It has been revealed that Vince McMahon once gave the green light to an “exploding deathmatch” taking place on WWE television.
Exploding deathmatches have been a mainstay of wrestling in Japan for decades with Mick Foley famously defeating Terry Funk in the finals of the King of the Deathmatch Tournament in Kawasaki in 1995. The match between Foley and Funk was labelled a No Ropes Barbed Wire Exploding Barbed Wire Boards & Exploding Ring Time Bomb Death – but Vince McMahon wasn’t going to go that far.
Speaking on the AdFreeShow series The Insiders, former WWE writer and MLW owner Court Bauer described how he once pitched a deathmatch to former WWE Chairman Vince McMahon by showing him the work of deathmatch legend Atsushi Onita. According to Bauer, McMahon was ready to bring deathmatches to WWE:
“They were trying different things at this time, this is when (they thought), ‘Hey, let’s relaunch ECW! Let’s try different stuff!’ So I showed Vince an Onita exploding deathmatch and he said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it!’ From there they said, ‘Okay, get with Kevin Dunn and his team and let’s get to work on it.'”
“I don’t know if Kevin felt it wasn’t feasible. We never got an answer for why they took the creative from exploding deathmatch to ‘Temple of Doom playset’ but it happened.”
AEW infamously held an Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch as the main event of its Revolution pay-per-view in 2021. Kenny Omega successfully defended his AEW World Title against Jon Moxley in that bout but the big ring-exploding finale turned out to be a damp squib.