The Texas Death Match has had somewhat of a resurgence in recent years. The stipulation fell out of favour for years as the WWE became a monopoly in wrestling.
Texas has also been a hotbed of pro-wrestling. The state has been home to some of the greatest wrestlers in history, including “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Eddie Guerrero and Terry Funk, to name but a few.
However, the Texas Death Match is one of their greatest exports. The match type has spanned the globe, being a key figure in the history of wrestling in the United States, Japan and many more wrestling-mad countries.
With it being a recent addition to the canon of AEW match stipulations, it has found new fame in the modern day.
In this article, we’ll go through the history of the match, letting you know what a Texas Death Match is and the last time the match took place inside a WWE ring.
What Is A Texas Death Match?
The Texas Death Match is a hardcore match type that is designed to push two wrestlers to their absolute limits – both physically and mentally.
The match is a take on the No Holds Barred match. The only ways to win are by knockout or submission, adding a finality to the bout. It is typically used to end feuds and is a “final battle” of sorts.
The Texas Death match was said to have been invented by Dory Funk, the head of the Amarillo wrestling territory in the 1960s. As the father of Terry Funk and Dory Funk Jr, he has contributed so much to the world of wrestling.
The original matches required a wrestler to be knocked out before they lost the bout. This meant that matches could last for hours. A 1965 Texas Death Match between Dory Funk and “Iron” Mike DiBiase lasted more than three hours, destroying the record for the longest WWE match ever.
The match became a staple all across the world, main eventing shows in blood-filled matches. The use of weaponry and violence was not only encouraged, but allowed, and fans flocked to see top stars battle it out in a Texas Death Match.
The idea of a match named after a place is not one exclusive to the Texas Death Match, however. WWE have utilised the city name as a prefix for a variety “street fight” matches.
Examples include a “Philly Street Fight”, “Texas Tornado” or “Russian Chain Matches”, just to name a few. They also utilise the naming convention to pop the crowd during hi shows, putting on matches like the “Cardiff Street Fight”, despite it differing not one iota to any other.
However, the Texas Death Match is different. It guarantees blood, gore and violence, wrapped up inside a great story to end a legendary feud. You can guarantee entertainment and some wonderful wrestling among the bloodshed.
WWE’s Last Texas Death Match
The last Texas Death Match in WWE took place at Madison Square Garden on June 14th, 1987 between Hulk Hogan and Harley Race.
This was their second attempt at the bout, having fought the week prior in the same match type. Both times, Hulk Hogan defended his WWE Championship against the challenger in a huge match that bridged two eras in wrestling.
Harley Race had signed for the WWE years earlier and was currently working as “King” Harley Race. He was one of the first WWE Superstars to win King of the Ring and is still regarded as one of the greatest users of the gimmick.
It’s fair to say that the match was not a classic Texas Death Match. The most extreme moments were the use of a single chair, and the title belt being used as a weapon.
The bout lasted barely 10 minutes and mainly saw the duo brawl around the ring. Harley Race was not in his physical prime, so was not able to put on the match that he would have wanted to in the years prior.
Hulk Hogan won the last WWE Texas Death Match by pin fall – usually not a way you could win the match. Predictably, he dropped the leg (brother) and pinned Harley Race to win the match and retain his coveted WWE Championship.
As the hardcore matches fell out of favour in the WWE, they moved onto Japan. The match became a hit in FMW, the promotion headed by Atsushi Onita.
Trained by the Funk’s in Amarillo, Texas, he learnt the art of hardcore wrestling from the Texas Death Match innovators themselves, and took it to a whole other level in the years following.
What did you think about the last ever Texas Death Match in WWE? Let us know down in the comments, or click below to read about every Texas Death Match in AEW history.