To truly understand what this show meant to me, we have to go back in time to the early 2000's- nearly twenty years ago- to when I was collecting wrestling DVDs and even VHS tapes from eBay because the way we stream things now was just non-existent. I ended up buying a DVD from someone and it turned out to be this match where all of these death match wrestlers fought inside of a house that was built specifically for the match. This was my introduction to BJW and this was my introduction to Abdullah Kobayashi. If you told the me back then that I'd be seeing Kobayashi wrestle live one day I'd never believe you.
Before the last ICWNHB show in NJ, it had been a while since we had been to NJ. I forgot just how terrible the traffic getting out of Connecticut is, so while we planned on a 2-2.5 hour drive getting there, it actually took much longer (and felt even longer) Luckily for ICWNHB 40 we'll be in a hotel again so we'll likely plan on getting there by 4pm. But trying to plan to get to a show when doors open coming from CT to NJ is not fun. And then when we got there it was all street parking and none to be found. We made it to the venue at 7:15-ish but didn't park until after 7:30! What do people do??
Once we got in (We parked near a taco place!) we found spots and then were ready for the show to start. One of the things I love about ICWNHB versus going to other wrestling shows is that they always seem to start on time and have it planned out to where they know they have that start time on IWTV so you never expect doors to be late or the show to start late. We once again opened the show with AKIRA and this time he took on Bobby Beverly. It's not that I don't like The Bev, it's just that I don't like him.
Comparing this show to the one before it we attended live was something I constantly felt myself doing in my head and I just enjoyed the AKIRA-Bam Sullivan match so much more, but again, I'm not against Bobby Beverly being on a show but he's not someone I'm going out of my way to see either. On the other hand, Dr Redacted was one of those names we drove to this show to see and though he ended up fighting Orin Veidt I wasn't too disappointed because I just wanted to see Redacted kill someone.
I feel the same way about Orin Veidt that I do Bobby Beverly. I was happy though that on the last show fans seemed to not really know what to expect from Dr Redacted and seemed to be a pro-Hoodfoot crowd, but by the end of the match I think he sort of won them over and this time the crowd was very much behind him. This match was a lot of fun and credit to Orin Veidt for taking the death.
Next up Jimmy Lloyd took on Danny Demanto and the fans tried to turn this into a GCW vs ICWNHB type of match and I'm just not feeling it. Danny Demanto actually said during this show that he didn't have beef with any other promotion and he wanted to work together and that's what's best for all of wrestling. And it's true. Jimmy Lloyd was on GCW the night before this and to pretend like he's not just seems weird. Cross-promoting shows in that sense just seems to benefit everyone and I'm glad that someone said it.
Abdullah Kobayashi was the fourth match on this show when he rightfully could've gone on sixth or even seventh, but this is why I don't make the calls such as where to put matches on the card. Hoodfoot is just a beast and watching him in this match... I'd really like to see Hoodfoot win the Independent Wrestling World Championship at The Wrestival because everything with the Death Match Championship is flipped upside down now.
Matt Tremont and Tommy Vendetta had a very solid match but I just felt like they had some time before the match started where they were just waiting and I don't know why. I really do enjoy Tommy Vendetta though- I was excited to see him- and I hope he's back in the chains sooner rather than later. Matt Tremont, of course, just always leaves a bit of himself in that ring and him calling out Sami Callihan is huge news and we're currently planning on going to that Mania Weekend show!
This was when things got weird for me. John Wayne Murdoch took on Eric Ryan and it turned into this match where it felt like for twenty minutes it didn't start. JWM did the heel thing and just kind of kept ducking out of the ring. Now, on the show the night before this JWM was booed because he worked for a different promotion (I'm not really sure, but again, see Jimmy Lloyd) and I just feel like the idea of having someone be a heel like this- a chickenshit heel- is not needed in death match wrestling in 2022. RSP pretty much played that one out.
The thing is, and I don't speak for everyone here, I go to death match shows to watch people beat the fuck out of each other. I'm not there to choose sides in a "I'm going to boo you because blah blah blah". No. I just want to see two of the best death match wrestlers in the world- which JWM and Eric Ryan are- try and kill each other. And, again, I'm not sure what this idea of booing JWM was about but whatever it is, it also just feels like a bad gimmick as well. JWM doesn't need this gimmick. Being a death match wrestler is the only gimmick this match needed.
This brought us to the main event, which was Kasey Catal defending the ICW American Deathmatch World Title vs Brandon Kirk. Now, these two are married and everything that has gone on with them and even Krule in the mix was definitely a story in wrestling but it was one that was fun to see play out. Everything leading up to JWM vs Eric Ryan being a dog collar match could've just been skipped and it could've been announced as such from the beginning, but I digress.
Brandon vs Kasey was everything you could possibly want it to be and so much more. Now, with Brandon Kirk as the Champion, Hoodfoot no longer gets that title shot at The Wrestival and AKIRA is also asking for a tite shot so it will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the coming months as we head into 2023. I love that Kasey Kirk was the ICW American Deathmatch World Champion. Kasey really just had one of the best years of any wrestler in the world and on any stage. But if she was going to lose that title, I'm also glad she lost it to Brandon. It just feels so fitting.
One thing I will always remember about this show, from a live perspective, is that at some point after his match, Abdullah Kobayashi was just wandering around. We were in the corner near a random, unguarded door to get outside and Kobayashi just kind of went out there in his trunks still. I saw someone I knew who worked with ICWNHB and kind of gestured towards the open door like "Kobayashi is lost!" and they got it all worked out, but that is something I'll never forget.
In January, we've already got our tickets to return to Westville for ICWNHB 40 and it will be a good way to start the new year for sure. Even if I just feel indifferent to a wrestler, I'm at least happy to see them do what they do out there because death match wrestling is just such a different thing. As someone who goes to way too many wrestling shows, none of them give that feeling that death match wrestling does- that ICWNHB does- and that's why this is going to become a monthly thing for us in 2023.