10 Things I Learned Watching Dark Side of the Ring: The Ultra-Violence of Nick Gage

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Professional Wrestling has been known to get violent at times. That violence is clearly shown through hardcore wrestling and it has at points gone far. It has led to DeathMatch Wrestling being a very popular and growing niche market in professional wrestling. In Deathmatches, there is so much blood and dangerous weapons that are being used that it could legit kill someone. I myself am not a big fan of it, but I get why people like it. There are many wrestlers that have participated in deathmatches including Terry Funk, Mick Foley, Atsushi Onita (Don’t worry I will review FMW’s episode soon *Spoiler Alert*), Jon Moxley, Joey Janela, D.J. Hyde, John Zandig and so many more. However there is one wrestler that is easily one of the best death match wrestlers of all time and his name is Nick Gage. While Nick Gage is one of the greatest ever in death matches, he has also had a very controversial and dark life. So I thought I would watch Dark Side of the Ring’s documentary on him and I learned a lot about Nick Gage.

10. Why Nick Gage wanted to do Deathmatch wrestling?

I found this to be the most fascinating as I always wanted to know the specifics of why pro wrestlers do what they do. I was more intruiged in specifically deathmatchs. I always thought that the main reason why they do it is for the pay day and wanting to Mick Foley who is one of the greatest hardcore wrestlers ever. Even though Gage grew up watching a lot of deathmatches when Terry Funk faced Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) in Japan, that is not 100% the reason why.

The reason why is that, Gage admits that he is very crazy in the head, has a high pain tolerance, and wants to show people that deathmatch wrestling is legit. Trust me I believe him as some of his deathmatches are just insane and pain me just watching. I already am watching these matches through a TV screen or a computer screen. I can’t imagine how painful being in a deathmatch is for them and like Gage said “You have to love this s*** because it hurts and burns”.

9. The backstory of Jon Moxley’s first match against Nick Gage

Before Moxley joined up with WWE and became Dean Ambrose, he was a ver popular deathmatch wrestler during his days in CZW. So Moxley is telling a story about there first match together and Gage is known for using a pizza cutter in his matches. Moxley at the time thought it was going to be a safe spot, well he thought wrong. Gage legit cut Moxley, not only in the forehead, but in the freaking mouth. I am not kidding as while the crowd was hyping up Gage, he puts the pizza cutter in Moxley’s mouth and slices it across. Moxley legit thought his tongue was cut off and luckily it was not thus the match continued. Moxley loved the intensity of the match and he admitted that was more valuable than getting money and fame. That value of intensity is what keep Moxley driving in pro wrestling and I can guarantee you that is one of the many reasons why Moxley decided to leave WWE when he did. So, when the match ended both went backstage and had beers along with cigarette’s which Moxley said was a great environment to be a part of. Moxley even believes that drive of intensity is probably why pro wrestlers like Nick Gage keep coming back, and I absolutely agree with him.

8. The Tournament of Death Incident

Oh dear, you know, I don’t even know where to start with this one as it is just insane. Every year there is this event held in deathmatch wrestling called “The Tournament of Death”. It is basically what King of the Ring is in WWE, but just add the deathmatch factor in it. I then asked, How is this event even legal to even take place? Well it is located in Delaware and in the middle of I guess a farm or woods, it has to be in a place way out there so the cops won’t come and break up the party/event. 

It was at this point where the documentary introduced to Brett Lauderdale who is the current owner of GCW (Game Changer Wrestling). Lauderdale was at the event where I believe he was the referee of the tournament and the match. So Nick Gage was in the finals and he had to beat Thumbtack Jack (another wrestler in the tournament). So this match since it was the finals was surrounded by light tubes and Gage wanted to get tossed into them. Well he did and well, the pieces of glass went into one of his arteries. There is footage of this and let me warn you, please do not watch it as it is gross as Gage is gushing blood out of his chest and arm pit. Of course they react quickly to this as Gage is bleeding out, well Gage wanted to continue the match. I guess the adrenaline is hitting him, but I just don’t understand why he wants to go back out there. He wants the camera man to film him wanting to go out there and luckily the medic and everyone around him convinces him to stay and get treatment. You want to know the most craziest part…

7. Nick Gage flatlined for 7 minutes after that match

Yep, Nick Gage was dead for 7 minutes straight while he was getting airlifted to the hospital. The reason why he had to get airlifted was that they could not get an ambulance in the location where the match happened. Which should not come to a shock as they were in the middle of the woods while this event happened. This was probably a blessing in disguise. Watching the documentary and how much blood he lost, Gage was lucky that he did not die after that match. If he was brought by an ambulance to the hospital, he probably would not be alive today. Almost dying in the match did not stop Gage from doing these matches. Gage admitted that there was no way he was going out like that as he will do this until he says he can’t anymore. Which I mean, if almost dying was not going to stop him from doing deathmatches, I don’t know what will.

6. ECW informed CZW that they were going too far with there style of hardcore wrestling

So now the documentary talks about Nick Gage and his brother Justice Pain introduction into pro wrestling. Of course like every wrestler they start by getting in the independent scene in wrestling to build up there portfolio. It eventually led to them both getting there first major pro wrestling opportunity to CZW (Combat Zone Wrestling). CZW is a hardcore wrestling company that to extreme wrestling matches to the next level of crazy. CZW started in 1999 and at the time the big boys in the extreme hardcore wrestling was of course ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling). With CZW starting to grow, ECW informed them that there style of hardcore wrestling was going too far. Especially with using crazier weapons on wrestlers including light bulbs, glass, concrete blocks, and etc. 

First off, when a company like ECW is telling you that you are going too far knowing the crazy stuff that company allowed, you know how insane and graphic CZW was. Second, I kind of agree with Nick Gage when he says that “the only reason they said that was that CZW was competition and they were the new kids on the block”. That clearly is a big reason for them to talk to CZW. However from I did not know that ECW tried to talk to CZW and inform them that they were going too far with it.

5. Nick Gage was homeless before the bank robbery

So now we get into before the bank robbery hits. if there was one thing I already new about Gage was that he was involved in a bank robbery that put him in prison for multiple years. What I did not know though, was that before he robbed a bank Gage was not in a great spot economically and was homeless.

So with all the crazy stuff he did in CZW, it resulted in Gage getting a bad drug addiction to Oxycodone, Percocet, and even Heroin. Gage blew all of his money on the drugs so he can cope with the pain in the wrestling buisness. Gage’s addiction resulted in his brother cutting ties with him. Which put him in a bad spot as Justice Pain was his only family left due there Mom and Dad passing away. He lived with his girlfriend and there parents house, however both got kicked out of the house. Gage even told a story where they squatted in Brett Lauderdale’s house, thinking that he was out of town. However he was not and of course threw them out of his home at night where it was 10 degrees farenheit along with no money for a place to stay.

Point is Gage was in a bad spot, and that desperation led him to rob a bank. Of course, it did not go to plan obviously.

4. How he robbed the Bank

Heading into the documentary I heard that Gage was involved with a bank robbery that ultimately lead to him being  in prison many years. However, I never really knew about process of leading up and how he robbed the bank. So of course like I said Gage was in a super bad spot with no income and homeless. He was getting super desperate and it was getting super cold. So he is walking around and sees this bank. All of the sudden he has the idea to rob the bank and get money that way. What is crazy is that the first bank he walked by he chickened out of it. While walking he was pissed that he did that, so he said to himself the next bank he walks by he was going to do it. Well he hyped himself up and he basically walked into the bank along with robbing the teller.

So Gage with all of this money decides to head straight to Brett Lauderdale’s house to tell him he robbed a drug deal. Which just has bad idea written all over it and Lauderdale knew immediately that he stole that money from a bank as that money was too new to be from a drug dealer. 

Jon Moxley all of sudden looked at his email and saw security footage along with photos of Nick Gage circulating around the media. It was clearly Nick Gage no doubt in anyones mind. Moxley makes a good point in the documentary as when Gage goes in the ring he wears a mask like a train robber, and the one time he doesn’t wear one is when he robs a bank. While watching, I legit said “Oh my goodness that is so true”. It might have been an instinct thing, but what was Gage thinking going in that bank without wearing a mask? Banks have cameras everywhere and this plan to rob a bank was not only stupid, but was doomed to fail. Gage even admitted that he did not know he was a camera there and stared right at that camera.

Sondra his girlfriend when she found out while reading the newspaper and she was just shocked. However she did not turn him in because she loves him and wanted to stay with him. I will say watching this documentary, despite all of the crazy stuff Gage has done in and out of the ring, he has a real one in Sondra. She is ride or die with Nick Gage and he is lucky person to have someone like Sondra in his life. She stood by him in the robbery, his career, and even his multiple stints in prison. She even went with Nick Gage to Atlantic City to spend all of that money. Once the money was all gone Nick Gage turned himself in 9 days later.

3. Nick Gage realized the impact he had on fans until he went to prison

So now Gage is in prison serving a 5 year sentence for robbing the bank and it was a very dark time for him. The best part about his time in prison was the support he got from a lot of fans. He got a ton of fan mail in prison and it got him to wake up by seeing the impact he had on fans. So that drive to bring that impact back made him push through prison. He decided to change himself mentally and physically. He worked out a lot and started training hard from that point on. Something cool is that the Dark Side of the Ring crew even had footage of when Gage was released from prison and has Sondra along with Lauderdale there to pick him up.

2. Nick Gage, thought he legit killed David Arquette in there deathmatch

So now they go into the match he had with David Arquette. David Arquette if you don’t know is one of the actors on WCW’s movie called Ready To Rumble. WCW even put there main World Title on him to get the movie over, which is a move that may including myself was the dagger in the heart in the WWE vs WCW war. So not a great reputation for Arquette in the wrestling industry.

So David Arquette decides to try and to earn the respect of the fans by filiming a wrestling documentary called “You Cannot Kill David Arquette”. So a match he wanted in the documentary to wrestle Nick Gage who was growing in popularity. He even agreed to do a deathmatch, which sounds like a bad idea when he admitted that he had no idea who Nick Gage even was. So, while discussing the match he had one rule with Gage and that was to not cut him. That rule is so idiotic and it is clear Arquette had no idea what he was doing as you pretty much have to bleed/get cut in a death match. 

So now we get to to the match and it was going well. However Gage decides to grab a pizza cutter and cuts David Arquette open. Arquette said that the trust was over and you can tell in that Match Arquette was getting angry. So then comes the light tube spot where Arquette got hit with it. Gage takes the broken end of a light tube and blades Arquette again. Well what happens next, Arquette decides to fight back and accidentally gets a piece of glass stuck in the side of his neck. At that point Gage legit thought he killed David Arquette. I saw the footage and even the match, it was scary seeing Arquette grabbing his neck

Luckily the cut was not too severe, but it is crazy that even Nick Gage himself thought he might have killed Arquette. So they finish the match, and Arquette immediately went to Luke Perry’s car and left. Fun Fact Luke Perry’s son is actually wrestling in AEW as Jungle Boy “Jack Perry”. Arquette admits that he was over his head and should not have been there. No kidding, as Arquette should have done more research on death matches and Nick Gage. BTW Gage kind of did not paint himself well by going against the no cutting rule that was already agreed to. Both Gage and Arquette have never spoken to each other since.

1. The Tragic Ending of Justice Pain

Like I mentioned earlier Justice Pain is Nick Gage’s real life brother. They have had a rocky relationship with each other. When Gage was arrested for the Bank Robbery Justice Pain cut all ties with Gage. However when Nick’s reputation and popularity in wrestling was being reconstructed, Justice Pain’s was the opposite.

Justice Pain got into a lot of trouble and was a trainwreck as the time. He got into a ton of substance abuse problems and was super paranoid to the point where he would steal cars. He would eventually drive to The Walt Whitman Bridge while the cops were after him and he committed suicide by jumping off it. He also left a note before he did the act saying that he was sorry. It’s tragic that happened and for Nick Gage when he found out about this news he was across the country in Los Angeles. What is just heartbreaking and terrifying to me is that every day Nick Gage has to look at that bridge as he lives nearby it. So what Nick Gage does everyday he sees the bridge is saying a prayer to his brother. 

My Thoughts on the Documentary

I entered this documentary knowing little about Gage, to learning a lot. I mean like I said Deathmatch Wrestling is not for me, but it is clear that there is a big market for it. When Nick Gage faced Chris Jericho in AEW, I mean I remember the hype everyone had and he delivered. The only negative was that AEW will probably never work with Domino’s Pizza ever again, but that match was just fantastic. Nick Gage truley got redemption from his story and is one of the biggest comeback stories in pro wrestling. 

Everyone interviewed came across well in this documentary. Jon Moxley is freaking awesome as always and he had great inside of Nick Gage. Sondra his girlfriend comes across well and is a complete rid or die person. She is just a fantastic partner to Nick Gage. David Arquette while coming across as clueless idiot, admitted he was over his head and admitted that he should not have done it.

MVP of the documentary I have to give to Brett Lauderdale. He comes across the best in this documentary in my opinion. He never ever gave up on Gage once and with all the power Lauderdale had during his time in CZW and now owning GCW, he could have just cut ties with him. He did not and now he signed Gage to the first exclusive, multi-year contract contract in GCW. Fantastic job by the Dark Side of the Ring crew with this episode.

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