What do you do when the violence stops? That is a question that surrounded people’s minds when Matt Tremont announced his Separate Ways Tour last year. One last set of matches before hanging up his boots for good. Life After Death covers the last matches of that tour and the thought process that went into that retirement before showcasing the final match of that tour at H2O’s The Last Extravaganza. So let’s get into reviewing this masterful documentary about deathmatch wrestling.
Through eight separate parts, Kenny Johnson has been able to chronicle not just Tremont’s retirement matches but create a profile of a human being who rose to fame in the one company he cared about. As we have clips of matches, violence, and carnage, we get honest interviews from the man himself. We learn of Tremont’s mindset; his motivations, and we see just how selfless he’s been in this industry. He tells all of this story with blunt honesty and a humble attitude that not only makes him likable but someone whose journey we want to follow. Tremont has been in the game for 15 years, and to learn he’s not an asshole in a business of assholes just makes following that journey all the sweeter. Across its one hour and seven-minute runtime you’ll learn the why’s, how’s, and other questions you’d ever want to know about why someone would do the level of harm you can do to yourself.
It doesn’t just focus on Tremont, though. Even though he is the main focus of the documentary and the story being told, we also get off-shoots from Jimmy Lloyd, G-Raver, Eddy Only, and Tremont’s students talk about the business they got into and the man he is. You get a sense of the community Tremont is trying to build and the impact he has had on the people around them. It also shows viewers that behind the violence, there are real people in that ring. Real people who worry, hurt, and deal with the fact that red equals green. You don’t just get into this game to make money; you have to love what you do or feed off the pain. One of the best examples of this is Jimmy Lloyd and G-Raver, and the story of the no-rope barbed wire match of theirs Tremont commentated on. Lloyd has always wanted to bleed, and Raver came back from a life-changing injury because the itch was still there.
One of the biggest services that this documentary provides is the insight into deathmatch wrestlers. The bloodletting rush, the insight for countless people who have done deathmatches, and the rush they get. Atticus Cogar, EFFY, Nolan Edward, Alex Colon, and Rickey Shane Page all show different sides of why you get a rush from your own blood and the different aspects of storytelling they want to provide to make the pain worth it. Even the ability to see art in that level of gore and gratuitous violence. Tremont has always tried to bring deathmatch wrestling with purpose, and to see that sentiment echoed by so many other voices in the same game highlights its importance. It becomes less of one man’s message and more the echoes of a sub-genre of wrestling trying to put their message out there. This isn’t for them, it’s for the fans watching.
A great clip and moment from @StaySickGRAVER in LIFE after DEATH.
This has one of my favorite shots in the whole documentary.
— Kenny Johnson (@kenjohnson1028) May 13, 2021
As we discuss the retirement tour and the motivations behind it, we learn about Danny Tiberius Havoc. Havoc was one of the reasons Tremont made it to CZW. Havoc was one of the most creative and eloquent deathmatch wrestlers who provided a lot of inspiration to many others in all facets of wrestling. He was a genius at designing weaponry and “a selfless man in a selfish industry,” because of that, the documentary discusses the legacy he left and how Tremont chose to set retirement in motion after his passing. With all the light-sided things being discussed, this is that moment of realism that hits harder than some of the light tubes. It’s handled respectfully and doesn’t linger here as it masterfully moves onto more hopeful things through the formation of H2O and the creation of a company/school.
To end, the documentary focuses on that big retirement match, the aftermath, and a follow-up with Tremont months later. It shows the reasons G-Raver made his big return at H2O and the reactions and fallout from that final big match. RSP explains how Matt had helped and why despite the story, he was overjoyed to give him this story-filled Viking funeral. The spectacle is shown as Rickey Shane Page went full 44OH! villain to tell one final story in the ring with Matt. We see how comfortable Tremont has been with his decision, and the urges he faces to wrestle again, all told with honesty. He now lives vicariously through his students and has tried to make sure they go into the business right.
Whilst it might not be the end for Tremont and that retirement in wrestling is almost always temporary, this documentary does an amazing job of telling the story of how one of deathmatch wrestling’s best chose to hang up his boots. It’s all told with honesty, humility, and from the heart of not just Tremont but the people he influenced, his friends and family. This may be the story of how Tremont chose to retire, but through that, it showed off the community of deathmatch wrestling. From the other veterans still shedding blood to the students and new people finding deathmatch to Atsushi Onita wishing him well. Johnson has gone out of his way to tell a story and showcase something that is so often misunderstood. It’s well shot, well told, and well-intentioned. It even pulled at my stone heartstrings. For something free on YouTube, it is 100% worth the watch. It’s an excellent piece of wrestling art, wrestling journalism, and the perfect gateway into the world of the ultraviolent told by the wrestlers, not the people who cry foul of it. Tremont has touched a lot of lives, and we are going to see the effects of it for years to come.