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"Combat Zone Wrestling. It's like nothing else."

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 and CHIKARA, 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. In 2014, CZW would acquire ownership of rival/partner promotion WSU.

Most popular wrestlers on the indie circuit have worked at least one match in CZW, among them Claudio Castagnoli (WWE's Cesaro), former CZW World Heavyweight Champion Jon Moxley (Dean Ambrose, who would later make history by becoming the first former CZW World Champion to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion), Chris Hero (NXT's Kassius Ohno), Drew Gulak (a stand-out in the cruiserweight division) and the former Junior Heavyweight Champion Adam Cole.

The promotion and one of its stars Necro Butcher got some national exposure when they were featured on The Wrestler. 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:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Chuck Taylor was able to defeat Danny Havoc in a table match Drew Gulak (illegally) assisted him by shooting Havoc in the face with a confetti gun.
  • 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, it's me!" on the basis he is the "company's savior".
    • Dimitrios Papadon refers to himself as a Greek god.
    • Poseidon claims to be... well...
  • Action Girl: Mia Yim, Kimber Lee, Jessicka Havok, Nevaeh, Christina Von Eerie, Radiant Rain, The Lovely Lacey, LuFisto and Brittany Blake, 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, Hotstuff Hernandez, Mr. Motion, Body Bag, Biff Busick, Buxx Belmar, Joey Janela...
    • Also events May Madness, September Slam, Breakaway Brawl...
  • 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.
  • 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. Gresham'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. Raised to funny by how, after the match, off camera, commentator Jake Black told Mia, "you took your top off" and she, confused, asked "I came out here like this, didn't I?"
  • 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 situations 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 threats 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.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Not all the time, and they've never quite reached the extremes FMW or Big Japan have hit, but CZW has managed to put on bloodier shows than any in the USA before them, including those that used to happen in the ECW arena.
  • Bounty Hunter: There was a wrestler with this name.
  • Broken Ace: Matt Tremont lost his spot to injury and kept finding himself upstaged by Joe Gacy upon return. He got his spot on the top of CZW back, eventually, but may have lost his mind in the process.
  • CamelCase: eXceSs 69
  • The Cameo: Gypsy Joe, one of the innovators of the "death match" in Puerto Rico, served as a referee at Tournament Of Death IV.
  • 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!"
  • Collectible Card Game: One made by Filsinger games, who also have compatible games for ROH and Chikara.
  • Combat Commentator: Nick Gage and Eddie Kingston are among them
  • Cool Old Lady: Mama Excellent, who in turn made the Gulak Campaign look even more like tools.
  • Crazy Homeless Person: Homeless Jimmy. Granted, he stands out more for being homeless than crazy when around so many people willing to be cut and burned for CZW title belts.
  • Crossover
    • In May 1999 CZW started an Interpromotional Hardcore Division with the National Wrestling Alliance which lasted almost an entire year before being discontinued.
    • 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.
    • Heavy Montreal Presents Freedom To Fight - IWS VS CZW
    • Dollhouse has tried to win the tag team titles. Downplayed when Trevor Lee was X division champion but neglected to bring the title belt with him at Welcome To The Combat Zone.
    • 2016 was kicked off by CZW vs SMASH, reigniting the rivalry between Johnny Gargano and Sami Callihan.
  • 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.
  • Double Knockout: Joel Maximo, Jose Maximo and Amazing Red all pinned one another at once during CZW The Boss Is Back.
  • Dreadlock Warrior: Nate Carter
  • 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
  • The Fighting Narcissist: Shanna is perfect and so is Lisbon by association. Spotlights shine on her command (in her own mind anyway).
  • 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.
  • 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 Title, The CZW Interpromotional Hardcore Title and The CZW Death Match Title 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.
  • The Giant: It's Tofiga's red baron, and his role
  • 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...
  • The Heavy: Chris Hero was front and center of the CZW Invasion of Ring of Honor. Hero instigated the hostilities before Zandig and Necro Butcher's later involvement. Zandig was ultimately responsible, due to negligence causing the antipathy between promotions, and when Zandig did act, Hero and Butcher quickly became subservient to him. However, for most of of the "feud" he was nowhere to be seen, leaving Hero and Butcher to do all the heavy lifting and between the two, Hero acted as leader more often than not, had the most to say, had the most grievances, did most of the planning, etc.
  • 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.
  • 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. Years later, Punk would become a five-time world champion in the WWE and the longest reigning WWE Champion of the modern era.
  • 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
  • Moment of Silence: A fan was thrown out by unanimous vote from the other fans and staff when he voted against giving one to Eddie Guerrero.
  • 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...
  • Nineties Antihero: Every other baby face, none more apparent than John Zandig, who codified use of "Ultraviolent" as a self description. Justice Pain once described himself as a heel who gets cheered like a baby face. This is partially why Drew Blood and Rory Mondo of The Forgotten Ones (despite recruiting Matt Tremont, who was a late coming nineties antihero himself), hated the Nation Of Intoxication, as Danny Havoc and Devon Moore embodied the trope(Lucky 13 described as just having some bad luck)
  • Ninja: The Hardcore Ninjas (#1 and #2), Shun the Kabuki Ninja
  • 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". Joe Gacy fights out of Planet Terror
  • 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, Scarlet And Graves. 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, Team Tremendous
  • 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.
  • Ring Out: Invoked by Cherry Bomb in a bid to get out of a forced WSU title defense, revoked later in the same show by Sami Callihan, who wasn't about to let that kind of thing take hold after his CZW return.
  • 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 outside of any angles, as they have a history of real life collaboration.
  • Rival Dojos: The Dojo Wars spinoff has members of the CZW/WSU academy taking on student from other wrestling schools...when they aren't fighting each other.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out
    • Cage Of Death is a shout out to CMLL's annual multiple participant cage match. The two are only superficially similar but similar enough all the same.
    • 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)
    • Flip Kendrick and Louis Lyndon of Areoform and Flexor Industries, despite the different surnames.
    • The Irish Airborne, Dave and Jake Crist, OI4K with Sami Callihan and or Nevaeh.
    • The Amazing Gulaks Drew and Rory
  • 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.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Shane Strickland uses "I Want You Back" by the Jacksons as theme music, because nothing says ass whooping like the high pitched voices of prepubescent boys serenading to girls. Trevor Lee managed to find something even more mood breaking in Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off".
  • Spiritual Successor: To ECW. It started as an imitator of but has ended up having more longevity than its older counterpart. Its cross promotion with Big Japan could be seen as succeeding ECW's with FMW. CZW's working period with Dragon Gate one to ECW's with Michinoku Pro Wrestling.
  • Spot Monkey: Their shows got better about this as time has gone on and the notoriety CZW gained from them has been relatively moderate, usually drowned out by talk of broken glass and thumbtacks. Still, it was pretty out there, not just in the traditional "high spot" stuff of Jack Evans and Teddy Hart 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 is credited for easier to follow psychology and booking.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: John Zandig, the boss. When they did a series of shows overseas with Big Japan Pro Wrestling, Zandig got to book himself over both his own guys and also over the Big Japan regulars.
  • The Stoner/The Alcoholic: The Nation Of Intoxication
  • Straight Edge Evil: When Matt Tremont decided he was going to murder The Nation Of 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".
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Usually the line CZW voluntarily will not cross(the barring of power tools was forced on them), however it has been dabbled with at times, such as when FMW revived, Atsushi Onita himself was willing to return to the United States and Matt Tremont was brave enough to be his opponent.
  • 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. Besides them, tag teams from all the groups already listed under sibling team, power trio and power stable.
  • Tap on the Head: Acknowledged and averted and the 2012 Tribute To Brain Damage ("The Ultraviolent Terminator" and two time Ironman Champion), who himself set out to avert the trope, obviously.
  • Tempting Fate: The lesson to learn from BJ Whitmer is the same one Mikey Whipwreck taught us in ECW. Never throw out an open challenge in the Combat Zone. At Welcome To The Combat Zone, AR Fox was so sure there wasn't a single man on the CZW roster who could beat him and had a body guard in John Jr, just in case and still ended up paying for it when five wrestlers answered it all at once.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: SeXXXy Eddy is so manly he can whip opponents to the mat with his still clothed dick...a one off gag which has since become a staple of Joey Ryan.
  • This Loser Is You: "You marks are Joey Janela because You Are Fat" was basically Lio Rush's reaction when instead of congratulation or appreciation he got chants of "fuck ROH" after he made it clear signing a contract with ROH would not be keeping him out of CZW and proceeded to win the Wired title belt for the second time.
  • 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 contributors 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, falls from high places, etc) to notoriously strict Canada. A lot of what is associated with garbage wrestling was developed in Canada but it was also met with early backlash, causing pioneers to flock to Puerto Rico and continue to innovate before CZW eventually brought in many developments they had missed, in force.
    • Nick Gage was the promotion's 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 Title belt and the first woman to compete inside the Cage Of Death.
  • 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 Title belt, after the other CZW wrestlers tortured BJ Whitmer.
  • Wrestling Doesn't Pay: The Amazing Gulaks are wrestling trapeze men, having promised their father they'd follow in his footsteps.
  • 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. It's another example of Zandig's It's All About Me/Spotlight-Stealing Squad tendencies, since he booked himself to squash Yoshihiro Tajiri in about five seconds.

Alternative Title(s): Combat Zone Wrestling