The Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch: What Is It, And What Is the Purpose?

On the 17 February 2021 episode of All Elite Wrestling’s Dynamite, the World Champion Kenny Omega gave former champion Jon Moxley his title rematch. Omega announced that the rematch would take place at their upcoming pay-per-view Revolution, but not without a stipulation. The AEW World title will be contested for in an Explosive, Barbed Wire Deathmatch.

Now, what is an Explosive Barbed Wire Deathmatch? Well, Jon Moxley gave us an idea of this on the 24 February edition of Dynamite. He asked the crowd what comes to their minds when they hear the name of this match. He lists off terms such as “fire, blood, burns, torture, agony…” Moxley had also stated, prior to this promo, that he would “crawl through the mud, crawl through barbed wire & landmines,” and here, he reiterated these points as being exactly what he will have to do to take back the world championship.

After some research, it turns out there has never been a match with such a name in full. There have been Barbed Wire matches, there have been Explosive Barbed Wire matches, and other variations of the stipulation, but never one with this specific title.

Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley, AEW Dynamite
Credit: All Elite Wrestling

Motivations of the Competitors

It is a tale of wrestling to say that both Moxley and Omega have high motivations going into this match. One man wants the fight to win a title back, while the other wants to fight like hell to keep it. Kenny Omega has been on a run of a fantastic heel turn while being world champion, and he wants to make sure that, once he has beaten Jon Moxley, he is done with the former champion for good.

Omega knows of Moxley’s background in CZW. He knows that Moxley can go through any kind of pain imaginable and still come out alive. In fact, these two men have had previous in a similar environment before, which will be touched on later. They know what each man will go through just to be the AEW World Champion. Thus, the fans will be witnessing a brand new case of what unknowns these two can bring to the table.

Io Shirai and Kagetsu, Stardom Baseball Death Match, April 1 2018

Past Occurrences

Below is a commonly remembered example of a barbed wire match. On 20 August 1995, Terry Funk & Mick Foley fought in such a match at a show titled Kawasaki Dream.

There is also a great example of a pure, simple deathmatch out of Japan’s Joshi wrestling promotion, Stardom, which can be viewed below via Reddit:

Two baseball bats are wrapped in barbed wire in this match. Each bat has lights hooked to them, and both had wiring connecting to a button. Hitting the button would cause a siren to go off in the arena. This was to let the fans know that the competitors powered on the lights on the bat. Once a competitor got hit with the bat while powered on, the lights exploded. This would cause the visual that the bat exploded upon impact.

Defining the Concept

According to the Online World of Wrestling, or OWW, a barbed wire match involved three strands of such wire wrapped horizontally around the ropes and stretched around all four sides of the ring. The match finishes as any normal contest: by pinfall, submission, or inability for a competitor to continue.

OWW also describes Exploding Barbed Wire as one in which the wire is “either electrically charged or primed with small explosives.”

In other words, an explosion occurs when someone or something comes in contact with the wire. The way this sounds, it is much like an inferno match & how fire would react when a move occur, difference being that this is wire instead of fire and sounds more painful for the body.

SBNation describes the term “deathmatch” as “anything-goes brawls that incorporate the use of foreign objects and weapons.”

Essentially, this is much akin the likes of WWE’s hardcore, street fight, or unsanctioned match.

Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega, Lights Out Match
Credit: All Elite Wrestling

That last part is something that AEW has experience in. AEW has presented three unsanctioned matches, or otherwise known as Lights Out matches, all of which have involved weapons and have allowed anything less than murder. Deciphering the differences between unsanctioned matches & deathmatches is left to the imagination of the fans of wrestling.

Using Our Brains For Fun

So let’s put some imagination to work. We looked to history for what a barbed wire match looks like. We looked up what the terms in the stipulation mean. However, this is a brand new stipulation, for the fans and for AEW. This match could be anything, become anything, and put the competitors through any kind of physical pain. Let’s use the match title to infer what could be the future for Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega.

The “exploding barbed wire” could mean two things. The barbed wire is definitely explosive, it could even be other things entirely that explode. Ring mat, ring post, steel steps, literally any piece of the ring. The barbed wire could be made from the ropes or become the ropes themselves. It could also resemble the posts themselves, the ring skirts, and, painfully, the turnbuckles. Kenny Omega recently took to Twitter to spell out the rules for the match, including wire wrapped ropes, a “ring of hell” on the outer floor, and a 30 minute timer counting down to the detonation of all wired explosives.

Blueprint of the Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match
Courtesy of Kenny Omega

As for the deathmatch part of it, it is, again, left to the imagination. Previous matches in AEW under the “Lights Out” banner have introduced several weapons. Ladders, bats, barbed wire beds, chairs, and the boards under the ring mats. I guess it could be said that Lights Out matches were a few light tubes away from being considered deathmatches.


Kenny Omega & Jon Moxley have already had a Lights Out match themselves. This time, the match will count toward their records and will be for the top prize in All Elite Wrestling. They have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at each other before, and I doubt they’ll leave that sink behind here. The Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch for the AEW World Title takes place this Sunday, 7 March, at Revolution. Time will tell whether the fans will be told what the match is, or if, as has been talked about here, the layout will be left to the minds of the fans until the show itself.