Combat Zone Wrestling:
Cage Of Death 5
So, CZW! There’s a few letters that strikes fear into any wrestling fan in the modern age. Heatless shows with illogical storylines and a desire to simply just exist, along with their reputation for dangerous gimmick matches and their annual Tournament/Cage Of Death shows are enough to have them on the bottom of the indie totem pole. If this were an EWR game save of 2020, CZW would be at a ‘Regional’ level having fallen from “Cult” a long time ago.
You see, they were once a tour de force and well respected by the wrestling community, as even then their most ardent attackers had some sort of fondness for these outlaws. The Princes of Philly. These Kings of the The Quaker City. Whilst they started in ’99 and garnered a lot of their initial attention in 2002, it was their run in 2004 and 2005 that I remember very fondly as their best.
They were an important stage for many aspiring wrestlers of the day who would go onto bigger things. They were essential in the career progression of many big names and unselfishly highlighted other promotions. CZW seemed to be an independent playground, there to serve pro wrestling as a whole whilst hosting their own home grown talent, and doused with plenty of memorable storylines.
Well, at least that’s how I remember it. Does it all hold up? Where did it all go wrong? We’ll be starting this review series back at the last show of 2003, and the WrestleMania of their calendar, Cage Of Death 5. Let’s take a road trip to CZW HQ, turn ‘Youth On Fire’ up to eleven and enjoy the ride!
Your commentary team: John House and Eric Gargiulo. The Gorilla and Brain of CZW. Pure nostalgia here.
Jude & Niles Young vs Jamie Samuels and DJ Hyde vs Jon Dahmer and Cory Kastle
First match of the biggest show of the year is the CZW trainee showcase! Featuring the trainers (Dahmer and Hyde) and some graduates of the CZW academy! It’s hardly a hot 2010’s PWG multi-man opener.
DJ and Jamie Samuels (AKA Lit from Special K) come out to Linkin Park’s ‘One Step Closer’ because this is an American independent wrestling show . I have no idea who the fuck Jamie Samuels/Lit is but holy shit, THE PLEATHER . THE VEST. THE BEANIE. THIS IS A LOOK. THIS IS 2003, MOTHERFUCKERS.
Corey Kastle (whose nickname is CK…) would later team with Niles Young as CKNY to capitalise on CKY’s popularity. Niles would even coin his finisher the ‘Bam MarChairA’, but we’ll get to that down the line.
These lads are green, and this is rough. Really rough. Dahmer dumps Jamie on his head with a leg-hook back suplex anyway. Hyde is out in his fucking shorts and T-shirt. I’d love for WH Park to take a look at this entire fashion disaster. There’s no wonder Hyde never got the respect or admiration of the CZW fans that Dahmer received. Dahmer looks fired up and has basic gear, whereas Hyde wonders around in his comfies looking bored.
Hyde lariats Jude to the back of the head and the bump is a millisecond early, yet the crowd boos Hyde. Haha! To try and save things, Hyde and Dahmer chop Jude and Niles around ringside. Dahmer has the fans going mad(ish) whereas the audience is less than thrilled with Hyde.
“YOU FAT FUCK!” chants for Hyde now. Not the most egregious chant we’ll hear tonight, trust me. Dahmer dumps Hyde with a big German suplex to cheers! All the trainees continue to make a badgers’s arse of things. Kastle blows his own finisher on Jamie but Dahmer saves it with an avalanche MOVE OF A THOUSAND MANIACS.
I guess this would be the 10,000 Manicas? Or maybe 100,00 because it was off the second rope?
This was a terrible way to open the show. CZW’s BIGGEST SHOW OF THE YEAR, REMEMBER. Could you imagine convincing your casual or WWE-fan friends to come to your favourite underground indie, only to be served this as the opener? Embarrassing behavior.
We’ll see most of these guys on other shows going forward with the exception of Jamie Samuels. He was in a handful of ROH matches around this time, mostly dark matches and scramble matches. He was also in the infamous Hardkore Kidd debacle at PWG (a story for someone more qualified on early 00’s PWG to tell), then he just disappeared into the local Eastern indies for a few years.
Rick Feinburg (yep, you read that right) vs Krystian Wolf (Nope, not THAT Kris Wolf) vs Shun The Kabuki Kid vs GQ
Rick FEINBURG makes his entrance to Montell Jordan’s ‘THIS IS HOW WE DO IT’. If you don’t know who this character is a parody of then ask your parents. Krystian Wolf is…fuck knows. GQ ‘graduated’ from the CZW school around the same time as Chris Cash and for some reason the way he leaps over the ropes bothers me. It just looks weird. Shun The Kubuki kid is famous for taking on Chris Hero in a junkyard match a few years later.
I get what they’re going for with RF but the crowd really show themselves up as they chant “f****t” at him. Fucking hell. RF then proceeds to teabag Wolf in the tree of woe. Imagine training at the CZW school and being given this gimmick. Shun gets a pop for some actual wrestling, and he was definitely the most promising out of these guys. RF hits a sit out snow plow (!) and gets a two count. Wolf and RF then team up on Shun despite RF teabaging him a minute earlier.
The match falls apart a bit more as GQ just decides to come in and clean house. This is shite, and these lads have probably been practicing this for weeks. GQ hits his shitty dropkicks, and then hits his shitty coast-to-coast as the crowd chant “YOU STILL SUCK!”. Agreed. A couple minutes later, Shun hits the cannonball senton for the win, despite some of the crowd chanting “Oompa Lumpa” at him. Yikes. White men in 2003.
This match was a turd, and the only bright spark was Shun The Kabuki Kid and this is the last that we’ll see of him too on this little trip. However, I’m very surprised and happy to learn that he is a regular on the Japanese indie scene now and makes occasional stops in DDT. I’ll have to check out some of his latest work.
Krystian Wolf is an enigma. He makes no more appearances for CZW and I can find next to nothing on him. The world is at a loss.
Rebel’s Army vs Dirty Rotten Scoundrels vs Z-Barr & Nick Berk
Oh Christ, more shit on the undercard. Eeeeuuurrggghhhh. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and their gear is indy 2003 to the nth degree. Rebel’s Army consists of Rockin Rebel (uh-oh) and Greg Matthews (Yep, THAT one from Tough Enough).
And it’s definitely an early 00s CZW show now as Z-Barr and Nick Berk are also here! Two CZW originals who have seen better times in the promotion. Z-Barrs catchphrase is “Suck me, beautiful!”, just so we can really breath in that early 00’s cringe. And it is such cringe! Nothing so far has aged well, with the exception of Jon Dahmer and Shun, and even that’s being kind.
Rebel gets on the mic and it’s 2003 indies heel bad. He did this before every single match on every single show. He even insults his fellow heels in the Scoundrels but they carry on being his mate anyway. The match finally starts and immediately Greg almost dies on a back body drop.
The heels huddle up on the outside to regroup and Z-barr dives onto them, and the catch looks good because all the guys on the outside had a reason to be clumped together. DRS get the heat and do the ‘clap hands for the tag’ gimmick behind the ref’s back but they’re both in their own corner so it makes no sense and only serves to make the match more bush league.
Still, it’s the first match that has at least basic structure, so we’re getting there. Well I say that; it’s one fall to a finish yet both heel teams are working over the one face team. Barr tags in to clean house and Berk eats the concrete floor when he overshoots a topé con hilo. Rebel’s Army hit a neckbreaker/heart attack variant and Greg no-sells accidentally landing hard on a chair. 1-2-3. That’s that. Bag of shite.
Post match, Barr and Berk try to attack a DRS member, only for DRS to escape. THIS FEUD MUST CONTINUE. Fuck me, right? Also, the theme music has been superb so far. Linkin Park, Korn, Maiden, all the Kerrang! album favourites.
CZW Junior Heavyweight Title #1 Contender:
Derek Fraizer vs Sabian vs Jimmy Jacobs
Out comes “Pure Impact” Derek Fraizer to fucking Linkin Park again. RIP Chester and all that, but coooommeee on. Also, Pure Imapct? What does that mean? Pure as opposed to what? Cloudy Impact? Fake Impact? Obscene Impact?
We’ve got a very young Jimmy Jacobs too and Sabian, who’s very new to all this. Even at such a young age, Jimmy Jacobs is the most promising aspect of the show so far. His Brusier Brody tribute gimmick is over. And he comes out too Stan Bush’s “The Touch” too, which is even better, AND he has Becky Bayless with him. A superb trio. Jacobs is the more experienced of the three, as Fraizer and Sabian were pretty much CZW students still at this point.
I am willing this to be at least watchable.
Sabian feels Becky’s ass on the apron and Jimmy gets legit pissed with this. The two trade stiff slaps on the outside and exchange tense words with each other. Fraizer just looks on like a numpty. This should be interesting.
Here’s a blog on the situation that JJ wrote way back when;
“I’ve said stupid stuff. I’ve done stupid stuff. Never have I ever thought it ok to grab the ass of a girl I was working with. Never. I mean at what point do you think it’s acceptable to just squeeze a girl’s BUTT just because you’re working in a match with her? Well ask Sabian. No, not Chris Sabin. Just Sabian. Now, I’m an easy going guy and I dont normally complain about this kinda stuff on my commentary, but this stupid son of a bitch is totally on my shit list, which is kind of a hard thing to do. For a dude that claims to have been working for 3 years, this kid is clueless (get gear, please. I know once you order it, it doesnt take 3 years to receive it). For some reason, he thought it be a good idea to blatently grab Becky Bayless’s ass while her and I were getting into the ring at the last CZW show. Un-fucking-believable.
A) You’re a baby face, man. Learn psychology.
B) Our enterance is our time to get our gimmick over, heat-stealing goof.
C) Most importantly, he didn’t ask her if he could grab her ass.
…if he did that shit with Dawn and Simon or Chris and Tammy or Punk and Lucy, this kid wouldn’t be standing today, period. I’m nice so I only decide to slap some respect into him and tell him to show Becky some respect. To which he responds by slapping me back.
…when working with somebody who has been wrestling longer and has done more than you, you show them respect. If, oh let’s say (for comparison purposes only), Chris Daniels slapped me because I did something retarded, I would say “I’m sorry sir. Thank you.” Because that’s what you do in this business. You respect the people that came before you. Sabian is clueless to this business because he’s not in the business. He’s in CZW. He wrestles for CZW once a month and has probably had 10 matches YET he chooses to disrespect my manager and me. So to you Sabian, I raise my middle finger.”
…This is just a display of people being ignorant to the business. Maybe this kid will wanna learn in the future, but my experience with him was certainly unfavorable due to the incident with Becky and other things that I wont go into on this website. Funny thing is when I was talking to Zandig about it, he tells me, “Well, he got a pop last time he did it.” He did it before and nobody said anything to him, which just shocks me. But eh… I’ve said my piece.”
By the way, the old forum that I found this on and the opinions of the poster’s within…yikes. Don’t go there. Well, now these three all have to work together some how. And Fraizer too, I guess. Jacobs still catches Sabian on a topé like a pro. There’s some extra gravy on those strikes though.
As JJ points out in his blog, Sabian’s gear is shit. We are now four for four in matches with shitty nu-metal and shitty gear. Sabian’s timing is off when breaking up a pin with a senton, and I’m surprised he didn’t try to break Jacob’s ribs with it. Professional-ish.
I’m so accustomed to today’s wrestling tropes, that when Jacobs jumps up on Sabian’s shoulders I’m immediately expecting a reverse ‘rana and I’m surprised when Jacobs just transitions into his reverse pedigree instead. Jacobs then stiffs Sabian on a Tower Of Doom as payback for the ass grab and face slap. Nice one.
A Contra Code by JJ soon afterwards finishes it up. Jacobs mouth is bleeding, either from the pre-match slap, the stiff forearms or Sabian’s sloppy ass 450. A way smaller bag of shite than the previous three matches. Just below acceptable. However, this would’ve been a slightly acceptable opener if you removed the previous three matches and the sexual harrasement.
CZW Iron Man Title: Trent Acid (c) vs Jimmy Rave
Jimmy Rave vs Trent Acid! Iron Man match! Now we are talking! This is where the show begins. The Ironman title used to be a championship for the hardcore lads to take turns battering each other with gimmicks. But since Nick Mondo got injured and forfeited the title it was redefined as the work-rate title, with most title matches have classic Iron Man rules. Guys like Rave, Chris Hero, Jacobs, Homicide, BJ Whitmer and Alex Shelly were brought in to strengthen the division alongside regulars like B-Boy and Trent Acid.
Trent Acid, man. What a tragedy. He’s the first wrestler on the card who actually looks like a big time pro wrestler. Acid’s shtick where members of the crowd stick dollar bills down the front of his trousers is great! People love to cheer him and people love to boo him. It’s so good and he’s having the best time with it. A fan fakes Trent out by dropping a bunch of coins on the floor in front of him and Trent just lives for it. This entrance alone is better that the last four matches combined.
Jimmy Rave you all should know better for his ROH Embassy run. He’s the white-meat babyface here with no detectable character or gimmick. It’s just plain old good guy Jimmy Rave. A lot of shiny indyriffic trousers in this match. Two pairs to be exact.
I’m not sure long how long this time limit is. I think it might be 20 minutes? It’s a slow start with the two exchanging headlocks and armbars, and it is refreshing after the last hour of Am-Graps. Rave keeps catching Trent with arm drags, frustrating the champ. Trent’s Backseat Boyz tag team partner Johnny Kashmere is on commentary, sarcastically complimenting Rave on his training school day 1 maneuvers.
The two go back and forth, Trent takes control with a bit of cheating and attempts an asai moonsault that he eats shit on mostly as Rave was too far out. Nasty. Trent stays on top, and the action has been set at a blistering pace compared to the previous matches. This is like watching Savage vs Steamboat. A rolling elbow and a tumbleweed nets Trent the first pin for 1-0. The fans aren’t really behind Rave, which would really help when he fires up with rights, lefts and big springboard plancha to the outside.
We’re all ready in the “5 MINUTES REMAIN!” period. Man, that first 15 went fast. Too fast. I’m skeptical about this time keeping but I’ll be damned if I’m fucking around with PivotShare to find out. It’s the most unstable video hosting platform on Earth, which is quite the accomplishment.
Jimmy Raves locks in a crossface after a lovely tilt-a-whirl to even it out to 1-1. Rave nails a tight back suplex for two as we hit the one minute mark. The two blow some back and forth as the countdown echos over the PA, but they get back to it with finisher exchanges and the clock hits 0 for the draw. The crowd got into the sequence near the end, and chant “bullshit!” and “5 more minutes!”.
Trent tells the crowd to get fucked, Rave calls Trent a pussy and as this is pro wrestling, it’s enough to coax Trent back to ringside. Then the fucking referee, Brian Logan, talks shit to Trent on the mic and he also demands 5 more minutes because “the fans deserve it”.
So Trent agrees to 5 more minutes! He’s on the mic again! He’s walking to the back! “This is wrestling, you can’t lose the title by countout!”. Logan then threatens to strip Trent of the title if he isn’t back in by 10! Christ, Rave is such a dork just standing there. The ref is harder than him! This is so backwards.
The ref starts the count and Acid sneaks back in the ring from behind and tries a school boy for 2! They trade counters and pinning combinations, and Rave is getting a bit tired but he manages to stick through the stamina wall and blasts Acid with a knee to the head for the victory and the strap.
Well that’s definitely the best match on the show by far! The crowd weren’t exactly into it but they weren’t booing or being disrespectful. They were probably just quietly thankful to have some actual bloody wrestling on the show. The stuff with the ref was utter crap though. It made Rave look like a dickless afterthought.
Post-post-match the Hi-V, Trent’s faction who’ll be competing in the main event COD later on, arrive on the scene. I have no idea why this segment exits. All the lads get on the mic, they introduce their manager, they mock the fans, they trash their opponents, they talk about making money, y’know all the greatest hits of a heel stable.
Zanding arrives to a big pop, walks on top of the giant platform above the venue and looks like a fucking boss. Apparently this whole segment is to announce that Zandig/Kashmere will be first two entrants in the Cage Of Death, and that Zanding has found a 6th partner to even the odds against the Hi-V’s 6-man team. The crowd pop huge thinking that it’s Mondo but they’re slightly off the mark. Mondo was last seen during the summer at Tournament OF Death 2 where this bump ended his in-ring career;
The segment is largely pointless, way too long and kills the momentum that the previous match worked hard to achieve. All the points raised really could’ve been addressed right before the match, in the backstage interview that Hi-V have later on, a video package or even not at all. It’s worth mentioning too that the version that I’m watching is missing the EXCELLENT build-up package but CZW or Smart Mark Video have worked hard to scrub that off the internet entirely. Cheers, lads.
CZW Iron Man Title #1 Contender: B-Boy vs Alex Shelly vs Chris Hero
Yes! Here we go! For a longtime, this was considered to be (by myself and many other educated historians) to be one of the best straight-up, non-gimmick matches in CZW history.
B-Boy had been making waves in the So-Cal scene and debuted for CZW at the Best Of Best 2 tournament in 2002, where he had a star making evening alongside fellow So-Cal fave Super Dragon. He had been with the Dub on a consistent basis ever since.
Alex Shelly was making a name for himself at IWA-MS and was in the middle of a famous feud with Jimmy Jacobs at the time. He had only debuted for both ROH and CZW a few months prior, so he’s still relatively new to the CZW audience.
Chris Hero was another IWA-MS mainstay who had debuted for CZW the previous year. After a dreadful match with B-Boy against the H8 Club at that year’s COD, he returned in the later part of 2003 to scrub away that bad memory.
So you’ve got three guys on the up-and-up who were looking to really impress on this big stage. It could’ve been a different matter entirely. The COD card was changed due to a car full of guys not showing up and this match was affected. It was meant to also feature Tony Marmaluke and honestly it’s so much better with his absence. Sorry, Tony.
B-Boys entrance is the best. He’s comes out to Eazy-E’s ‘Real Muthaphuckkin G’s’ and the crowd sings along to the “MOTHERFUCK DRE! MOTHERFUCK SNOOP! MOTHERFUCK DEATH ROW!” lyrics. The three exchange holds in pairs to start off with, with the Hero/Shelly stuff being especially nice.
The action is fluid, with Shelly and Hero ignoring B-Boy, allowing him to interfere when he’s hidden away. In a cool spot, B-Boy stomps the fuck out Shelly and Hero, and ends it with a back senton causing the arena to explode!
The crowd react to everything with aplomb from this point out. B-Boy kicks Shelly in the back, they go nuts. Hero hits a whacky backbreaker, the love it. Hero X-Plexes Shelly onto B-Boy and the crowd eat it up! They’ve finally got some sweet ass, innovative wrestling to sink their teeth into and they want more!
What works for this match that sets it apart from standard triple threat fodder is the three-way spots; they’re are smooth, frequent and don’t look out of place or too choreographed. It’s lovely. B-Boy hit’s a gorgeous T-Bone suplex and then Hero DESTROYS B-Boy with a brutal Indian deathlock piledriver! Fucking hell!
There’s no wasted motion in this. Everything is done to a reaction and looks solid. There’s reversals, counters and big bumps. B-Boy hits a sit-out powerbomb onto Shelly into the corner as I typed that. The match just keeps going, and it defiantly stands the test of time. I’d even say that it’s ahead of it’s time. Hero breaks out the Tracey Smothers strikes before he and Shelly hit a great looking tandem Hero’s Welcome with Shelly holding B-Boy’s legs.
Hero locks in a Hangman’s Clutch on BB, only for him to get dropped on his dome with a Fishermans Driver! This is next fucking level compared to the show so far. B-Boy eliminates Hero with a brutal Face Wash baseball dropkick, a backdrop driver and a Shining Wizard. B-Boy and Shelly are clearly knackered, but they don’t resort to the basics and chin locks; instead they still keep it interesting by trading interesting holds and their signature submissions.
Shelly hits a Shell(y)shock for two and the crowd bought it! They are in! Three stars are born here, which will be a theme that continues for the rest of the night. B-Boy hits a perfect DVD for a double down, but Shelly quickly locks in the Border City Stretch for the submission victory.
Thank God this one is actually good and isn’t just a case of rose tinted glasses. Some of you may mock the spotty nature of it, and maybe you’ll scoff at some of the no-selling, but this is a genuine hidden gem from the early 00’s. Seek it out.
What this show is also missing is the great post-match replays! They used to stretch on for ages with various camera angles, and were great for really soaking in these big moments. Sort it out HighSpots.
Ladder Match: Chris Cash vs Joker
This was meant to be a tag match with Deranged and Azreal but they got stranded somewhere, probably with Tony Mamaluke, and it was the best thing that could’ve happened to them. And by “them”, I mean Cash and Joker.
Chris Cash is a CZW school graduate who won the fans over in 2002 with his willingness to go the extra mile and go hell for leather. He had a tremendous series of matches with Sonjay Dutt and Ruckus in 2002 and the first half of 2003 but fell back in with the other trainees and opening match fodder later in the year. Joker had debuted with CZW in 2002, had one match and didn’t reemerge until 2003. He was another CZW trainee who was struggling to find his feet. This was their chance to really break out from the pack.
Most normal sane people will hate this match, but this is still one of my all-time faves. A guilty pleasure. Cash chucks a ladder at Joker, who catches it and waits for Cash to springboard dropkick it into his face. See, I can hear you getting angry all ready. Cash drives Joker though a ladder with a spinebuster and it looks brutal. Joker fires back with a giant double stomp off the top through a ladder!
There’s a palpable feeling of danger in the air as these two are out to prove a point. There’s no-selling and a lack of structure in between spots, but my nostalgia senses refuse to let that spoil the match too much. Besides, there’s still some okay stuff happening in between the highspots, as Joker’s stiff offence is spicy and adds a little depth. The less said about Cash’s offense the better though. It still needs some work but his enthusiasm and aggression is there.
I should mention that this one of those weird ladder matches where you can win by pinfall and there is nothing to grab from the ceiling. The thing is, CZW matches are generally fought under relaxed rules anyway so calling it a ladder match without having anything to climb for always felt a little odd.
Cash bulldogs Joker onto a ladder for the match’s first big holy shit chant, then Joker Side-Effects Cash through another ladder contraption for the second big reaction. The setup makes no sense but fuck off , the pay off is great. That one even garners the first pin attempt! For two!
Joker sets up a ladder bridge on the outside and he gets sent through it from a ladder in the ring in a brutal bump. We’ll ignore the stuff leading up to it though, where Joker climbs the ladder for no reason at all. He even reaches for an invisible belt, the div. A few minutes later, Cash gets suplexed onto a ladder and it bends beautifully. It’s probably one of my favourite bumps of all time.
They’re both up seconds later for Cash to hit a Burning Hammer variation. Yep, the no-selling is serious. Joker finishes off the match with an insane Joker Driver off a ladder through a table and the crowd goes fucking mental! It’s an amazing visual and an amazing reaction.
The crowd is still in a massive CZW chant as Zandig runs down to check on the two. They get a huge standing ovation for their efforts as they slowly make their way to their feet. Big Joker chants as he’s newer than Cash and has been accepted into the CZW fold. It’s really special. Zandig gets on the mic and puts them over, and the crowd loudly agrees. We get a few replays after this one, but not to the magnificent excess that the original Smart Mark Video version did.
The match has plenty of faults but they’re all masked by an incredibly special star making performance. If you weren’t watching at the time and are just seeing it now, you will probably dismiss this as garbage but I will call you a nerd for doing so.
CZW Junior Heavyweight Title: Ruckus (c) vs Sonjay Dutt
Y’know I’ve seen this event probably close to 50 times and I don’t remember much from this match, usually because of the two matches that come before and the one that is afterwards. It’s in a weird, unfortunate spot.
Ruckus is a CZW regular and it could be considered that CZW was his home promotion. He warmed himself to the CZW faithful throughout 2001 and 2002, and is now slowly fine-tuning his character from babyface flippy dude to heel flippy dude. Sonjay Dutt was having a big year in 2003, being a regular for IWA-MS and CZW, and it’s mainly due to CZW really getting the spotlight on him in 2002. They were a big stepping stone for him and this is a continuation of his big JR-heavyweight singles push.
Stalling and wrestling to start. Some nice little sequences are peppered throughout and it’s all very…nice. Weird thing to describe it as that but after the last match that’s how it feels AND the crowd aren’t totally shitting on it. Ruckus misses THE RAZZLE DAZZLE (a more flippy handspring elbow) and Sonjay hits one of his own. Even though its more of a wrestling match it does still feel a little spotty. There’s stuff happening and it feels slightly disjointed. It’s just back and forth action with no real story, but it’s not boring which kinda balances it out.
Sonjay hits a cool elbow where he bounces off the top rope first and it’s such a shame that he didn’t go as far as a wrestler that he could’ve. He’s probably more than happy being a WWE producer though so I can’t feel too sorry for him. He hits a sweet standing sliced bread as well.
Ruckus on the other hand is so indyriffic that it’s hard to dislike him. He is hits an incredible avalanche falcon arrow for 2, and he’ll continue doing this move through tables and ladders and chairs way into the future.
Ruckus reverses a slingshot Dragonrana into a spinning powerbomb, then hits his wristclutch powerbomb cutter. Sonjay finally hits a Dragonrana for 2! Phoenix press follows (with accidental knees to the head) for 2! The crowd are into it, which is a testament to the work ethic on display. Sonjay catches Ruckus with a roll up out of nowhere for a very anti-climatic victory. Why he couldn’t just pin ruckus after the Phoenix? Maybe Ruckus was knocked loopy and kicked out accidentally? The roll-up sequence does look odd.
Still it’s not terrible, with some non-stop action (wink) it just had no real structure to speak of and no incredible highspots to offset that. There’s sizzle-dizzle but no steak to digest.
Cage Of Death:
The Hi-V (Messiah, Adam Flash, Trent Acid, B-Boy, Johnny Kashmere, Nate Hatred) vs Team Zandig (Zandig, Lobo, Wifebeater, Ian Knoxx, Nick Gage, Mystery Partner)
Right, there’s a lot of guys here. I’ll do a quick recap of who we have’t touched upon yet, plus a random weird match from their CageMatch profiles;
Messiah – Ex-CZW champ, ex-XPW guy. Had his thumb cut off by cronies supposedly hired by Rob Black. Holds a win over Corey Graves.
Nate Hatred – Used to have a tag team with Nick Gage called H8 Club. Turned on Gage and has been battering him for months. Has a tag team loss to Doug Basham.
Johnny Kashmere – One half of the Backseat Boys with Trent Acid. Holds a win over Wrestlenomic’s Brandon Thurston. He also holds a tag team win over the team of Bobby Fish and Corey Graves.
Adam Flash – Has been with CZW for ages. USA Journeyman. Likes doing leg drops off very tall structures. Holds a tag team loss to Brutus Beefcake and Kevin Suillivan. Also has an on-off feud with Tom Brandi that spans years.
Zandig, John – Founder of CZW. THE ICON. CZW heavyweight champion. JEEEEZUS. Teamed with Erik Watts to defeat Adam Pearce & Tommy Rogers.
Wifebeater – Deathmatch icon. Retired in late 2002, returned for another run in late 2003. Problematic name. Holds a victory over Daisuke Sekimoto.
Nick Gage – Ex-H8 Club member. Likes bandannas. Got Tenzan Driver’d off the stage by Hatred during this feud. Has a loss to Jerry “The King” Lawler.
Lobo – CZW original. Loves the glass and the barbed wire and all that. Battled over the ownership of CZW with Zanding throughout 2002. His first match since retiring at Cage Of Death 4. Has a loss to NXT referee Drake Wuertz.
New Jack – It’s fucking New Jack, come on. Likes snorting coke before leaping off balconies. Was going to be the guy who stabbed John Cena. Has a tag team loss to Jim Cornette.
We get a backstage promo from the Hi-V first, which irks me because we’ve already had that long segment earlier in the show. They don’t announce anything new and they basically repeat what they’ve already said. They should’ve kept it to this and an interview with Team Zandig.
“I’ve already seen too much of them, and they’re losing overness” – Sophie, EWR.
This set-up is immense. We’ve got two rings; one with the traditional COD, and parallel to it about 8 feet away is another ring filled to the brim with thumbtacks. A mesh walkway hangs from the ceiling where the wrestlers will enter the match from the staging area (Zandig was hung from the ceiling by hooks in his skin in a very gruesome angle at a prior show, hence why he has a suspended walkway for the COD. The fucking layering in this, it’s like a Tarantino movie). The walkway stretches over and across the thumbtack ring and connects to the COD ring.
Zandig then explains the rules; It’s 6 vs 6. Wrestlers have to walk across the walkway from the stage and enter the COD, then the team with the most members that make it back across the walkway to the stage wins. It also has staggered entrances and wrestlers are eliminated when they ht the floor, but that’s not brought up by Zandig. Got all that? Good.
After explaining the rules, Zandig fires ring announcer Robbie Morino. The previous announcer Dennis Shaw (sic) makes his return to a nice pop from the crowd. I’m unclear as to the who’s and why’s for this angle (maybe I should’ve watched some other 2003 shows first), but it will serve as the basis for the very successful Blackout faction in 2004.
Kashmere is out first, and he enters the match in a baseball helmet, big thick kneepads and a big thick coat. He enters through the crowd and into the cage, not across the walkway and through Zandig. It’s a nice way of showing why the match is the way it is. Kashmere has to get on the stage and make his way past John fucking Zandig whilst suspended 20 feet in the air. WWE can take their Wargames and shove it.
Kashmere takes a few careful steps onto the walkway and suddenly spears Zandig! Zandig no-sells the flurry of punches and sends Kashmere into one of the panels attached on the walkway. Kashmere takes it face first like a maniac, and that’s a lot of trust in the engineering shown there. Zandig very gingerly slams Kashmere on the walkway. Both lads are busted open already.
Messiah and Trent Acid enter the match next together for some reason, so it’s 3 on 1 as everyone is now inside the Cage Of Death ring. It’s not explained why Trent and Messiah are able to enter together. B-Boy is out next, making it 4 on 1. The sound of New Jack’s theme hits the speakers and the crowd goes fucking insane! Zandig’s mystery partner is New Jack! That’s not a bad replacement for Mondo. He pounds on B-Boy on the walkway as Natural Born Killaz blasts through the arena. He’s taking his sweet-ass time though, and Zandig is getting his ass kicked.
Jack is really milking this moment, it’s probably the happiest he’s been since the glory days of ECW. He makes his way into the cage! The fans are on their feet! It’s now 3 vs 2 inside the cage. Out of nowhere New Jack clothelines Zandig! He’s betrayed Team Zandig!! The bastard!!! The music stops!! DOUBLE BASTARD!!!
Lobo makes his way out almost immediately, steamrolling over B-Boy on the walkway in the process. He is pissed! He makes his way into the cage and cleans house but is taken down by Trent when he confronts New Jack for his dastardly double cross. Ian Knoxx makes his way out next for Team Zandig, and he attacks B-Boy on the walkway. B-Boy is not having a good time up there, and it’s going to get worse.
Knoxx sends B-Boy into one of the panels and it gives way! B-Boy takes a dangerous drop into the thumbtack ring. If he had more or less momentum he could’ve landed on the ropes or on the floor. It’s so dangerous, and i’m still unclear as to whether this was the planned bump. I mean it’s fucking B-Boy, not some deathmatch scrub. Knoxx then grabs a hold of the swinging cage panel and drops an elbow on B-Boy!
And here comes Nick Gage! Pre-MDK, pre-gang affiliation but still massively over with the CZW faithful. Adam Flash is out next and enters the second ring to attack Knoxx. Knoxx fights him off and tries to climb back onto the walkway but Flash spears him off into the thumbtacks!
It’s now 6 (Acid, Flash, Kashmere, Messiah, New Jack, B-Boy) vs 4 (Zandig, Knoxx, Lobo, Gage). Acid, Lobo and Flash are fighting on the walkway as B-Boy drags Zandig out the cage and onto the floor. Eric G confirms that Zandig has now been eliminated, confirming that once a wrestler’s feet hit the floor then they’re are out. Zandig must’ve forgot to mention it in his pre-match spiel. So B-Boy and Zandig are out at this point.
Wifebeater makes his way down the walkway as Flash drops a legdrop off the cage! New Jack then dives off the cage to the outside through Zandig and a table! Nate Hatred makes his way in now and that’s it for the entrants. New Jack, Zandig and B-Boy have been eliminated, and no one has made it back to the stage yet. Knoxx and Trent do battle on the walkway whilst the COD is packed with guys slugging it out. Trent hits a Yakuza kick and KNOXX GOES FLYING OFF THE WALKWAY TO THE FLOOR. HOLY FUCKING SHIT. That bump never gets any less scary. It looks spectacular.
The ex-H8 club manager Dewey Donavan is now up on the cage trying to help out his Hi-V brethren. Acid and Gage are fighting on the walkway, and Gage takes a fall into the thumbtack ring. The crowd then roars as Lobo picks up both Kashmere and Dewey on his shoulders! DOUBLE DVD OFF THE CAGE THROUGH THE STACKED TABLES!!! Hooooooooly Christ!!!! Incredible!!!
Trent dives off the walkway onto Gage and fucks up his wrist/hand in the process. There is little breathing room between all these insane moments, and the crowd is reacting to everything. Dewey is being carried out by four staff members grabbing a limb each. It’s magical.
So that’s Lobo, Kashmere, Knoxx, New Jack, B-Boy and Zandig who have been eliminated and no one has made it back to the stage as of yet. It’s down to Nate Hatred, Messiah, Adam Flash and Trent Acid vs Nick Gage & Wifebeater. Wifebeater has been taking a pummeling all through that insanity. Weapon shots, bumps through various bits of debris, baseball hardhats to the dick, the works.
The Hi-V try to hang Wifebeater with a chain but it doesn’t go to well despite the cool visual. Gage eliminates Acid with a Chokebreaker on the thumbtack ring apron. Gage then makes his way into the Cage of Death. The ring is a fucking mess. Gage and Hatred duke it out as Flash makes his way across the walkway back to the stage. So that’s 1-0 to team Hi-V. Wifebeater swiftly follows and that’s 1-1. Are you keeping up with all this still? The way Beater just casually walked across the walkway like he wasn’t just being gang assaulted for the past 10 minutes is great. You don’t book Wifebeater for his selling abilities.
Flash and Wifebeater battle back onto the walkway; “Just when you thought you had esccaped hell, you were dragged back in!”- Eric G being fantastic.
Wifebeater takes some unprotected chairshots to the head and then hangs of the venue ceiling pipes to boot Flash in the face. Beater picks up Flash and Sidewalk Slams him off the walkway into the thumbtack ring! The sound was massive and all the thumbtacks shot up into the air in a great visual. Both are up standing in mere seconds though, and Wifebeater cactus clotheslines himself and Flash out to eliminate the pair of them despite the fact that they’ve both already scored points.
So we’re tied at 1-1, and it’s down to Messiah and Hatred vs Gage. Gage is placed on a table and the two remaining Hi-V lads climb to the top of the cage, possibly looking to come off the top to put Gage away. However, Zandig bellows over the PA; “NOW!!!! HATRED!!!! NOOOOWWWWW!!!!” and Hatred turns on Messiah! It takes the crowd a few seconds to realise what’s going on but they go wild when Gage pops off the table and covers it with thumbtacks. The newly reformed H8 Club press slam Messiah off the cage through the table and they hug as everyone goes nuts. Awwwww!
This is where it gets a bit confusing. The bell rings and Gage and Hatred make their back down the cage to the ring. They beat on Messiah a little bit before dumping him through the door to the floor. Then the bell rings again, as Eric goes on about how it’s over and how Hi-V can’t win. It’s announced that the winners are Team Zandig.
Now, hang on there. Regardless of who double-crossed who, and putting aside how much Nate Hatred was clobbering everyone on Team Zandig, and putting aside Lobo trying to murder Dewey, and New Jack attempting to stab B-Boy in the face, at the end of it all we have one member of Team Zandig (Gage) and one member of Team Hi-V (Hatred) left, and it was 1-1 as Flash and Wifebeater had made it back to the stage. The bell has rung (twice, probably due to all the confusion), so that’s a draw by my count. It’s a draw lads. LADS. That’s the maths. I wonder if this gets brought up at the up-coming shows? I don’t know. It’s CZfuckingW, I don’t think they even care.
All the members of Team Zandig make their back into the cage to a raucous reception as Zandig gets on the mic and puts everyone over. He also explains the Nate Hatred double-agent nonsense; “For the past year, I’ve had Nate Hatred and Nick Gage beating the living hell out of each other!”. This was Zanding’s plan all along! Nothing wrong with it. No, totally fine. It totally did not undo almost a years worth of story, and it made perfect sense when Hatred was assaulting various other members of Team Zandig, who are just fine with this.
Interesting to note that Zandig didn’t really have a big bump or moment, he was just there for storyline purposes. Also, Hatred didn’t take much punishment either. Both guys are pretty much unscathed, but at least Zandig took a beating early on. The show ends with Zandig challenging New Jack to a street fight at the next show and over 3 minutes of replays from different angles. HighSpots got it right that time at least.
Now, the start is a little shaky. The rules are a little sloppy. There’s a little confusion at times. Some of the no-selling is off the charts. The ending is a bit weird and the winners are very questionable. But good fucking God if this isn’t the most insane half an hour you’ll ever witness.
There’s a point where the crowd are in a constant state of sheer noise; there’s guys entering the match, guys falling off the walkway, guys falling off cage, and it often all happens within seconds of each other. One of my favourite moments is Nick Gage taking a tumble into the thumbtack ring which the crowd reacts to and the camera zooms in on Gage’s pained expression, only for this massive plume of excited noise to suddenly rise as the camera quickly pans out to show Lobo carrying Kashmere and Dewey on his shoulders on top of the cage. It grabs the NXT style WarGames by the bollocks and shoves it’s very choreographed “moments” down it’s throat.
We’ll be seeing all of these guys as we go on through this journey with the exception of Lobo. He’ll be back for a couple of mini runs in the latter half of the 2010’s, and then that’s it. The CZW legend is done, hopefully spending retirement with a big mug of cocoa and some tiger balm for his many aches and pains.
As a whole, can I recommend the show? No, there’s a lot of shit, filler and guff. For what is meant to the CZW’s WrestleMania, the first hour and a bit is woeful. It’s slowly gets better from Trent/Rave and once you hit the Shelly/Hero/B-Boy match, you’re in the deep end of good stuff. Hell, you could start the show at the Fraizer/Sabian/Jacobs match and I’d take it. Start the show from there or skip to the second triple threat. The nostalgia helps this show a bunch though, I won’t lie.
And that’s how we’re starting this run. CZW have established the new crop of talent who’ll be the backbone of the company whilst pumping some petrol into the established old crew. Do CZW capitalise on the momentum? How do the remaining members of the Hi-V react? Is Ian Knoxx shot to super stardom? Are all the trainee lads barred? Tune in next time!
Alex Shelly vs Chris Hero vs B-Boy
Chris Cash vs Joker
Hi-V vs Team Zandig