Rotten Rewatch #4

Dan Rice
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Welcome back to another Rotten Rewatch. I can’t imagine someone reading this that doesn’t know, but just in case I wanted to point out that” Firstly, We’ve announced Violent People Radio, a forthcoming podcast featuring the four original minds behind Violent People.

Secondly, I’ve launched a solo podcast called Violent Volumes. The response has way exceeded my admittedly low expectations, but I want to thank anyone that listened to it or reads any of my writing here at Violent People


IWA Mid-South Irreparable Damage

05/08/97

Louisville, Kentucky

Danny Dee vs Tarek The Great 

This starts out great honestly. Danny Dee has some of the tightest and most intriguing matwork I’ve watched so far outside of Ian Rotten. Just a really pleasant find….

I can’t do this. I’m sorry. I hate what I’m about to do. This throws the integrity of the entire Rotten Rewatch into question. I just disguised a review of RIXE Catch as a WWE Backlash review and I have to test the trust my reading audience has for me once again. I’m the co-host of Talking Tourneys. I’m a tournament guy. The next show after Irreparable Damage, on IWTV, is the inaugural IWA Mid-South King of the Death Match tournament. I can’t watch Danny Dee shoulder work or a War Machine tag match knowing I am so close to this pivotal moment. 

The 1997 King of the Death Match tournament was in a lot of ways the beginning of the death match revolution in the USA. Ian brought the concept to the US from Japan, modeled after the 1995 Kawasaki Dream death match tournament. Nowadays there are death match tournaments seemingly every other weekend. GCW has two annual death match tournaments with no discernible difference. In 1997 the landscape was different. ECW was around but with the departure of the Rottens most of the death match adjacent matches were gone. IWA Mid South had death matches, but this was the first show full of them. 

I, like Ian, am fascinated by tournaments so once again I hope you forgive me for the sudden shift , but let’s get into it. 


IWA King Of The Death Matches 1997

10/21/97

New Albany, Indiana

We get a fantastic, in comparison to the production of the other early show: opening video set to Queen’s “The Show Must Go On.”

Flash Flannigan is out on crutches to give a promo you can not make out and then we’re on to the first round. 

First Round: Thumbtack Bat & Barbed Wire Boards Death Match: Ian Rotten vs Cash Flo 

Ian Rotten comes out pumped up. The crowd is hot for Ian, like we all are. 

If you’re familiar with Cash Flo from current day OVW, first off stop watching OVW, secondly he looks like a completely different person here. This is Cash Flo’s first death match and he’s throw right into it. Ian immediately whacks him with the thumbtack bat. Ian hits a piledriver onto the thumbtacks within the first 90 seconds. We get, what might be, the first use of a light tube in an America wrestling match. This is mostly an Ian squash. Cash Flo does get enough offense in with the bat to bloody up Ian, but nowhere near the amount of blood Ian extracts from Cash Flo.

Unsurprisingly Ian wins and moves onto the second round, though both competitors are worse for the wear. This is an absolute WATCH

First Round: Thumbtack Bat & Barbed Wire Boards Death Match: Rollin’ Hard vs Bull Pain

Jim Fanin, Corporal Robinson, Mean Mitch Page and Les Thatcher are all in attendance for this show, if you look close enough. 

Bull Pain is already swiping at Rollin with the thumbtack bat before he’s even in the ring. 

Despite that this opens up with much more wrestling than the previous match. Bull Pain is lighting him up with punches. This ends up on the outside. Bull absolutely kills Rollin with everything he hits him with. The first chair shot from Bull busts Rollin open hardway. He DDTs Rollin on the floor leaving a blood lay spot on the concrete. They eventually take it outside the venue. Unfortunately the camera takes a long time to get out there. By the time we see what’s happening outside Rollin is in control throwing Bill against the side of a dumpster. 

Both men are busted open and brawling and bleeding all over the arena. This is a walk and brawl, but in a positive sense. It all feels real and earned. They’re not just walking around, they’re fighting or fleeing every second. 

They make their way back into the ring. Bull is in control with the thumbtack bat. 

Rollin Hard gets the upset with a huge tornado DDT onto the thumbtacks. I’d be remiss to mention the referee is counting all the falls on a plastic bucket after hurting his hand on the tacks during an earlier fall.

Bull is furious, throwing a tantrum and chairs after the match. I love it. Gotta be a WATCH

First Round: Barbed Wire Board & Barbed Wire Bat Death Match: Balls Mahoney vs War Machine #1 

War Machine has a way cooler mask than on previous shows.

Balls being here is a big deal as he is still an active member of ECW. 

On one hand this is a slower worked and ultimately lesser version of the previous match. On the other hand, Balls rules. He’s squealing in pain and throwing weapons around and it’s great. Balls gets his head ripped open with the barbed wire. 

Balls wins with a nutcracker suite into a barbed wire board and this is worth the WATCH just for Balls

First Round: Four Corners Of Pain Death Match: Axl Rotten vs War Machine #2

Here we get the other half The War Machines against another ECW, Axl Rotten. 

Machine is hurled out of the ring, landing in a pile of mousetraps. Axl then brutalizes Machine with a chair, before setting up a barbed wire panel between two chairs. Axl drives Machine through the board with a powerbomb for the victory.

This wasn’t much and the mouse trap bunch isn’t show super well so sadly I’m gonna call this a mild SKIP.

First Round: Four Corners Of Pain Death Match: Mad Man Pondo vs Tower Of Doom

I like to once again remind you in a industry full of garbage Tower of Doom stands out as truly disgusting.

Pondo comes out all smiles ready for some violence. 

Doom is throwing Pondo around, but Pondo is undisturbed, still all smiles.  

Pondo has a lot of groin based offense and I’m here for it. The go outside and Doom ends up dropping Pondo onto the mouse traps and piledriver him on broken glass.

Immediately after being piledriven, Pondo grabs some glass to cut open Doom. 

I’m about to complain about the lack of cohesion, but then Doom hits a gigantic sky high piledriver and a second rope dropkick and it’s breathtaking,

Pondo survives and uses his trusty stop sign to put Doom down and then hits a Harlem Hangover onto the stop sign in Doom’s face for the victory. 

There’s enough fun spots here to be a WATCH

First Round: Barbed Wire Bat Death Match: Doug Gilbert vs Ox Harley 

This is Doug Gilbert wrestling a Memphis style death match. We start with a promo and then there lots of stalling and crowd taunts in between the weapon spots. 

Also probably the most back and forth of all the first round matches. 

Doug just kills Ox with some of the swings of the barbed wire bats. 

I can’t stress enough how Doug never shuts his mouth the entire match.

I hate to praise just Doug, but he is the glue that holds this together. His over the top selling and shit talking work so well in this environment.

Doug Gilbert moves on to the semi finals after multiple piledrivers in what is a WATCH for me, but I can totally understand people hating.

Semi Final: Spider Net Death Match: Ian Rotten vs Rollin’ Hard 

This pits the boss man against arguably the biggest upset of the first round. 

Ian starts out fucking wrestling. Drop toe hold into a quarter nelson. Ian uses his suffocating stylings on the mat to shove Rollin into the barbed wire.

Rollin is able to get the advantage with a low blow .

This gets gross fast. Both men were bleeding everywhere. 

Ian wrestles this so smart. Crawling into a double leg to get Rollin down without risk of being out into the wire himself. Always going after the legs of Rollin, whether it’s submissions or low drop kicks.

It’s no surprise, but by far the best part of the Rotten Rewatch currently is Ian Rotten. 

Ian brings the spider web into the ring and powerbomb Rolling right on the top of his head and it’s sick and I love it. WATCH

Semi Final: Axl Rotten vs Balls Mahoney

Balls forfeits because he doesn’t want to wrestle Axl. Balls and Axl have an ECW tag title match coming up. Weird move to enter a death match tournament if you’re concerned about future bookings.

Semi Final: Spider Net Death Match: Doug Gilbert vs Mad Man Pondo

We start off with both men cutting promos on the mic. Doug is still cocky as shit. All smiles, taunting the fans. Flash Flanagan is in the crowd cheering and supporting Doug. 

Pondo busts Doug open with barbed wire from the remnants of the spider web. Doug crawling away from Pondo with blood pouring down his face is such a good visual. When Doug gets a second wind he just throws Pondo full force into the barbed wire ropes. 

They both end up bloody and in the barbed wire multiple times. Doug however gets the victory with a hot shot into the barbed wire. This was a perfect fusion of a Doug Gilbert match and Pondo getting killed. It’s a WATCH

Final: Electrified Light Tubes Death Match: Ian Rotten vs Axl Rotten 

Doug withdraws from the tournament due to injuries. His hip is “bothering” him. He’s definitely not scared. This sets the stage for a showdown of The Bad Breed.

It’s fitting this would be the finals and main event of the first death match tournament promoted in the United States. As pioneers of US death matches, they share a tumultuous history as former partners turned rivals, known for their groundbreaking ECW matches, including the first Taipei death match on US soil. 

The visuals here are amazing. All the house lights in the venue are turned off and light bulbs are hung from the barbed wire strands and lit up. It really is a spectacle.(

They push and pull each other toward the ropes. Ian is the first man busted open. The burn and cut each other in the ropes. 

Ian soon opens Axl up as well with a broken lightbulb. 

They then take turns slicing and cutting each other. 

This match works because of all the aforementioned context and the wear and tear of the tournament. It doesn’t have the biggest spots, but it has the highest stakes. 

Unfortunately the match was decided after Doug Gilbert interference. Despite this the match and the history are well worth a WATCH

This is not the greatest death match tournament of all time, but it was well booked and there was nothing show stoppingly terrible. In fact, almost every match is worth your time. That plus the history of this tournament makes this a must WATCH event. 

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dan-r


Host of Violent Volumes, co-host of Talking Tourneys, and all around violent person.