barbed Wire Brick Death Match on 7/3/95.

Barbed Wire Ladder Match:

This is basically the standard ladder match, except the ladder is wrapped in barbed wire. Shoji Nakamaki fought The CryptKeeper at Korakuen Hall on 1/5/95/ during an IWA Japan card where like in a standard barbed wire baseball bat match, both participants stand at opposite sides of the arena and after the count of ten, they rushed down to the ring, and the first to get to the ladder could legaly use it on his opponent.

Double Hell Matches:

Double Hell matches are when exploding (or non-exploding) barbed wire is put up at two sides of the ring, and the other two are left with nothing. However, at ringside on the empty sides, there are huge boards laden with barbed wire and landmines/explosives (and sometimes glass). This makes it a lot easier for a participant to fall out of the ring.

Barbed Wire Chain Match:

In February of 1994, Freddy Krueger faced The Winger in a barbed wire chain match. Krueger beat Winger after he took the strap off his wrist, wrapped it around Winger’s body and then piledrived him. Also in 1994, Shoji Nakamaki fought Hiroshi Ono in a Barbed Wire Chain match. Also, At IWA Japan’s Kawasaki Stadium show on August 20, 1995, there was two Barbed Wire Chain Matches in the King of Death Match Tournament one between Tiger Jeet Singh and Mr. Gannosuke and the other one saw Terry Funk beat Leatherface.

Glass Matches

It was proposed that, on December 8th, 1993, Atsushi Onita would face Mitsuhiro Matsunaga in a ‘Wonder Crush Death’ match, where the ring would be surrounded by a cage made out of glass. And on the glass, would be rows and rows of small explosives. An insane idea, all right, and Onita realised this, as the idea was shelved in favour of a no-rope exploding barbed wire match.

However, the ‘glass’ idea was out, and the Japanese fans were craving it. It was actually IWA Japan who had the first glass death match. The Headhunters went on to face Shoji Nakamaki and Hiroshi Ono on 10/16/94 at Korakuen Hall. And during the Headhunters short feud in mid-1995, the two contested in such a match. The IWA Japan’s format was this: at ringside there were wooden crates, about the size of a door, and each had a pane of glass in them. There were four in total, two at two sides of the ring. The other two sides had barbed wire boards. You could break the glass and dig it into your opponents head or throw them into the crate.

FMW have combined barbed wire and glass into the ‘barbed wire glass platform’. This is a platform at ringside, constructed from barbed wire and wood, with plates of glass lying on top. This was used in the Cactus Jack/W*ing Kanemura confrontation at the 1996 Kawasaki Baseball Stadium Show, and also at the Shiodome match on 1st August, which saw Mr. Pogo fight Terry Funk.

Nails Matches

Spike Nail Death Match:

Wrestling’s International New Generation were the first group to sanction a Spike Nail Death Match. Basically, to win, you have to make your opponent take a bump on the huge planks of wood infested with six-inch nails at ringside. W*ING promoted three matches of this kind, the first two were between Leatherface and Mitsuhiro Matsunaga and the third one was between Jason The Terrible and The Cryptkeeper. In the first Spike Nail Death Match meeting between Leatherface and Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, Leatherface ran a chainsaw over Matsunaga’s head! The chainsaw had no chain so basically, Matsunaga suffered no damage.FMW has also held a Spike Nail Death Match wich was between Super Leather and Mitsuhiro Matsunaga. Let me note that Super Leather is Mike Kirshner wich was the man behind the mask of Leatherface who competed in both of the Spike Nail Death Matches between Leatherface and Mitsuhiro Matsunaga in W*ING.

Nail Hell Match:

IWA Japan staged a Nail Hell Match featuring Leatherface I and Leatherface II vs. Shoji Nakamaki and Hiroshi Ono on December 21st, 1994. Some boards with nails were hanged on the ring ropes and on to opposing sides of the ring, there was a board, on one side there was Nails and on the other Barbed Wire. After the match, Hiroshi Ono got powerbombed onto a Spike Nail Board by both Leatherfaces.

Nail Weapon:

In W*ING, Freddy Krueger attacked Leatherface after their Barbed Wire Baseball Bat match at Odawara on October 31st, 1993 with a Baseball Bat wich had many nails planted in it.

Leatherface and Super Leather have already used weapons ressembling giant tootbrushes with nails instead of bristles.

Swimming Pool Matches

FMW sanctional a Swimming Pool match on September 25th, 1994 Electrified Barbedwire Dynamite Pool Double Hell Death Match Atsushi Onita, Katsutoshi Niiyama and Mr. Gannosuke vs. Hideki Hosaka, Mr. Pogo and The Gladiator. (Eliminination Tag match; wrestlers can be eliminited via pinfall, submission or being thrown into the pool).

Thumbtacks Matches

IWA Japan was the first promotion to stage a ‘Thumbtack Match’. Basically, there is a tray placed in the middle of the ring, and thousands of thumbtacks are poured into it. You can throw your opponent into them, drive your opponents head into them, or do absolutely anything you like with them in order to win the match! At IWA Japan’s Kawasaki Dream card on 20/8/95, Shoji Nakamaki fought former tag team partner, Hiroshi Ono. Nakamaki actually powerbombed Ono into the thumbtacks, which made one sick bump.

Thumbtack Balloons:

Big Japan Pro Wrestling staged a ‘Thumbtacks In Balloons’ match on 22/5/96. The match, which saw Axl Rotten and Shoji Nakamaki lock up with Kendo Nagasaki and Seiji Yamakawa, had six black balloons suspended above the ring. At a certain point in the match, the balloons exploded and released 30,000 thumbtacks onto the ring.

Fire Matches

Fire is a regular ingredient in Garbage matches. One of the first fire matches was held in 1992, and saw Tarzan Goto and Atsushi Onita clash with Sabu and his 68-year old Uncle, The Sheik. Huge, petrol-soaked rags were wrapped around the barbed wire, then set alight. Promoter Onita was forced, however, to abandon the idea when the Sheik slipped into a coma a few months after the match due to heat-induced injuries.

Mitsuhiro Matsunaga fought Mr. Pogo in a Fire Death match on 2/8/92. Huge containers with a raging fire in them were put up at ringside. The ropes were completely taken down.

Scramble Fire Death Match:

W*ING, however, staged a similar match on 31/10/96, which saw Yukihiro Kanemura being powerbombed onto a huge inferno of flames which removed 75 % of his back and shoulder skin tissue.IWA Japan have also staged fire matches, where buckets are hung from the ropes, and in them are rags, which are set alight

Double Hell Fire Match:

Mitsuhiro Matsunaga and Mr. Pogo also fought in a fire match on August 29th, 1995 at an FMW card. This was similar to a Double Hell match, only with poles with the ends set on fire pointing into the ring. The match ended when Mr. Pogo’s face struck a burning torch.

Light Out / Lights out Death Matches

Light Out Death Match:

The first Light Out Death Match to have been held was on June 18th, 1993 at Korakuen during a W*ING show. The match featured Mitsuhiro Matsunaga vs. Freddy Crougar(Doug Gilbert). That match was a regular match except for all the lights in the building were turned off. The wrestlers then battled in the ring and outside all over Korakuen Hall. The match ended when Mitsuhiro Matsunaga was hanged from the balcony with a chain.

Lights Out Death Match:

This one is a bit different as the previous one… Normally all the lights of the arena are turned off and on the barbed wire that replace the ring ropes, there are lightbulbs hanging wich are turned on, that are the only lights that are on in the arena. It gets more and more darker when the lightbulbs are broken by the wrestlers…

Big Japan Death Matches

Big Japan Crisis Death Match:

Shoji Nakamaki and Mitsuhiro Matsunaga and Jason the Terrible and Masked GK vs. Great Pogo and Shadow WX and Shadow Winger and Shadow VII (Barbed Wire Board, Thumbtacks, Bed of Nails, Circus-style Scaffold into a Barbed Wire Trampoline, Tub of Scorpions, Cactus Plants, Lightbulbs, Fire Stones, Dry Ice, Barbed Wire Bat, all of Pogo’s Weapons: you know drills, swords, knives, buzz saws, Street Fight, Tornado Death Match) This Really Did happen!!!! Shadown Winger got powerbombed onto a bed of nails and cacti from the second rope!!

Piranha Death Match:

In a Piranha Death Match, there are a couple of barbed wire boards and in the middle of the ring, there is a tank full of Piranhas. The only match of this type that took place was between Mitsuhiro Matsunaga and Kendo Nagasaki, the match ended when Nagasaki put Matsunaga in the tank, he then took a barbed wire board and placed it on top of the tank. Matsunaga was stuck inside the tank for a few seconds till a few wrestlers made the save.

Desert Death Match:

This match is basically the same style as a Piranha Death Match, it has barbed wire boards and inside the ring, there is a tank full of scorpions(instead of Piranha). Unlike a Piranha Death Match, it has 2 cactus in the ring on two opposing corners.

Circus Death Match:

The concept is as follow, in the ring is a scaffold and under that scaffold, there is a type of spider net made of barbed wire. When a wrestler falls off of the scaffold the barbed wire spider net is there to catch the wrestlers.

Crocodile Death Match:

It was Matsunga vs Shadow WX in a match where the loser must fight a crocodile!. Matsunga ends up fighting the croc after losing the match.

CZW Death Matches

2/3 Lightube Log cabins:

The only way to win is to break two lightube log cabins over and or on your opponent. The most famous version of this match took place at TOD 2, which saw John Zandig give Nick Mondo a Mother F’n Bomb off the top of a building through a few tables with the lightube log cabin at the top.

Home Run Derby Deathmatch:

It is a gimmicks bat match, there is many bats placed outside the ring, and each of them has a Deathmatch weapon on them. One has thumbtacks on it, one as Barbed Wire, one has lightubes.

IWA MS Death Matches

House Of Horrors:

The stipulation to most of there finals in the KOTD, there is a cage placed around the ring, and many Lightubes are hanging from above inside the ring to use.

East Coast Thumbtack Match:

This happened in the 2003 KOTD, when CZW Star The Messiah faced IWA MS Owner Ian Rotten, and the CZW fans from the East Coast brought a total of 177,000 thumbtacks. They were spread across the ring.

Lightube Coffin Match:

There is a coffin placed in the center of the ring with lightubes in it, you must throw your opponent inside, then destroy the Coffin.

High Impact Tables Match:

You must throw your opponent through a table off an elevated surface before you can pin them.

Additional Matches

Barefoot Thumbtack Match:

Created in Big Japan, both wrestlers have bare feet, and there is a large container containing thousands of thumbtacks in the middle of the ring that are legal to use.

Tapei Deathmatch:

A match where both wrestlers dip there gloves on there hands in glue, then roll there hands inside a bucket of broken glass, which gets taped to there fists.