Nothing says the holiday season like an independent wrestling event that is named after a cage of death, but thus is the case for Combat Zone Wrestling.
Saturday night in Voorhees, N.J. is the biggest night of the year for the local wrestling promotion, as it presents Cage of Death XV at the Flyers Skate Zone. Bell time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
For more information regarding Cage of Death XV, visit CZW's web site HERE.
"This show is literally a turning point for CZW," CZW owner and wrestler DJ Hyde said Thursday during a phone interview. "The direction that I've moved in with what I want to do with the company, this show pin points exactly what I want to do."
CZW is a promotion based around the hardcore style of wrestling where violence is the norm. CZW has even garnered a reputation on the wrestling scene in the United States as a promotion that is high on violence and low on actual match quality.
Wrestling purists tend to thumb their noses at CZW's style of product.
But Hyde said that since he took over the company in 2009, he has taken the company away from simply pure, unadulterated violence and has added something to suite everyone's taste. He likes to call it a buffet and said that Cage of Death XV is a prime example of it.
For the fans of technical wrestling, the show will have independent star Davey Richards square off against Chris Dickinson.
For those who like to look at beautiful women who know how to wrestle, the show boasts Kimber Lee versus Christina von Eerie.
Maybe fans want to laugh and see a more light-hearted match. Well Hyde booked Greg Excellent to go up against Freight Train.
And for the people who love the excessive, unabashed violence, the main event will be inside the cage of death where two teams of four will be surrounded by a steel cage and weapons.
"What we're really trying to build is to give every aspect of wrestling that's out there on our shows," Hyde said.
"I want you to be able to find something that's for you so you can grasp on to that where most independent companies, and even World Wrestling Entertainment, it's all the same," he added.
Because of this, Hyde said those who still box the promotion in, as merely an ultra-violent bloody mess simply doesn't watch the product.
Hyde said that there's never violence simply for the sake violence. If there is violence, that's because there has been a long, drawn out story to warrant the violence.
When the violence gets turned way up, Hyde said it has meaning.
"It's not so much that they just hate it, but it's that they hear the reputation," Hyde said. "Do we do that? We do that once a year. That show is called Tournament of Death. We basically bring in the best guys that do that. We do that once, which makes it special. It makes it a draw, which is why thousands of people flock to Delaware every year to watch that event."
Hyde also pointed to the fact that on the Cage of Death show, there's only one match that will call for excessive violence — the Cage of Death match itself.
"There is that audience out there that wants to see that match and there is that audience that cares about the guys that are in there and have bought into that storyline," Hyde said.
"Those detractors, they don't watch the product and they'll watch another product. But if you start looking at the guys who are the stars of those other companies, they all come from here," he added.
Among those who went through CZW on their way to becoming known big-name stars are CM Punk, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins — all of which are on WWE television on a weekly basis. Ambrose is even a former two-time CZW Heavyweight Champion.
There are more on the way, too, as Solomon Crowe is currently in WWE's developmental system and Drake Younger and Pepper Parks recently received tryouts.
In an effort to find more talent like that, Hyde is the head trainer of the CZW wrestling school.
"We're not training them to do crazy death match stuff," Hyde said. "We're training them to be professional wrestlers, to be workers."
Hyde himself has spent his entire wrestling career working with CZW in some way, shape or form.
Before getting into wrestling, Hyde earned a football scholarship to play at Penn State and had full intentions on playing for the late Joe Paterno. But a knee injury during his second practice with the Nittany Lions ended his football career.
After a long healing process, Hyde turned his attention to a career in professional wrestling. Through friends and connections, he discovered CZW and befriended the founder and former owner of the promotion John Zandig.
After a decade of owning and running the promotion, Zandig decided to sell the company he founded to Hyde in 2009. Since then, Hyde has been balancing the life of an independent wrestler and promoter.
To help him with this, Hyde said that CZW has an office staff between 10-15 people and said the promotion employs two full-time doctors.
Hyde, along with those staff members are hoping to make Cage of Death Saturday night a major financial success for the promotion.
"We need to make money and not just like, 'Hey, we broke even.' We need to make money," Hyde said. "Cage of Death is a very expensive show to put on. Building this cage, doing the things that we do and this lineup we have, where we bring in a few extra guys with big names is not easy. We need to pay the bills."
Along with paying the bills, Hyde hopes to build momentum to carry over into 2014. He refers to 2014 as "the year of expansion."
Hyde said the promotion already has shows lined up in new markets in the United States for next year and will look into running shows in Mexico and Japan as well. The promotion currently runs shows in Europe.
"We've done a lot of different stuff that has literally grown our company," Hyde said.
[Video courtesy of the Combat Zone Wrestling YouTube page]