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By Mike Johnson on 2004-12-09 12:00:00
by Mike Johnson

Nick Mondo Takes the Last Big Bump of His Career

I have an admission to make. I enjoy Death Matches. I will always have a special place in my heart for these insane wayward souls who are willing to do destructive things to one another for the sake of the enjoyment of others. To some, this isn't professional wrestling. I will be the first to admit that I proudly love professional wrestling, especially when it is at it's best. I love watching the artform of two awesome workers countering each other on the mat. I love watching Lucha stars charging across the ring and sailing into their hapless opponents on the floor. I love great promos. Nothing makes me happier than watching Terry Funk or Homicide throwing chairs and tables around as ringside staffers run for their very lives. All of these different and unique things are all different aspects of this eccentric sport.

Death Matches are no different. However, the Death Match style is one that is overlooked or often misrepresented as the worst thing in wrestling. Whether its just the words of those who don't see it as part of the business, or those who just are turned away at the sight of barbed wire, it's never gotten its just due. Those same folks often forget that Mick Foley and Terry Funk, two beloved performers, have had their own legends made in part due to the Death Match. Hell, Randy Orton's thumbtack bump at Backlash helped seal the deal on his own stardom in WWE. In the right moment and time, with the right emotional attachment, the art of the Death Match can make a legend.

Zandig Meets a Light Tube Log Cabin, TOD2

Make no doubts about it. There is indeed a definitive artform to this insanity. To do such a thing, you have to be a little touched in the head. To do it for such a small niche audience, such as CZW's, makes you even more insane. However, it's a good insane, because if it's done right, it will be special. You can't just gig over and over and break chair after chair. I think that those who do that, are the ones who don't get it. At the same time, those who assume that every Death Match is like that, are the ones who are ignoring how unique, fun, and different such a match can be. There is obviously a downside to this. Inuries and shortened careers have become commonplace in CZW with Nick Mondo, Wifebeater, Zandig and Lobo among those who have gone down to the aforementioned. I am not ignoring that fact. At the same time though, the thrill and out and out insanity of these matches is something that must be seen to be believed.

JC Bailey Obliterates a Light Tube

At the same time, I must admit that I don't want to see such matches every show or even every month, but to me there's nothing wrong with a little barbed wire weedwhacker action if the constellations are in the proper positions. This Saturday afternoon, they will be and I will be attending this weekend's Third Annual Tournament of Death promoted by John Zandig's Combat Zone Wrestling in Smyrna, Delaware. The stipulations are awe-inspiring in nature. Roll these over your tongue and say them three times fast: Best 2 out 3 Log Cabin Light Tube Death Match, Fans Bring the Weapons, Ladders & LightTubes, and Barbed Wire Boards Match. There is a recipe for insanity and destruction here that will be unlike any other live event presented this year in the Northeast, and this is only the first round. CZW is keeping the other stipulations close at heart, giving a mysterious aura to the show.

Nate Webb Splashes Zandig Through Plate Glass

However, before any of us experience this unique demented Woodstock of destruction this Saturday, we should remember what came last year, both for the sake of history and the hopes of seeing someone come up with something even more insane!

Our own Scrap Dog wrote the following review of CZW's Second Annual Tournament of Death, which took place in Dover, Delaware:

*In a Pane of Glass Death Match, Zandig beat “Spyder” Nate Webb after powerbombing him through a pane of glass in the corner to advance to the semifinals. This was a sick opener, like you would expect anything different!

*Sick Nick Mondo beat JC bailey in a light tubes mach after a nasty Death Valley Driver through numerous light tubes to advance to the semifinals. There were lots of light tube shots.

*Necro Butcher beat Corporal Robinson in a 4 Corners of Pain Match to advance to the semifinals. These two put on a brutal match that was highlighted by Robinson stapling Necro’s tongue to the turnbuckle! Lots of crazy, crazy bumps to say the least.

*In the final quarterfinal match, Ian Rotten beat Nick Gage in a Barbed Wire Board and Light Tube Table Match to advance to the semifinals. Nate Hatred ran out and helped Ian advance. There was a lot of brawling and the crowd was into this match. Not as crazy as the previous match but good none the less.

*In a Fans Bring the Weapon’s Match, Ian Rotten beat Necro Butcher to advance to the finals of TOD II. There were several crazy bumps including an easily 52” wide screen TV being used as Ian splashed Necro, who had the TV on top of him.

*In a 2 out of 3 falls Log Cabin Death Match (whoever sent their opponent through the log cabin’s of light tube’s two times would win) saw Nick Mondo beat Zandig 2 falls to one. In a bump that will be talked about for a long time, Zandig bodyslammed Mondo off the roof of a building through three tables that had a log cabin of tubes on top. Mondo actually got the win for putting Zandig through, though, since Zandig went through the glass before Mondo. Back in the ring, Mondo quickly broke the other log cabin of tubes over Zandig’s back for the win.

Ian Rotten Meets Barbed Wire

*In the finals of Tournament of Death II, Sick Nick Mondo beat Ian Rotten in a 200 Light tubes match. This was filled with lots of light tube shots. Mondo pinned Ian after a double foot stomp to Ian’s head that had light tubes on top. The finish was sort of anti-climatic but it was still a sick match. Afterwards, Wifebeater presented Mondo with the TOD trophy. Also, Ian and Zandig agreed to a cage match wrapped in barbed wire that will explode for the August 23rd return show.

NEWS & NOTES: The reason for the ant-climatic finish to the finals is that Nick Mondo suffered a puncture wound in his back from the big table bump. It was describe as a gunshot type wound and medics were encouraging him not to work the finals and to go to the emergency room instead. He’ll most likely end up going to the emergency room but Mondo toughed it out and worked the main event…Attendance was about 550. It was a full house…If you are a fan of wrestling with crazy bumps and insane action I highly recommend this tape. This was just an insane show. Thanks Scrap!

My own post-show thoughts on Tournament of Death II:

I attended the Combat Zone Wrestling Tournament of Death II event this past weekend in Dover, Delaware. I find myself continuously amazed by the heart and sheer insanity of the performers who put themselves through such torture and abuse. The show itself was one of the most entertaining events I've seen live as of late, due to the outdoor nature, the party atmosphere, and the different factions of the crowd: The IWA Mid-South fans, the CZW faithful, and the NYC bus trip crew. With chants and different levels of support from the three factions, it made for an entertaining show.

As many of you saw in in the photos on the Internet, the show featured mayhem galore, including a Gorilla Press into a Zandig Falcon Arrow off the roof of Racks Bar & Grill, with Nick Mondo and Zandig going through several tables and light tube contraption, Necro Butcher being stapled by his tongue to a turnbuckle, Ian Rotten splashing and destroying a large screen television over Butcher, Nick Mondo doing stomp off the top rope onto Rotten, smashing light tubes with his feet in the process. Fans brought weapons, from boxing gloves lazed with thumbtacks to a light tube contraption shaped like a cross. It was CZW's patented "Matrix" style of awe-inspiring wrestling spots taken to the extreme and beyond, and it was amazing on many levels.

But is it wrestling? I've seen numerous posts on message boards and email decrying the promotion and it's style, it's workers and the fact that they presented exactly the same thing that would be all the rage if Atsushi Onita and Tarzan Goto did it in Japan in 1995.

To me, Death Matches have their place in the business, although like everything that is good, it has to be done in moderation. While I loved the IWA Kawasaki Dream show, I don't know that I'd want to see that kind of insanity every month. CZW ran 7 "Death Matches" this past weekend, so it will likely be months before I personally want to see another, but I had no problems with the ones they did. I wonder how many of these fans with an issue about the promotion and the show had no problem with Mick Foley going off the top of the Hell in the Cell, with Tommy Dreamer being chokeslammed through four tables, or with any old school double juice brawl. CZW, for better or worse, is an evolved version of those stunts, and I don't see how anyone who loved the aforementioned can now turn their back on these antics.

Truth be known, despite it's Ultraviolent moniker, CZW employs several entertaining and strong wrestlers, including Ruckus, Sonjay Dutt, and the Backseat Boyz. It has a crew of young students who work hard, although they are admittedly green, and none of them are doing light tube spots. Even most of the Philadelphia, PA events have been toned down in recent months thanks to the efforts of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission. However, in the State of Delaware, without those restraints, CZW went all out and gave us the "Tournament of Death." Whether you like or not, you have to respect the fact that with 500-600 fans there, they certainly have an audience for themselves.

TOD Notes: While the promotion is not known for it's organization, they did run one of the better paced shows I've ever seen out of the promotion this past weekend. They ensured and reminded fans to stay out of the way of anything that might harm them, they had the ring cleared and ready for the next match within minutes, and truth be told, was done within four hours from bell to bell.....The spot off the roof was one of the craziest things I've ever seen live. It was amazing to watch the glass flying into the air as they crash, cascading back down over everyone in the vicinity. A must see spot on the tape.

With the Third Edition of this annual insanity just days away, I am personally psyched. I can't wait to see what's in store as CZW carves (literally) their name into Death Match infamy. Those who don't like it will skip the show. Those who love this sort of thing, like me, will be having one hell of a time.

Fans Bring The Weapons, Indeed!

CZW has announced that the first round of this violent stipulation match-based tournament will feature JC Bailey vs. Chris Cash in a Lighttubes & Ladders Match and Necro Butcher vs. Green Phantom in a Fans Bring The Weapons Match. These will be the only first round stipulation bouts where the stipulations are announced in advance. The remaining first round matches will feature Madman Pondo vs. Wifebeater, Nick Gage vs. Ruckus, The Arsenal vs. Evil Ninja #2, and Ian Knoxx vs. Sexxy Eddy. These matches will feature one of the following stipulations: a Thumbtack and Wooden Nail Board Death Match, a second Fans Bring the Weapons Match, a Best 2 out of 3 Log Cabin Light Tube Match (The winner will be the first competitor to put their opponent through two log cabin like structures of light tubes) and a Barbed Wire Board match.

CZW has limited third row tickets available for the show as well as general admission seats. For ticket information, visit

There will be a bus trip from New York and New Jersey to the tournament. For details, email>. The trip will be $75 and will include a ticket to the show, round trip transportation, and more. The bus trip will also be hosting a contest, where the person who brings the most creative weapon via the bus will win a free bus trip to H2Wrestling on 7/31. The trip will feature stops at in Elmhurst, Queens; the Manhattan Center in New York City; the Rexplex in Elizabeth, New Jersey. There are very limited seats left for the trip so if you wish to go, do not delay.

Mike Johnson can be reached at

Special thanks to Whacks for the above photos. You can check out more photos from CZW's Tournament of Death and other events by clicking here.

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