International Wrestling Association Japan: Korakuen Hall (05-01-1995) Headhunter A vs. Headhunter B

Screenshot 2017-06-18 19.24.46

Brotherly love at its finest!

To those uninitiated the much respected website Death Valley Driver Video Review is putting together a list of 1001 matches to see before you die called the DVDVR 1001. This is my project where I am reviewing every match in the DVDVR 1001, and we’re jumping to #36,

This is a Barbed Wire Board & Glass Death Match.

Death match wrestling has garnered a bad reputation amongst a majority of wrestling fans. Those who compete in it are often derided as not being real wrestlers, and those who enjoy it are vilified as bloodthirsty savages. As is often the case, the truth is somewhere in the middle of both of those assertions. To see the truth would mean that some wrestling fans need to open themselves up to the violence and grit of death matches, and to be honest, it’s not something every fan is willing to do.

I do understand if violence and carnage is not your cup of tea, I really do. I’m not telling anyone that they are wrong if they don’t like death matches. Nor am I making the claim that every death match is a classic that deserves to be seen. Rather, the truth is that death match wrestling is professional wrestling and therefore is no different than any other match style or type. There is good death match wrestling, bad death match wrestling, and everything in between. The sooner one can come to grips with that truth, the sooner they may be able to enjoy themselves some death match shenanigans. And hey, if you’re squeamish and the violence isn’t for you, or you simply find it exceedingly dumb, I can’t argue with those points and respect your right to those opinions.

The match I’m writing about today is an example of great death match wrestling. This match is great for a number of reasons, but its greatness builds off of one simple fact: Headhunter A and Headhunter B are brothers. The entire match is structured around their brotherhood and the shocking nature of what they are willing to do to one another. A key component of this is how simple A and B are willing to keep the match. Sure, sure, a lot of that is physical limitations on their part, but that doesn’t change the simple approach they take from greatly aiding the match.

The first notable aspect of this spectacle is the immediacy of what we are seeing. The violence on display in Korakuen Hall on this night feels real, or more real than usual. A and B don’t mince words, they immediately club away at one another with hard Lariats. From there it’s a trip to Puerto Rico as they brawl around the arena teasing the carnage that awaits. It’s good teasing too, because the standard brawling is plenty violent. There are even moments where they step on a bed of glass, break it and keep brawling, ignoring the glass altogether. It tells the crowd, “We are serious about hurting one another, and our fists can do just as much damage as that glass can.”

The immediacy continues once the glass comes into play, as B carves up A with various pieces of glass. He also chews on some glass, for a couple of minutes, and that’s just visual badassery right there. However, it’s the simple nature of the bloodletting that wins the day. There’s no intricate set ups, or overblown spots. Rather there are two brothers who are carving away at one another with glass one second and throwing one another into barbed wire the next. It’s all so deliciously violent, the sort that makes you feel gooey inside and slimy on the outside. That’s the best sort of violence, the violence that I love in my pro wrestling.

Even when the brothers switch to more traditional wrestling moves, they keep it simple. It’s nothing but power aerial moves, because that adds to the spectacle as well as the idea that these are pissed off brothers trying to kill one another. Instead of an elaborate set up, A comes off the top rope with an Alabama Jam. It makes perfect sense, he’s a big as hell motherfucker inflicting pain to win the match as quickly as possible. That’s the tenor of the entire match, and it’s all the better that the brothers are in tune the entire time.

The ending even works because of how rough it is. B slips in his initial attempt at coming off the top rope. He still manages to make contact, but in a match that has been about hitting quick moves, initiating violence swiftly, and trying to hurt efficiently it somehow works that he barely makes contact and thus goes to the top yet again. It’s also fitting that in a match that saw a Vertical Suplex into a bed of glass, it’s a basic Diving Splash that finishes off A. There’s a finality to that moment, a closure to the carnage that fits what has come before.

Two brothers beat the tar out of one another for a little over fifteen minutes. It was a glorious fifteen minutes, an example of the immediate gratification that death match wrestling can bring. Glass was broken, foreheads were carved to shreds, blood was shed all over the floor, and two fat men flew through the air with the intention of maiming. They were brothers, but the violence they wrought unified us all as brothers and showed just how grand pro wrestling is, oh my.

Bill Thompson


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