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6 Ways Japanese Wrestling Makes the WWE Look Sane

Professional wrestling is crazy by nature -- you can't get fans to tune in for a couple of guys pretend-fighting for an hour; you need to spice it up. In America, this is done with gimmicks and outlandish personalities and openly silly story lines. In Japan, this is done with utter insanity.

For instance ...

#6. They Set the Damned Ring on Fire (And Almost Killed Everyone)

Back in 1992, one of Japan's biggest professional wrestling organizations was facing a serious dilemma regarding whether or not to use explosives and rigged "land mines" in their matches. Oh, not because of safety concerns -- they had actually been using explosives in their matches for years. The problem was that they were having financial issues and could no longer afford them. But fans had grown accustomed to seeing shit catch on fire while nearly naked men grappled with each other and would settle for nothing less.

Clearly, a solution was needed. This is what they came up with ...

Step One: Replace the ring ropes with barbed wire. Wrap the barbed wire in rags soaked in flammable paraffin.

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Which was admittedly safer than their original plan: Build an entire ring out of expired napalm canisters.

Step Two: Insert wrestlers.

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"Safety third!"

Step Three: Light shit on fire.

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"OK, maybe fifth."

Step Four: Wait for this to happen (after approximately two minutes) and flee the scene in terror.

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"Is it even on the list?!"

This fiasco was known as the Hellfire Death Match and, thankfully, nobody died as a result of it. Although one participant (who also happened to be 68 years old) was hospitalized with serious burns and fell into a heat-induced coma for a while.

In short order, the people who bring you Japanese professional wrestling learned an important lesson about the dangers of cutting corners to save money when putting on an event that combines sport and fire. After the Hellfire Death Match, order was restored and Japan returned to keeping their explosive devices and their barbed wire in separate parts of the ring.

#5. Rings Full of Scorpions, Piranhas and Cactuses

The problem with promoting a wrestling event as a "death match" is that it rarely lives up to the violent possibilities promised to us by the name. Naturally, we're glad that wrestlers aren't murdering each other for our entertainment, but watching participants brave serious injury is pretty much the entire point of the death match. Otherwise, it's just slapstick.

Japan understands that referring to something as a death match implies a certain level of entertainment value. That's why, over there, you'll see stunts like this on a regular basis:

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What you're looking at is a Japanese wrestling death match in which the loser was whichever wrestler was unable to avoid having his head dunked in a tank full of piranhas. Don't worry, the red stuff in the water is just human blood. But what fun is a tank full of piranhas if you don't have any compelling scenery to go with it?

That's a great question that was resoundingly answered by whoever came up with the Scorpion and Cactus Desert Death Match. It's the same premise as the piranha tank match, but this time, the tank is filled with scorpions and there are actual cactuses in the corners of the ring.

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"This is the year that Japan sweeps the Bad Idea Olympics!"

At this point, you're probably thinking, "Yeah, that's cool and all, but do they ever wrestle on a plank of wood suspended above the ground over a net made entirely of barbed wire?" That's a stupid question. Of course they do.

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"Who wouldn't?"

One Japanese wrestling gimmick stands tall above all others, though. When you want a death match that really lives up to its name, accept nothing less than a Fluorescent Light Tube Match. It's everything you love about wrestling, with one very basic added twist.

It goes like this. Need to headbutt someone? Grab a few fluorescent light tubes!

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There is elegance in simplicity.

Boom! Now it's a fluorescent light tube headbutt!

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There's an old Japanese saying: "Lacerations are better than concussions."

If you're in the mood to see all of the bloody highlights from the historic match depicted above (and let's be honest, you are), here's the video:

You may be tempted to say, "Well, it's still all 'fake,' though, nobody is really in danger up there. Otherwise they wouldn't let them do it!" On one hand, that makes sense; on the other, did you see the ring on fire earlier? We have a feeling that the only safety precaution is something to the tune of "Make sure you close your eyes when he smashes the glass tubes across your face."

#4. Staged Sexual Assault

Staged sexual molestation is a major source of comedy in Japanese wrestling, and most other forms of Japanese entertainment. The most recognizable practitioner of this most provocative of wrestling moves is a man who goes by the subtly homosexual name of Hard Gay.

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That's him in the middle.

The wrestling persona of comedian Masaki Sumitani, Hard Gay is the embodiment of every offensive gay stereotype you've ever heard, wearing an S&M fetish outfit meant to make him every heterosexual's worst nightmare.

And, as you can see, the entire match is one prolonged excuse for the other wrestlers' faces to wind up hilariously glued to Gay's crotch:

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Behold, the subtle intricacies of Japanese humor.

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Compared to his fellow wrestler Danshoku Dino, however, Hard Gay is a rank amateur in the art of staged sexual assault. Like Hard Gay, Danshoku Dino's stage persona is that of a sexually aggressive homosexual. But -- unlike Hard Gay -- Dino is a lot more direct about ramming his junk in other people's faces. Among the devastating maneuvers you can see Dino employing on this compilation video of his greatest hits are ...

The Danshoku Nightmare, which involves Dino pulling down his wrestling trunks to reveal a tasty thong and then teabagging his opponent into submission:

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Yeah, we can see how this might take the fight out of you.

The Shining Dick, which involves Danshoku showing his opponent what we can only assume is his shining dick:

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And, of course, the Danshoku Driver, in which he puts his opponent's head inside his underwear and then lands a pile driver:

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If he were wearing a thong, this would be felony assault.

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