Women’s wrestling in Japan is better than women’s wrestling anywhere else. I don’t think I’m going to get a lot of arguments there.

Normally I’m not a fan of death match wrestling, particularly. I like it conceptually, but for the most part the matches themselves are blood and stupidity for blood and stupidity’s sake, and are usually disgusting instead of interesting. But like any rough, if you dig through it enough you find some real diamonds. Like this one.

I found this match over at Drop Toehold. I’m glad I did, because I’d never even heard of it, and it’s OUTSTANDING. It’s a death match, but it focuses heavily on storytelling and psychology, with the violence being used as the set-pieces that the story was built toward. It starts off a little bit slow, as they build tension because the ropes are holyfuckscary, but in the second half it gets insane. There’s a spot, which should be very obvious when you watch the match, that caused me to recoil and gasp with my hand over my mouth. It was that terrifying, and that’s going into it with the knowledge that both of these women were fine afterward (er, well, not FINE, but they lived and there were no serious injuries that I’m aware of). Also, I now know why Cheerleader Melissa calls her version of the Vertebreaker/Cop Killer the Kudo Driver. Neat! Learning!

What really puts this match over the top for me, though, is that the death match elements are sold like, well, death. Unlike modern death matches where guys will bleed buckets and take 98 light tube shots and probably give themselves cancer to entertain 26 desensitized hyenas in a high school gym, then get up and walk out like they didn’t take any damage at all, the death match elements in this match were sold by the competitors as the most brutal pain felt in their lives. It’s the kind of thing that I wish death match wrestlers nowadays would take to heart.

Just watch it. It has the HEAT stamp of approval.