WARNING STRONG VIOLENCE AHEAD

Welcome back to 31 Days of Deathmatches Volume 2. The second edition of the annual deathmatch advent calendar put together by yours truly. Each day we will open another bloody door on the calendar and explore another deathmatch until we hit Halloween. We’re going to explore a ton of different companies, wrestlers and stipulations as the days go on with a few surprises here and there. So, strap in as we prepare for another round of blood, broken glass and barbed-wire on our road of deathmatches. Today’s special guest is Mathew MacMillan, a personal friend and a guy who has fully dived into the deathmatch style since seeing one special match, he’s going to talk about it here.

Today’s match is my favourite deathmatch, the one that got me hooked on this insane style of wrestling – Masashi Takeda vs. Masaya Takahashi for the Big Japan Death Match title at Big Japan Death Vegas 17th December 2018.

Before seeing this match, I was very derisive of the deathmatch style, believing it idiotic. However, I was basing this on nothing but short clips and gifs I had seen on social media. Ironic considering, I was a huge fan of hardcore legend Mick Foley and his ultraviolent battles against the likes of Triple H, Randy Orton, and Edge which all incorporated elements of the deathmatch style. A good friend whose wrestling opinion I trust recommended this match after I mentioned I really enjoyed Takeda’s match with Jonathan Gresham at Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport.

Sceptical, I watched and my whole viewpoint was changed. This match blew my mind, it had jumping out of my chair on several occasions and by the end, I had a thirst for more. The first thing that caught me by surprise was the pair of them starting with chain wrestling, not before Takahashi has thrown a bucket of broken light tube glass over the mat. Both guys exchanged wrist and leg locks, grinding each other’s flesh into the broken glass as they tried to assert their dominance over the other on the mat.

It did not take long for them to start using the many light-tubes that were placed all around the ring, starting a light-tube duel. They smashed several of them over each other’s head. As the tubes on their own were not doing the job, they combined them with strikes to devasting effect. When Takeda brought out scissors and started to slice away at Takahashi’s forehead, I felt a knot in my stomach, but I could not take my eyes off the barbaric torture they were dishing out to each other. From here I had a growing appreciation for the creativity involved and the psychology of this style. It was about the escalation of violence and what the other could withstand. There was a structure to the match, it draws you in and you are taken on a crazy ride.

The first spot to get me out of my seat came when Takeda was driven into the massive festive-themed light-tube tower/tree in one of the corners. The next came not long after when Takeda caught Takahashi in a rolling armbar reversal onto a bed of light-tubes. Takahashi offence would be simple but brutal, slamming Takeda stomach first onto broken tubes and a contraption of upright sharpened pencils and forks. Most of us would go into a blind panic if we experienced any of the above.  Not these guys though; it fired them up, attacking with urgency, intensity and neither were backing down.

The closing stretch had my adrenaline pumping, Takeda gave Takahashi a spider German suplex through a glass panel mounted on chairs, which had MERRY CHRISTMAS spray-painted on it, then fired up and poured a bucket of broken tubes over himself before hitting a flipping senton from the top.  BUT Takahashi kicked out at 1, trying to capitalise on his damaged opponent Takeda tossed a bundle of light-tubes across the ring, German-suplexed him but Takahashi kicked out at two.  It was only after hitting a lifting inverted DDT onto the broken tubes that Takeda scored the pinfall for the win.

This was an absolutely insane match that kickstarted my fascination with deathmatches and Masashi Takeda. I immediately followed this up with their rematch which occurred almost a year later.  No tubes were allowed in the arena, so they got creative and sadistic with the weapons they could use. It was a satisfying closing chapter to their series; it was a particularly brutal match with both guys taking the other to the limit. Takeda is a top-tier deathmatch wrestler; His technical ability, charisma, and innovation make every match of his worthwhile watch in my opinion.  If you enjoyed this match, I would recommend any of his matches against Isami Kodaka or Alex Colon as a follow-up, you will not be disappointed. Come back tomorrow for the next deathmatch delight.

Thank you, Mathew, for your contribution. Follow him on Twitter here.

All images courtesy of TIA Wrestling podcast, Superluchas