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Garbage Wrestler
aka: Garbage Wrestling

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"...I know nothing but Hardcore violence. I know nothing but beating on your ass, 'til I get tired..."

Often times, particularly in Hardcore Professional Wrestling promotions, there are some wrestlers who really can't actually wrestle. Nor can they particularly do any high flying moves. Nor are they particularly good on the mic. But they can hit people pretty well, and they can hit people with things. So, they get a gimmick based around hitting people with foreign objects, and generally all-around brawling, and not particularly using any wrestling moves at all (or very few wrestling moves). Inversely, they are also known for amazingly dangerous "bumps" (professional wrestling stunts, particularly those that involve getting hit) such as Mick Foley flying off the Hell in a Cell. Fans of their style tend to appreciate the fact that these wrestlers are willing to implement such a dangerous style simply to entertain.

The term Garbage Wrestler was inspired by Giant Baba, Japanese pro wrestler and owner of All Japan Pro Wrestling, who once famously referred to rival promotion FMW, which employed this style with alarming regularity, as "garbage". Despite this, it is not necessarily a derogatory term in today's fanbase.

Some related tropes could include:


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    Professional Wrestling 
  • Abdullah the Butcher may have been one of the first garbage wrestlers, and managed to make a very long career out of it, with the fork being his weapon of choice. The Original Sheik was another innovator of this style. Other early examples were Dick the Bruiser and his "cousin", The Crusher, although they could definitely wrestle.
    • Abdullah Kobayashi is a spiritual successor to the butcher in Big Japan Pro Wrestling, having been trained by him. BJ itself has been described as a garbage promotion.
  • In Mexico, these are known as "extremos" and are mostly associated with independent circuit promotions such as X-LAW, NGX, RevoluXion Hardcore, DTU and GLC due to CMLL not having much use for the style, having already lost one TV deal to Moral Guardians even after cutting all blood out of their shows. Some of CMLL's national rivals such as AAA have managed to broadcast these match types without losing any deals but only indy and foreign based promotions have divisions exclusively for extremos.
  • According to Carlito Colón, garbage wrestling, or at least blood n' guts, is what the majority of Puerto Rican fans want to see. He may have a point, though garbage matches have been rarer in WWC since the new millennium they continued on with scaffold matches long after they had fallen out of favor nearly everywhere else and company founder, his father Carlos Colon, was about as brutal a garbage wrestler as they come(by necessity, Abdullah The Butcher being the promotion's first singles champion). In fact, the trope naming promotion FMW got the idea to use barbed wire from WWC! WWC was also the first promotion to create hazards by lighting things on fire. That famous ECW scene where the fans bury the ring in thrown chairs? That had already happened in WWC to Ox Baker! "Super Fly" Jimmy Snuka diving off the top of a cage? Puerto Ricans already associated that with Gypsy Joe!
    Tommy Dreamer: "You guys were hardcore before hardcore was cool."
  • Another early innovator was Wild Bull Curry, who won the Texas Brass Knuckles Title belt 20 times during his career. The belt was eventually changed to a straight hardcore title.
  • Trope Namer (via the Baba quote above) Atsushi Onita, founder of Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling. Once a promising junior heavyweight in Baba's All Japan Pro Wrestling, a potentially career-ending knee injury forced him to take up a heavily brawling and gimmicks-based style in order to continue his career.
  • During FMW's first run, its two main rivals were Wrestling International New Generation and International Wrestling Association Japan. While W*ING did have fire and nails, it's death matches were slightly less extreme and less frequent than FMW, instead trying to compete through use of more surreal angles and gimmicks like The Crypt Keeper as well as cross promotion with WWC in Puerto Rico and UWA in Mexico. IWA rose out of W*ING's ashes when this approach failed, still looking to distinguish itself with much of the W*ING talent and partnering with foreign bodies like the NWA but also by applying more garbage wrestling in more unique ways, such as The King Of The Death Match Tournament. They also failed, though stayed active much longer thanks in part to a Puerto Rican branch.
  • Before FMW's revival, garbage fans in Japan in need of a fix tended to turn to Big Japan Pro Wrestling, who like to take the garbage match stipulations of other promotions and make them even more dangerous, such as replicating CZW's infamous "Cage Of Death" and then electrifying it. Before they had the budget for such structures and eye catchers like explosions, bleeding wrestlers made Big Japan famous by torturing one another with tanks full of animals like piranhas or scorpions. That said, over the years there was a split in the Big Japan roster between "Strong BJ" and "Hardcore BJ", with most of the garbage matches being done by the latter.
  • Perennial All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling heel Dump Matsumoto. Although she was a straight-up power wrestler early in her career, she only really took off by living up to the name and utilizing various weapons, starting with a pair of scissors that she would often convincingly jam into the arms of her opponents, until she evolved into a full-on Garbage Wrestler.
  • Mad Man Pondo started off as a more subdued collar and elbow style wrestler but decided he would not make any money that way, so he took to the garbage death matches of IWA Mid-South, CZW, Big Japan Pro Wrestling and Juggalo Championship Wrestling after seeing the shocked reactions his friends had to such (he was a little more subdued in Gateway Championship Wrestling). He also convinced 2 Tuff Tony to take up the death matches, so he could have a tag team partner.
  • The Nasty Boys were a stiff, garbage wrestling tag team that hospitalized Ken Shamrock, back in his pre-UFC days in the North Carolina-based South Atlantic Pro Wrestling promotion. They were thought to be genuinely tough but slightly dangerous to work with.
  • The Sandman is a classic example of this trope. For the majority of his career, he used very few wrestling moves, relying on punching his opponent and hitting him with a variety of objects. Only later would he add some actual pro wrestling moves to his arsenal, such as the "Rolling Rock" (a moonsault onto a ladder laid atop a prone opponent), the "White Russian Legsweep" (a russian legsweep using a singapore cane), and the "Heineken-rana" (a hurricanrana).note  When WCW hired The Sandman, they kept him exclusively in their hardcore division.
  • New Jack, another wrestler from the old ECW, certainly qualifies here. His primary talents were hitting people with stuff, and diving off of high places. Although he worked a fairly "normal" style of wrestling (by comparison) in his pre-ECW days with promotions such as Smoky Mountain Wrestling. Belying the opening of this page, however, New Jack was actually pretty good on the mic, if very over-the-top.
  • The Public Enemy ("Flyboy" Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge), a tag team from ECW, also qualifies. They were famous for their garbage matches and their use of tables in ECW. They became so famous that they were hired by WCW.
  • Axl Rotten, known for his "This Is Gonna Hurt" painted chair. He would form a tag team with the aforementioned Ian Rotten called Bad Breed. Balls Mahoney also made use of the same chair.
  • Nowadays "Innovator of Violence" Tommy Dreamer has this reputation but during his early ECW days he was unpopular with the mutants because they felt he wasn't garbage enough. In WWE he was more famous for being hit with weapons rather than using them.
  • Most of Rob Van Dam's finishing moves involve the use of folding chairs and he stated on WWE Byte this that his true talent would not be displayed until WWE gave him a hardcore title to compete for and defend every week.
  • Justified Trope?: In his autobiography Have a Nice Day, Mick Foley (aka "Cactus Jack", "Dude Love" and "Mankind") described his "peanut butter scale"—insisting that while he did have a reasonable grounding in 'real' wrestling moves (indeed, his first trainer insisted on "no punch-kick" in some sparring sessions), he'd found that use of "garbage" wrestling meant more money, and fewer meals of peanut butter sandwiches he'd have to live on in the next month.
    • It should also be noted that Mick Foley differs from many "garbage wrestlers" in that he's one of the best promo men in the business. Foley also demonstrates a more diverse moveset than most of the others on this list. In fact, one of his early signature moves was the "Cactus Jack Crack Smash" which was a run from the apron into a senton splash to a standing opponent.
    • The above applies for Terry Funk as well, who despite being the grandad of all garbage wrestling, is a damn good wrestler and even held the NWA World Heavyweight Title in his heyday.
    • As does it apply to Botchamania favorite, Sabu. In his own words, he believes that even garbage wrestlers like himself should have a good foundation in wrestling before implementing objects.
  • "Sparkplug" Bob Holly, previously saddled with a wrestling race-car driver gimmick, briefly became a garbage wrestler during WWE's "Attitude Era". While the garbage period did not last, the Hardcore Holly moniker stuck.
  • The entire purpose of the WWE Hardcore Title was to house garbage matches, though it became less so after the "24/7" rule was inducted. The rules of the Hardcore Title were matches were no-DQ, no-countout and falls count anywhere. The "24/7 rule" meant that the belt was ALWAYS on the line and title changes could happen anywhere at any time so long as the other guy (or girl) had a referee on handnote . The most famous champion from this time period was Crash Holly, who earned the Red Baron "The Houdini of Hardcore" because of his ability to escape situations where he might lose the title.
    • Ivory and Tori (Terri Poch) had the first-ever women's hardcore match in WWE when Tori challenged Ivory for the WWE Women's Title on the September 6, 1999 Raw. The match started in the bathroom and may have been even stiffer than the hardcore matches the men were having at the time, and featured a lot of screaming and some creative choices in weapons, such as Ivory using Soap Punishment as they fought through the showersnote  Ivory won by pulling a mirror off of a wall and smashing it over Tori's head, with Jim Ross worrying about the barefoot Tori possibly getting glass in her feet. After the match, Ivory found a plugged-in iron and tried burning Tori with it. It took several referees to pull Ivory off of her and get her to calm down. On the 2000 VHS release WWF Divas: Postcard from the Caribbean, right before scenes from this match are shown during Ivory's segment,note  Ivory compares wrestling to a dance and how the guys have all gotten around to each other a few times over their careers and how the women don't "dance very often with the same partners or the same opponents, and I guess that's why the hair-pulling happens."
  • WCW also had a hardcore title. Highlights include a Junkyard Battle Royal held in an actual junkyard that resulted in multiple serious injuries and Terry Funk nearly getting his head kicked in for real by a horse.note 
  • The Japanese promotion Dramatic Dream Team, which, in its sheer wackiness and creativity and originality, is like CHIKARA up to eleven, created their Ironman Heavymetalweight Title as a parody of the WWE Hardcore Title, with the title being defended ANYWHERE, even in non-title or tag matches, under 24/7 rules. Cameramen, people from the audience, the chief chef from the Yakeyama Springs Inn, a female newscaster, "three elementary school girls," "a Bolivian boy" and even a miniature dachsund have "won" the title. On January 31, 2003, a ladder fell on champion Yoshihiro Sakai during a match with Mikami, and the referee counted the fall. Sakai promptly pinned the ladder to regain the title.
    • Later that year, a ladder fell on champion Sanshiro Takagi for the title. The title was declared VACANT on October 15 after the promotion's "president" "encouraged the ladder to 'forfeit' the title."
    • On July 21, 2007, then-champion The Crazy SKB put the title up for auction, which was won by Naoshi Sano.
    • There has been so many title changes for this belt that, as of April 29, 2014, Sanshiro Takagi was the 999th champion. He wanted to retire the belt so there would never be a 1,000th champion, and managed to win a battle royal to retain before getting into a tussle with Poison Sawada JULIE and falling to the mat with the title belt on top of him. The referee counted the pinfall. That's right, the 1,000th champion wound up being the Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship belt itself!
      • The belt's reign was short lived, though...after the card, the belt was lying around backstage when All Japan Pro Wrestling star Jun Akiyama sat down to give an interview, and just happened to rest his arm on the belt. A nearby referee counted the pinfall, and suddenly, Akiyama was the 1,001st champion, much to his chagrin.
  • DDT also has the DDT Extreme Title, which is more formally their secondary championship. The champion often can select the type of match the title will be defended in, and while it can vary from standard rules to extremely silly ones (such as the "Noise Prohibition" match - competitors were penalized for making loud noises), most defenses are hardcore/garbage rules.
  • Pretty much the entire roster of ECW's upstart rival, Xtreme Pro Wrestling, are garbage wrestlers.
    • Likewise, IWA-MS, founded by garbage wrestler Ian Rotten. The state of Kentucky banished the promotion after one blood bath too many and the state developed the strictest athletic commission in the union to ensure another like it was never developed inside its borders again. Though this isn't really true of IWA-MS anymore and hasn't been for a good while; they still do deathmatch stuff, but their list of alumni also boasts the likes of CM Punk, Chris Hero, Colt Cabana, Ace Steel, Delirious, and Matt "Evan Bourne" Sydal.
    • Likewise, much of the roster of CZW, though it shares several talents with Ring of Honor and CHIKARA. More, the garbage is usually limited to a couple times a show up until their big death match events. That said, CZW prides itself on garbage and when it goes there...they go pretty far.
  • LuFisto, who became CZW's first female Iron Man Champion, first woman to compete in their tournament of death and first female in their cage of death. Though she dropped the Iron Man Title after an injury that made her reconsider this path, she came back as hardcore as ever.
  • Necro Butcher, who became a mainstay at the aforementioned CZW and IWA Mid-South, had the privilege of representing the garbage wrestling style in the movie The Wrestler. His scene was filmed at a CZW event.
  • Nick Mondo of CZW, IWA M-S and others, alternatively looks back at his decision to partake in garbage wrestling as a mistake or with pride. Well, he takes pride in his matches and helping get CZW on the map but thinks it was a mistake to do so many. He's actually a decent mat wrestler, striker and pretty good high flier but will forever be known for falling off buildings and getting cut with a weed whacker.
  • During the late 1990s, when the garbage fad was around it's strongest, one of Future Of Wrestling's most popular talents was Al Bino, known for lack of regard for his body and use of ladders and chairs. The style would prove the be popular in the future, but it was two guys from OMEGA who ended up being the stars.
  • Abyss during his run in TNA gradually became more known for thumbtacks, his signature weapon "Janice", a two by four with spikes protruding out of it and his specialty match the "monster's ball", which often adds barbed wire boards. His time as Joseph Park has not been a case of this trope, as it is in his opponents' best interest not to make Chris bleed. Prince Justice was likewise not an example.
  • Cleverly subverted at Pro Wrestling NOAH Navigation with Breeze, Day 4, May 17, 2005, during the Genichiro Tenryu/Go Shiozaki/Jun Akiyama vs. KENTA/Mohammed Yone/Takeshi Rikio. At one point, the action spilled out to the floor. Tenryu grabbed a table from behind the guard rail and threw it onto KENTA's head. After some more action on the floor, Tenryu picked up the table and put it back behind the guardrail, to applause.
  • Nikki Roxx went through several garbage promotions and participated in some of the most violent women's matches on record but did not have this gimmick until she became "the hardcore knockout" Roxxi Laveaux in TNA. Till then and immediately afterward she was a power-technical wrestler who just happened to blow off some feuds or be a target of the likes of LuFisto.
  • After FMW folded, a number of promotions sprung up to take its place, World Entertainment Wrestling, Wrestling Marvelous Future, USO and Onita Pro, perhaps too many at once since they all ended up folding too. Then the FMW wrestlers who were scattered among these various places and suddenly out of work banded together to form the "Apache Army" and made their hobby invading pro wrestling promotions still running until FMW's 2015 revival.
  • Whenever you see a Puerto Rican fed with the letters EWO, be it Extreme Wrestling Organization, Entertainment Wrestling Organization or just "Ewo", you better believe you'll see some garbage wrestling before long.
  • Another Puerto Rican organization, WWL, which Carlito has also worked for, has gone Deliberately Monochrome in the event of heavy blood loss on its TV program, sometimes. It has its own "extreme" title dedicated to garbage wrestling and haven't been afraid to show wrestlers bleeding in matches for it, so the odd instances of squeamishness seem to be a circumstantial thing. A lot of the wrestlers such as Monster Pain and Legio do wear black though, as it makes the staining less visible.
  • Part of Matt Tremont's Face–Heel Turn in CZW had to with the fact the promotion was cutting back on this trope, slightly, in part to being banned in certain areas if they did not and the fact they were making some room for other styles of wrestling. Ironically, his turn involved joining with two other wrestlers who took exception to the Nation Of Intoxication going too far in their garbage matches, temporarily retiring one and almost cooking the other alive.
  • Bram started calling himself "The King Of Hardcore", his first action in TNA involving attacking Jeff Hardy with a crowbar. He proceeded get involved in a large number of garbage matches with Abyss and ECW alums.
  • Lucha Underground is far from a garbage promotion and doesn't employ pure garbage wrestlers, but it does often have some brutally hardcore matches involving a great deal of weapon use and much bloodshed. The purest example was the 'Cero Miedo' match between Pentagón Jr.. and the famous Vampiro, nominally the colour commentator who came out of retirement for this match, at the first Ultima Lucha event. Vampiro had always been a hardcore wrestler, but his match against Pentagon went To the Pain, with steel chairs, thumbtacks, fluorescent light tubes, and ended with Pentagon slamming Vampiro through a burning table.
  • Jon Moxley is actually an incredibly talented ring worker and an even better promo guy, but he does love a good hardcore match when he can get one, most famously his unsanctioned match against Kenny Omega at AEW Full Gear 2019 where both men used weapons (a bat and a broom) wrapped in barbed wire on each other, Omega tried to hang Moxley from the ring with a chain around his neck, Moxley was forced to crawl through a field of broken and powdered glass to reach the ropes to get out of Omega's sharpshooter, and both men were suplexed into a trampoline-like web of barbed wire. It was, in Moxley's own words, "fucking garbage wrestling", and earned AEW a $10,000 fine from the Maryland Athletic Commission and a warning to never do anything like this within their borders again.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Pro Wrestling spoof Kinnikuman has a few of these. Including at least one guy, Junk Man, who is actually made of garbage; True enough, his style also revolves around bashing opponents with his spiked industrial press hands. Perennial Heel Neptuneman apparently hates garbage wrestlers so much that he once killed his tag partner for using foreign objects. It's a bit ironic, considering that Neptuneman wears a special vest with spikes that he frequently uses to impale opponents, which some would consider a form of "garbage".
    • Of course, note that among his opponents in the Choujin Tag Tournament was Buffaloman, who had horns he would impale people with; it's likely Neptuneman figured he was just evening the score a little, and that by using something simply attached to his costume he wasn't betraying his love of "real" wrestling.
    • Also, after being shot by Kinkotsuman before his match with Robin Mask, Terryman, desperate to win, fought dirty by throwing sand in Robin's eyes and wearing spiked knuckledusters. This was a marked contrast to his normally extremely easygoing attitude.
      • And while he doesn't display this directly in the anime or manga, in at least one of the games Kinkotsuman will indeed just shoot you in the ring. Note that Kinkotsuman is physically feeble and cowardly, so this is clearly his idea of evening the odds.
      • Subverted with Warsman who SEEMED to be relying entirely on a clawed weapon to beat their opponents. However, when Kinnikuman removed his claw; he proved that he was still very capable of kicking ass.

  • Mad Dog from Ong-Bak. His fighting style consisted in using absolutely everything that came to hand as a weapon, even ripping out electrical wires to attack his opponent.
  • Opening match in Monster Brawl is between two fighters of this type: Witch Bitch, who has a hidden cleaver and doesn't shy away from underhanded tactics and Cyclops, who uses his smithing hammer.
  • One of the luchadores in Nacho Libre has a moveset largely dedicated to hitting opponents with a metal folding chair. As he does so, he shouts "¡Siéntate!", which means "Sit down!", or if you want to get cute, "Have a seat!"
  • In The Wrestler, Randy "The Ram" Robinson, once the biggest star of The '80s but has fallen on hard times, ends up having to participate in a hard-core match on the indie circuit to make ends meet.

  • It's a one-line gag, but garbage wrestling in Artemis Fowl apparently involves gnomes and zero-gravity.

    Live-Action Television 
  • Frank's wrestling persona in the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode The Gang Wrestles for the Troops is "The Trashman", invoking this trope in a literal sense (by throwing trash around the ring and then eating it). He fits the trope pretty well besides that, he's certainly not as flashy as the personas of the rest of the guys and he ends up winning the entire bout by throwing a metal trash can at his opponent (the edge of which knicks the other wrestler's jugular and he passes out from blood loss).

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the dice game Luchador! by Backspindle Games, all the wrestlers can use chairs and tables for their attacks (these aren't considered their special moves, however).

  • The Grossery Gang action figures, specifically the time travelling Time Wars series, played for a literal version, turning living garbage can Trash Head into a luchador. In the webseries, he is seen in this persona on top of defeated wrestlers, with various pieces of detriment thrown in the pile as well.

    Video Games 
  • Leo Bradley from 3 Count Bout. In a game where any character can pick up a spiked cudgel or a broken bottle, he stands out by having huge chains as a major part of his moveset. His stated specialty is "hardcore matches", and while he can perform actual wrestling maneuvers he doesn't have a very impressive repertoire of them. Once in a while in arcade mode a match is either a street fight outside of a ring or a hardcore match with electrified ropes; in both cases weapons are lying around to be used.
  • While not a wrestling game, Eternal Champions features several fighters well versed in martial arts, and then it has the caveman Slash. His fighting style is listed simply as "Pain". The game further describes his style as using underhanded moves such as eye gouges, nose tweaks and ear smashes to inflict a great amount of pain, making it increasingly difficult for his opponent to properly focus on the fight.
  • In Saints Row: The Third, The Boss uses this strategy to fight Killbane and his Mooks in Murderbrawl XXXI.
  • Rip Saber from Ring of Destruction: Slam Masters II. Of course, in a wrestling federation where people generate electricity and turn into falling meteors (to name two examples), he needs to use more powerful weapons, including grenades.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner parodied this during a Strong Bad Email about wrestling. Strong Bad has had several gimmicks, but really made a name for himself in a tag team with Strong Mad... although there were some misfires, such as their "Foreign Object Bros." gimmick, where they apparently solely made use of the various foreign objects on their costumes, including a gun shoved down Strong Mad's singlet. The same episode had Strong Sad as Gardenboy, with a watering can that shoots fire.

    Western Animation 
  • Steven Universe: In "Tiger Millionaire", Steven's eponymous wrestling persona has the gimmick of hitting people with various props related to his jungle/sleazy businessman theme, from coconuts to a briefcase full of play money to a giant cardboard cell-phone.

Alternative Title(s): Garbage Wrestling