Combat Zone Wrestling’s thirteenth annual Tournament of Death will take place this Saturday and what better way to honor the occasion than by counting down the top ten American deathmatch tournaments in history!
#10: CZW’s Tournament of Death 2
#9: IWA Mid-South’s King of the Deathmatches 2006
This was the largest King of the Deathmatches tournament ever promoted by Ian Rotten’s IWA Mid-South. This card featured early matches from up and comers like Brain Damage, Deranged, and Drake Younger. In total there were 28 entrants into this tournament which featured insane stipulations like “Barbed Wire Ropes and Lobster Pits.” The 200 light tubes main event is brutal and this tournament offered a great balance between established stars and newcomers.
#8: CZW’s Tournament of Death 4
TOD 4 was the stage for two deathmatch classics that must be seen to be believed. The first of these classics is a match between “Mr. Insanity” Toby Klein and Mad Man Pondo. Pondo is known throughout the world for his ability to endure pain, but this match contains a spot that even he regrets. Let’s just say it involves really sharp pencils. The second classic is one of the top 3 main events in TOD history. Three cornerstones of CZW face off in a bloodbath that includes the most insane use of fire in wrestling history.
#7: CZW’s Tournament of Death 1
The first TOD was what launched “Sick” Nick Mondo to his current status as a deathmatch legend. Even non-deathmatch fans have probably seen footage of the infamous weed whacker spot where Mondo’s stomach was sliced open by a maniacal Wifebeater. Let’s not forget that earlier in the night Mondo executed his Assault Driver maneuver on Homeless Jimmy from the top of a truck through tables and light tubes. TOD is a great show from start to finish and it helped popularize the deathmatch tournament in the United Sates earning its spot at #7 on the list.
#6: CZW’s Tournament of Death 10
This TOD was the second to feature wrestlers from Big Japan Pro Wrestling and it presented fans with some of the greatest technical deathmatch wrestling in history. Masada is the star of this tournament as he picks apart his opponents in ways that many fans had never seen before. This TOD featured the best that CZW and Big Japan had to offer and presented fans with hybrid style matches that never get old. This TOD also features what may be the most impressive tournament debut in history as Matt Tremont takes on the Necro Butcher in one of the stiffest matches of Necro’s career (and that’s saying something). The masterpiece finale of the tournament gives this show a well-deserved spot on the countdown.
#5: IWA Deep South’s Carnage Cup 2006
IWA Deep South is the mutant backwoods cousin of the IWA family and their deathmatch tournament the Carnage Cup tends to attract competitors too insane for even the TOD. This is simply one of the best collections of deathmatches you will find. From the insane razor board opening match to the 200 light tube main event, this tournament never slows down. One of the sickest matches of the Carnage Cup features Ian Rotten and Mickie Knuckles in a barefoot thumbtack match. There are buckets upon buckets of blood spilled during this tournament. The whole thing plays out like a live action rendition of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
#4: IWA Mid-South’s King of the Deathmatches 2009
This is the only tournament on the list that I have seen live and good lord did I pick a good one to see. This tournament introduced many fans to Masada for the first time and featured some of the most inventive deathmatches in history. There are too many great moments in this tournament to list, you really have to see it for yourself. Highlights include a war of attrition between Thumbtack Jack and Nick Gage, an ultraviolent barefoot mousetraps match featuring Danny Havoc and Elkview Adam, as well as the return of the always entertaining “Spider” Nate Webb. The opening match between Devon Moore and OxMxGx was incredibly fun to watch and included a spot at the end that made me cringe. If you want to see why Masada is one of the best in the business then watch this tournament.
#3: CZW’s Tournament of Death 3
Many will argue that this was the greatest TOD in history and it was a hard decision not to place it at least in the #2 spot. This tournament features some of the most legendary matches in deathmatch wrestling history. Sexxxy Eddy was injured so severely during his match with Arsenal that he had to be rushed to the hospital and was unable to advance in the tournament. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen the match, but I have to say that Eddy’s post match antics are possibly the sickest display in pro-wrestling history. Do not watch this tournament unless you are prepared for the most violent matches on Earth. The finals of the tournament will make you wonder if the Necro Butcher is even human. In a scene that looks like it came right out of Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ”, Necro Butcher wades through the crowd with a charred and mutilated back covered in blood. The finals of this tournament is probably the bloodiest match of all time and the iconic image of Necro standing amongst the fans when he should have been knocked out is something that all fans of wrestling should see.
#2: IWA East Coast Masters of Pain 2008
The journey that Thumbtack Jack takes through this tournament is quite possibly the most amazing feat of endurance I have witnessed in professional wrestling. This man went through Hell in this tournament. Masters of Pain 2008 included the most creative deathmatches I have ever seen courtesy of stipulation designer Elkview Adam. This tournament has a barbed wire trampoline, fish hook ropes, and electrified light tubes. Not only did Masters of Pain feature incredibly innovative matches, it was stacked with top of the line competitors including Necro Butcher, Danny Havoc, and Ryuji Ito among others. Masters of Pain would have landed the #1 spot if not for the greatest display of guts and resiliency in pro-wrestling history courtesy of THE MAN…
#1: CZW’s Tournament of Death 8
TOD 8 was the greatest deathmatch tournament in history. Every match was a classic. Once again Thumbtack Jack puts on a performance of a lifetime as he elevates the brutality of the deathmatch to a whole new horizon in his 5 star match with current CZW owner DJ Hyde. Jon Moxley (now known as Dean Ambrose) has a knock down drag out fight with Brain Damage that ends with one of the sickest spots in CZW history and round one includes the first ever thumbtack kick pads match. Everyone gave it their all in this tournament, but the MVP of TOD 8 was “The Man” Nick Gage who came into this event like a man possessed.
Gage was finally air lifted to a nearby hospital and it was reported that on the way there he died for a short period of time and had to be revived. Despite all of this Nick Gage was back in action just a short time after his life threatening injury at TOD.
Tournament of Death 8 is the greatest American deathmatch tournament in history because it is the greatest example of the heart and courage of the deathmatch wrestler. These men put their lives on the line in name of their craft and to entertain the fans. If you want to see just what a deathmatch wrestler is made of then check out any of the shows on this list and make sure to order Tournament of Death 13 on iPPV this Saturday.
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