After years of wanting to, I finally went to my first all Deathmatch Wrestling show and it was everything I imagined it would be.
ICW: Impact Championship Wrestling was born in New Jersey in 2001 with owner promoter Jac Sabboth promoting shows until 2016. In 2018 veteran wrestler Danny Demanto took over the promotion renaming in ICW: New York. On January 4, 2020 the promotion was rebranded again as ICW: No Holds Barred replacing the ring ropes with chains with fights ending only by pin fall, knock out, or referee stoppage. The debut show opened with Tessa Blanchard getting a pin fall victory over Nick Gage. Later in that year ICW: NHB introduced the Pitfighter X events where fights occur inside a square cage.
On Sunday May 15, 2022 ICW: No Holds Barred 25 was presented at SONIA in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mikey and I bought general admission tickets for this Sold Out event and headed south a little after 1pm hitting some heavy traffic outside Boston. When parking we ran into Maine indie wrestlers JP O'Reilly, Lee Miller and Raf who were also pumped to attend this unique event. The parking garage was only a couple blocks away and was only $10!
Doors were slated to open at 5pm but were pushed back to 5:30, however as the event was bring broadcast live on IWTV it started on time at 6pm. The only change to the card as it was advertised was that Isaiah Broner was not appearing, he was replaced on the card by Danny Demanto.
When tickets went on sale you could purchase a VIP ticket that was in a chair on a stage while General Admission was standing room around the ring. The five of us took up space on the side of the ring with the hard camera behind us. For those not familiar with ICW: NHB they use "deathmatch fuckery" in every match so at times there is weapons and debris, like glass from light tubes, flying into the crowd.
Can this be dangerous, sure but for anyone attending these shows, this is not a surprise they warn and advise you to shield and protect yourself. More importantly you are not required to stand close up to the ring as we chose to do. So the fact that Nic got a cut on his leg and I pulled a piece of glass out of my ear that night, and my arm on Monday, is a risk as adults that we chose to take.
Aside from The Kirks and Demanto this was my first time seeing everyone else on the card wrestle live and in person. Also, go watch the show on IWTV, I'm going to give you my thoughts but not the play by play of the matches.
Let's get to the matches!
Tommy Vendetta pinned Akira
Great opening match, was shocked to see Akira take the Awesome Bomb from the ring onto the stage. However later on he hit a sunset flip powerbomb on Vendetta from the ring apron to the floor putting Tommy through a door with half cut beers cans on it. Again, really great opening match to get the crowd pumped up.
Hoodfoot pinned Satu Jinn
Satu Jinn came out with a handsaw that I think is used for bamboo, but on this night it was used to carve open foreheads. Very solid back and forth match, with each guy giving as much as they took. Satu Jinn came over and very politely asked me to had him two chairs, which I obliged.
Kyle came out first, Demanto was the surprise replacement. They used poppers attached to weapons in this match. It was my first exposure to them in person. They are loud so they sound and probably are painful, and they expel smoke or dust when they are popped which is an awesome visual. The best part was after this match they were all over the ring and floor area and would randomly be stepped on and pop startling people.
Demanto took a beating, including having half a door smashed over his head several times, and was hit with a plastic bat with thumbtacks on it that impaled the top of his head with the tacks...bonkers.
KRULE pinned Casanova Valentine
Casanova Valentine came out wearing a boxing glove with knives affix to it ala Freddy Kreuger. KRULE ran out to the ring, jumping over the top rope with a shoulder block taking Valentine off his feet. He removed the glove, however Valentine got it back later and used it. They also had a barbed wire covered door, that lead to Valentines downfall.
KRULE is a big dude that can move and took a gusset plate to the chest and didn't seem to flinch. I know he's wearing a mask, but his body didn't react at all when Valentine was planting it in his chest.
Kasey Kirk pinned Brandon Kirk
On a night when the crowd seemed to love everyone, the majority booed the hell out of Brandon Kirk!
Brandon demanded that Kasey lay down for him, she did and then tried a crucifix pin. The gusset plated each other, broke some light tubes. Brandon gave Kasey back drop driver suplex onto some light tubes that cut up her mouth real bad, uneasy moment for those watching. She powered through and put on a hell of a match. This was the first match with a pane of glass used which Kasey put Brandon through. Huge pop when Casey go the win.
Match was awesome, Kasey's story with her growth in the promotion and her string of wins, it's magnificent. We got post match comments from both, Brandon putting over Kasey and she thanking the locker room and fans for their support.
SHLAK pinned John Wayne Murdoch
Hell of a match!! These two have fought each other many times before, this is third time at No Holds Barred and they have an even record of 1 - 1 - 1. The beat the hell out of each other inside and outside the ring. They broke a tremendous number of light tubes on each other this match featured the second pane of glass as well as an actual table broken to go along with the doors.
SHLAK tired to bag JWM but it was reversed on him. In the end even with the plastic bag over his head SHLAK put JWM through the pane of glass with a choke bomb for the win.
Taipei Death Match: American Deathmatch Champion: Eric Ryan defeated Bobby Beverly by referee stoppage
Two members of 44.OH collided in a very hard hitting match. Both guys were busted open early, with The Bev spilling buckets of blood for our entertainment on this night. It was legit pouring out of his head near the end of the match. The Bev was delivering some ground and pound on Ryan who reversed it and stating raining down strikes on The Bev with one catching him square for a flash knock out that lead SPO to call for the bell.
Fans weren't happy about the referee stoppage, I was fine with it. I was a tough contest with an unexpected finish.
After the show the majority of the wrestlers came out for autographs and photos and to sell some merchandise. I got a few cards signed and grabbed a photo with the Kirks.
Every match was officiated that night by SPO and he did an outstanding job. I imagine it's hard enough to officiate seven matches in one night, not lets make them all death matches with debris all over the canvas that you have to lay in to count the fall. An unsung hero of the night.
Also mad props (pun intended) to the ring crew who brought out all the plunder before the matches, and cleaned up the ring and debris between the matches. I like that not everything that was brought out was used, it made it more interesting. You weren't waiting around for an item to be used before the match ended.
It awesome night of wrestling, and a truly unique experience. Everyone who stepped between the chains this night worked their asses off. We would go again, no doubt.
On the drive home we watched a lot of lightning! It was very cool! As we neared the New Hampshire state line the rain was coming down in sheets and the chain lightning was making it look like daylight while the thunder shook the van. I loved it!