2020 has been hard. For everybody. Every day, there’s new devastation and sadness. It’s inescapable. Every niche community has suffered massive losses. From music scenes (RIP Riley Gale and Wade Allison) to sports, the air is filled with inescapable bad news daily.
The wrestling scene hasn’t escaped either. Earlier this year, the Northeast indie scene was hit with the unfathomable losses of Danny Havoc (Grant Berkland) and his wife, Brianne.
Havoc was a stalwart of the deathmatch scene. He moved from Iowa to Philadelphia to train and compete in CZW, debuting in 2005. Known for his brilliant wrestling mind and crazy deathmatch contraption ideas and drawings, Havoc was part of the rare breed that just truly loved and preferred deathmatch wrestling. Throughout his 15 year career, he won multiple Tournament of Deaths and CZW Ultraviolent titles. He retired in 2017 before making a brief return to GCW this year, wrestling his last match in February before the pandemic hit.
Another of these types is Matt Tremont.
Tremont went from sitting in the first row of CZW shows to being the most decorated and celebrated American deathmatch wrestler of all time. He’s competed in every deathmatch tournament imaginable and won most of them. Tremont held the CZW title for more than a year and the GCW title for almost a year. While Zandig is the face of deathmatch’s past, and Nick Gage is the face of the present, Tremont represents its soul. Every breath, every promo, every word screams sincerity and passion. You feel it. When “Separate Ways” by Journey hits the speakers, you can’t help but feel a wave of emotions every time: nostalgia, fear, excitement, trepidation, everything. You never knew what would happen, how much blood would be spilled, how much of his body and spirit would be left in the ring after the match.
Tremont has given his all for deathmatch wrestling, and he seemingly has paid for it. At the age of just 31, he walks like a wrestler twice his age; the years of brutality have taken their toll. While he has been winding down his career over the past few years, taking fewer bookings and concentrating on his promotion and training school H2O Wrestling, the loss of Havoc was the final nail in the coffin, signaling to Tremont that he wouldn’t be able to go on without him. He announced that his final match would be on October 30, 2020, Mischief Night, at his own promotions The Last Extravaganza show.
While there are many opponents that would be appropriate for Tremont’s last match, no one was better suited than Rickey Shane Page (RSP).
Over the past two years, Page has reinvented himself, from smiling deathmatch star to bitter cheater who has no respect for anyone or any company. He’s the perfect foil for Tremont, someone that solely wants to end Tremont’s career and prove that he’s the current standard in deathmatch wrestling.
The stage was set by an incredible video package featuring career highlights, Havoc, and promos from both Tremont and RSP. I strongly encourage you to watch it. The crowd was rabid, the ring lined with hundreds of light tubes draped over barbed wire. The venue felt like a dark and dingy warehouse space, the perfect setting for such an important yet beautifully barbaric match.
Wrestling crowds this year are a weird, touchy subject right now. Should shows be happening at all? If so, should fans be there? How close to the action? Masks? Cheering? These all can be debated, but the reality is, shows probably shouldn’t be happening at all, especially indoors. I believe, however, that sometimes, people deserve their escape. This crowd was rabid for Matt Tremont. The entire match felt cathartic for all involved, from the wrestlers to the fans. It’s been a tough year, and for one night, they could all come together and honor their fallen brethren.
“Bulldozer” chants rang out even before Journey hit the PA for the last time. Tremont entered with his wife, Chrissy, and immediately basked in the moment. Emotion was dripping off of his face before he even stepped in the ring. Finally, he punched his way through the tubes just to climb into the ring, where he was greeted with streamers and cheers. RSP was showered with boos. Danny Havoc, newly enshrined in a banner above the H2O ring, looked down. Tremont pointed to his fallen friend, but was immediately cheap shotted. The carnage began.
RSP did not want to send Tremont out nobly. “R-S-Pussy” chants rained down as he smashed tubes, one by one, over Tremont before sending him into barbed wire again and again. RSP broke tubes in Tremont’s mouth and he threw them at his face, cutting off any early Tremont comeback before it started. RSP sent Tremont’s head through the “ropes” in-between tubes before he brutally kicked an entire row of them right into Tremont’s face. It was pure punishment. Blood dripped down Tremont’s face, Still, Tremont asked for more.
Finally, Tremont shot RSP into the ropes and dodged a cannonball attempt, sending RSP himself into tubes. RSP tried to regain momentum by attempting a tope suicida through tubes to the outside, but Tremont had moved, leaving the only landing the cold, hard concrete. Finally, Tremont was able to give Page his receipts, smashing tubes over his head, one by one by one. RSP, relatively unscathed for most of the match, was now covered in both a crimson mask and a crimson shirt.
RSP had enough, he became even more aggressive, throwing bundle after bundle recklessly at Tremont. Chrissy begged him to stop. Page beckoned her into the ring, where she delivered a low blow and a bundle shot right over Page’s, much to the chagrin of Page’s 44OH stablemates. The H2O lockerroom came to her aide and ran 44OH off, leaving Tremont and Page alone again.
Tremont grabbed a box of tubes and handed one to Page. Man to man, they would trade tube shots, trying to prove who could last the longest. It’s meant to be an honorable exchange and is a staple in deathmatches, a sadistic form of the famous Kobashi vs. Sasaki chop exchange. But there’s no honor in RSP, and he dodged each Tremont shot, delivering his own retaliatory shots with increasing ferocity. Tremont summoned the strength to hit a Samoan drop through a pile of tubes, but it was not enough. Tremont knew that he needed to take the match to another level, both figuratively and literally, and began climbing a ladder on the side of the ring to a scaffold on the side of the ring. Once he got to the top, backed by the Havoc banner, Tremont summoned RSP to join him up there. They exchanged punches, back and forth, until RSP got the upper hand and threw Tremont off of the scaffold through a tower of chairs, barbed wire boards, and light tubes that had been set up in the ring.
— Rob (@HeyyImRob) October 31, 2020
Sensing this may be it, RSP ran down from the scaffold and covered Tremont, but only got the two.
The Bulldozer lived on, if only for just a few more minutes. He could barely stand while Page threw every tube that was still lining the ring in Tremont’s face, all the while yelling at Tremont that Havoc wasn’t coming back. Still, Tremont wasn’t going to go down. RSP looked at the banner, apologized to Havoc, and delivered a Chokebreaker through another bundle. Still, Tremont wasn’t going out. His body was covered in blood. Shards of light tubes hanging out of every opening and orifice. He could barely stand. Finally, RSP hoisted Tremont to his shoulders, hit a Death Valley Driver onto the glass-covered mat, and sent Tremont out to pasture.
After the match, Tremont pulled up a chair, bloody shards of glass surrounding him on the mat, duct tape holding his arms together. “You’re a Hero” chants filled the room and a “Thank You Tremont” sign was thrown into the ring. Finally, he seemed relieved. The heavy burden of deathmatch wrestling and his friend Grant were gone, replaced with acceptance and reflection. Tears streamed down his face as he let the crowd know that he had to retire: there’s just nothing left for him in wrestling.
When someone important leaves the profession they are most known for, it can be easy to feel like that profession won’t ever be the same. Of course, that feeling is usually exaggerated: life moves on, new people arrive, and the legends become engrained only in our imaginations and memories. But, still, it is impossible to ignore that feeling with Matt Tremont. The deathmatch scene will continue on, but with just a little less heart and soul.