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. It’s time for our third and final guest spot as James Truepenny, SteelChair editor and Joshi expert extraordinaire gives us a blood-splattered barbed-wire offering between two high-class women’s wrestlers in the FMW playground.

Shinobu Kandori is a badass. This needs to be stated. Above all things. The former Olympic Bronze Medalist Judo Player, a ground-attack brawler, trained in shoot-style at the LLPW Dojo was and remains to this day one of the toughest women to ever walk God’s Green earth. When the quintessential Death Match wrestler Megumi Kudo wondered if she would like to come to play in FMW’s garden of barbed wire, she put on a Black Suit with a crisp Blue Tie and walked the walk, because she’s Shinobu Kandori and she can do whatever the hell she likes.

90’s Joshi was the era of cross-promotion. Talents swam from group to group and built big money showdowns all the time. Perhaps too much as the train had left the station on money draw within the next ten years. However, Kandori vs Kudo was a lesson in how deep the talent pool was at the time. Neither worked for the established promotion All Japan Women, and that’s what made this match historic. What made it special was that they could both go in a limited environment, Kudo with her ring generalship and adapted pro-style, and Kandori with her sheer toughness and mat-based offence. What made it intriguing was their star power and the way they carried themselves. Kandori presented herself in this new environment as a gender-fluid tough, to contrast the ultimately feminine Kudo who was at home in a bikini on a beach modelling shoot as she was bleeding profusely in a wrestling match. It was inter-promotional and that gave it a high stake feel that went beyond both characters. It wasn’t for a title, it was for pride and in Joshi that matters more than any other level intensity. It was also the first time any female from outside the FMW roster had come to play on the barbs. This was high-stake Joshi at its finest.

Kandori stalks the arena in a casual manner as if she is trying to pick someone up at a bar, then looks underneath the ring and finds a pair of wire cutters, then preps the ring her way. The basic principle of all deathmatch wrestling is to spread impact. You want long strands of barbed wire, nice wide platforms with small sharp objects to lower the chance of serious damage. By starting to cut the barbs into smaller lengths Kandori shows she is after some heavy, heavy violence.

When they are finally in the ring together the pair are evenly matched size and strength-wise so they tussle quite close to the barbs looking for an early advantage. Kudo trying to escape a Kandori headlock becomes fascinating as she uses her weight, unsuccessfully, to throw Kandori to the barbs. While this wouldn’t be as violent as some of the matches Kudo had, this was after all only a single deathmatch, not Double Hell, the fact remained it was Kudo vs Kandori and that big fight feel is heightened by the environment. 

It is Kudo who goes into the wire first, but not as expected, Kandori frees a strand and starts attacking Kudo with it to wear her down and then puts her face-first into the wire in front of the ever-present wrestling press who follow the bleeding Kudo around like a lost puppy. Many categorised Kudo’s success to her good looks, which is wholly unfair. No one worked harder. She also takes the first big bump here, missing a running Hip Attack to fly straight into the barbs when Kandori moved, before being put into a swinging sleeper. Kandori uses her tie then to wrap her arm and then wrap the arm in barbed wire. Her sartorial choices were a clever ruse but showed how innovative she could be in this environment. She also sacrificed front bumping into the wire, which was an incredibly brave move even while wearing a shirt. Kudo then takes the short length of barbed wire to Kandori in her comeback, barehanded, and Kandori’s dyed blonde signature quiff starts to become a deep red, as blood pours down Kudo’s face. 

Those photographers are kept busy as Kudo presents them with her haemorrhaging opponent on every side of the ring. Then in one of the truly shocking moments of the match applies a sleeper with her arm wrapped in barbed wire and follows that up with a plancha straight over the top of the wire. The next offensive stretch is pure Kudo offence winding up with what mysteriously looks like Zack Sabre Junior’s Young Boy Killer submission. Kandori takes the lead next, but it is back and forth for the rest of the match as the two forsake the wire and flat out wrestle each other.

By way of contrast, the win comes from the use of the FMW environment for Kudo, finally hitting the Hip Attack and forcing Kandori into the wire, and the Kudome Valentine, The Vertebreaker that she invented. Kudo doesn’t go for the cover though, she lets Kandori stand and delivers a ferocious running forearm to the face, the most basic strike in pro wrestling to remind Kandori who was the boss in her own environment. You can have everything else, but you don’t get to come and disrespect me in my backyard. 

The match was at a regular house show in Sapporo and wasn’t even the main event that night, so it doesn’t get the merit it deserves for the work they put in. Kandori shook Kudo’s hand when she came too after the fight, this was special and deserved that special moment. They’d just made history. Come back tomorrow for the final deathmatch delight. 

Video courtesy of Edward Hartung  Images courtesy of YouTube.

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