At the Kawasaki Stadium in Japan on May 5, 1993 the first-ever no-rope exploding barbed wire time bomb Deathmatch took place. Now, this match type may sound like a mouthful with it’s multiple stipulations. And it was.
The bout took place inside a wrestling ring, but heavily modified. Instead of the usual ropes, they were replaced by razor-sharp barbed wire. Outside the ring was mounds of barbed wire and tables surround unexploded mimes, primed to explode with the simplest of touches from either competitor.
If that wasn’t extreme enough, a timer ticked down during the match, counting down to al almighty explosion which threatened to kill either competitor. It was a totally bonkers, dangerous and exhilarating match type which fans could not wait to see.
It was unlike anything ever seen before in wrestling, pioneered by two of the all time greats. Atsushi Onita vs Terry Funk were the only two men who could have made this match as good as it was and made it the most iconic fights in the history of wrestling.
Atsushi Onita Was Inspired By Terry Funk As A Student
Atsushi Onita is not a name revered alongside the greats like Kenta Kobashi, Mitsuharu Misawa and Antonio Inoki.
However, among many fans of the death match style of wrestling, he is. He is known worldwide as a pioneer and a trailblazer in the wrestling world, as well as being one of the most popular wrestlers in Japan during his time.
He brought FMW to superstardom with his death match wrestling and infectious personality. Leaving the company to pursue an acting career, he eventually returned to the company and brought it back to the forefront as it’s top star again.
He helped launch Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling as a top promotion in Japan, selling out stadiums and wrestling in front of crowds of thousands.
His deathmatch style of wrestling was unique in Japan at the time, but it was an American wrestler who inspired his style. During an excursion in Texas as a young wrestler, Ontia would begin to idolise Funk’s hardcore style of wrestling and get inspired by the legendary wrestler.
“He would watch me in barbed wire matches, he really idolized me and that’s why he came to Amarillo. To be like Terry Funk, you know. What a horrible thing to want to be. He wanted to be an idiot too.”Terry Funk on inspiring Atsushi Onita
Funk would act as a mentor for Onita – he helped train him, teach him the ropes and even bought him a car whilst in Texas. His kindness was rewarded when Atsushi Ontia would return to Japan and bring Terry Funk over for some blockbuster matches that would go down as some of the greatest matches of all time.
Onita vs Funk Was A Story-Driven Deathmatch Classic
When Terry Funk would come over to wrestle for FMW, he would wrestle against his former protegee in one of the most dangerous matches of all time. For the 4th Anniversary Show for the promotion, his opponent had something special in mind to impress the crowd begging for hardcore wrestling action.
That match was the No-rope exploding barbed wire time bomb Deathmatch. The match itself sounds incredibly brutal, and luckily it is. The bloodthirsty FMW fans demanded blood and this match promised to deliver it in buckets.
Barbed Wire Ropes, weaponry and explosives were all a part of this match. Fans were even clamouring to get front row spots, despite the threat of death from explosion. Terry Funk put this down to the pure craziness of the FMW fans.
It was a stadium full. About 30, 40 thousand and they don’t charge 0.50 cents a ticket over there either. There are the idiots in the front row people. We’re going to have an exploding ring match here tonight. Well, I want a front-row ticket! Bulls**t! I just went out to the damn ring. I’m a glutton for a crowd being into a match. I was just out there ready to just capture that crowd. And we did.Terry Funk on the No-rope exploding barbed wire time bomb Deathmatch
Atsushi Onita vs Terry Funk took place at the FMW 4th Anniversary show and was one of the promotions most legendary matches. The match itself was a classic brawl between two of the best brawlers around. Onita’s white shirt became shredded and blood-soaked as the barbed wire tore into his clothes and his skin.
Terry Funk was bombarded with explosives to his back every time he was thrown into the barbed wire ropes. It was more spectacle than a wrestling match but still managed to put on a classic match that no-one could have expected would be that good.
Atsushi Onita vs Terry Funk ended when Onita threw his opponent into the ropes before hitting a DDT, covering Funk for the three count. While this was the end of the match and the bell rang, the countdown to the explosion did not end.
Next is what changed this match from great to legendary.
Onita, the ultimate hero to the fans having just vanquished the American heel, became the biggest babyface in the world during this post-match. As the timer counted down to certain death, he noticed that Terry Funk still lay prone in the middle of the ring.
Panicked, he ran into the ring and slapped Funk in an attempt to awaken him. Nothing he did worked, as his mentor seemed doom as the countdown clock eked closer and closer to the dreaded zero. In a last gasp effort, he covered the body of Funk and shielded him from the blast.
Outside the ring, explosions rang out to the shock of everyone. Despite knowing what was the coming, the amount of explosives was not known. It was shocking, but his sacrifice had made Atsushi Onita hero for saving the life of the man he had spent 20 minutes trying to put down for good.
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Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.