Choose death, huh? Well, you would’ve thought that was the choice that Samoa Joe and Necro Butcher made on that summer day in 2005. On my quest to find matches that I missed during my adolescent years, I got into a deep Samoa Joe phase, inspired by the exhilarating experience of his iconic clash with Kenta Kobashi. After that, I just wanted to watch anything that had to do with the mad man, especially from that particular portion of his career. By channce, the second match on this journey just happened to be Joe’s famed brawl with Necro Butcher. Indeed, quite the one-two punch for a beginner.
Since that first viewing, I’ve rewatched this one countless times, especially when I felt that my pro wrestling passion had began to lessen slightly. In response, I’d just revisit this match and in mere minutes, remember why when everything is connecting, pro wrestling is the best thing on this planet. This particular match is a unique example of that, something straight out of a horror movie. In an instant, Necro is bleeding profusely, opened up by some of nastiest headbutts in wrestling history, right alongside Nigel McGuinness and Katsuyori Shibata in that regard.
This was the first so-called ‘death match’ that I’d ever witnessed. At the time, I had no idea that this wasn’t your typical death match. There weren’t any light tubes, no glass or spikes, the ‘usual’ death match weaponry simply wasn’t used here. That makes sense though, as who needs weapons when you have two crazed, wild wrestlers throwing live rounds at each other? They went to the other kind of extreme, trading stiff forearms, kicks, closed fist punches and headbutts too. These two men were going at each other with a kind of ferocity that isn’t really seen on the American indies, let alone a national television product.
You would’ve thought that Samoa Joe and Necro Butcher worked with each other a lot on the indies at the time but no, this was the first time these two indie stars had collided. Necro was just coming back to America from working the special Big Japan Anniversary Show in Japan. He barely got any sleep on his way back from Japan because he was drinking the whole way back, then racing to the building so that he’d even make the show on time. Supposedly, Joe was mad that Necro had taken liberties with his ROH Dojo trainees. That about sets the scene and to make things even more special, Dave Prazak is joined by CM Punk and Eddie Kingston on commentary.
Fittingly, Necro comes down to the ring like a mad man that hasn’t slept in days. He charges towards Joe in center ring, ready to go to war as the sudden rivals come face to face. For even daring to slow their violence, a young Bryce Remsburg is first thrown to the turnbuckles by Necro, and then launched to the floor by Joe. Now left to their own devices, both guys go to work, laying into each other with brutal forearms, before Joe escalates things with a particularly fiery diving forearm. That first minute of action was immediately insane, as the pair then brawls through the crowd, throwing chairs, punches and those aforementioned headbutts.
It only gets worse from there too, with Necro storming into the most disgusting powerslam that you could ever possibly see or hear. Honestly, this powerslam could kill a normal man, but not the Necro Butcher. Instead, he just powered through it, even back on his feet before long. Soon enough, I started to get this butterfly feeling in my stomach, a feeling that I still get to this day when watching this beautiful piece of pro wrestling violence. Maybe that’s alarming, perhaps I’m not right in the head for using the word ‘beautiful’ to describe this bloodbath but to me, it still feels like the most fitting.
Completely unrelenting throughout, both men have a palpable sense of urgency, a grotesque pursuit of victory. Joe is seemingly on offense throughout, dishing out two powerslams to the concrete, a chair shot to the head and a horrific powerbomb on the guardrail. After all that brutality, the countless body shots, knees, forearms, kicks and unprotected headshots, a bloody and worn out Necro Butcher fails to beat the 10-count. He gave as good as he got, or tried to at least, but it’s Joe who stands tall, even if only momentarily, for the win in this indie epic.
At not even ten minutes long, this is one of the most unique classics in wrestling history. These two men dished out nothing but brutality, taking each other to their absolute limit. This was a masterclass of willpower and violence, a ruthless brawl that seventeen years later, still hasn’t been replicated.