How does one review a show that they knew going in it wasn’t going to be their “cup of tea,” but wanted to check it out anyways? I can’t gripe and complain about this show not giving me much of what I wanted, because that’s not what “Cage of Death” is about. I’m a fan on Combat Zone Wrestling, and have been for a few years now, but I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of hardcore matches, let alone death matches. I’ve followed CZW for the excellent, straight up “wrestling” matches that they give us, for Best of the best, and their terrific production values as well. I went to Cage of Death to see what it would offer me that was more my “flavor,” and to see my friends Laszlo Arpad, and Eddie Smooth, make their big stage premiers. So, as I begin this review, keep in mind that while I shall be honest, I have to also be fair, keeping in mind that Cage of Death isn’t my kind of show.
An 8 man Scramble Match for a Best of the Best Tournament Spot
Desmond Xavier vs Poseidon, Chip Day, Eddie Smooth, Conor Claxton, Lucky 13, and Brittany Blake.
Over all this was a very good match that I enjoyed. However, I did not enjoy the CHIKARA style humor, and hijinks, at the beginning of the match. Why Rex Lawless is in some over the top gimmick as a “Merman” bewilders me. This guy is a jacked Bruiser Brody and they have him dressing like Namor, with two guys that look like Blueman group rejects following him around with fish hats. It’s just way too over the top, and most of the CZW crowd didn’t like it at all. In similar fashion, Connor Claxon is a great worker, but his “Thor’s Wrench” is just lame. Watching the seven other competitors fall to the ground when he stuck center ring with it made me hide my face in shame. Why are we doing this stuff on the indy scene? When the foolishness settled, and they all got down to actually wrestling, all eight competitors looked great. I would say Eddie Smooth, and Xavier, looked the best, and it was Xavier that got the big win, but Smooth got over with the CZW crowd and I hope he returns.
CZW Wired Title match-
Joey Janela vs Lio Rush was one of the best matches of the night as both men gave 100% and nearly killed each other. In fact, that’s my only complaint. When you hit a move like a reverse hurricarana on the ring apron, to the floor, it’s hard to accept that doesn’t end the match. I’d suggest that if two wrestlers are going to take the insane spots each of these guys took in this match, that they be saved as the finish. In the end Rush reversed Janela’s “rings of Saturn” and got the three count to become the new Wired Champion!
The Amazing Gulaks then took on The Beaver boys in a decent tag match. I was disappointed that the Gulaks seem to be taking an over the top comedy approach to their teaming, rather than two legitimate kick ass wrestlers out to dominate the tag scene. While they performed well, watching them constantly strike poses, and shout “AMAZING” got old after the 17th time or so. The Beaver Boys also seemed to have tuned their stuff down a notch or so for this match. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t impressive. If you like silliness, and wild tandem spots (like the Gulaks forming a human ball, and rolling around the ring) you’d have loved this match. I wanted more than that.
The now serious Greg Excellent took on Anthony Nese in a decent match, but it seemed flat for some reason. I suspect it’s because if anyone hadn’t seen Greg’s promo about ‘getting serious” and laying his challenge out for any indy worker to take him up on a match, they didn’t know what was going on. I mean here was silly Greg Excellent coming out straight faced and angry, defeating Nese in a basic match up. I enjoyed it, because I love Excellent getting “real” finally, and I am a fan of Nese as well.
The winner of the Dojo Wars rumble, George Gatton took on CZW owner DJ Hyde is an okay match that I struggled to get over the huge size difference. I understand that Gatton is a work horse and dedicated to his craft, but Hyde was so much bigger, so much stronger, and so much more experienced that I just expected the match to end rather quickly. Instead, Gatton competed with Hyde and pulled the upset victory. It made for a good story, but for me, it was asking for too much suspension of reality.
For the CZW World tag titles.
TV Ready (BLK Jeez and Pepper Parks with Cherry Bomb) challenged Team Tremendous. Dan Berry hit the ring with Dick Justice and announced that Bill Carr couldn’t make it, and his replacement for the night would be Sozio. That instantly made the match feel odd, but it didn’t make it a bad match. Cherry Bomb got involved, helping TV Ready become the new champions. I’m a big fan of Jeez, Parks, and Cherry, so I was very glad to see this.
Joe Gacy then took on Tim Donst in a no rules I quit match. This was very entertaining, and extremely brutal. These men took barbwire, chairs, tables, and staple guns to each other. Just when you thought neither would quit, Donst did just before Gacy was set to throw him off the hardcam scaffold, through a table with barbed wire. Gacy didn’t care, and tossed Donst off anyways.
In a crazy death style match, that I honestly can barely handle watching, and don’t enjoy (no reflection of the participants talent) Danny Havoc overcame Ricky Shane Page. This match left both men horribly bloodied, and torn to shreds.
David Starr then got his wish, as Sami Callihan answered his challenge, and, in my opinion, the match of the night was on! Starr is out to prove he’s the best out there today and will stop at nothing, or no one to do so. I’ve been admiring his drive, and passion, for months now. Callihan, tired of not being used much in NXT, storms back to the indy scene like a man possessed, and those two ingredients made for a terrific fight/match. To me, this was worth going to an event that isn’t really my “style.” This bout went back and forth with neither giving in at all. Both were so determined that it took Starr passing out, while in the stretch muffler while also receiving multiple kicks to the head, for the match to be stopped. Callihan told the crowd that Starr is the future of wrestling, which lead to Jonathan Gresham coming to ringside and getting into it verbally with Callihan. Gresham said he’s sick of not getting the respect he deserves and will take out Callihan if that is what he has to do to get his respect. As Gresham walked off, Starr attacked Callihan, and then told the audience he was the best, and if they didn’t see that, to take a step back and LOOK AT IT! This match, and exchange afterwards, is the kind of stuff I love, and made the show great for me.
After an intermission for the massive “Cage of Death” to be assembled, it was time for the main event of Matt Tremont vs AR Fox, vs Masada, vs Devon Moore. Folks, words can’t begin to do this car wreck justice. I don’t say “car wreck” as an insult either. This match had all four men going through panes of glass, getting hanged up on barbed wire, falling, or leaping off a twenty foot tall scaffold, being skewered in the head, being beaten on with a barbed wire baseball bat, amongst other things. The end came when Matt Tremont delivered a sidewalk slam to AR Fox through a pane of glass, and a table, from atop of the twenty foot tall scaffold! When it was over, all four men looked like they had been hitched to horses, and dragged through town. The punishment that most of the CZW roster puts their bodies through to entertain the fans there deserves all the credit, and respect in the world. While I only want to see straight up technical wrestling, with maybe an occasional brawl or hardcore rules here and there, I still have to give this show a 8/10 for doing what they set out to do, offer Ultra Violence to those thirsting for it.
Best matches for “Wrestling Done Right” in my opinion were-
Rush vs Janella
Starr vs Callihan
TV Ready vs Team Tremendous
Excellent vs Nese
The hardcore/extreme/death matches were good for those styles. I’d have scored the show higher had Berry show up for Team Tremendous, and The Gulaks had been more serious. If I would have gotten those things, and had NONE of the silliness in the scramble match, it would have been a near perfect score. Finally, Laszlo Arpad competed on the Dojo Wars preshow in the rumble match, to earn a match on Cage of Death, and finished in the final six for an excellent showing from your Hungarian Hero.