Barbed Wire Board Glass Window Death Match
Headhunter A vs. Headhunter B
May 1, 1995
IWA Japan

Growing up as a wrestling fan was often a lonesome life. After the collapse of WCW in the early 2000s, I didn’t know anyone else in my life who was a wrestling fan, and so most of my education on wrestling came from random searches on a still very new world wide web. One of those searches brought me into the world of tape (or in my case DVD) trading, a discovery that could open up dozens of new worlds to me, a young kid stuck in the Midwest. The only problem was, reading the list of promotion names was like deciphering a foreign language. Michinoku Pro? Toryumon? Meaningless words. 

So how did I decide what to purchase? I thought I’d look at the matches, maybe see a name I recognize. But even that led me mostly to a dead end, with unknown names wrestling in unknown promotions. But one promotion did stick out to me – IWA Japan. I didn’t know most of the wrestlers, but I did understand Barbed Wire Board Death Match and Bunkhouse Death Match and Thumbtack Death Match. I didn’t know who I’d be seeing, but I knew exactly what I was getting, and I was into it.

Which is why I had a big smile on my face when I received my Secret Santa gift this year, a match from the promotion of my younger years, IWA Japan. Back when I was getting the IWA Japan shows, there was no guarantee that any of the matches would be any good, but you knew you were going to get SOMETHING. And this sure was something, with the crowd already fleeing in terror during the introductions as Headhunter A enters and stalks around ringside. The crowd remains in that state of fear throughout the match, acting almost like a wave as they live for the action in the ring before darting away whenever the action threatens to get too close on the outside.

The Headhunters feed off the crowd’s energy, putting together an exciting death match that isn’t just random violence that the worst of deathmatches fall into. The match’s opening moments are thrilling as both Headhunters desperately try to avoid being thrown into the glass, holding on to the ropes for dear life and looking at times like junior heavyweights ready to skin the cat and climb back into the ring. But the dexterity of two 300+ pound men can only go so far, and eventually, the violence breaks out, and it goes right to ten, with both Headhunters getting slashed open with shards of broken glass and bleeding all over the place. The crowd, hanging on every moment, only wants an even fight, with chants breaking out for whatever wrestler (simply “A!” or “B!”) is getting his ass handed to him at that exact moment.

But just when you think the match will just be random acts of violence, the Headhunters return to the middle of the squared circle and start showing off their array of insanely impressive aerial maneuvers – splashes, diving headbutts and even some moonsaults. It’s a back-and-forth contest, with near falls and increasingly daring risks. Eventually, the titular glass window gets involved. It spells the end of the match for Headhunter A, but even after a hard-fought battle, the Headhunters remain united, joining together after the bell to beat the shit out of the ringside attendants.

This match was a ton of fun. It won’t make any list of the greatest matches of all time, but every element is perfectly in harmony to produce one of those wrestling matches that is simply a joy to watch. The crowd, the violence, the weapons, the in-ring work are all in sync, and whether you’ve never seen IWA Japan or if you’ve seen a ton of it, I highly recommend this match. Thank you to my Secret Santa, who I’m going to go out on a limb and guess is Kevin Hare?