Violento Jack vs. Tomoya Hirata Showcased the Present of Deathmatch Wrestling

Since its birth in 2009, Japanese indie deathmatch promotion Pro Wrestling FREEDOMS has been quietly making a case for being the best deathmatch promotion in the world. Home to legends like Jun Kasai, Takashi Sasaki and recent breakout star Toru Sugiura, as well as frequent stomping grounds of in-demand freelancers such as Masashi Takeda and Toshiyuki Sakuda, their shows are diverse, consistent and well booked. Matches for their King of FREEDOM World Title have been especially notable in the past few years, due in large part to an excellent 643 day first time reign from the aforementioned Sugiura that began in October 2019.

That reign came to an end in July 2021 at the hands of Mexican veteran and now 3-time King of FREEDOM champion Violento Jack, in an excellent match that showed Jack would have no trouble picking up where Sugiura left off. He did just that almost 2 months later with a bloody, brutal defense against deathmatch star Masashi Takeda. Instead of another familiar face for his second defense, Jack was thrown a curveball at FREEDOMS founder Takashi Sasaki’s 25th Anniversary show. After pinning Sasaki in the main event tag match, relative newcomer Tomoya Hirata grabbed the mic and boldly challenged for the title.

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Hirata’s challenge was surprising for more reasons than his scant 4 years as a wrestler. A stout, barrel-chested powerhouse, Hirata made his name in FREEDOMS in non-deathmatch bouts with a hard-hitting, physical style that would feel more at home in All Japan or Pro Wrestling NOAH than a promotion known for bloody weapons matches. Although he had wrestled deathmatches for the company previous to his challenge, his relatively unmarred skin betrayed an inexperience not shared by the battle-scarred top stars who have held the King of FREEDOM title in the past.

The match stipulation between Jack and Hirata was official titled Future is Coming on Glass Board and Alpha Death Match, an acknowledgement of the potential in Hirata’s inexperience (as well as an acknowledgement that somebody in FREEDOMS is a big Gorillaz fan.) Panes of glass were placed in each neutral corner, and a box of light tubes was placed in each competitor’s corner. Hirata came to the ring with his self-constructed weapon held aloft across his back, a piece of particle board as tall as him with 5 light tubes affixed to it and criss-crossed with barbed wire. Jack came to the ring with a weapon of his own, a 2 foot wide board with soup can lids affixed to it, as well as a mystery bag that would later be revealed to contain two full bottles of beer.

The match opened with a series of shoulder charges between the two men, and Hirata’s raw strength won out and allowed him to whip Jack into his barbed wire light tube board within minutes. Soon after, Hirata was launched through a pane of glass and quickly bloodied by a series of weapons offensives from Jack. Hirata being able to take as much pain as he could dish out became a clear story of the match, as the men engaged in an even back-and-forth of offense throughout most of the match.

Starting with his early victory in the shoulder charge exchange, his strength and physical ability was Hirata’s biggest asset. He opted to “block” a light tube attack from Jack by simply smashing his forearms through it and using his momentum to bounce off the ropes and return with a lariat. Following a dive from Jack that smashed a light tube into his chest, Hirata rolled through the subsequent pinning attempt and smoothly transitioned to his feet to execute a brainbuster. Even Hirata’s weapons spots showcased his physicality, as instead of simply striking Jack with light tubes, he opted to barrel into him while holding them in his outstretched hands.

Tomoya Hirata Violento Jack FREEDOMS
FREEDOMS

However, Jack’s ferocity and experience was difficult to overcome. He pulled off a dive of his own, leveling Hirata with a tope con giro to the outside. He pummeled Hirata with light tube bundles and broke a full bottle of beer over his head. He hip-tossed Hirata into the previously mentioned can lid board, then removed a lid from the board and used it to gouge into Hirata’s already bleeding head. Ultimately, Jack finished Hirata with an octopus stretch after countering a suplex attempt.

Despite the loss, the crowd showed their appreciation for Hirata’s effort. Jack attempted to show his own with a fist bump, but was met with a slap in the face from a defiant Hirata. After the match, Jack tweeted in Japanese.  praising the show and Hirata, also saying in Spanish, “Hirata no es el futuro, es el presente del Deathmatch!” (“Hirata isn’t the future, he’s the present of Deathmatch!”)

While Hirata didn’t pull off a longshot victory against the veteran Jack, he proved himself as a main eventer and the next man up for deathmatch stardom in FREEDOMS. Similar to Toru Sugiura, who spent 6 years doing straight pro wrestling before the world-beating run with the King of FREEDOM title that cemented him as a deathmatch mainstay, it’s clear Hirata’s here to stay in the deathmatch division. If he continues to hybridize his hard-hitting style with deathmatch techniques, he could become truly unstoppable. This match signals a turning point in Hirata’s career, and it’s going to be exciting to watch whatever comes next.