Now before I begin the actual review, I should start with a preface. I've never really been a fan of CZW. I enjoyed their incursion into ROH as part of the ROH/CZW war (when I went back and watched it) but overall my feelings about CZW were generally negative. I could never really get into the death matches or ultra-violent nature (Light Tubes, Glass, etc...) of CZW. I've always known that CZW isn't just a bunch of hardcore wrestlers, they have some legit talent, but CZW just isn't my thing. Now in regards to this show, I heard a lot of the hype surrounding it, including Chris Hero challenging Drew Gulak for the CZW World Title, the inclusion of Davey Richards following his controversial departure from ROH, and the fact that it was on the same day (almost at the same time) as ROH Final Battle 2013. So, with that being said, I've decided to give CZW a shot.
CZW Cage of Death XV
Voorhees, New Jersey 12/14/13
The show starts off with Tommy Dreamer & Maven Bentley. They honor longtime CZW Photographer Lyle Williams, who's retiring after this show. Then Dreamer cuts a promo putting over the CZW Locker Room and CZW as a whole, until Chris Hero comes out, making his CZW return! He says that he wants his CZW World Title Match right now, and his request is granted! Dreamer & Bentley ban The Gulak Campaign from ringside.
1.) CZW World Title – Drew Gulak vs. Chris Hero: ***3/4
I figured that given their styles we would get a combination of hard strikes and mat-wrestling, and this is exactly what we got. Personally, I thought this was pretty great. This is kind of what I mentioned earlier, in regards to CZW having legit wrestling talent alongside their hardcore guys. Gulak works over Hero's leg for the most of the match and it pays off with an eventual submission victory for Gulak, who retains his title.
Gulak celebrates his victory post-match, but MASADA makes his CZW return (which I believe is his first appearance since losing the CZW World Title to Gulak a few months earlier) and confronts Gulak, who quickly retreats.
2.) Six-Way Scramble – Azrieal vs. Joe Gacy vs. Andrew Everett vs. Anthony Nese vs. Chuck Taylor vs. AR Fox: ***1/2
Nothing really on the line here. This match had a lot of high octane action. Brawling all over the place and bodies flying everywhere. For what it was, it was fantastic. On the downside, it was really just a massive spot-fest. Joe Gacy gets the win, though I would argue that he was the least deserving of the win compared to the other five guys in the match.
3.) Relaxed Rules Match – Freight Train (with Cherry Bomb) vs. Greg Excellent (with Momma Excellent): DUD
Many of you may know Freight Train from $5 Dollar Wrestling. They're fighting over Cherry Bomb, essentially (if I got that right). Really more of a comedy segment (involving shenanigans from Cherry Bomb and Momma Excellent as well) than anything else. Nothing really much to see here. Greg Excellent carries Cherry Bomb away afterwords.
4.) CZW World Tag Team Titles – BLK OUT (BLK Jeez & Ruckus with Robby Mireno) vs. The Juicy Product (JT Dunn & David Starr): **1/2
I caught a match or two of both Dunn & Starr in Beyond Wrestling, so I know a bit about them. It was an ok match. It had its moments, but a pretty average match. The crowd really wasn't that into BLK OUT that much, it seemed.
5.) Kimber Lee vs. Christina Von Eerie: *1/2
Lee is a member of the Gulak Campaign. A fine women's match. They did some brawling on the floor and in the end, interference from The Gulak Campaign got Kimber Lee the win.
After the match, Von Eerie attacking Kimber Lee with skewers (a trademark of MASADA)!!! Ouch!!!
6.) #1 Contender’s Match – The Beaver Boys (Alex Reynolds & John Silver) vs. The Colony (Fire Ant & Green Ant): ***1/4
Very odd seeing a CHIKARA tag team like The Colony in a CZW Ring. Very enjoyable match here. I love The Colony so it was easy for me to get into it. The Beaver Boys, the eventual winners, were equally as impressive. They've definitely won me over in the few times I've seen them. Silver & Reynolds earn a future CZW World Tag Team Title Shot.
7.) Chris Dickinson vs. Davey Richards: ****
So Davey Richards was originally scheduled to wrestle at ROH Final Battle 2013 this very night, teaming with long time partner Eddie Edwards in The American Wolves farewell match, as they were on their way out to, eventually, TNA (though we didn't know it for certain at the time). But he and Ring of Honor would part ways about two weeks prior, and we would later find out that Richards now has a less than favorable opinion of the company he was once World Champion of. This opened the door for CZW to book him for Cage of Death XV, against a man who is also well known for his striking ability and overall toughness, Chris Dickinson.
This was an awesome match! Easily the Match of the Night up to this point. Both guys worked really hard, beating the crap out of each other, and definitely put on a show. Dickinson would eventually get the win over The American Wolf.
After the match, Dickinson cuts a promo putting over Richards, followed by Richards cutting a promo about how ROH "lost its heart". He then says that even though his time on the indy scene is coming to an end (again, eventually he would wind up in TNA), he couldn't think of a better place to wrestle one of his last matches.
8.) OI4K (Irish Airborne & Nevaeh) vs. DJ Hyde & The Front (Biff Busick & Niles Sozio): **1/2
DJ Hyde is the owner of CZW. A decent match here. I'd say it was a little better than the World Tag Team Title Match, probably because this match has Busick & Irish Airborne in it. As you would expect, it fell apart into a wild brawl, and at one point, Jake Crist gives Sozio a Superplex from the top rope to the outside onto a pile of chairs!!! Absolutely sick. OI4K get the win after Nevaeh hits Hyde several times in the head with a chair (what that really necessary?).
9.) CZW Wired Title – Alex Colon vs. Shane Strickland: ***1/4
I believe this is my first time seeing Alex Colon. The match was really just kinda there until it picked up in the end and got good. A solid match overall. Colon retains the Wired Title.
10.) Cage of Death XV – The Nation of Intoxication (Danny Havoc, Devon Moore & Lucky 13) vs. The Forgotten Ones (Drew Blood, Matt Tremont, Rory Mondo & Ron Mathis): ***
This is my first time seeing an actual CZW Cage of Death Match, as the ROH/CZW Cage of Death from Death Before Dishonor IV in 2006 was a different variation and (from what I've gathered about other Cage of Death Matches) much tamer version of the match. The Cage is made up of various parts and contraptions, including barbed wire tables, wooden fencing, a trap door of chairs strapped to a piece of cage, panes of glass on scaffolds, a scaffold that crossed the top of the cage, and a mystery box handing high about the ring that was filled with (as we soon found out during the match) legos, shards of glass, and thumbtacks. The match is held under the traditional WarGames rules, with two men starting out for five minutes and then another person enters at two minute intervals. Eliminations can happen at any time and can occur via pinfall, submission, or by being thrown out of the Cage.
The match itself honestly wasn't that bad. They built up the big moments/spots (which were kinda cool) really well, and they got great reactions from the crowd. This is something that I think gives CZW's Cage of Death an edge over similar WarGames style matches: There are a ton of major spots. The return of a man who had been gone from CZW for a Decade, "Sick" Nick Mondo (I guess he was the Mystery Partner for the Nation of Intoxication but it wasn't really confirmed as he didn't come out until the very end of the match), who helped Lucky 13 defeat Matt Tremont (who were the final two), to win the match for the Nation of Intoxication was a really great moment and got and amazing pop from the crowd. That being said, for this being my first true Cage of Death, one thing that I guess I didn't like was how the match was structured. The match was really built solely around the big weapons spots and the eliminations, and their wasn't that much action outside of that. In this regard, ROH's Steel Cage Warfare and, to an extent, TNA's Lethal Lockdown have a bit of an edge over the Cage of Death. On the whole, I thought it had it moments that made it enjoyable, but it's not for everyone.
After the match, Lucky 13 said he wants a match with Drew Blood at the next show, and Moore puts over Nick Mondo. Rory Mondo (no relation to Nick) is still in shock over Nick Mondo's return. He talks about how Nick left CZW, but he retorts by talking about all the crazy stuff Rory has done over the years, and tells Rory that he's done enough and that he respects him. Rory breaks down and says that's all he ever wanted in CZW was Nick Mondo's respect (as he used the Mondo name in Nick's honor and emulated him throughout his CZW Career). Rory announces that this was his last match and thanks the fans as he & his idol Nick Mondo celebrate together to close the show.
I wasn't sure what to expect about this coming in, especially with all the hype surrounding it. In the end, I gotta say it was a good show. It started off really well with two pretty good to great matches. Then the show kinda hit a roadblock with the middle portion which really didn't deliver. Richards/Dickinson was easily MOTN and is worth seeking out. Finally, while it isn't for everyone, the Cage of Death was to an extent entertaining and it ended on an emotional note. If you're a long time CZW Fan, you'll definitely love the Main Event.