Hardcore Wrestling

Terry Funk vs. The Sheik (FMW 5th Anniversary Show May 5, 1994)

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Do you like bleeding old men? Forks? Pants being on fire? Chairs being chucked at random? Strangulation? If you answered yes to any or all of those questions than have I got a wrestling match for you!

If none of those things tickle your fancy this match also has Sabu in pants that look like tin foil, a guy with dodgy monster gloves and face paint carrying a torch, and Terry Funk climbing up a wall in a baseball stadium!

But wait! There’s more! Order now and get a guy yelling in Japanese over a PA telling people to get out of the way as a pair of bleeding old men chase each other slowly through a crowd as our special gift to you!

Terry Funk vs. Vampiro (WCW Monday Nitro May 29, 2000)

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Terry Funk defends his WCW Hardcore Championship against Vampiro in a hardcore, no disqualification match that ends in a no contest when Vampiro douses the Funker in gasoline and tries to set him on fire. Sting comes in to make the save and Vampiro fucks off. WCW 2000!

Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy (TNA The Final Deletion July 5, 2016)

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What is there to say about The Final Deletion that hasn’t already been said by a bajillion other internet wrestling fans?  Like a lot of people I saw that contract signing with the thrown baby and was like, “Ha ha ha…TNA,” but there was something about me that pulled me in.  I saw the preview for The Final Deletion with fire and fireworks and Jeff Hardy in a tree and was like and thought it was going to be a total trainwreck and so I decided to watch it, but something funny happened.

Between all the bumps on grandma’s kitchen table and Senor Benjamin giving a baby a xylophone, the Brothers Hardy told a fairly compelling (and surprisingly straightforward) story.  Matt, frustrated that he could never beat his brother, becomes broken and goes to ever further extremes to best Jeff.  Behind the army of aerial assault robots and revenge landscaping it’s a pretty classic feud.  It’s Bret and Owen Hart.  It’s Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty.

This all culminates with The Final Deletion: a match held in the Hardy’s backyard in the same ring it all began in.  Now for those of you looking for a mat classic, you won’t find it here.  The actual in ring segment of the match consists of some clotheslines and scoop slams and random bumps into plunder before the Hardys launch fireworks at each other and fight across their property for the remainder of the bout.

What makes this match great isn’t “workrate” but rather the uniqueness of it.  First you have the fact that the match is taking place outside and has the Hardys making use of the natural landscape around them.  I know DDT in Japan has done this a few times contesting bouts at the beach or in the mountains bereft of a ring, but in mainstream American wrestling nothing of this sort has ever taken place before.  Seeing someone do a swanton bomb out of a tree is something I’d never seen before, and in wrestling to do something that no one has seen before is quite a feat indeed.  The match was filmed in a much more cinematic way than your average wrestling match providing a sense of gravitas that few matches have. There’s no announcing at all during the match.  No one calling the action.  Instead the match is scored like a final showdown in a summer blockbuster movie.  Lucha Underground uses a similar style with their backstage segments which I honestly like a lot more than what WWE does with their backstage stuff, but again I don’t think any matches have been presented like this.

Of all the wrestling matches that have taken place in the history of this great sport, very few, good or bad, are talked much about after the fact.  I think that The Final Deletion will be one of those rare matches that people talk about years from now, if for nothing else but the fact that it taught us that “It takes a lot of fuel to delete a Brother Nero.”

The Great Nita vs. King Pogo (FMW March 15, 1995)

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Atsushi Onita (doing a parody/homage of Great Muta) takes on the regal, King Pogo, in a street fight.  There’s fire, green/red mist, dudes getting stabbed with a sickle and a decide lack of selling of offense.

Perhaps the greatest thing about this match is the fact that Pogo comes to the ring barefoot, but still busts out a cowboy boot to hit Onita with.

Freddy Krueger vs. Jason the Terrible (WING We Love WING December 20, 1992)

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Another WING mat classic pitting two of the most technically sound grapplers of the 1990s against one another…or two guys in sketcky masks whacking each other in the head with things and bleeding all over the place.  It’s definitely one of those two things though.

This particular match is a loser leaves town (for three months) match.  Find out who gets to stay and who will be forced to not get thrown into fire or barbed wire for three months.

Mr. Pogo vs. Mitsuhiro Matsunaga (FMW Summer Spectacular August 28, 1994)

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A street fight death match.  How this is any different than any other FMW match I don’t really know.  They brawl on the floor.  Barbed wire bats come into play.  Fire is involved.  Pogo uses a sickle on Matsunaga’s back.  Pretty standard early 90s Japanese garbage wrestling.

Mr. Pogo vs. Kim Duk (WING September 27, 1992)

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You had a good run Mr. Pogo’s Boot, but all good things must come to an end and in this match with Kim Duk you did not come into play at all, and I, for one, found the match to be lacking because of it.

Also coming to an end this match?  Mr. Pogo’s alliance with Victor Quiñones.  For reasons the promo package at the beginning don’t make clear (or maybe they do in Japanese) Pogo’s out and Quiñones has got a new “No. 1,” the one time Tiger Chung Lee, Kim Duk.

The match is nothing special really.  They brawl all around the arena and hit each other in the head with things (though sadly not either of Mr. Pogo’s cowboy boots) just like in every other WING match.  There aren’t any crazy stipulations: no barbed wire, no fire, no explosions.  The match is apparently a Falls Count Anywhere match because Kim makes a couple pinfall attempts outside of the ring and ultimately picks up the win after a piledriver in the stands.

Following the victory Kim brings Pogo into the ring to beat him down.  The beat down is going swimmingly until Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, in keeping with Mr. Pogo WING match tradition, runs down to the ring post-match, only this time instead of beating the crap out of Pogo he helps him fight off Kim and Quiñones, and the match comes to a close with Matsunaga, Pogo, Crash the Terminator and some dude I didn’t recognize shaking hands and forming some sort of alliance against the dastardly Quiñones.

Apple Miyuki vs. Kyoko Kimura (BJW BJWxHard Stage 2nd January 12, 2010)

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This is a weird match. It kind of starts out like it’s going to be a goofy WWF Hardcore Championship style “hardcore” match since Apple Miyuki comes to the ring with a pail and a water dipper and they actually do the spot where someone gets a pail on their head before having that pail hit with another thing, but it’s not long before a barbed wire kendo stick appears and people are getting suplexed into a heap of chairs, and to underline the fact that this wasn’t supposed to be a comedy match, the match ends with a hanging.

Tommy Dreamer vs. Brian Lee (ECW High Incident October 26, 1996)

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Scaffold matches are usually pretty lame. There are punches, an occasional kick, and then someone falls. The only thing anyone cares about in a scaffold match is the fall. No one cares much about the extremely limited wrestling match that transpires before the fall, so for that reason this is my favorite scaffold match.

The first part of the match is a mid-90s ECW brawl with Dreamer and Lee fighting in the crowd with garbage cans, chairs, and a jack o’lantern among other things. By the time they actually climb the scaffold Dreamer’s already split open.

Once atop the scaffold there are a few punches, a low blow or two, a DDT, and a couple blocked attempts of tossing someone over the edge before Dreamer finally throws Lee from the scaffold into a heap of tables.

Because they more or less limit the scaffold to a spot in a standard issue ECW brawl the overall match works a lot better for me than the standard “two guys punching each other for eight minutes high above the ring before one of them falls” scaffold match, though your mileage may vary.