These past few weeks have been big moments for two pro wrestlers with the last name Havoc. One was news of jubilation, as long time hardcore legend Jimmy Havoc from the UK became the 2017 Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) Tournament of Death winner as he began to invade North American wrestling; at the other end of the spectrum, for CZW icon Danny Havoc, it was the unfortunate news that the 2-time CZW Tournament of Death winner was retiring from pro wrestling. Both Havocs began their journeys around the same time, with a lot of gold and a lot of blood. But as one Havoc is having the spotlight shining on his career, the others is seeing its final sunset.
THERE WILL BE ORIGINS: A TALE OF TWO HAVOC
Kent, England’s Jimmy Havoc began his training in 2004 as a student with his local promotion, NWA Hammerlock UK. Trained alongside another Kent pupil, Zack Sabre Jr., Jimmy was a part of NWA Hammerlock exclusively for his first two years. But in 2006, Jimmy began to get more and more “extreme”, with his interest in deathmatches growing. He began working outside of NWA Hammerlock for the first time, working with Coventry’s hardcore promotion, Triple X Wrestling (TXW). With his appetite for violence growing, Havoc would take his madness to the big city – London, England – and begin working for International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom (IPW:UK) in 2008, and then abroad, to the hard hitting mayhem of Germany’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw) in 2009. It was during his time in Germany that he got his first taste of CZW in 2010, through several joint productions of CZW and wXw.
“I quite enjoy the pain if I’m honest. And I really enjoy the sight of my own blood. I think it was the Foley and Sabu influence, watching ECW all of the weapon stuff really entertained me, and I’d always wanted to go through a table. It just escalated from there!”
Jimmy Havoc, Interview with Art of Wrestling (Germany), March 24, 2015
Danny Havoc was a small town kid from Cylinder, Iowa and a lifelong wrestling fan, whose latest obsession was watching tapes of CZW. After attending CZW’s Cage of Death 6 in 2004, he decided this was what he wanted to do. He moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and went to the CZW-CHIKARA Wrestle Factory school to be trained by Mike Quackenbush, Chris Hero (NXT’s Kassius Ohno) and DJ Hyde. A year later, he debuted at Tournament of Death 4 in the Wrestle Factory student battle royal (where he was promptly set on fire). It didn’t take long for other promotions to take notice. Although a lifetime loyalist with CZW, he would begin working with IWA: Mid-South within his first year of wrestling. In 2008, he would take his penchant for bloodletting to Germany’s wXw, paving the way for future CZW and wXw joint promotions down the line.
“…for whatever reason I initially chose this path, the fact is that it quickly became how I defined myself for many years to follow. Even when I was home for the holidays, gathered around the the dining table with the family enjoying some Kringle and goose hearts (not in that order), my mild-mannered civilian alias struggled to contain the uncontrollable thirst for pre-arranged bloodshed and 3/4 strength punches.”
Danny Havoc, in his retirement letter, June 11, 2017
THERE WILL BE CHAMPIONSHIPS: A TALE OF TWO HAVOCS
It didn’t take long for either of the Havocs to become stars everywhere they went and with that cult-like fandom and work ethic, soon the gold began to follow. Jimmy won the Smash Championship with TXW in 2007, but his first major title was the NWA United Kingdom Junior Heavyweight Championship in 2011. Similarly, Danny’s first major championship was the CZW Junior Heavyweight Championship in 2007 (the year of Jimmy’s first title). These two young upstarts, with violence in their veins and wearing their blood on their sleeves, began to nudge their way into more prominent storylines and higher profile matches.
Despite becoming a name synonymous with CZW, Danny would win his first deathmatch accolade outside of the company that gave him his start. In 2008, he would win the IWA: Mid South Deathmatch Championship, when he brutalized hardcore legend Necro Butcher for the title at IWA Mid South’s 500th Show on March 1, 2008. On October 11 that year, he would capture the CZW Ultraviolent Underground Championship from Drake Younger and hold it for a record 379 days.
In 2012, Jimmy began working for two of the UK’s most exciting younger promotions, Scotland’s ICW and England’s PROGRESS. For his first year, Jimmy lost every match in PROGRESS – early fans began to wonder if PROGRESS had anything proper planned for Jimmy, as he seemed to be treated as a joke more than any kind of proper threat. But then the unthinkable happened. On November 11, 2013, at PROGRESS Chapter 10, PROGRESS Champion Rampage Brown faced Mark Andrews in a match for Rampage’s Championship, which Andrews won. Immediately following the match, Jimmy Havoc appeared with his contract stating he could choose any match against any opponent at any time with any stipulation. He demanded a no-DQ match right now against Andrews (who had just won the Natural Selection tournament that day to get his title shot) and was shockingly given his match. It didn’t take long for Jimmy and his chairs to leave Andrews out in the ring with the 1-2-3 and suddenly the winless Jimmy Havoc was the PROGRESS Champion. Havoc would go on to hold the PROGRESS World Championship for a record 609 days.
THERE WILL BE MORE BLOOD: A TALE OF ONE HAVOC
For Jimmy Havoc, the past few years has seen his legend grow beyond simply the United Kingdom and mainland Europe. His nearly two year reign as PROGRESS Champion became the stuff of legend and horror lore, and he’s since gone on to capture the IPW:UK World Championship – a title he still holds to this day, approaching 680 days (he also had a lengthy run as IPW:UK’s All England Champion as well).
In October of 2016, he debuted in Canada with Smash Wrestling and has become somewhat of a regular ever since with Canada’s top indie promotion in Toronto – he’s already had one Championship opportunity, a hardcore match versus Smash Champion Tyson Dux (which Jimmy barely lost). With his PROGRESS rival Mark Haskins returning to Smash, it’s not out of the question to see these two bitter enemies resume their blood feud on another continent. In May of this year, Jimmy returned to Germany, this time with Championship Of Wrestling (cOw) and captured the cOw Interstate Championship.
But it was on June 10th, just a week ago, that Jimmy Havoc finally staked claim to his deathmatch obsession by winning the prestigious CZW Tournament of Death.
So… errr… I just won Tournament of fucking Death. No exaggeration when I say this is one of the best days of my wrestling career. pic.twitter.com/gDSpX3fihD
With two incredible and lengthy reigns as World Champion, plus his TOD win this year, the future is indeed in Jimmy Havoc’s hands. He’s more than likely to get into the Championship race in Smash once again, and he’s beginning to appear more and more in North America than ever before – he even wrestled a PROGRESS showcase match against TK Cooper at WWE’s WrestleMania AXXESS this year (amidst rumours that all those involved were being scouted for WWE’s upcoming UK show on the WWE Network).
THERE WILL BE AN ENDING: A TALE OF ONE HAVOC
And just one day after Jimmy Havoc began to cement his legacy in North America as well, Danny Havoc dropped a bombshell on the indie community with the announcement of his retirement from pro wrestling due to injuries throughout his deathmatch career. It was done via his online blog and sadly (and much like Necro Butcher’s retirement last year) gained almost zero press from nearly every wrestling news site.
“(A)fter more than a decade of willfully defying the advice of medical professionals and generally showing NO indication of common sense, I have finally been forced (grudgingly) to admit that the consequences of my repeated experiments in masochism are no longer something I can simply defend against through willpower and stoicism. My spine–which, as I gleaned from a documentary on the late Christopher Reeve, is fairly integral to optimum performance–is degenerating in multiple locations due to my years of traumas.” Danny Havoc, in his retirement letter, June 11, 2017
Danny would go on to say that he has to sadly walk away from pro wrestling in order to maintain his health (and his life), leaving behind the professional (and company) he has loved since he was a teenager. He leaves the industry as a 2x CZW Ultraviolent Underground Champion, CZW Junior Heavyweight Champion, 2x CZW World Tag Team Champion, IWA Mid South Deathmatch Champion, and deathmatch victor in IWA Deep South Carnage Cup (2008), ICW Insane 8 (2009, the US ICW not the Scottish one), and a 2x CZW Tournament of Death winner (2008, 2013).
“Unlike Doogie Houser M.D. or Diagnosis Murder, I am not a doctor… but with that important bit of prefacing out-of-the-way, I would say it is unlikely I will ever stop suffering from some degree of this chronic pain. I came by it honestly, I asked for it, and never in a million years would I beg sympathy… but my acceptance of responsibility, cause-and-effect, and my understanding of consequences do nothing to negate the fact that it SUCKS.”
Danny Havoc, June 11, 2017
THERE WILL BE HAVOC
There is a silver lining. In Danny’s retirement letter on his blog, he hinted heavily that he could still return for one-off matches every once in a while – sort of like how The Undertaker does with the WWE (or rather, did). But as far as being an active member of the CZW roster, Danny Havoc is no longer. Here’s hoping he finds peace in his life after wrestling – perhaps a man with 12 years experience with CZW and, more importantly, it’s fan base, he could take up a position in creative with Sami Callihan‘s new team.
As for Jimmy Havoc, his momentum is only building. He’s an avid Social Media warrior, engaging fans and peers alike, garnering new fans around the world and strengthening his cult status at the same time. While a deathmatch enthusiast, perhaps it was Havoc’s ability to pick and choose when to bring out the evil rather than commit entirely to it is part of the reason Jimmy’s career is skyrocketing at the same time that Danny’s is ending (not that Danny has any regrets for the path he chose).
“I loved all the death matches that I was a part of but these days I only tend to do them if there is a reason behind it. You get so much more of a reaction from doing less. I would much prefer to do a hardcore match as it comes more naturally. The death matches lend to my persona in that people do think that I am a psychopath…”
Jimmy Havoc, Interview with Just An Insight, June 20, 2015
But regardless, both men have left indelible marks on the hardcore history books. While names like Terry Funk, Abdullah the Butcher, Sabu and Cactus Jack may be up front, both Danny and Jimmy Havoc will have their chapters. For over a decade, Danny Havoc was a pillar who kept CZW alive through the 2000’s, during a time when hardcore and deathmatch wrestling was becoming a niche rather than a destination. And Jimmy Havoc’s 600+ day reign as PROGRESS Champion was vital to the early days of what is now considered England’s top promotion.
Both Jimmy Havoc and Danny Havoc have paid their dues for more than a decade. They have been through virtual wars with their opponents, leaving more of their blood on mats around the world than most, all in the name of love for this industry. And whether you are mourning the retirement of Danny Havoc or praising the ascension of Jimmy Havoc, there is no denying the influence these men have had in their short time on this hellacious planet. They’ve left a trail of destruction, a legacy of gold, and most importantly, unleashed a whole lot of havoc.
“I do not provide a service that anyone needs, but I have, if nothing else, striven to entertain during the course of each and every outing in my wrestling career. If I have done that, as so many of you were kind enough to indicate that I had, then I feel like I have accomplished a great deal.”
Danny Havoc, June 11, 2017
“I love being such a c**t, it is so much fun. I sometimes think to myself well maybe I could have been more of a c**t and I’ve held back a bit.”
Jimmy Havoc, Interview with Just An Insight, June 20, 2015