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Deathmatch Worldwide Serves Wrestlers and Fans the World Over

Corey Higdon was ten years old when he saw his first deathmatch on a VHS tape. From that moment on, he could not get enough.

The road to Deathmatch Worldwide was a difficult one. For many years, he wanted to do something to promote and support the extreme side of pro wrestling. A few years ago, he was out of work, needing back surgery, and struggling to make ends meet. “I had wanted to do something like Deathmatch Worldwide since I was sixteen years old,” he says. “It got to a point where I didn’t have a choice. It took me almost twenty years, but I knew if I was ever going to go for it, I had to do it now.”

Higdon, now 35, opened a company called Double Hell Wrestling Club in 2018, producing one off custom shirts via pre-order. At the time he offered shirts that appealed to a wider audience than just the deathmatch crowd. The company was a hit, but his long term goal remained the same: a platform for deathmatch wrestlers to sell their own merchandise.

After Double Hell became a success, Corey invested a great deal of money in his own T-shirt printing equipment, building a T-shirt shop in his own house. “It was a big investment, but the people I bought it all from were going fly someone in to train me and everything. Then Covid hit, and that all went away.”

Corey didn’t let the virus set him back. Through trial and error, he taught himself how to use the new equipment, all while keeping Double Hell Wrestling going. Finally, in February of 2021, he opened the Deathmatch Worldwide store. “It got so busy so fast, I couldn’t keep up with both companies,” he says. “Both companies were run very differently, but I couldn’t keep up with both. Double Hell was a big success, but I had to shut it down to focus on Deathmatch Worldwide.”

Deathmatch Worldwide began with just a handful of stars attached, guys Corey personally knew like Mad Man Pondo, John Wayne Murdoch, and Reed Bentley. In less than a year it’s grown to more than 80, and it truly has become worldwide. “I ship all over the world, and I sell shirts for wrestlers for all over the world. Guys like Mad Man Pondo had a lot to do with that, opening doors for me.”

The hardest part has been earning the trust of the wrestlers, especially the guys from overseas. “The Japanese wrestlers don’t want to do business with guys in the US because they’re used to US fans stealing from them. People do it all the time. They steal openly. They bottled everything. I’ve never understand that mindset of, ‘I’m such a fan of this guy, I’m going to bootleg his stuff and pocket all the money.’ I just don’t get that.”

Corey admits he had done the same thing with two wrestlers at the start of Double Hell Wrestling, Kevin Sullivan and Bruiser Brody. “I realized I was doing the same thing that I got pissed at the people for doing. I decided that, if it took me ten years, I was going to track them down and pay them what they were owed.” Corey was able to contact both Kevin Sullivan and Barbara Goodish, Brody’s widow. “I paid them what I would have paid any other wrestler. I told them I was sorry and that I wanted to do right by them. As a result, I became friends with both of them. I sold Brody’s shirts when I was doing Double Hell, and I still sell Kevin’s shirts on Deathmatch Worldwide.”

Corey knew that hard work and honest business would win people over, and it has. Word of mouth from the wrestlers continues to grow his platform. He recently open stores for FMW-E Wrestling and Atsushi Onita. He’s also running shops for Mitsuhiro Matsunaga and, with the blessing of his family, the late Mr. Pogo.

Doing right by the wrestlers remains paramount every day. “Every wrestler in my store is there by request, and I pay the wrestlers as much as I can.” He makes enough that he’s now running the shop as his full-time job, and it’s still growing.

Corey does right by the fans too, in ways most companies don’t. He’s been shipping worldwide since the store started, and he also offers shirt sizes all the way up to 5X.

Deathmatch Worldwide is open 24/7 and offering new shirts every day. Each shirt is custom printed to order. With the shop being a one man operation (for now), it may sometimes take a while to get your order. Rest assured, it will be printed and shipped with the utmost care and attention to detail. You can find shirts from Akira, Alex Colon, Dale Patricks, G-Raver, Manders, Mance Warner, Matt Tremont, Mickie Knuckles, Necro Butcher, Sage Sinn, Shlak, Tank, and dozens more.

Deathmatch Worldwide is also open to new deathmatch wrestlers looking for a place to sell to their fans. You can find information on how to apply, as well as shop their ever growing selection at www.deathmatchworldwide.com

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Masters of Pain Caps Off Great Weekend at IWA East Coast

It’s been twenty months since I took a road trip to see professional wrestling, and IWA East Coast broke the Covid-enforced moratorium with a bang this past weekend. The promotion hosted three shows from Friday through Saturday, and the entire weekend was a blast.

IWA East Coast hosted their festivities at Skateland, a roller rink set up inside an old elementary school just southeast of downtown Charleston, West Virginia. The decor along the two story walls surrounding the rink included playful graffiti, billiards tables and accessories, and high up in one corner, a life-size replica of Michael Myers, complete with butcher’s knife.

“To me, this building represents all of West Virginia,” said one local on Saturday afternoon. “You have all this fun stuff, and then, a little bit of creepiness.”

Made sense to me. Earlier that day I made the obligatory one hour trek to Point Pleasant to see the Mothman Museum and statue. Yes, it’s absolutely worth the extra time and your $4.50 admission. (You will spend more in the shop. Trust me!)

Back to the wrestling. The action began Friday night when eight men took part in the Zero G Crown Tournament, including Kincaid, Facade, Gary Jay, Aaron Williams, and Jake Crist. The first round match up between Crist and Williams alone made the trip worthwhile for me, but the entire evening was full of great action.

Third generation wrestler Malcolm Monroe III came into the building as an unknown, but by the end of the evening, everyone was chanting “Three! Three! Three!” Host Mad Man Pondo hyped the kid up in his first major event outside his home state of Michigan. Odds are he’s going to be doing a lot more traveling in the near future.

Fans dumped plenty of hate on Jake Crist, who heeled it up all night long as he sailed through the brackets. At one point the crowd split with a “Let’s go Jake Crist / Dave is better chant.” The former Impact star proved he deserves to still be on someone’s roster, and he took home a giant trophy to add to his resume.

Saturday afternoon, the ladies of Girl Fight took center stage. Fans were treated to two great opening matches featuring Girl Fight regulars Charlie Kruel, Mickie Knuckles, Nikki Victory, and Big Mama.  A lesser known competitor named Shayla Hyde put the Girl Fight fans on notice when she hit a 619 on the Black Widow Harley Fairfax. The crowd popped big, and Shayla scored a huge upset.

Another new face who impressed was young Judi-Rae Hendrix from Lexington, Kentucky. I met Judi on Friday night, when she picked up a copy of Tracy Smothers’ book and told me she was training with Bobby Blaze. Having not met her before, I was surprised to see Hendrix in the main event slot with newly crowned Girl Fight champion Billie Starkz. Hendrix quickly showed she belonged, going toe to toe with Starkz and earning a “This is awesome” chant after hitting the champ with a Canadian Destroyer.

Starkz got the win, but fans definitely took note of Hendrix and her tenacity. This is another young lady to watch in the coming years!

Saturday evening was the Masters of Pain deathmatch tournament, featuring eight of the best deathmatch artists in the world: Shlak, Shane Mercer, John Wayne Murdoch, Akira, Jimmy Lloyd, G Raver, Alex Colon, and Nolan Edwards. To be honest I am not a deathmatch guy, but I have endless respect for the men and women who do these types of matches. I also firmly believe that some of the deathmatch specialists are among the very best wrestlers in the world, period.

I’ve often said you could take John Wayne Murdoch, put him in a time machine, and drop him in Memphis or Mid-South during their hey day. A number of the guys competing with him Saturday night would do equally well in that sci-fi scenario.

The show was fun and frenetic from start to finish, but the match that had everyone buzzing in the building and online was the second round clash between Shane Mercer and Akira. Why Mercer is not signed to a major company is beyond me. His combination of power and athleticism are unmatched on the indies. Mercer and Akira dueled it out in a shower of glass shards and fluorescent lights with big flips and power moves throughout. Akira outlasted Mercer, and afterwards, Mercer took a moment on the mic to honor the student who had just bested one of his teachers.

The evening came to a grand finale when Akira and Nolan Edwards entered a ring filled with fan-made weapons to fight for the Masters of Pain trophy. The boys made use of everything from a door covered in barbed wire to a preschool baseball bat covered in glass Christmas ornaments. That said, it was the garbage can full of light tubes that stole the show. The boys began trading head shots, one after another, faster and faster, as if determined not to leave a single bulb unbroken. The flurry of popping glass had the fans on their feet, stomping and screaming for more. The night ultimately belonged to Akira, who bested his close friend and brother Nolan Edwards to win the tournament.

IWA East Coast plans to bring back Masters of Pain next year. If they do it up like these did this year, I highly recommend fans making the trip. The hospitality is warm and friendly. The local flavor is fun. And as I already mentioned, the Mothman is only an hour away… although Mad Man Pondo swears he heard the creature in his hotel room Friday night.

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Shlak talk to Kick Out at Two

Righteous Jesse told me they have Shlak on the Kick Out at Two Podcast this week. I hadn’t heard the name before, so I looked him up. Here, in his own words from his Twitter profile, is Shlak:

“I R SHLAK. pro wrestling crash test dummy, I tattooer at black vulture, I in eat the turnbuckle, crack house, n other bands.”

And here is another quote I found on his feed:

“Guns don’t kill people. SHLAK kills people.”

Kick Out at Two is a must-subscribe for die hard indy fans because they bring you guys like Shlak all the time. Get to know the intense, ultra-violent deathmatch veteran on this week’s episode, then go back and see who you’ve missed. Let Jesse, the Wilkman, and Brittany be your gateway into the wild world of independent wrestling.

Go to www.koatpodcast.com and subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Soundcloud today.