DeathMatch Wrestling Is Wrestling

It’s much more that what’s on the surface.

DeathMatch Wrestling is a polarizing genre subsection in the world of professional wrestling that has some of the most hardcore, passionate fans you’ll ever meet. But, it also has some of the biggest detractors in the sport as well. “Outlaw Mud-show wrestling bullshit” is a term used far too often to describe DeathMatch wrestling from many haters in the wrestling space, but why? Well, on the surface maybe it’s because it’s seen as nothing but blood and gore and has no story like a regular wrestling match would. If you see a small clip or photos from a DeathMatch, you’d see a wrestler bloody, possibly going through glass, tacks, fire or any other crazy weaponry found in these types of matches and you may think “that’s gross, that’s not wrestling” and immediately divert your attention. But, maybe if you actually took the time to watch and learn about the genre, you’d understand that DeathMatch Wrestling is Wrestling.

 Recently, AEW Star and wrestling legend, Chris Jericho, competed in a Barbed wire DeathMatch on AEW Dynamite on national television. This is the second time he’s competed in a TV DeathMatch, as the first came last year against DeathMatch icon, Nick Gage. Following his most recent match, Jericho went on record to say “Matches like the one we just had are probably good for the wrestling business because it lets people know that it’s not just all fun and games. […] If it’s on TV, at least we’ll get some shots of it and it’s probably good for the business in the long run. It doesn’t feel good the next day.” Coming from someone like Chris, saying that this genre is good for the business is a step in the right direction, but this also sparked debate from people disagreeing with what Jericho said and being stuck in their ways. Yet, the same people still cheer and love when a hardcore style match is worked in WWE. Hardcore wrestling is a tale as old as time, we could take it back to the southern territorial days, we could take it back to Japanese Deathmatches in the 80’s, but this isn’t a history lesson, or else we’d be here all day. Instead, this is a reminder that the hardcore style has evolved over time into what the DeathMatch scene is today. Like all things, wrestling evolves. The highflying lucha libre style has evolved into seeing moves we never thought would be possible. The grappling style has evolved into seeing holds we didn’t realize could be done and the hardcore style has gotten more brutal than it ever has and this is Is all for the better, quite like anything in life. In movie terms, DeathMatch Wrestling is the Horror Movie genre in pro-wrestling and it’s scarier and better than ever.

But, still, people ask about the story. There’s stories in TV and Movies, there’s stories in wrestling. There’s stories as old as time in the wrestling world like the good guy overcoming the bad guy, David vs. Goliath, fighting back from adversity and much more. If you don’t think these things are being implemented into DeathMatch wrestling, you’re sorely mistaken. If you don’t think Nick Gage nearly dying and coming back to finish a match isn’t story telling and passion, you’re wrong. Or Alex Colon working his ass off to three-peat the Tournament of Survival or how about Mickie Knuckles batting adversity her entire career to put Women’s Deathmatches on the map for the American scene, you just don’t pay attention. Drew Parker battled in his first GCW Tournament Of Survival in what was a star making performance to hold up a trophy at the end to a sea of cheers and passionate fans rooting him on. We’ve seen first timers like Matt Cardona walk into a DeathMatch with the King, Nick Gage and survive, just to get heat that no one has gotten since the Dudley’s in ECW in the 90’s when trash and beer cans were chucked at him in the ring for beating their guy. We’ve seen John Wayne Murdoch take the GCW Ultraviolent Championship to rival promotion ICWNHB and throw GCW’s title down and disrespect it, causing a turf war between wrestlers and fans from each promotion. It’s exciting. The DeathMatch world is on fire right now more than ever. The underground, hardcore scene is now the IT thing in pro-wrestling. The stories, the emotion, the talent, the validation the fans and performers receive after a epic encounter that is only heightened by the blood and gore. The breathtaking moments of two talents crashing through a glass pane, only to have a sigh of relief when they’re able to stand back up. DeathMatch wrestling arguably draws out more fan emotion than any other genre of pro-wrestling. DeathMatch wrestling is everything you could ever ask for and more. It’s unlike anything anyone has ever seen in the best way possible.

“But… but, these guys can’t wrestle, they just know how to fall.” Sorry, you’re wrong. Current GCW Ultraviolent Champion, Alex Colon, put it best in a tweet saying “Just because I am a DeathMatch guy, doesn’t mean I’m a second class wrestler. I trained just like everyone else and earned my respect long before the light tubes.” And that’s exactly it. There isn’t a “DeathMatch school.” You don’t walk into a training facility on your first day and ask to be hit with a light tube. Every single DeathMatch wrestler has trained their ass off just like every other wrestler to be just that, a wrestler. Just because they enjoy the violence and hardcore style, doesn’t mean they can’t work a regular match, they can. Some of the best workers in the world have participated in DeathMatches, such as Alex Colon himself. Or how about a legend like Mick Foley who’s won the King Of The DeathMatch trophy in 1995. Or a kid like Drew Parker who’s establishing his name in and out of the DeathMatch scene. Luchadors like Los Macizos who’ve taken the scene by storm with their hardcore-Lucha hybrid. Or other legends in the game like Onita or Hayabusa who get talked about for being on some talents Wrestling Mount Rushmore. You wouldn’t tell these guys “you can’t work.” Just because they do this style, because they can work. How about current AEW & GCW World Champion, Jon Moxley who made his name with this style and has taken himself to heights never imagined. The Joshi wrestling style is one of the most highly touted styles in wrestling today, but back in the 90’s, women like Megumi Kudo, Combat Toyoda, Shark Tsuchiya and others innovated a style of wrestling in Japan while working DeathMatches at the same time. These are high-class professional wrestlers who choose to get violent. Everyone I’ve named above and everyone on the DeathMatch scene can work just as good, if not better than regular pro-wrestlers, but it’s up to you to seek it out.

In conclusion, I’m not here to tell you that you MUST watch DeathMatch wrestling, no. I understand that not everything is for everyone. If you don’t enjoy the blood and the violence, that’s okay. But, what I am here to do is help some detractors understand that these women and men putting their bodies on the line in the DeathMatch scene, deserve just as much respect as the Women and Men putting their bodies on the line in any other form of Pro-Wrestling. Take a moment to learn about these guys and girls who compete in DeathMatches. Pay attention to the stories playing out in front of your eyes and don’t dismiss it based off of some blood and a small gif of a move you think is “dumb.” At the very least, put some respect on their names because at the end of the day, DeathMatch Wrestling is Wrestling.

Thank you to every single DeathMatch Pro-Wrestler who has put their bodies on the line for years and years to entertain the most passionate fans in the world. From legends like Nick Mondo to newbies like Cole Radrick, thank you all. You deserve all the respect.

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