Mike Reviews: CZW Cage of Death – 16/10/1999

Hello You!

Back once again to my Smart Mark Video On Demand haul, as I watch a show I actually remember buying this time! I think I bought this just to see what super early CZW was like, and seeing as we’re very close to this show being nearly 20 years old, I felt I’d write up a review for it as it felt timely.

For those not au fait, CZW (Combat Zone Wrestling) is a company that was first formed in 1998 by John Zandig, a man who is perhaps more known for yelling “Jeeeeeezus” on Botch-a-Mania these days rather than being a wild garbage wrestler in his own right. CZW’s main selling point over the years is that they provide high flying Junior Heavyweight styled wrestling alongside their patented brand of garbage wrestling called “Ultra Violence”, which essentially means light tubes, chairs, tables, barbed wire, weed whackers etc.

I should stress that the company has had its fair share of good wrestling over the years as well, with guys like Alex Shelley, Adam Cole (Bay-Bay), Jimmy Jacobs, Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli all being counted amongst the promotions alum. However, I’m not sure just how much good wrestling we’re going to find on a 1999 era CZW Show, so I wouldn’t get your hopes up too highly.

Anyway, let’s brace ourselves and take a journey into the world of Ultra Violence!

The event is emanating from Mantua, New Jersey on the 16th of October 1999

There is no commentary and the show is filmed on just one camera, which alternates between a hard cam shot for the first couple of matches before turned into RF Video styled handheld camera work after that.

Opening Match
Big Slam w/ Big Mack Smack Vs Jon Dahmer w/ Natasha

Big Slam is a large man from Philly who apparently did some shots with ECW way back in 1992. Dahmer is someone I mostly know from his CZW work and he was on their roster for close to 11 years, and I think he even taught at the CZW Wrestling School at one stage as well. Big Mack Smack cuts a pre-match promo, where he offends the crowd and says that Big Slam will eventually become the CZW Champion. We were thankfully spared CZW Champion Big Slam I think.

Slam shoves Dahmer down a few times to start, and then shoulder blocks him as well for good measure. Slam clubs away in the corner and then distracts the ref so Smack can choke Dahmer on the ropes. Hey, at least he knew enough to distract the referee there, so you can tell he understands what wrestling is, even if he’s not especially great at it.

Dahmer tries fighting back and finally bumps Slam following three clotheslines and then drops an elbow for two. Slam replies with a low blow, which the ref just seems to ignore, and then drops an elbow to his mid-section for two. Slam holds Dahmer for a weapon shot from Smack, but Dahmer ducks it and Slam gets hit instead. Dahmer knocks Smack off the apron and then follows up with a leg drop to Slam for the victory.

WINNER: JON DAHMER
RATING: 1/2*

Oh boy, this was not good. They kept it short at least.

Dahmer piledrives the referee after the match for whatever reason, as I ponder as to who was supposed to be the babyface in that match?

Match Two
White Lotus Vs Trent Acid

Lotus apparently also wrestled as Quicksilver, but he’s not someone I personally recognise. He’s kind of got a Low Ki/Hakushi thing going on with his look here. Acid would eventually form a team with Johnny Kashmere called “The Backseat Boz” and had runs in both CZW and ROH before personal demons sadly caught up with him. He was found dead from a drug overdose in 2010.

We get some chain wrestling to start, which ends in a stand-off that the crowd appreciates. They seem to botch a hip toss spot, but Lotus ends up sending Acid outside and following with a plancha. Lotus gets a springboard splash back inside for two and then gets a nice springboard back elbow for another two count. Acid replies with an Alabamma Slam and then catapults Lotus outside, where he follows him out with an Air Sabu. This match really feels like these two lads watched a lot of ECW and kind of wanted to do a Super Crazy Vs Tajiri styled match with Sabu and RVD spots thrown in, which considering this was an indie show in the late 90’s Tri State area kind of makes sense I guess as they were both probably hoping to get work in ECW eventually.

Acid gets a nice splash from the top rope back inside for two and then settles into a chin lock for a bit. Lotus fights out of that and a double clothesline leads to a double down. Acid is up first and heads up to the top rope, but Lotus jams the ropes to stop that and then brings him down with a superplex. Lotus follows up with two rolling suplexes, but Acid counters the last one into a roll up for two. Lotus sets Acid back on top and tries another superplex, but Acid fights him off and then brings him down with a gourdbuster for two. Acid continues the ECW tribute with a Jerry Lynn pin counter out of the corner, but Lotus kicks out again at two. Lotus gets a sit out powerbomb, but that only gets a two count, so he heads outside to grab and chair and wedges it in the corner.

Acid sends Lotus into it however and gets a Blue Thunder Bomb and then gets a bare bottomed Quebrada for what would appear to be the winning pin fall. However, the bell seemed to ring before the referee finished counting, leading to some confusion. The referee has a quick chinwag with the timekeeper and this one ends up being declared a time limit draw.

TIME LIMIT DRAW
RATING: **

You know what, the wrestling wasn’t amazing here or anything but both guys were working really hard and I can appreciate that. Yes, it felt like they were just regurgitating spots that they’d seen on ECW TV, but they were both young impressionable lads and it’s only understandable that they’d want to do that sort of stuff during this time period.

Both men shake hands and that looks to be that, but the lights go down and The Kashmireno Brothers (Johnny Kashmere and Robbie Mireno) join us. They appear to be doing a Greasers gimmick, complete with “Summer Loving” as their entrance theme. Think Deuce and Domino from WWE. Mireno would eventually end up managing a stable called BLK Out in CZW. He grabs the mic and says that they came from Grease on Broadway to challenge Acid and Lotus to a tag match. Acid and Lotus head out to attack them and the match appears to be on.

Match Three
Trent Acid and White Lotus Vs Johnny Kashmere and Robbie Mireno

We go to handheld footage for this, as Acid and Kashmere fight in the crowd whilst Mireno and Lotus got at it back in the ring. Mireno actually dives out of the ring onto Lotus and adds a chair shot to the back for good measure. Mireno gets a Tornado DDT on Lotus back inside, but when he goes for another one Lotus is able to block it. Kashmere tries to hit Acid with a baton of some kind, but Acid dodges it and Mireno ends up getting hit with it instead. A double DDT follows and that’s enough for Acid and Lotus to pick up the win.

WINNERS: TRENT ACID AND WHITE LOTUS
RATING: N/A

Too short to rate, but it wasn’t awful or anything.

Match Four
Nick Gage Vs Ric Blade w/ Shorti

Gage has a bit of a cult following at the moment for being a crazy hardcore guy and is probably best known to me for being in the team “H8 Club” with Nate Hatred. Blade is essentially a death match spot monkey, and I first became aware of him because I saw clips of him jumping off high things to put people through tables. Both these men were in the first class to graduate from Zandig’s wrestling school. Blade is actually filling in for “Softcore” Nick Berk here, who comes out limping with a cane and then cuts a whiny promo about how he can’t wrestle. So Blade comes out, chastises Berk and then says that he’ll face Gage because the last match they had didn’t have a satisfactory ending.

I’ve no idea who Shorti is, and neither does Google either. Answers on a post card if you do. Gage gets a back suplex to start and heads up for a dropkick, but Blade dodges that and gets a Quebrada before stopping to yell at Berk. Blade crushes Gage with a springboard senton splash, so Gage gives him a receipt with a big lariat before following with a brain buster. Gage heads up top and gets a frogsplash, but the cover is weak and that allows Blade to kick out. Gage gets a nice swinging neck breaker next, but once again makes a relaxed cover and Blade is able to kick out again. Blade fights back with a springboard bulldog and then heads up with a big elbow drop for two.

Outside we go, where Blade hits Gage with a chair but Gage delivers one of his own in reply and then dives from the top rope out onto Blade on the floor. The fight continues in the crowd, with the cameraman struggling to keep up, and eventually Blade gets his own dive with a pretty impressive moonsault off the ring post itself onto Gage. The spots continue, as Blade sets Gage up on the top turnbuckle and then tries to rana him through a table, but Gage blocks it and then powerbombs him through the table instead. Ooof, that did not look pleasant whatsoever! Thankfully both men seem to have survived that, but a masked guy comes into the ring to hit the referee with a chair, which brings in Berk with a crutch shot to Gage.

Hardcore wrestler Lobo sprints down to make the save and lays out the masked man before taking off his mask and revealing his identity, but I’m not exactly sure who he is and the lack of commentary sadly means that no one is there to inform me. I think it might have been Justice Pain, who Lobo wrestles later. Gage decides to attack Lobo however, which leads to a pull apart brawl between the two, with another wrestler coming in to break it up. Gage seems to think that Lobo was the masked man, which was why he attacked him. The match just seems to end, as everyone leaves.

WINNER: NO CONTEST
RATING: *

Total garbage spot fest that I would have been inclined to rate higher if the finish hadn’t been so awful.

At this point the wrestler (T.C.K) who came in to break up the Gage and Lobo fight gets attacked by a guy called Middknight, which leads to the two of them having a match.

Match Five
T.C.K Vs Middknight

I’ll be honest, I don’t know who either of these guys are. A visit to CAGEMATCH reveals that Middknight mostly worked the Tri State area up until 2005, whereas T.C.K is even harder to find information on. T.C.K has camo pants and a shirt on, whilst Middknight has big old 80’s styled hair-do and facial hair.

We get a lousy faux hockey fight to start, which ends with T.C.K getting a running dropkick for two. T.C.K gets a side slam and heads up to the second rope with a leg drop for another two. Middknight fights back with a mule kick and gets a DDT before following up with a clothesline for two. An enziguri sends T.C.K outside and Middknight follows him out there for some more crowd brawling. You know spots like this kind of lose their effectiveness when you do them in so many matches. I’m not so sure this match needed crowd brawling when Gage and Blade had just done it moments ago. Case in point, Middknight dives off a scaffold onto T.C.K and it doesn’t even get much of a reaction because we just saw people jumping off high things in the previous match.

T.C.K eventually puts the match back in the ring, but Middknight cuts him off when he’s coming back in and then hangs him in the ropes for a guillotine leg drop, which gets two. Middknight heads up for a diving head butt, but T.C.K dodges it and then pulls Middknight crotch first into the ring post. Middknight replies with a Tornado DDT and then brings a ladder out from backstage. Middknight sets the ladder up in the corner, but T.C.K whips him into it and then brings a table into the ring. T.C.K sets Middknight up on the table and then climbs up the ladder to try a cannonball through the table. Middknight moves however and T.C.K goes through the table instead. Middknight gets a Northern Lights Bomb, but stupidly pulls T.C.K up at two. Middknight gets the Raven drop toe hold onto the chair, but goes for it again and T.C.K reverses into an X-Factor for the pin.

WINNER: T.C.K
RATING: *

I kind of respect the two guys for putting their bodies through that, but the match was pretty bad and the finish of Middknight having T.C.K beaten but wanting to dish out more punishment would have worked better if T.C.K had caught him with a roll up of some kind rather than shrugging all the big moves off and then delivering one of his own.

Middknight grabs a mic following the match and says that he wants the tag belts that T.C.K and Lobo hold, and that next month he’ll get them.

Match Six
First Blood Match
John Zandig w/ ??? Vs Wifebeater w/ Big Mack Smack

As mentioned previously in this review, Zandig is the founder of CZW and is still doing crazy hardcore stuff to this day. We see that ECW Hat Guy is sitting on the front row, so Zandig goes on a foul mouthed rant towards him and challenges him to get in the ring. Hat Guy of course doesn’t take him up on his kind and generous offer. Zandig yells that “ECW Sucks”, which makes me wonder why he’s running such a horrible budget version of it then? Wifebeater is pretty well known in garbage wrestling circles, mainly for eating crisps on the way to the ring and doing side slams off high things onto weapons or tables.

Zandig attacks Wifebeater right from the off, which causes him to bail outside for a crisp break. What, are crisps like the Wifebeater’s spinach or something? Zandig and Wifebeater actually do some semblance of technical wrestling, but Wifebeater soon brings that to an end with a low blow and some shoulder blocks. Wifebeater gets a fist drop to Zandig’s nads from the second rope and then, say it with me, sends him outside for some crowd brawling. So that happens for a bit, with the usual spots of throwing people into walls and hitting them with plunder, and then they brawl up towards the sound stage, where Zandig climbs up a ladder and delivers a leg drop to a wooden floor. That’s a good way to break your tail bone right there.

Wifebeater counters a powerbomb with a back body drop and then wails away on Zandig with chair shots. Zandig responds by getting a spine buster onto a pile of chairs before throwing Wifebeater back into the ring. Zandig’s second throws in a car door for him to use, and he promptly powerbombs Wifebeater onto it. This brings in Smack to check on his charge and to give him more crisps to recharge his powers, which seems to work as Wifebeater gets a chair and hits Zandig in the head with it. However, Zandig’s second hits Wifebeater with a chair as well and both men are down. The referee checks on both men and calls for the bell. Both men are bleeding but I think the referee saw Zandig bleeding first because Wifebeater had his head down on the mat, which means that Wifebeater is the winner.

WINNER VIA FIRST BLOOD: WIFEBEATER
RATING: *

Not the worst brawl actually, but the finish was kind of lame so that hurt it for me.

Zandig decides he’s not happy with losing and flings Wifebeater through a table, not unlike how it looks when you throw people around on the arcade game Pit-Fighter.

Well, I had to put this in here somewhere and this seemed like as good an opportunity as any!

Zandig isn’t done however and gets a spike of some sort and jabs Wifebeater in the head with it a few times, which leads to someone in the crowd to yell “Take a Valium!”. Wifebeater grabs a belt post-match, which is apparently the CZW World Title according to CAGEMATCH and that last bout was a Title match. Smack grabs a mic post-match and challenges Zandig to fight Wifebeater next month in a barbed wire strap match. Zandig seems to accept this and then runs down to attack Smack once again whilst his second takes out Wifebeater. Eventually both Wifebeater and Smack are left lying.

Main Event
CZW Ironman Title
Cage of Death
Champ: Justice Pain Vs Lobo

Justice Pain is Nick Gage’s brother and had multiple reigns as CZW Champion over the years. Lobo is one of the big stars of CZW’s early years and actually was the first inductee into their Hall of Fame in 2004. There was actually a period where he was the heel owner of the company, but that came a few years after this. Right now he’s the babyface Ultra-Violent Icon taking on the cocky jerk. The Cage has weapons inside it, including some cactus plants of all things and a scaffold along the top of it. To say the cage looks a little ramshackle would perhaps be giving it too much credit, but hey, at least they’re trying eh?

Justice Pain has someone with him, but I have no idea who it is and the ring announcer doesn’t feel it worth mentioning. Justice Pain is looking considerably less muscular than he would end up looking in a couple of years after this. Lobo actually holds up a “This One Is For Foley” sign, which makes me wonder what Mick Foley would actually think about such a tribute? Pain slaps Lobo right from the off, as the ring announcer informs the crowd to watch their eyes during the match, which tells me that they might be in the splash zone. Lobo actually goes to a side headlock of all things, but eventually ends up back body dropping Pain into the cage and clobbering him with a stop sign.

Pain throws Lobo into some lights that are set up in the cage, which leads to the referee sweeping away the debris as best he can. Pain whips Lobo into one of the cacti and then stacks a metal bin on top of him before delivering a Quebrada. Lobo is not surprisingly bleeding after all of this, but manages to Death Valley Driver Pain onto one of the cacti and adds a shot with a metal bin for good measure. A snow shovel gets used next, as Lobo hits Pain in the mid-section with it for two. It loses something without a commentator yelling that he was trying to “impale” him with a blunt object though. Pain tries to escape by climbing the cage, but Lobo stops him, only for Pain to come off the cage with a Buff Blockbuster for two.

Pain puts a metal bin over Lobo’s head and then hits the bin with a metal pipe for another two. My word, Lobo is proving himself to be quite tenacious isn’t he? Pain heads up the cage again and then hangs off the scaffold with a leg drop for two, as I’m starting to think that the referee is regretting not wearing gloves here considering all the debris in the ring. Pain rakes Lobo’s face over barbed wire next, but Lobo starts grunging up and makes the comeback, getting a big powerbomb but neglecting to cover. Instead Lobo starts undoing the barbed wire, obviously with some nefarious plan in mind, but this allows Pain to recover and hip toss him through one of the lights in the corner.

Lobo shrugs that off though and DDT’s Pain before heading up to the top of the cage for a guillotine leg drop, which leads to both men being down. Lobo recovers first and then decides to head up again to the scaffold set up along the top of the cage. Pain has the same idea when he recovers and both men start fighting atop of there. This is the shame with this being a 1 camera shoot, as ideally you’d want hard cam footage instead of handheld footage here to really show the scaffold fight as best as possible. Pain eventually does the tease of hanging off the side of the cage, but he come back and then super kicks Lobo off the top of the cage through a table on the outside.

Well, Lobo did want to dedicate the match to Mick Foley I guess. Pain climbs down and rolls Lobo’s carcass back into the ring, but starts attacking him with a stop sign rather than going for the pin. This brings out Nick Gage, who hooks a car battery onto the cage. This leads to Pain’s second turning on him and throwing him into the now “electrified” cage to give Lobo the win.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: LOBO
RATING: *1/2

I’m not sure what the point of the swerve was, as it doesn’t look like Lobo turned heel or anything but rather Pain’s second turned face. The match itself was just guys hitting each other with stuff with some dangerous spots thrown in and a weird finish.

Lobo climbs out of the cage with some difficulty and leaves to back with his belt whilst people attend to Pain in the ring.

In Conclusion

Tough one to recommend this, as the highest match rating was ** and that was kind of generous on my part to begin with. CZW would thankfully go on to have better shows than this in future years, with some of the Cage of Death’s in particular being amazing spot fests. The only thing I can say for this one is that it’s only $4.99 on Smart Mark Video On Demand, so if you fancy having a look at how much CZW has improved over the years in comparison to the early shows then this might be worth it for you. Aside from that, this is probably one you’ll want to swerve.

If you are interested though you can find this and other shows on www.smvod.com