“The World is Ours” – The Best Deathmatches of 2021


Photo Courtesy: Matt Cardona

2021 Deathmatch Wrestling Awards

By: Jon Pine

Throughout the year we bloodthirsty fans were given a slew of amazing, breathtaking, and game-changing Deathmatches. From The Pawn Shop in Port Richey, Florida to a sold-out arena main event on AEW Dynamite, Deathmatch wrestling soared to new heights. If 2020 was the year the Deathmatch saved and kept independent wrestling alive, 2021 is the year it went mainstream. This was a year that saw many new stars emerge, innovative matches, breathtaking moments, and wrestlers staking their claim to be known as – The Best in the World.

Since the beginning of the year, I have kept a running list of what I have deemed the best American Deathmatches of the year, and throughout this article, I will break down and review each one of those matches. I was fortunate enough to have some wrestlers and promoters participate in this article as well, for which I’m very appreciative. I hope you all enjoy it and it sparks some debate.

What makes a good Deathmatch?

Deathmatch wrestling is a very subjective art that is certainly not for everyone; anyone can do moves for the sake of moves and bleeding for the sake of bleeding but to me, the criteria of what makes a good Deathmatch is the story and moments between the violence, how each weapon or major spot builds upon the last. Timing within a Deathmatch is crucial and most importantly the purpose behind the innovative violence.

These men put themselves through hell for our entertainment, they risk their lives in increasingly dangerous odds, they basically bleed for a living. It’s a brotherhood of athletes and artists applying their craft through expressive violence, shedding blood, attaining scars, and lifelong discomfort because they love it. Every wrestler goes through pain, it’s an assumed and genuine risk, the difference with Deathmatch wrestlers is you can see their pain, you can see the physical toll that the matches have on them. Drew Parker is only 23 years old and worked for Big Japan Wrestling for three years predominantly competing in Deathmatches. These two photos were taken three years apart.

When attending in person, you can’t help but notice Alex Colon’s scarred shoulder, the hitch in Jimmy Lloyd’s step, or the growing number of scars on AKIRA. They bleed for our enjoyment, they maim themselves for the rush and adulation of the fans. They are brothers bonded through blood.

Best Deathmatches of the Year 

Alex Colon Defeats Atticus Cogar – GCW Tournament of Survival 666 Finals (17:58)

Coming off his massive victory over MASADA at rSpring Break, Atticus Cogar reached another level of ability, putting on star-making performance after star-making performance but none more so than the rematch from 56 Nights: the finals of Tournament of Survival 666 against Alex Colon. This match took place from the Carousel Room at the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. To reach the finals, Atticus Cogar defeated Manders in the first round in a Bunkhouse Deathmatch, G-Raver in the second round in a Gusset Plates and Lightubes Deathmatch. Alex Colon defeated Bam Sullivan in the first round in Bundles of Hate Deathmatch, and Nolan Edward in the second in a Taipei Panes of Glass Deathmatch, setting up the finals which was a No Canvas 200 Lightube Deathmatch. Would Atticus be able to stop Colon from achieving a three-peat? Or would he fall once again to the best Deathmatch Wrestling in the world? What would the verdict be for Atticus?

Weapons used in this match: 200 light tubes, panes of glass, light tube doors, skewers, weedwhacker, and thumbtacks.

Before the finalists make their way to the ring, Emil Jay introduces the man who will present the trophy to the winner, Deathmatch legend ‘Sick’ Nick Mondo. This was Mondo’s first time in a GCW ring and the crowd treated him like the returning hero that he is. Mondo only wrestled for a handful of years, retiring at the age of 23, but his legacy, aura, and influence lives on through Youtube videos and his beautiful work as a cinematographer and writer. This was an event I was there live for and the atmosphere all day was intense and party-like; everyone was waiting for the bloodshed to start and there wasn’t a single match on the card that disappointed me.

Alex Colon walks to the ring to Danny Havoc’s music, a beautiful tribute to the fallen hero as the crowd breaks out in a Danny Havoc chant. Cogar jumps Colon before the bell as the match starts right away with Cogar breaking tubes and carving up Colon’s head. Cogar whips Colon into the ropes, breaking the glass, sending it flying into the front row.

Atticus gets scoop slammed onto a barbed-wire door with light tubes on them as Colon starts riding the momentum; but it was only for a short while as Atticus was able to fire back up and send Colon flying into a barbed-wire door contraption on the outside of the ring, leaving Alex in a pile of glass, door, and his own blood.  Colon needed help getting out of the barbed wire as the rest of the crew started removing boards from the ring and putting panes of glass in the gaps.

Colon recovers to put a hula hoop of light tubes around Cogar and starts kicking the contraption as Cogar is covered in glass on the floor. They go back into the ring and start exchanging light tube shots to the head like an Ultraviolent version of Hagler/Hearns. Cogar stops Colon’s offense, gets him up on his shoulders, and hits a massive air raid crash through the glass panes sending both men crashing to the floor.

The Carousel Room erupts as everyone knows that the match is about to shift to a different pace. Both men are losing blood heavily as they roll back into the ring, there is blood-caked glass stuck to Colon’s shoulder as he kicks out at two and the crowd continues to chant 3 peat. At this point, my eyes started watering as the air was so thick with dust.  Atticus Cogar hits his headlock driver for a two count; prior to that moment only a couple of people have ever kicked out of Cogar’s finishing maneuver. The roar of the crowd grows louder as we recognize that Atticus has thrown everything he has at Colon. Cogar must search for another remedy to beat this man.

Atticus sets up a pane of glass and perches Colon on the top rope, looking for a headlock driver, but he gets caught and Colon hits a Styles  Clash off the top rope through the pane of glass. Cogar kicks out at 2 as everyone around me was jumping up in the air as the intensity of the match reached epic proportion.

Both men search for what’s next as they trade near falls. GCW crew hand Atticus Cogar a weedwhacker as Nick Gage laments on commentary “man we still use this shit?” As Nick Mondo watches on, Atticus Cogar revs the weedwhacker and hits Colon in the shoulder. I will never forget the sound of a weedwhacker meeting flesh, it’s the same sound the machine makes when you accidentally graze a tree in your backyard, a deep thudding noise. I was standing in the back near the production set up and I could see the cloud of blood that was shot into the air from the weedwhacker.

Seconds later, Cogar goes for the headlock driver but Alex reverses it into a sleeper suplex, hits a head kick, and rolls Cogar up into the camel clutch as Atticus passes out.

When Colon hit that suplex the place got even louder, everyone was jumping up and down in elation and shock. The count of three was deafening as everyone realized they just witnessed one of the best Deathmatches in history and the Threepeat. I have never been in an environment like that ever, the only other thing that came close to the level of noise from the crowd was War of the Worlds 2014 Kevin Steen vs. Nakamura.

Alex Colon has the unrivaled ability to tell an in-depth story within a Deathmatch, he dictates the pace beautifully, ensuring that all spots and weapons used have a purpose.

He also has the rare ability to hit a completely different gear, usually, as a match wears on the slower a competitor will get, usually due to blood loss. Alex only gets stronger as the match progresses and uses the fatigue of his opponent to hit that extra gear and lay in match-ending sequences. This match delivered on all fronts: pacing, purpose, violence, bloodshed. It was a truly special event that featured some of the best Deathmatches in the world and for the main event to top them all is the reason why it is my Deathmatch of the Year. Nothing else this year could compare to both the environment both live and the way it translated on FiteTV.

Atticus Cogar can strip his sleeves and show his scars and say these wounds were gained during Tournament of Survival.

When reached for a comment about the finals Atticus Cogar had the following to say:

“I went through Manders and G-Raver at TOS666 to finally get to Alex. All I’m going to say about TOS666 is that I never tapped out.”- Atticus Cogar

Matt Cardona defeats Nick Gage for the GCW World Title – GCW Homecoming Night 1

“Cardona debuting in GCW took place like 10 days after I lost my job. I figured, I can sit around and be miserable that I just lost my dream job OR I can start doing everything I wanted to do while I was employed there but couldn’t. He (Cardona) and I became close while I was working at WWE. I would actually sit with him backstage and teach him how to use the Finder on the MacBook Pro he just got that he was using for the podcast. For like two years Nick would interact with him on Twitter and the engagement was always great. Never ever did I think it would be a possibility for him to come to GCW. Cardona multiple times asked “who is Nick Gage? Is this serious? Is this a shoot?” Eventually, I made a group chat with me, him (Cardona), and Brett, and we got talking. I introduced Matt to Brett and like, that’s where the intro titles start rolling on this movie we are living in.”- Giancarlo

Weapons used: Pizza Cutter, Lightubes, doors, panes of glass

I have never been in an environment quite like that night, Nakamura vs. Steen; TOS666 was loud but this was a completely different level, the crowd was hungry. Prior to the show, there were multiple groups of people in the Showboat Hotel and on the Boardwalk with MDK flags and starting MDK chants with any wrestling fan who walked by. I will always remember the group right in front of the main elevator bank continually chanting MDK at anyone who passed. I can only imagine what the other hotel patrons were thinking. I am very fortunate to have been at this event live, it was truly a memorable experience that I don’t think will ever be topped.

Matt Cardona is barely able to make it to the ring without being accosted by the GCW faithful. The swell of energy that occurred when Gage’s theme hit was otherworldly. The crowd that night was looking for blood and these two men gave us what we wanted. I truly don’t think energy like this will ever be recaptured, the mosh pit at the entranceway pushed their way past the curtain as everyone wanted to be a part of this special moment.

I believe that this was Nick Gage’s finest moment and one of Emil Jay’s best introductions; he knows how to dictate the vibe and energy of the room perfectly. The introduction still gives me goosebumps. Nick Gage brings in a box of light tubes, grabs one tube, and tells the crowd that this is for all of you. Cardona is able to escape and Gage runs into the corner turnbuckle, shattering the tube in his face. Before this match RSP took Matt Cardona out to dinner and walked him through what it’s like to do a deathmatch with Nick Gage, explaining that he is one of the safest workers out there. Gage walks Cardona around the ring inflicting punishment, Cardona is able to reverse the momentum and throws the King into the fans. Cardona goes back into the ring and asks the ref for a ten count, not realizing that this is a deathmatch and those don’t exist. A perfect little nuance that most people will miss because they are consumed with the expectation of violence.

Watching this back, GCW had personnel lining the ring to ensure that no fans would enter the ring during this bloody contest. Matt Cardona starts hitting Gage with various light tubes, working over a bloody Nick Gage to the dismay of the crowd as he attempts near falls. The crowd starts chanting ‘you got fired’ at Matt Cardona, Nick Gage regains his advantage and hits his reverse back elbow onto a chair that was placed on Cardona’s chest. Nick pulls a piece of glass out of his hand and throws it into the crowd as Big Vin hands the King a pane of glass. Nick Gage teases which corner to put the glass in as the crowd breaks into another MDK chant.  Nick Gage spears Matt Cardona through the pane of glass and Cardona gets sliced open on his shoulder and he is leaking. Cardona would document how he would have several pieces of glass removed from his back throughout the summer. Nick Gage breaks a tube over Cardona’s head and starts carving him up, causing more and more blood to flow from the former WWE superstar’s body.

Gage digs in his pocket and grabs his pizza cutter and starts going to town on Cardona’s face. Cardona is captured on camera saying “what the fuck is this” as Nick Gage continues to incite the blood-thirsty crowd. The crowd keeps chanting over here and Gage is happy to oblige as he continues to carve away at Matt Cardona. Gage Gage is fully in control as he stomps on a tube, shakes the spooky dust out of it, and starts carving away with the shattered tube. The amount of glass that flew into the crowd during this match was remarkable, experiencing a Deathmatch in person is something every wrestling fan should experience. Cardona superplexes Gage through a pane of glass as the crowd starts chanting ‘you still suck’.

For the majority of the match, I was standing near the production table and I could see the crowd swelling with the momentum of the match, something only experienced during the Tournament of Survival finals. Nick Gage hits a choke breaker and goes for a cover as Chris Jericho’s music hits as the crowd is distracted. I had forgotten that this occurred during this match, a masked man comes into the crowd, Nick takes him out as Cardona is able to recover in the corner. Cardona capitalized by hitting Jericho’s finisher, the codebreaker, for only a two count. Cardona is distraught as he doesn’t know what else it’ll take to put the God of this Shit down. Gage hits a pair of piledrivers on the crushed glass and calls for the choke breaker. 440H! crashes the party with light tubes and Nick starts taking out the various members until he’s left with Atticus Cogar who starts beating down on Gage as the rest of 440H returns to put the boots to the champ. ‘We Can Roll’ hits and the crowd goes nuts as Rickey Shane Page runs to the ring in defense of his fellow Deathmatch Legend. Atticus Cogar slaps the leader of 440H!, RSP across the face, and in a moment that will live on throughout time,  Gage and RSP join forces and clear the ring of 440H. I was yelling like it was Rey Mysterio winning the World Title at Wrestlemania 22. The crowd breaks into an RSP chant and the two men hit stereo choke breakers. Just when we thought we’ve seen the turn of the century, RSP hits Gage with a low blow as Cardona starts throwing massive bundles of tubes at the King’s head. Cardona hits the Rough Ryder and pins, Nick Gage, for the GCW World Heavyweight Championship.

Milliseconds after the pin the crowd erupts in anger and in a scene right out of Run Rickey Run, they start pelting Cardona with bottles and garbage. I was absolutely stunned at both the finish and the riot that ensued. There are fans who tried to get after Matt Cardona but he was able to escape through the front door of the Carousel Room. He took one last moment to gloat before he hightailed it out of the venue with fans legitimately pursuing him. Cardona left a bloodstain on the wall right near the entrance/exit and every single person walked by that bloodstain as if it was a normal thing.

“Nick Gage Vs Matt Cardona raised the level of awareness and appreciation for deathmatch wrestling.   Cardona tries to take all the credit for the attention and interest, but it’s very difficult to ignore the massive following and unreal connection THE KING Nick Gage has with his fans.  It takes two to tango, and much to the surprise and delight of many, and the disgust of a few, Matt Cardona didn’t dip his toe in the water.  He dove in headfirst.  No amount of bronzer can hide the scars that now adorn his body. Love him or hate him, he has shed blood and scarred his body to escape the homogenized nature of corporate wrestling. That’s commitment.“- Kevin Gill, GCW Commentator

This was one of Nick Gage and Matt Cardona’s finest moments in the ring, not only were they able to capture the imagination and attention of the wrestling world but they had a promotion elevating match. The storyline going into this match was fantastic as everyone just wanted to see Matt Cardona get his ass beat, everyone wanted to see what a former WWE guy in a death match would look like. Matt Cardona’s involvement in Game Changer Wrestling this year was one of the most significant runs to have happened this year. The swell and wrestling mayhem that came out of this match was only matched by the arrival of CM Punk and Bryan Danielson in AEW. It is hard to find a moment that was pure magic as the one that occurred that night in Atlantic City. Everyone I talked to after the match was in shock at what had just occurred, the execution of a fantastic deathmatch that told a story throughout, and a shocking title switch that no one thought would happen. Both of these men deserve a spot on any credible Best Match of the year list as they were able to draw in people who would never otherwise watch a GCW show let alone sit through a Deathmatch. It transcended the hardcore audience and turned into a  mainstream angle that boosted business for years to come.

“Gage vs Cardona was quite possibly the biggest deathmatch of all time. The match brought an unprecedented amount of new eyes not just to GCW, but to the genre itself. Cardona brought with him an entire fanbase that had never previously seen Deathmatch wrestling and converted many into fans for life. The match itself was a classic, and Cardona came to play. Cardona took no shortcuts and endured a brutal welcome to the World of Ultraviolence. While the outcome was disappointing to fans of Nick Gage, it is still talked about to this day and will be talked about for generations to come.”- GCW Promoter Brett Lauderdale

“I mean… Game-Changing.  Gage is at or near the top of the mountain for basically his entire career when it comes to the deathmatch style.  You know what you get with him in there.  Cardona on the other hand, this isn’t really his speed.  I remember a month or so before the match I ran into Brian Myers and I asked him about it.  He said that Cardona was “going for it”.  That was all I needed to hear.  I watched the match and man… he went for it.  The perfect storm of storytelling, pacing, and violence.  Props to Cardona for… going for it.”- The Struggles, ICW No Holds Barred Commentator

“Credit to Cardona, he found a creative way to play off the way people perceive him, and the match with Gage was a very natural contrast of personas that the crowd was clearly very into.”- Todd Martin, PWTorch

John Wayne Murdoch Defeats Eric Ryan – Inaugural American Deathmatch Championship Match – ICW No Holds Barred Vol. 12 (14:20)

This match was 15 months in the making as these two warriors faced off against each other ICW No Holds Barred Vol. where Eric Ryan handed John Wayne Murdoch his only loss in ICW. Since that match both competitors have been on a run of a lifetime, putting on absolute classics with the likes of AKIRA, Atticus Cogar, Reed Bentley, and SHLAK. The event took place over Wrestlemania weekend at the 81Bay Brewing Company, Tampa, Florida. The show contained a stacked lineup, headlined by the crowning of the first-ever American Deathmatch Championship.

My first ICW show was in late December of 2018.  It was only my 2nd FULL show being on commentary.  Since then I’ve been on the call for every match on every show. 43 ICW shows in total and 305 consecutive fights on commentary.  It wasn’t until Vol. 1 where I started to help with more of the behind-the-scenes work.  Merch design, graphics, talent suggestions, etc…  We got shot out of a cannon with NHB1 tho.  Sold out White Eagle in Jersey City, the attendance record for a wrestling event, monster numbers on IWTV.  We knew we had something special when we put up the chains and rebranded as ICW No Holds Barred.  Then the pandemic hits.  Stops all momentum.  Vol. 2 didn’t happen till June. So 6 months later.  But the Deathmatch Drive-In concept was a success.  We jumped right back in not missing a beat.  Crashing the IWTV servers with the amount of traffic.  Since then we’ve put the pedal to the metal traveling to Florida, Texas, Michigan, Tennessee bringing our unique brand of violence with us.  The sky is truly the limit moving into 2022.”- The Struggles, ICW lead commentator

Weapons used: exposed boards, light tubes, forks, knives, chairs, light tube bundles with green and blue LEDs in them. 

Before the match gets started, ICW No Holds Barred promoter, Danny Demanto, comes to the ring for the surprise announcement that this match was for the newly created ICW No Holds Barred American Deathmatch Championship. When reached for a comment on this historic event, Danny Demanto had the following to say.

I never wanted a belt in ICW. The fans, the locker room, and most importantly John Wayne Murdoch convinced me to introduce the American Deathmatch Championship to the world. John Wayne winning that belt was a statement. A statement that he is the best in American Deathmatch Wrestling today and he’s ready to bring that belt all over the world to prove it.”- Danny Demanto 

The first couple of minutes of the match the two spend feeling each other out with various holds and a couple of near falls around the three-minute mark Eric Ryan takes a box of light tubes, stomps on them and John Wayne Murdoch empties the box of broken glass onto the bare boards as they begin trading holds on top of the glass. Murdoch hits a headlock takeover and Ryan is bleeding heavily on his back. Eric Ryan scatters forks on top of the glass and wood and starts stabbing away on Murdoch’s head. As they reach the midpoint of the match both men are bleeding heavily, blood staining both the boards and the concrete on the outside of the ring.

They start trading fists followed up with a brainbuster for a two count, Murdoch takes the blue bundle of tubes and hits Ryan with a brainbuster for two. Ryan recovered, executing vicious stomps to the back of Murdoch’s head and throwing the green bundle of tubes onto Murdoch’s back. He fires back up, hits another brainbuster for the win. This match was a sprint of violence that left both men and the ring covered in broken glass and blood. It was the culmination of 15 months of bloodshed between the two of them and 15 months of growth for the company as they firmly cemented themselves as a big-time player in the world of Deathmatch Wrestling. 

A lot went into this one.  A championship wasn’t something that Danny Demanto had in the cards for ICW NHB.  I understood his point of view, maybe I didn’t agree with it but I understood his thought process.  After A LOT of convincing it was set we are going to have a champion.  AWESOME.  I put a lot of time and effort into creating the American Deathmatch Championship.  From the name, concept, design, down to the finished product.  Hours upon hours of work went into the creation of the championship. Making sure every last detail was right.  I remember getting to Tampa the Wednesday before all shows were set to kick off.  I got to the building Wednesday night and Danny handed me the finished product.  I sat down and stared at that title belt for what felt like HOURS.  Looking over every detail.  Just thinking about how every bit of hard work we as a team put in.   Every success, every failure, every punch rolled with, every misstep, every victory…EVERYTHING had been combined into one physical item.  That title belt.  It represents it ALL.  To have Murdoch & Eric Ryan be the first to challenge for it made it even more special.  Given the limitations of having a deathmatch of that magnitude indoors, they managed to tell an amazing story through violence.  The bare boards are so brutal.  It was an honor to be able to call that history-making fight and start the legacy of the American Deathmatch Championship.”- The Struggles, ICW No Holds Barred Commentator 

When reached for a comment on this historic match, ICW No Holds Barred American Deathmatch Champion John Wayne Murdoch had the following to say:

“Hardest match of my life, being the first person to hold the ICW belt means I gotta set the standard of what it takes to hold it. The purpose behind what I do is to make sure each fan that spends money is entertained.”

Color commentator Ron Niemi had the following to say:

The importance of “The Duke ” John Wayne Murdoch in ICW No Holds Barred is immeasurable.  This guy is the ace in every sense of the word.  The fans love him, the talent respects him and every other deathmatch wrestler wants to be him.  There is no better in the world of deathmatch wrestling than Murdoch and everybody out there knows it.  It’s really not an argument by anybody with even a shred of common sense.  I used to call matches back in the day for FIP and every time I saw that The Rejects were coming to town I knew the shit was going to hit the fucking fan and it did 100% of the time.  It is great to see John making an even bigger name for himself in the world of deathmatch wrestling as he deserves it but that is my fucking champ and he is the flag bearer for ICW No Holds Barred.  Case fucking closed.”

Alex Colon Defeats. Atticus Cogar – GCW 56 Nights (19:33)

56 Nights was GCW’s first show of 2021, taking place from the famed Carousel Room at the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This was a first-time-ever match-up between the 2-time Tournament of Survival Champion and the up-and-coming superstar Atticus Cogar. Much like Charli Evans facing Alex Colon at NGI 6, this was a massive platform for Atticus Cogar to really show the GCW what he can do. Other than his match with John Wayne Murdoch in ICW No Holds Barred, this match was a major step up in the level of deathmatch competition for Cogar. You could see little things throughout the match that he might’ve hesitated with then, but became fluid movements and motions by the time these faced off again at Tournament of Survival 666.

Weapons used: glass panes, light tubes, a barbed-wire door, a barbed wire wrapped ladder, pane of glass with cut cans glued to it, cheesegrater.

The match starts with Atticus calling Colon to strike him, but he ends up gouging Colon’s eyes as the two wrestle to a standoff. The first light tube is broken at the 1:45min mark as Alex double stomps a tube into Cogar’s chest, lacerating his chest. Colon follows that up by sending Cogar through the barbed wire door. This match was supposed to be Rickey Shane Page vs. Alex Colon for the GCW World Title but Page was unable to attend the event which is why Atticus was placed in this match. 

The match spills to the floor as Colon starts breaking tubes over Cogar’s head, lacerating his forehead leaving a blood trail on the floor. With his face caked with blood, Cogar starts going to town on Colon with light tube strikes which cause some lacerations. 

Cogar goes for a moonsault with a pane of glass, he lands the moonsault but the glass doesn’t break, he picks up Colon and delivers a vicious powerbomb onto the glass for a two count. The match continues on as the ring is now filled with broken glass, Colon goes for a sunset flip powerbomb but is skewered by Atticus Cogar before he had the chance to complete the move. His advantage doesn’t last long as he gets doubled stomped into the barbed wire which gets stuck in Cogar’s hair. He had trouble removing it so he just ripped it out of his head.

Colon hurled Cogar over the top rope through the cut can pane of glass for a two count as the match entered its final and most brutal stages for Atticus Cogar.  Cogar is able to get some light tube shots in before Colon seemingly stops toying with Cogar and unloads with some of the most brutal light tube shots I’ve seen. Colon locks in the Camel Clutch and wrenches back for the victory.

Colon is a master at using every single piece of a light tube, most of the time people just break it once and look for another one; on the other hand, Colon breaks down the tubes until just the socket is left. It’s the little things that make him the best in the world, it adds to the importance of one wanting to inflict the most amount of damage on your opponent with every bit of the weapon available. 

This was the first Deathmatch of 2021 and they set the pace perfectly, utilizing every ounce of each weapon and sometimes going back for more. The story they told throughout, the inexperienced henchman sticking up for his boss against the Best Deathmatch Wrestler in the world continued to play out during this year’s installation of the Tournament of Survival but Colon faced a much different Atticus Cogar. 

“56 Nights, when I faced Alex, I wasn’t ready and I’m not afraid to admit it. I do think that match helped me be looked at as an actual competitor and not just an RSP henchman. I made it my mission to face Alex again and beat him…”-Atticus Cogar


Nick Gage Defeats. Rickey Shane Page – GGW RSPring Break – GCW World Title Match (24:00)

“The basis of professional wrestling is storylines, good versus evil…why Indy Wrestling got away from it is weird”- Rickey Shane Page

This was one of the most heated rivalries in Independent Wrestling, each interaction and each matchup these two had raised the bar and level of animosity. This feud started years ago at CZW Cage of Death 19 in Sewell, New Jersey. A plan was devised that saw GCW promoter Brett Lauderdale and Nick Gage jump the barricade and make their presence known inside the Cage of Death 19. Only a handful of people knew what was going to happen; Brett Lauderdale, Giancarlo, Nick Gage, and Rickey Shane Page, everyone wanted a CZW vs. GCW storyline but CZW dropped the ball. 

Nothing came of the run-in during the main event of COD but the storyline picked up a couple of years later when Rickey Shane Page ambushed Nick Gage after the finals of the Nick Gage Invitational 4. 

RSP vs. Nick Gage feud was the first break from the spell that PWG cast on Indy Wrestling as now there have been more and more storylines playing out inside the GCW ring; whether it be Effy vs. Matt Cardona, Jon Moxley vs. Nick Gage, Atticus Cogar vs. Nick Wayne and Jordan Oliver, the shift back towards storytelling has greatly enhanced the product this past year. This match took place on Wrestlemania Weekend in the main event of RSPring Break, usually Joey Janela Spring Break, GCW’s signature event of the year. 

I view rSpring Break as the most important independent wrestling event I have ever worked on, mostly due to Gage v. Page. Gage’s return coming off of injury, RSP’s title run, and somewhat of a return to “normalcy” after covid wreaked havoc on everything in 2020. Wrestling fans were HUNGRY for this match to happen and the energy was infectious. My only concern that weekend was nailing that Gage intro and doing so really gave me the confidence to up my game to where it is now. The match was nothing short of the beautiful violence people so desperately wanted for months.”- Emil Jay

Weapons used in this match: light tubes, pizza cutter, Skewers, Scaffolding, tables, panes of glass, barbed wire boards.

Nick Gage has waited 18 months to get his hands on Rickey Shane Page and his GCW World Title and he doesn’t even let Emil Jay finish the ring introduction when he jumps RSP and starts unloading on him with light tube shots to RSP’s body and sends` him through a glass pane. Gage hangs RSP up on the outside of the ring and hits a springboard reverse elbow through barbed wire boards as RSP comes up heavily bleeding. Rickey Shane Page was wearing white for this match which meant right away you knew he was going to bleed buckets. Both of these men are at the top of their games and yet for some reason Rickey Shane Page is always overlooked as one of the best deathmatch wrestlers in the world. Just because he doesn’t do them as often as John Wayne Murdoch, Atticus Cogar, AKIRA, or Alex Colon doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be included in the list of top-tier Deathmatch wrestlers in the world.

RSP starts returning fire as he breaks light tubes over Gage’s back and uses the broken shards to carve up Gage’s forehead. Nick Gage fired back up only to get back-dropped over the top rope through a glass pane contraption. RSP continues to inflict punishment on Gage as he brings him to the apron and tosses him through a light tube contraption, sending Gage crashing through the glass to the concrete. Both men are bleeding very heavily at this point and Gage has taken two very hard falls onto the concrete.

RSP throws broken glass in the eyes of Gage, leading Gage to punch the ref in the face and start carving away on RSP’s back. Rickey is recovering on the scaffolding as he directs his members of 440H! to bring in a table, a light tube cube, and a pane of glass. As the spot is set up, Second Gear Crew’s music hits, and they storm the ring running off 440H! leaving these two warriors alone. Gage ascends the scaffolding and throws Rickey Shane Page off the top through the light tube and table set up in the ring. RSP had a glancing blow off the table with nothing really breaking his fall, a brutal landing.

Gage follows that up by breaking the rest of the light tube cube over the back of the current GCW World Champion. Two referees have been taken out at this point and RSP is calling for Atticus Cogar to come from the back to finish off Nick Gage, bringing a pane of glass into the ring as Gage recovers on the mat. Atticus retrieves the skewers from his pocket and plants them in the head of Nick Gage. RSP and Atticus Cogar set up a double pane of glass and lift Gage up to perform an offensive maneuver when GCW Promoter Brett Lauderdale runs into the ring and returns the receipt from Run Rickey Run and blasts Atticus Cogar over the head with a bundle of tubes. Storytelling at its finest. Nick Gage hits a choke breaker on to Rickey Shane Page as Brett Lauderdale counts the pin culminating one of the best storylines in Independent Wrestling.

This match had everything, intense violence, storyline culminations, two of the best ever going to battle in their domain, and they planted the seeds for their War Games match. This match and storyline set the standard for what is possible in Independent Wrestling when you are focused on the story, not highspots and gifs. RSP and Gage walked so Effy and Cardona could run. This was a fantastic match that told a true story, two legends fighting for the ultimate prize in independent wrestling, the pacing of the weapon spots really added to the overall presentation of the match and storyline. Each move meant something, it wasn’t just two men bleeding for the sake of bleeding. The icing on the cake was when they ran back to the spot from Run Rickey Run, but instead of Cogar hitting Brett with a bundle of tubes, Brett took out Cogar. A reward for the longtime fans who have stuck with this promotion and storyline for the better part of 18 months.

“I was still working for WWE at the time when RSP vs GAGE took place. We were all in Tampa at the time. The show was about halfway over and I got an Uber XL and brought about 5 of my coworkers with me to the show. Half of them didn’t know what they were going to or were about to see until they got into the van. Haha to this day they still message me saying how much fun it was and how they follow indie wrestling because of it.”-Giancarlo, Game Changer Wrestling


Drew Parker defeats Alex Colon – GCW Ultraviolent Championship and Big Japan Wrestling Deathmatch Heavyweight Championship Match – GCW Homecoming Night 1 (18:34)

This was Drew Parker’s triumphant return to Game Changer after 2 years away from the promotion, in that time Drew Parker became a standout in Japan’s preeminent Deathmatch company, Big Japan Wrestling. This year Drew Parker defeated Ryuji Ito to become one of three Americans ever to win the Ikkitousen Deathmatch Survivor Tournament, and if that wasn’t enough, he defeated Takumi Tsukamoto to win the Big Japan Wrestling Deathmatch Heavyweight Championship once again. He became one of three Americans to win that title, the others being John Zandig, and Abdullah The Butcher. Drew Parker was less than 24 hours removed from his title win in Japan when he hopped on a plane and flew from Japan to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Commentary notes multiple times throughout the match that when he boarded and deplaned he was still bleeding from the match earlier in the day.

Weapons used: Shower door, light tubes, darts, chairs, panes of glass.

The match starts off with a Greco Roman knuckle lock as they battle for control; this technical exchange doesn’t last long as Parker blasts Colon with a bundle of tubes, and Colon quickly follows up with a tube assisted Tope Suicida sending glass flying into the crowd.

Colon sets Parker up in a chair and hits a tube-assisted running double knees as Parker starts to bleed from his chest. Parker hits a sliced bread on the outside and grabs a handful of darts which he proceeds to throw into Alex Colon’s back as the crowd screams in horror. They were right by me when they did this spot and it was disgusting, one guy actually ran away.

Parker rolls Colon back into the ring who then flips him off and throws him into the tubes strung on the ropes. Colon then takes the broken shards and starts carving away on Drew Parker’s forehead. Kevin Gill notes that Drew Parker has bled on two different continents in less than 24 hours. Parker sets up Colon in the corner with a bundle of tubes and proceeds to go coast to coast shattering glass all over Colon’s body, following that up with a massive dive to the outside taking out Colon once again.  As Drew is perched on the top rope, Colon smashes a bundle onto Parker’s head, draws a light tube log cabin to the center of the ring, and Drew is able to recover and hits a top rope DDT through the log cabin for a two-count.

By this point in the match Colon has shards of glass stuck in his beard, as they start exchanging punches in the center of the ring. Parker goes to throw Colon through the shower door that is perched in the corner but the glass doesn’t break, which leads to Colon gaining the advantage and as he throws Drew Parker back first into the shower door. Shlak notes in the commentary that the shower door frame probably hurt more than the glass itself. Colon hits a running double knee into Drew Parker for a two count as both men are leaking from their bodies as Big Vin hands Colon a double pane of glass. Drew Parker has a phenomenal ability to convey pain and punishment. Colon is on the top rope in the corner when Drew Parker gets to his feet and hits a top rope superplex, sending Colon CRASHING through the double panes of glass. Parker scampers up the other turnbuckle and hits a massive Swanton bomb but Colon kicks out at 1. The crowd is going crazy as they give these two warriors a standing ovation, knowing that Colon is about to kick it into gear for the closing of this match. GIF A large pane of glass with barbed wire is thrown into the ring as Alex sets it up on two chairs. Once again Drew Parker is able to reverse the attempted one-man Spanish fly and hits a Death Valley Driver through the barbed wire pane of glass for a two count. He places a pile of tubes onto the prone Colon and hits another massive Swanton through the tubes for a two count but Parker locks in a submission and Colon passes out.

Drew Parker won the GCW Ultraviolent Championship and the Big Japan Wrestling Deathmatch Heavyweight Championship in less than 24 hours. Absolutely incredible performance and right after the match was over and he walked to the back, he came right back out still bleeding and with glass stuck to him to sell merch. There is no rest, you’re always on, these people are truly built differently. This was a dream matchup of the two top champions in Deathmatch wrestling and it didn’t disappoint in the slightest; as mentioned before Colon has a way of physically saying “alright I’m done placating you time to kick it up a notch” and starts running wild. A second gear that not many other Deathmatch elites possess. This was my first time seeing Drew Parker in person and he did not disappoint in the slightest, the physical toll that these matches have on him is evident but his commitment to being the best rises above all of that. The pacing of the weapons and the ultimate crescendo was extremely well timed and thought out. 

Drew Parker defeats Jimmy Lloyd – GCW Homecoming Night 2 (15:18)

At Homecoming Night One Drew Parker became the GCW Ultraviolent Champion after he defeated Alex Colon. The next night in a non-title match the Dual Big Japan Wrestling Deathmatch Champion and GCW Ultraviolent Champion, Drew Parker was set to face Jimmy Lloyd. This main event took place at the Carousel Room at the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Weapons used: Panes of glass, light tubes, syringes, gusset plates, doors, ladder.

These two have met prior to this encounter at GCW Code of the Streets on August 3, 2019, and at GCW Ready to Die on February 4, 2020, with Jimmy Lloyd winning both of those matches.  The match gets underway with an exchange of side headlocks into some chain wrestling as these two are hesitant to start bringing in the weapons until Jimmy Lloyd and Drew Parker each take a light tube and start smashing them over each other’s heads and ultimately break one over their own heads followed by a back bump onto the glass. The two men face off again in the center of the ring trading stiff forearm shots which send Jimmy Lloyd to the floor. Drew Parker goes for a flip-over-the-top rope, Lloyd moves and powerbombs Parker on the apron. Commentary notes that both of these men are only 23 years old and their bodies are so heavily scarred up.

Jimmy Lloyd sets up a giant ladder in the corner, he goes to Irish whip Parker into the ladder but gets cut off as Parker hammers a gusset plate into Jimmy Lloyd’s head. Lloyd is unphased by this development and retrieves two syringes from the corner, stabbing one through the earlobe of Drew Parker and the other one through the nostril. A tremendous visual spot that elicits an incredible reaction from the crowd.

From this point on, the match steps up the level of violence as Drew Parker curb stomps Jimmy Lloyd face-first through a pane of glass as the crowd breaks into a ‘this shit rules’ chant. Both men drop each other through a pane of glass as they fire back up hitting a sleeper suplex and double stomps. Jimmy Lloyd places a pane of glass between a pair of chairs as he ascends the ropes with a prone Drew Parker. Drew Parker fires up, slips on the top rope and Jimmy Lloyd is able to hit a massive Tiger Driver through the glass.

Jimmy sets up another pane of glass between two chairs and this time he plants Drew Parker on his head through the glass with an avalanche piledriver for only a two count. In the closing minutes, the pace intensifies as Jimmy Lloyd realizes it’s going to take everything to put down the third-ever gaijin BJW Deathmatch Champion. The entire room is on their feet as Drew Parker hits a brutal light tube-assisted cutter, rolls Lloyd into the corner, and comes off the top rope with a glass-shattering Swanton Bomb. Drew Parker sets up the ladder in the corner of the ring, and he positions chairs and a pane of glass up in the center of the ring. Jimmy Lloyd recovers, climbs the ladder, only for Drew Parker to sunset powerbomb Jimmy Lloyd off the ladder through the pane of glass below. Between the bump in this match and the one in the Glass Ceiling match, I feel so bad for Jimmy Lloyd’s back and hips– brutal high-impact moves. Jimmy Lloyd is able to kick out at 2 and a stunned Drew Parker starts setting up the final ultraviolent contraption of the evening.

Drew Parker ascends the ladder for the final time and hits a giant Swanton Bomb onto the prone Jimmy Lloyd for the victory.

This was a much different match than his match with Alex Colon the night prior, there were more intricate spots such as the syringes in the face and nose and the gusset plate spots. Both of these men took an incredible amount of damage, whether it be the massive powerbomb to Jimmy Lloyd or the Swanton from the top of the ladder. Both men went in there to prove a point that they are two of the best deathmatch wrestlers in the world. It was a sprint of a match that included some beautiful wrestling violence. 

Parrow defeats vs. Effy – No Peace Underground Fear The Gay Agenda – Last Daddy Standing Match (16:50)

No Peace Underground was founded in 2018 and is a No Ring Deathmatch promotion based out of Orlando, Florida. No Peace’s weapons crew, the Gorelando Deathsquad, come up with new contraptions for every single show that they run, they have the most innovative weapons contraptions in the Deathmatch scene today.

No Peace took over the underground and to have been a part of it up until now has been an honor. Florida has become my second home because of NPU. Jared and his crew created a very unique product and continue to improve and grow the brand. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for 2022.”- Kit Osbourne

Effy’s Fear the Gay Agenda took place at the home of No Peace Underground, The Soundbar in Orlando, Florida. Since arriving in No Peace Underground, Parrow has remained undefeated, crushing and brutalizing every single opponent he was put up against. A stand-out in All Japan and NWA, No Peace Underground was my introduction to Parrow and he’s captured my attention ever since. Effy confronted Parrow during No Peace’s slot at GCW: Fight Forever event, the 24-hour wrestling show. Effy claimed that he made Parrow and he was the one who shined the spotlight on the mountain of a man; Parrow takes issue with that claim and in his first-ever main event in No Peace Underground he challenged Effy to the Last Daddy Standing match.

When reached for comment on this matchup and the significance of this show Effy had the following to say:

“Parrow wanted to prove a point with an lgbtq+ led show that had aggression and violence in a way queer people aren’t often portrayed. Fear the Gay Agenda didn’t ask for reverence or respect; this show bled it out of an audience that helped it seen worldwide on social media. Parrow and I proved you can have LGBTQ-focused storylines at a main event level and not have the content be focused on sex or love.”

Weapons used: Lightubes, doors, steel chair, gusset plates, panes of glass, fire.

Effy starts going to town on Parrow, hitting him with stiff chair shots to the legs, and follows that up by breaking a giant bundle of light tubes over the back of Parrow, showering him and the fans with glass. This match is like a Last Man Standing match but you have to be able to sit in ‘Daddy’s Throne’ for a full 10 seconds.

Parrow retakes control of the match, throwing Effy around the pit and executing some brutal chair shots to Effy’s back, much to the crowd’s delight. Parrow’s back is fully covered in blood by this point but he still manages to smack Effy with two stiff unprotected chair shots to the head. Effy returns the favor delivering his own stiff chair shots to Parrow as the fight spills out to the streets of Orlando. Parrow choke slammed people in the middle of the road and on top of a car. Parrow suplex’s Effy on the sidewalk.

The action returns to the bar as they continue to inflict more punishment on each other with various implements of violence. Neither man has gotten more than three seconds sitting in Daddy’s Throne; they are more concerned about executing pain. Parrow gets Effy up for a powerbomb and sends him into tubes taped to the wall; this continues to be one of my favorite spots in Deathmatches, it’s so simple and visually pleasing. Parrow sits on the Throne for only a count of 6 when he realizes that he’s going to have to beat and bloody up Effy some more. Parrow subsequently grabs a pair of gusset plates, Parrow hammers one into Effy’s head and Effy returns the favor as a cavalcade of blood pours from both men’s skulls.

Effy begs off as Parrow retrieves a barbed wire baseball bat, Effy hits Parrow with a low blow, grabs the barbed wire bat, and hits Parrow with dual shots to the stomach and back. Effy flings the weakened Parrow flying off the stage into a PVC Pipe framed tube-filled structure. Parrow climbs back up on the stage with glass stuck to his skin and eats numerous chair shots from Effy. By this point in the match, there are multiple giant bloodstains on the stage. The crowd chants ‘Fight Forever’ and “LGBT’ as Effy directs the Gorelando Deathsquad to construct the final contraption of the evening. A flaming pane of glass, stacked on top of a door. Effy tries to muscle the larger man up, but Parrow doesn’t budge, as he chokeslams Effy through the flaming contraption.  Oh for a muse of fire! Parrow takes a seat on Daddy’s Throne for the count of 10 and the victory.

What made this match so great was that the level of violence and brutality that occurred during this match was unprecedented and set a new standard for No Peace Underground. They had something to prove with an all LGBTQ No Ring Deathmatch show and it delivered spectacularly, once again proving what should be obvious to everyone, it doesn’t matter what you are, who you love, what you look like if you can go in the ring (or no ring in this case) that’s all that matters.

“The expansion of people and their identities here (pro wrestling), it expands what we can do in stories, it expands what we can do in matches, it expands the different little nuances and layers that the fans who are coming to wrestling shows now want and expect are interesting in keeping up with those details and minutiae and we are offering a completely new perspective. We’ve had different struggles, we’ve had different ways of getting here, we have not fit in here completely until a little bit recently because we have cultivated our world where people feel safe performing and coming but we’ve also made it a more attractive world where people are saying ‘that’s good wrestling.’”- Effy, Ad Free Shows interview with Jon Alba 

G-Raver Defeats Jimmy Lloyd- GCW Ashes to Ashes – Glass Ceiling Match (20:07)

This feud had been going on for a long time, after a brutal injury sustained at Two Cups Stuff, August 19, 2019, G-Raver was forced out of action due to severe lacerations under his arm. Jimmy Lloyd and G-Raver were attempting a brainbuster on top of a ladder that also had two light tubes on it. 

When Raver went to push off, he was on the thin fold-out tray that the paint cans are supposed to go on. The tray gives way and both men crumble, breaking the tubes, and slicing open the underarm of G-Raver.  I was at that show and G-Raver ran by me with a towel underneath his arm that turned red within seconds. G-Raver lost mobility in his hand due to the nerve damage he suffered during that match.  November 7th, 2020 G-Raver reappeared and lit Jimmy Lloyd on fire at NGI 5. December 31st, G-Raver defeated Jimmy Lloyd in an I Quit Match, March 6th, 2021 Jimmy defeated G-Raver in a no rope barbed wire match.

Weapons used in this match: panes of glass, a Glass Ceiling, doors. 

I was there live for this event, my first wrestling show since me and my dad went to Full Gear 2019, and my first time at the legendary Carousel Room at the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I have never seen such an amazing physical setup for a Deathmatch, being there live to witness the intricacies that went into the setup was very intriguing to witness. 

Milliseconds after the bell rings, G-Raver hip tossed Lloyd through a pane of glass and grinds Jimmy’s face in the shards lacerating his face as the two spilled to the floor and broke various panes of glass on each other. G-Raver throws Jimmy Lloyd. 

The canvas is covered in broken glass as the crowd starts chanting more glass at the two competitors. Jimmy Lloyd takes over the match putting G-Raver through a pane of glass with a cannonball for a two count. Jimmy Lloyd gets G-Raver on his shoulders but Raver is able to weasel his way out, and he sets up a chair in the middle of the ring and hits a running dropkick to Jimmy Lloyd sending him crashing and burning through a stack of 5 panes of glass.  G-Raver celebrates in the middle of the ring doing a snow angel in the broken shards of glass. Both men are heavily bleeding from the face and arms at this point as G-Raver throws Jimmy Lloyd back into the ring and starts climbing up the scaffolding towards the glass ceiling. Jimmy Lloyd follows his foe up the scaffolding, G-Raver breaks out the tattoo needles and tries to plant them in Jimmy Lloyd’s head but Lloyd powers out. Jimmy is able to stick Raver with the tattoo needles and execute a suplex off the scaffolding through the glass ceiling to the canvas below. Both men and some fans are showered with glass, much to our elation. I had never seen something so spectacular in all my years of watching wrestling. Those guys’ poor hips must’ve been on fire after taking that bump.

Both men are stirring on the mat trying to recover from the brutal fall they both just took, there is at least an inch of broken glass coating the canvas like snow. Both men get back to their feet and start exchanging forearms as the crowd gets to their feet in appreciation of what these two men are doing. Jimmy Lloyd gets G-Raver up for a powerbomb and throws him through a door frame filled with glass, crashing to the floor. G-Raver is brought back into the ring and sends Jimmy Lloyd through a pane of glass for a two count. G-Raver is getting frustrated at his inability to put Jimmy Lloyd away and starts smashing panes of glass on the back of Jimmy Lloyd again for only a two count. G-Raver places Jimmy Lloyd underneath a pane of glass as he once again climbs up the scaffolding and hits a Swanton bomb through the pane of glass for the victory.

“It was weird to see something you create to become this real place in a structure of sorts. I looked at it like a house designer probably looks back at his blueprints.  Doing those matches with Jimmy whether I knew it or not was something more for me. It was always there on how to end it. Even when we thought we’d have to keep topping what we did before. We didn’t. We just had to revisit the one thing I never wanted to do again. That’s quite the feeling. Otherworldly shit.”- GRaver 

The visual element of this match was incredible, a truly breathtaking spectacle. There was so much glass in the ring and on the Carousel Room floor. Once I got back to my hotel room I had to pick glass out of the bottoms of my shoes!

Chris Jericho defeats Nick Gage – AEW Dynamite – No Rules Match – (13:40)

Nick Gage made his national television debut the week prior as a surprise from MJF. This match didn’t have the most spectacular violence or innovative spots but it deserves a spot on this list because of what it meant to the Deathmatch wrestling world. Nick Gage is one of the original CZW guys, he started at the age of 19 and quickly amassed a following and the nickname ‘The Future of Hardcore.’ 20 plus years later, Nick Gage made his national television debut doing what he loves and does best, wrestling in glass, bleeding for a living. When Nick Gage appeared on Dynamite as MJF’s next opponent for Chris Jericho, I legitimately lost my voice to the point that the next day at work one of my co-workers asked if I had a cold…in the summer. Nick Gage has routinely put Deathmatch Wrestling on his back, carrying it to new heights. We all know Nick Gage’s personal story, the triumph, and tragedy, the addiction, and loss. For die-hard fans, this was a culmination of the ultimate redemption story of a man once broken who now can say that he wrestled a deathmatch in front of over a million people on national TV against one of the greatest of all time.

Weapons used in this match: Pizza cutter, Barbed wire, light tubes, panes of glass, chairs.

The pure excitement I felt when watching this match was unmatched, the entire thing seemed absolutely surreal. Even watching this match during Gage’s entrance I once again had goosebumps and a giant smile on my face. I was and still am so proud of Nick. Right away Nick Gage takes out the pizza cutter and slashes at Jericho’s arm catching him on the arm cutting him wide open. As the two start trading hands in the center of the ring, seeing Nick Gage hit all of his signature moves on Chris Jericho is still an incredible sight to see. Gage tries for a second boot scrape but Jericho catches Gage in the Walls of Jericho as Gage scrambles to the floor. It was truly an amazing thing to hear around 7,000 people go crazy for the retrieval of light tubes. Jericho matches Gage’s tubes with his bat Floyd but gets caught in a Chokebreaker as he once again takes the pizza cutter out of his pocket and carves away on Jericho’s forehead to the dismay of the commentary team. Who would’ve ever thought that Jim Ross would call a Nick Gage match? Nick Gage sets up a pane of glass on two chairs, it looks like he was going to hit his reverse back elbow but he gets caught and is sent through the pane of glass via a Frankensteiner from Chris Jericho

Chris Jericho goes for the codebreaker but he is stopped and slammed into the broken glass, Nick Gage grabs light tubes and breaks them over the back and head of Chris Jericho followed by a piledriver for a two count.

Gage starts carving away at Jericho’s forehead with the jagged edges of the broken light tubes as he once again goes under the ring and retrieves a pair of light tube bundles as the crowd once again goes crazy for the ultraviolence. Gage rolls back into the ring and gets caught by Chris Jericho who spits mist into his face, he picks up the bundle, smashes it over Gage’s head followed by a Judas effect for the victory.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d get to see an ultraviolent match on cable TV which was seen by over a million people. I never thought I’d ever see Chris Jericho in a deathmatch let alone against the God of this Shit, Nick ‘Fucking’ Gage.

“Pure Deathmatches will also be a niche attraction, as they should be. So, to see Nick Gage bring his game to Chris Jericho on AEW programming was pretty special. Until it happened, it was impossible to imagine. Gage is somebody I know personally, and who I truly care about, so his success makes me smile. I’ll always be grateful for the memory of him, Chris Jericho, and light tubes on national television-with over a million people watching live! It was absolutely surreal.”- ‘Sick’ Nick Mondo, Screenwriter, Filmmaker, Deathmatch Legend

I tend to like my wrestling the way I like my rappers: mainstream and without backpacks. Just as I don’t enjoy seeing Jay-Z collaborating with your favorite local rapper, I was totally against watching Jericho against a gory sideshow that I’d never really heard of. But this match was spectacular. It brought back all the feels of 1995 ECW, except the story they told was even better. Loved it. And now I’m a fan of Nick too.”- Dan McGowan, The Boston Globe

“Nick Gage appearing on AEW was so surreal to see because it was like something you were never ever supposed to see in “mainstream wrestling” a “deathmatch guy” isn’t supposed to be seen nationwide on cable television doing anything, let alone having a match with Chris Jericho. Not only that but Gage was allowed to be Gage. Same gear, same attitude, same style, same pizza cutter! Coming from a training school where I was told a gravely ill Gorilla Monsoon told WWF to “never hire anybody from CZW ” while on his deathbed, seeing a CZW original on TNT was mind-blowing. Then on top of all of that, hearing Justin Roberts do the most he could do on television for Gage’s intro was the cherry on top for me. The fact that everybody did as much as they could do to keep the presentation of Gage accurate meant a lot to me and I’m sure many many others felt the same”- Emil Jay, GCW Ring Announcer

“Gage’s match with Jericho was very exciting for all of us. A little insider information that probably isn’t that wrong to share is that Gage coming to AEW was actually MJF’s idea. Unfortunately my flight the night before was canceled and I couldn’t make it to the event. But I was ready to go and see it in person.”- Giancarlo, Game Changer Wrestling

“Nick Gage Vs Chris Jericho on AEW Dynamite was one of those surreal moments where you feel a mix of “I can’t believe this is happening” and “I’m so happy for Nick” but then you also feel “of course this is happening.”   Because Nick Gage is a major player, and Tony Khan is in the business of knowing what’s hot.  And Jericho has been at the bleeding edge of wrestling for decades. I was so thrilled just to be having a Pabst and experiencing it live in real-time from home. I felt a lot of excitement in watching how far they went to entertain, and I loved how Nick was presented and I can’t wait to see him back on prime time.”- Kevin Gill, GCW Commentator

Nick Gage was one of my favorite wrestlers when I first watched CZW. He was captivating; he was fucking real and he scared the shit out of me, and now in GCW well over a decade later he’s no different than he was back then. I’m happy to consider him a good friend of mine now and being able to watch him on TNT in the main event against a legend like Chris Jericho was so well deserved. Watching it live was overwhelming to say the least but it fucking ruled. Can’t wait to see what he does next.”- Kit Osbourne 

“Without Nick Gage, the surge in Deathmatch Wrestling that we are living through today would not exist, period. His popularity and drive are what got him on the “big stage” to show the world what Deathmatch Wrestling is really all about against one of the best pro wrestlers of all time (Chris Jericho). Deathmatch Wrestling has never been as popular as it is today and I feel it’s only going up.”- Danny Demanto, ICW No Holds Barred Promoter 

“Nick Gage being put on AEW television in a main event spot with one of the greatest pro wrestlers of all time may seem mind-boggling on the surface, and that’s because it is. But it speaks to the level of connection Gage has with his rabid fan base, and the willingness of Jericho to do work with him is also reflective of the respect Gage has commanded in recent years. It was a risk for AEW to put a spotlight on that style of wrestling on a primetime television show, but by all accounts, it was largely well-received by its audience. “- Jon Alba, Quinnipiac University ‘15, Ad Free Shows

“When Nick Gage appeared on National Television with AEW to fight Chris Jericho was an amazing moment for independent wrestling and while I had nothing to do with the situation I found myself feeling proud of Nick and his accomplishments.  I’ve known Nick and his late brother Justice Pain since they were like 18 and 20-year-old guys and always loved both of them.  They came down to work for me with IPW Hardcore Wrestling in 2000 and won our Tag Team Titles and were so appreciative of the opportunity that they always stood out as some of my favorite workers that I ever brought in.  Nick is a legit superstar and the positive effect he’s had on wrestling and especially deathmatch wrestling is unparalleled and we all owe him a debt of gratitude.”- Ron Niemi, ICW No Holds Barred Color Commentator

“I never thought I’d see anything like that.  EVER!  Deathmatch wrestling can be frowned upon by the masses.  They don’t understand the artistry of it and that is ok.  Seeing it on a big stage like that made me smile from ear to ear.  Nicky has been through so much and worked so hard.  It had to be him.  The face of Deathmatch wrestling.  He is the bridge between the old school and the modern resurgence of deathmatch wrestling.  It had to be Nick.”- The Struggles, ICW No Holds Barred Lead Announcer

“It was phenomenal seeing deathmatch wrestling being brought to national eyes for the first time”. – Nick Popgorgio, Former CZW referee 

“Seeing how someone who was never thought to ever be on TV, not only do just that but against someone of the caliber of Jericho was very inspiring. Gage made me feel like anything was possible even if everyone says it isn’t.”- Jonesy

“It was just nice to see one of our own go out on national TV and get to have a main-event match with someone of the caliber of Chris Jericho. Nothing more, nothing less. I’m happy for Nick. I’m happy for the fans that have been wanting to see a Deathmatch on American TV. However, the mainstream wrestling fan will never approve. But that’s ok. It’s not for them. It was never for them.”- Insane Lane, Deathmatch Legend 

“Not only is Nick is a true master of the deathmatch, but he connects with people in a way that is absolutely electric. To see him face opponents like Jericho and Moxley is such a treat because he’s honed his skills for years and deserves to be in the ring with the best of the best.”- Kaia McKenna

“In a business that’s desperately trying to find the next big thing amongst the sameness on the mainstream level, Nick Gage on national television was the refreshing breath of fresh air. He’s raw, he’s real, he’s different and new. That’s a big win for all of us who dare to be ourselves and be different.”- Billy Dixon

“Sure was a solid deathmatch Jericho stepped up in my opinion gage is an animal he is the king for a reason I’ve been in the ring alit with Nick he always brings it”- Devon Moore, Deathmatch Legend

“Capitalizing on the Dark Side of the Ring episode, the match not only gave Gage and GCW exposure to a wider audience on national television, but it also provided unique content for AEW television. Jericho has a history of evolving his style and presentation, and to take the bumps he did from Gage only elevated his already GOAT status.”- Andy Shirtliff 

“Respect to Chris Jericho, AEW & the commentators for bringing in Nick Gage and putting him over even before he wrestled. And to be backed by MJF put even more credibility and reason to have interest in this match for the majority of the fans who don’t follow independent wrestling, more specifically Deathmatch wrestling. Nick Gage wasn’t watered down, and Chris Jericho took everything. To have North America introduced to light tubes & a pane of glass was the tip of the iceberg, as now Gage served as an ambassador to the mainstream crowd as to what has been already happening for over 25 years but has remained an underground cult phenomenon. With the Internet, everything past and present is available at our fingertips. The curious will delve deeper into this dark side of our business. In addition, this will open doors for others, as it showcases just another facet of what professional wrestling is and can be. So far for AEW, this seems to have been a one-off. But with Moxley on the regular roster, I’m positive that more All Elite guys will bring this hardcore ultraviolence to the forefront and push storylines to the extreme. A wonderful tale was told, written in blood, proving that “big” wrestling companies need to evolve to stay contemporary. Chris Jericho went above and beyond what the average fan or a death match connaisseur would have anticipated. Thank you All Elite Wrestling for bringing this to the grand stage.“- Former CZW Wrestler Sexxxy Eddy

“The world is ours” – AKIRA

Honorable Mentions:

  1. Atticus Cogar vs. MASADA- RSpring Break
  2. Atticus Cogar vs. Reed Bentley- ICW NBH Vol. 10
  3. Masashi Takeda vs. Alex Colon- NGI 6
  4. SGC vs. The Rejects- No Peace Underground – ANKOU
  5. SHLAK vs. Orin Veidt- GCW Fight Forever
  6. AJ Gray vs. Hardway Heeter- No Peace Underground

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