Combat Zone Wrestling is an independent wrestling promotion based in Philadelphia that is well-known for its brutal, hardcore
style of wrestling.
If this sounds like ECW
, that's the intention. CZW was originally a backyard promotion formed in 1999 by John Zandig in New Jersey, but soon after ECW's demise in 2001, CZW began running shows in the famous ECW Arena. By the time of the Arena's closing (and later reopening) in 2012, CZW might have actually surpassed ECW in the amount of shows run at the Arena.
As stated before, CZW is most well known for its "ultraviolent" wrestling. Its huge events, the "Cage of Death" and "Tournament of Death", certainly support this perception. However, most CZW shows feature very few actual hardcore matches, and its "Best of the Best" tournament is meant to showcase pure athleticism and not guys hitting each other with light tubes.
Due to being based in Philadelphia, CZW has close ties to Ring of Honor
, frequently sharing talent with both, a long invasion-style feud with the former, and a brief merging of wrestling schools with the latter. Besides that, CZW has a sister promotion in the Maven Bentley Association
. Most popular wrestlers on the indie circuit have worked at least one match in CZW. As of this writing (January 2013) former CZW talent Claudio Castagnoli
and former CZW World Heavyweight Champion
Jon Moxley are prominently featured on WWE televison working under the names Antonio Cesaro and Dean Ambrose
respectively. Former CZW World Champion Chris Hero
was in their developmental program under the name Kassius Ohno until he was released.
CZW is also infamous for its prominence on popular Internet series Botchamania
, and is one of few promotions to actively encourage it.
The Combat Zone's Tropes:
- A God Am I: At down with the sickness, DJ Hyde proclaimed that the Front and the audience of the Combat Zone worshiped him. His finisher has been dubbed the "Touched by a god plex". The Bulldozer Matt Tremont does not claim to be a god, but says that "If there is anything close to God, its me!" on the basis he is the "company's savior".
- Action Girl: Mia Yim, Kimber Lee, Jessicka Havok, Nevaeh, Christina Von Eerie, Radiant Rain, The Lovely Lacey, LuFisto among others. Existing on this promotion's roster practically requires it because the list of guys who think twice about hitting girls is a short one.
- Alliterative Name
- Chris Cash, Derrik Domino, Cladio Castingnoli, Mercedes Martinez, Rockin Rebel, Brad Bradley, Austin Aries, Lois Lyndon, Danny Demanto, Jimmy Jacobs, Monsta Mack, Pepper Parks, Hostuff Hernadez, Mr. Motion, Body Bag...
- Also events May Madness, September Slam, Breakaway Brawl...
- Ambiguous Disorder: Nick Mondo admits he thinks something is wrong with him and suspects it might be ADD. Then there is Jon Moxley...
- Armed Legs: Jake Crist whipping DJ Hyde with barbed wire by wrapping it around his leg and then delivering a super kick.
- Ax-Crazy: There are lots of violent sadists and masochists to run through this promotion but Sammy Callihan has seemingly lost all manner of rational thinking that doesn't involve hitting things, and even on that part it's hard to be sure.
- Bad Boss: After head trainer DJ Hyde became owner of the company, he really started to throw his weight around, particularly if it could negatively impact Irish Airborne, OI4K or anyone sympathetic to them, up to and including spitting on his employees. Maven Bentley too, but less so as vice president.
- Battle Couple: Christina Von Eerie and Masada, Nevaeh and Jake Crist, Pepper Parks and Cherry Bomb
- Battle in the Rain: Nick Gage's win against Nick Mondo for the CZW Iron Man Title in a no rope barbed wire match was outdoors and got rained on
- Battle Strip: At ''CZW Twelve'', February 12, 2011, there was a "Best of the Best X Qualifying Six Way Match" with Jonathan Gresham vs. Aaron Arbo vs. AR Fox vs. Rich Swann vs. Ryan McBride vs. Ty Hagen. Hieracon's CHIKARA allies the Osirian Portal (Amasis and Ophidian) came down to the ring and did their hypnotism routine, which started a dance party to Michael Jackson's "Beat It," bringing out several other wrestlers. Amidst the dancing, people were still doing wrestling moves, since the match was still in progress. Mia Yim took off her shirt in the ring, so she was there in her bra and shorts. At one point, she climbed up to the top turnbuckle and hit a somersault senton onto a bunch of wrestlers who were at ringside.
- Big Good: John Zandig during the 2006 invasion of ROH to remove Ring Of Honor from CZW's area of operating, with Chris Hero as The Hero...in most situation they'd be the bad guys but in professional wrestling, it's often more about popularity than right or wrong. Zandig (and by extension, the rest of the CZW roster) wasn't involved in Hero's early 2005 treats to ROH or anything Hero did after July of the next year though.
- Blood Is the New Black: Wifebeater has at times had nearly his entire torso red with blood. Blood from the forehead frequently weighs heavily on the muta scale as well. Since CZW has an annual death match tournament, you'll get used to seeing guys walking around caked brown from dried blood after being in multiple garbage matches over the course of a single day.
- Bounty Hunter: There was a wrestler with this name.
- CamelCase: eXceSs 69
- Carpet of Virility: Greg Excellent, along with a draping beard
- Chained Heat: Up to eleven beginning with Lobo and Justice Pain's barbed wire dog collar match
- Cluster F-Bomb: This place clearly has no censor...except when Gulak's group try to enforce one.
DJ Hyde: "You leave that little fucking whore bitch to me!"
- Combat Commentator: Nick Gage and Eddie Kingston are among them
- Crazy Homeless Person: Homeless Jimmy
- With garbage promotion extraordinaire Big Japan Pro Wrestling up until John Zandig walked out of BJW with one of their titles. As previously mentioned, with Chikara and Ring of Honor pretty frequently, especially during their cross promotional feud with ROH. Also when CZW was invaded by IWA Mid South. And of course, with their sister promotion MBA.
- Relations with Big Japan were reestablished in 2012, which lead to the creation of The World Triangle Tournament with German based westside Xtreme wrestling.
- Devil but No God: Tremont said that he saw a light and climbed up a ladder to the heavens to find there was no God, but there was a devil. His name, Drew Blood.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Sami Callihan's self admitted "weird videos"
- Double Knockout: Joel Maximo, Jose Maximo and Amazing Red all pinned one another at once during CZW The Boss Is Back.
- Easy Come, Easy Go: CZW February 2002, This Time Its Personal. The Ballard Brothers beat the Backseat Boyz for the tag team titles! CZW February 2002, This Time Its Personal. the Backseat Boyz beat the Ballard Brothers for the tag team titles!
- Easily Distracted Referee: Justified when DJ Hyde was refereeing at CZW Cerebral, not just because he was only doing it to screw over OI4K but because he really hated Nevaeh too much to care about much else happening behind him when she tagged out. Also with Drew Blood, whose bad calls turned to be part of a deliberate plot against the Nation Of Intoxication.
- Expy: Rory Mondo is one to "Sick" Nick Mondo, even using the assault driver
- Flynning: Between Thumbtack Jack and Masada at Tournament Of Death VIII, using steel chairs.
- Fingore: Nick Mondo tried to take off the Messiah's thumb.
- Fork Fencing: Matt Tremont and Joe Gacy had a feud revolving around stabbing each other with a carving fork, Tremont's weapon of choice.
- Freaky Is Cool: The Rachies Danny Rose and Adam Flash think so anyway.
- Gag Boobs: When Cherry Bomb was cutting a promo about how she was not going to wrestle Greg Excellent because she was a lady, commentary could not help but point out "she has enough for two ladies". They're still not as big as Greg Excellent's though.
- Garbage Wrestlers
- They have had many events that made ECW look tame, sending men off the tops of cages through boxes of glass. Try going 25 feet off the back of a truck through a light tube covered covered table and being told that's only your first round match today, two more to go! Make it to the third and you'll have glass and salt poured into your wounds. Discounting spot monkey tendencies, CZW's roster has had a higher ratio of wrestlers who work well without weapons than ECW did though. They may push ultra violence as their main draw but CZW really has a larger focus on high spots and feats of agility, likely because the levels of garbage they reach when going all out are not sustainable.
- Besides the big Cage Of Death show and the Tournament of Death, they also have the barbed wire heavy De Ja Vu and A Tangled Web events. They used to have a trio of garbage belts, The CZW Ultraviolent Underground Championship, The CZW Interpromotional Hardcore Championship and The CZW Death Match Championship but have since stuck to more traditional belts.
- One of the reasons for Matt Tremont's turn against the Combat Zone was that he felt the company was not garbage enough and wanted to remind the people what 'real' ultra violence looked like by murdering all the wrestlers they thought of as hardcore.
- Gimmick Matches: Ultra Violent Arm Wrestling Match. Steel Cage Scaffold Match. Water Jugs, Bats & Anything Else you Can Swing Match. Kenzans, Whips & Anything Else we Can F***ing Find Match. Barbed Wire Canvas and Light Tube Ropes Match. Bed of Nails and Caribbean Spider Web Match...
- Hard Head: The Crist Brothers, Christina Von Eerie, Thumbtack Jack, Devon Moore, Tofiga even more so
- Hostile Show Takeover: Maven Bentley tried this by buying up as many CZW wrestlers as he could and directing them to beat down the ones he could not so that he would be in charge of the Combat Zone.
- Hypocrite: The Gulak campaign don't like it when officials are abused, unless those officials are in their way, at which point they will be happy to slap around the glass jaw referees. Drew Gulak doesn't like it when other members of his campaign filibuster too long, but will gladly talk up all of CZW's time if left alone.
- I Have the High Ground: "Sick" Nick Mondo, AR Fox, Rich Swann, Mia Yim, Danny Havoc, The Irish Airborne, Sonjay Dutt, Devon Moore, Flip Kendrick, PR Flyer, to give you a sample.
- Improbable Weapon User: CZW as a whole holds the dubious distinction of getting electronic weed whackers banned from sports in the country. Yes, it is in the athletic commission's rulebook!
"He's a human being! Not a plant!"
- Improvised Weapon: Many, as to be expected from a garbage promotion but Von Eerie's belt and Sozio's suspenders still stand out for being pretty odd. The ring crew apparently has fun improvising some as well, such as stitching together a wall of steel chairs using barbed wire and bats made of carpet strips. A bedroom door was used by Danny Havoc at Down With The Sickness.
- It Will Never Catch On: John Zandig had this opinion of CM Punk after he only wrestled one CZW match with Justice Pain.
- Kavorka Man: Greg Excellent, women just can't resist. On Night of Infamy Excellent accidentally kissed Pepper Parks when he tried to stop his wife, Cherry Bomb, from falling for his charms, leading to both of them spitting in disgust.
- The Klan: Rockin' Rebel actually did this gimmick for a time.
- Legacy Character: Nick Gage and Nate Hatred would take the name H8 Club after Wifebeater and Justice Pain stopped teaming together. The original H8 Club would take exception to this and they would feud on and off before finally having a match to decide who had the right to use the name.
- Legion of Doom: Danny Havoc, Devon Moore and Lucky 13, the Nation Of Intoxication, got on in the form of The Forgotten Ones. Drew Blood wanted revenge on Devon Moore for beating him in a "loser leaves CZW match" by putting him through a mirror and leaving him unable to wrestle for three years. Rory Mondo wanted revenge on Danny Havoc for trying to burn him alive during a mummified barbed wire casket match. "The Bulldozer" Matt Tremont wanted revenge on all three for not spending time with him, Danny Havoc especially. Ron Mathis just wanted spots on shows.
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen
- Zandig had already agreed to do a series of joint shows with Ring Of Honor before Chris Hero provoked a war between to the two promotions, so rather than reschedule he came to this agreement with Gabe Sapolsky, which came to an end when BJ Whitmer challenged the CZW locker room at the end of the ROH show, causing Zandig and Wife Beater to chase the ROH roster off with a weed whacker and then torture Whitmer.
- The Campaign For A Better CZW spearheaded by Drew Gulak was all about this, which naturally made Gulak and his supporters unpopular with the CZW base.
- Loan Shark: The Front. Sozio was made an offer he couldn't refuse...
- Man on Fire: Nick Gage accidentally lit himself on fire while trying to put John Zandig through a flaming board.
- Marshmallow Hell: Greg Excellent invokes this trope with his man boobs.
- Masked Luchador: Mascarita Montoya, Egotistico Fantastico, The Osirian Portal
- Messianic Archetype: The Messiah, also Chris Hero, the savior of CZW and a claim made by Matt Tremont
- Moral Guardians: The moral guardians of New Jersey decided to ban the death match stuff, forcing CZW to concentrate most of the ultraviolence into their Delaware shows. This is also what the Gulak campaign eventually degenerated into after Nick Gage got arrested. Or perhaps they merely expanded themselves to include the issue of mismanagement, if you take Drew Gulak's word for it.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Diablos Macabre, Man Man Pondo, Nate Hatred, Justice Pain, Skullion, Juggulator, Necro Butcher, Wifebeater...
- Nice Hat: Danny Rose's pink and yellow "sombrero".
- Ninja: The Hardcore Ninjas (#1 and #2)
- No Sense of Personal Space: How the wrestlers generally intimidate commissioner Maven Bentley. Greg Excellent leaned up on him while Maven was trying to use a urinal.
- One Steve Limit: CZW has had two wrestlers who were known as Wife Beater, though one had dropped the name before officially debuting. They've also had a couple of Johns, Daves, Nicks and Jimmies.
- Parts Unknown: Azrieal, from "South of Heaven"
- Power Stable: Softcore Connection, Hi-V, The Suicide Kings, The Switchblade Conspiracy, Drew Gulak's Campaign, The Front, OI4K (Ohio Is For Killers), The Forgotten Ones. All Money Is Legal and The Blackout have also shown up, but were not CZW stables and as such did not show up in full force.
- Power Trio: The Backseat Boys, The Nation Of Intoxication, The Spanish Announce Team
- Proper Lady: Cherry Bomb makes this claim while Kimber Lee claims to be "first lady of the Combat Zone" and is much more confrontational than most examples. But Kimber Lee did aid Gulak's efforts to sanitize CZW so she's still not too far off. To no one's surprise, the two formed a tag team after meeting.
- Punny Name: Drew Blood
- Real Men Wear Pink: Greg Excellent's theme song is Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up."
- Ring Oldies: Sugar Shack Jack d. Nikolai Volkoff by DQ at their February 28, 1999 show. Women too: CZW March Violence 2000: Dallas vs Natasha the Hatchet Lady went to a double DQ.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Thumbtack Jack, but honestly, do you blame him?...probably yes if you paid to see the show live...except for that time Masada pieced both sides of his mouth.
- Nick Mondo's M Bison knee drop
- Their July 28, 2001 show, What About Lobo?
- To WWE Smackdown at Tangled Web VI when Drew Blood, Rory Mondo and Ron Matthis attack the Nation of Intoxication and the fans started shouting "Six man tag!"
Maven Bentley: "Are you asking the bald man in the suit to make a tag team match playa?"
- Sibling Team:
- The Kashmerino Brothers
- The Briscoe Brothers
- Tag Team Twins Charlie Haas and Russ Haas
- The H8 Club (Nick Gage and Justice Pain...maybe they have different mothers/fathers?)
- The Spanish Announce Team Jose and Joel Maximo (along with their cousin, The Amazing Red)
- The Irish Airborne, Dave and Jake Crist, OI4K with Sammy Callihan and or Nevaeh.
- Spot Monkey: Their shows have gotten better about this as time has gone on and the notoriety CZW had gained from them has probably only been relatively moderate because it is usually drowned out by talk of broken glass and thumbtacks. Still, it was pretty out there, not just in the traditional "high spot" stuff but also in basic story telling. Even if two people were crowd favorites, there was rarely much explanation as to why they would remain friendly after taking barbed wire eggbeaters to each other when the match did not even call for it besides them both being crowd favorites. DJ Hyde gets a lot of credit for improved booking.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: John Zandig, the boss. When they did a series of shows in Japan with Big Japan Pro Wrestling, Zandig got to book himself over both his own guys and also over the Big Japan regulars.
- Straight Edge Evil: When Matt Tremont decided he was going to murder The Nation Of Intoxication...it was because of how much time they spent on getting intoxicated. Pepper Parks and Cherry Bomb take it a step further. They were virgins until marriage, don't even eat junk food and have a broad definition of the term "junk food".
- Tag Line: Like Nothing Else
- Tag Team: Diablos Macabre and Middknight, Thrill Kill Kult. Necro Butcher and Toby Klein, The Tough Crazy Bastards. Alex Reynolds and John Silver, the Beaver Boys. JT Dunn and David Starr, The Juicy Product. PR Flyer and San Juan Kid, The Puerto Rican Powers (also known as Aeroform). Besides them, tag teams from all the groups already listed under sibling team, power trio and power stable.
- The Cast Showoff: Rich Swann on the guitar
- The Fighting Narcissist: Shanna is perfect and so is Lisbon by association. Spotlights shine on her command (in her own mind anyway).
- The Giant: It's Tofiga's red baron, and his role
- The Jannetty: Drew Blood and the resident scumbag Devon Moore, fought over which of them would be the Jannetty of Notorious Inc. Devon Moore won but Drew Blood returned in 2013 so, it remains to be seen.
- The Rival: XPW and 3PW were its real life rivals to be the top garbage promotion of the East Coast. The Combat Zone outlasted them both. Ring Of Honor and IWA-Mid South to a friendlier extent, at least out of story, as they have a history of collaboration in real life.
- The Social Darwinist: Jon Moxley says pro wrestling is survival of the fittest and he would burn this very arena to the ground to prove it if he has to.
- The Stoner/The Alcoholic: The Nation Of Intoxication
- Tournament Arc: Best of the Best and Tournament of Death are two of their big annual events. The former focusing on athleticism and the latter on...violence. They also are regular contributor's to WSU's Queen and King of the Ring.
- Trouser Space: Ron Matthis has hidden brass knuckles in his tights.
- Ur Example
- CZW was the first promotion to bring "death matches" (excessive sharp objects, fire and or explosives) to notoriously strict Canada
- Nick Gage was the promotions first ever World Heavy Weight Champion and Triple Crown champion.
- Lobo was the first graduate of their school and the first man to win every available CZW title.
- LuFisto was the first woman to win the Ironman Championship, the first woman to compete inside the Cage Of Death and the first Queen Of The Death Match Tournament winner.
- Weapon of Choice: Masada's barbeque skewers, which he would hammer into his opponent's skulls. Thumbtack Jack does the same with needles and syringes. Oh, and they'll do moves like brain busters and pile drivers afterwards. Greg Excellent likes spitting Mountain Dew in people's eyes.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Kevin Steen said he hated CZW and begged Ring Of Honor to take him back, even offering to give them the CZW Ironman Championship, after the other CZW wrestlers tortured BJ Whitmer.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: Middknight, Ian Knoxxx. Goes for events too like CZW XSpelled
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: At CZW Destruction in Dover, February 28, 2001, Nick Berk d. Justice Pain for the CZW World Heavyweight Title in 11:37. Then Yoshihiro Tajiri d. Berk for the title in 2:39. CZW boss John Zandig raised Tajiri's hand in victory, and then clotheslined him and pinned him for the title in about 5 seconds. Thus, the CZW World Heavyweight Title changed hands three times in one night over a period of about fifteen minutes.