Happy Friday going on Saturday Everyone!
You get a bonus extra review this weekend as I was intrigued to check one of these shows out and decided to review it for good measure.
As far as I’m aware, Bloodsport is more of a UWFi/BattlArts styled show where they try and do shoot style pro wrestling. I’m partial to a bit of that now and then so this felt like a natural show for me to order.
I’m going in blind, so let’s see how they do at getting a newcomer up to speed. This is the first GCW show I’ve ever ordered I believe. It’s interesting that they have so many different arms where they provide different styles like this.
The event is emanating from Dallas, Texas on the 31st of March 2022
Calling the action are Lenny Leonard and Rocky Romero
So the ring doesn’t even have ropes here, which gives the show a unique feel. You can only win by referee stoppage, submission, knock out, forfeit or disqualification. So no pins. There is a 10 count outside the ring and you are not allowed to stop your opponent getting back into the ring. Rules from the first UFC such as no fish-hooking etc are also in play.
Leonard introduces the guys on the show and they join us in the ring on opposite sides from one another. Barnett grabs a mic and promises us violence.
Masha Slamovic Vs Janai Kai
Slamovic is decked out in Russian colours on her gear and has wild blood red hair, whilst Kai is dressed more like a Mortal Kombat Kharacter and is known as “The Kick Demon”, which probably means she’ll fit in well on this show. For those not au fait with shoot style, you basically try and work the match more like an MMA fight than you would a traditional pro wrestling bout. It’s definitely an acquired taste and not everyone is going to dig it but I used to enjoy BattleArts back in the day so I’ve got time for stuff like this.
The no pins rule allows the fighters to work on the mat, including throwing punches from the mount. The crowd reacts almost like a Japanese crowd in a lot of ways, politely watching and treating both competitors with respect as they try to work on the mat. Slamovic tries to end it early with a rear naked choke but Kai manages to fight her way out of it. Slamovic keeps coming and tries for another choke, this time with some strikes thrown in, but Kai slips out and throws some punches from the mount.
Slamovic keeps catching Kai whenever they go down to the mat though, which suggests that maybe Kai should try and keep this on the feet so that she can throw her kicks. Slamovic throws quite a few stiff elbows and you can see Kai’s face reddening as a result. Some of Kai’s punches look a little light but her kicks look nice. Slamovic manages to pull off a suplex though and an arm bar ends it straight after.
WINNER: MASHA SLAMOVIC
This was a solid enough start to the show, although it would have been nice to see Kai get to throw more kicks from standing
They do the whole ref raises the arm in the middle thing that you see in UFC, with the referee even wearing a UFC styled ref attire.
Ninja Mack Vs Yoya
Mack is a dude in a red Ninja mask, but he actually takes his mask off for this one to show that he’s taking it seriously. He looks a bit like a smaller Brock Lesnar actually with his blond hair and beard. Yoya looks like he runs a start-up tech company that makes apps for smart phones that help millennials find the best avocados in their local area. “Shooterweight” is a cool nickname though, so credit to Yoya in that regard.
Mack is the bigger man here and uses that to his advantage, although Yoya is quick on his feet and manages to slip out whenever Mack puts him in a compromising position. They do an early KO tease when Yoya catches Mack, but Mack manages to get himself out of danger and gets a chant from the crowd as a result. Leonard and Romero are very good on commentary I should add as they treat it like a real fight and call the action well.
Mack looks to be bleeding from the mouth, so some live rounds have definitely been delivered. He uses the power of Capoeira in reply, which Yoya is able to counter into an arm bar. Mack powers out of that and then makes Scott Keith very happy by sweeping the leg. Yoya bails to the floor for a bit to try and shake that off, and throws some nice shots from standing back inside.
There have been a couple of occasions in this one where the riming hasn’t quite been right and Mack has had to stand around a little bit too long to block a Yoya attack and that’s taken away from the immersion a bit. It’s still had some good stuff in it though. Both men end up taking a tumble off the apron down to the concrete below, which Yoya gets the better of and then puts Mack into the ring for a single leg crab. Mack refuses to tap though and powers out before getting Trouble in Paradise for the highlight reel knock out.
WINNER: NINJA MACK
I agree with Rocky who yelped “HOLY S###” on the finish there. This had some fun stuff in it, although there was the odd awkward moment where they weren’t on the same page timing wise
Ninja Mack yells post-match that he’ll work any show they’ll put him on. Hey, after that I’d certainly be up for seeing him again.
Bad Dude Tito Vs Royce Isaacs
Tito looks a bit like Wardlow from AEW crossed with Gary Albright from All Japan. Isaacs looks a bit like Dexter Lumis from NXT crossed with WCW’s Alex Wright with his 90’s styled leather jacket. Isaacs actually tries a wristlock in the early going before the match settles into more of an MMA styled match as Tito retreats to the guard. The only thing you can say about this really is that they leave a bunch of openings that a real MMA fighter would never do, such as perfect opportunities for chokes and triangles, as in a non-worked fight you would be immediately punished.
I think that could be down to the fact these guys might not always work this style, whereas if you watched RINGS or UWFi for instance they would try and make it look as real as possible, sometimes at the expense of making it fun. It’s clear these two are trying to make this an entertaining spectacle as opposed to trying to make it look like a super legit fight, such as when then start trading German Suplexes at one stage. It is good fun though as these are two hefty blokes and its fun watching them throw one another around.
Tito tries to win it with a knee bar but Isaacs fights out and then gets a capture suplex before trying a North-South Choke. Tito powers out of that though, only to get caught in a guillotine choke that he can’t find a way out of, leading to the tap out.
WINNER: ROYCE ISAACS
This one stretched the realm of realism a bit but it was still a fun outing
Both fighters hug following that in a nice show of respect. Isaacs then poses like he’s 80’s Hogan or something.
Alex Coughlin Vs SLADE
SLADE has “Satan’s Sister” as entrance music here, which is what The Hollywood Blondes used to have in WCW and he looks a bit like Kung-Fu Era Billy Graham with the bald head and Freddy Mercury style facial hair. Coughlin has some mean facial hair of his own, looking a bit like Doug Furnas and Dan Kroffat donated their DNA to a nefarious Eastern European scientist so he could create a wrestler in a lab somewhere (Probably Eastern Europe if I’m honest).
Both men are fired up for this, leading to some snug strikes getting thrown. SLADE is a convincing nutcase and no sells a back drop driver at one stage, which kind of abandons the theme of realism but is also pretty entertaining so I’ll let it slide. Coughlin won’t be denied though and locks in the rear naked choke until SLADE passes out Raven style with a look of glee on his face.
WINNER: ALEX COUGHLIN
This was a bit on the short side but it was entertaining whilst it lasted
Romero on commentary says that if SLADE would dedicate himself to his training he could be a really dangerous competitor. SLADE wants to keep fighting following the bout but he does give a maniacal fist bump.
Simon Gotch Vs John Hennigan AKA The Major of Slamtown AKA Johnny Bloodsport
Gotch was a Vaudevillian in WWE whilst Hennigan used to be John Morrison. They’ve both gone for more serious shooter looks here tonight in contrast to their WWE gimmicks. Hennigan is over with the crowd here, as they chant his name and he shows some good stuff on the mat in the early going. Hennigan does a decent job of transitioning to the style actually, especially as he can’t really do any high-flying as there are no ropes and that’s not what you’re really supposed to do on a show like this anyway.
Hennigan actually shows some pretty snug elbows at one stage with Gotch on the mat and then tries some Capoeira. He’s no Eddy Gordo though. Gotch fights back, which actually leads to us getting a chin lock at one stage. They trade elbows at one stage, which leads to Hennigan getting a nice looking arm drag and then going to a guillotine choke for the win.
WINNER: JOHN HENNIGAN
They present that as a big upset as Gotch has done this style before whilst Hennigan hasn’t. This didn’t really click for me, although Hennigan looked better doing this style than I thought he would
Hennigan and Gotch face-off following that but don’t come to further blows.
Zeda Zhang Vs Marina Shafir
Zhang is kind of dressed like a D.O.A character, whilst Shafir has a more traditional MMA look going on. Leonard says that these two have heat from their WWE days so they’ll be extra intense in this one. Shafir is from Moldova, whose main claim to fame in sporting circles is that they usually get clobbered in UEFA soccer so hopefully Shafir does a better job in this fight here.
Zhang lures Shafir to the floor for some brawling but Shafir takes it back inside and goes for submission holds. Zhang gets a very nice takedown at one stage that was part arm drag part headlock takeover part judo throw. Really cool. Shafir muscles Zhang up for a slightly sloppy slam at one stage, but the benefit of this style is that you can get away with that somewhat as it makes it look like more of a struggle and the crowd pops for a body slam than they would on a normal show.
Zhang tries to reply with a choke, but Shafir powers out of that and we get some trading on the feet until Zhang manages to double leg Shafir down and try for a choke again. Shafir keeps managing to get out of it though and then manages to trap Zhang’s ankle before tenaciously holding on to a headlock. Honestly that could be a finish in that company. This has been a decent contest, mainly because Shafir has real shoot experience and knows how to make the stuff on the mat look legit.
Zhang starts to tire and Shafir manages to overpower her and got to a nice looking arm bar that leads to the referee stopping it and awarding the bout to Shafir before any serious damage is done. Zhang might have verbally submitted and we just didn’t hear it.
WINNER: MARINA SHAFIR
Shafir looked suitably dangerous there
Both women walk off relatively calmly following that despite the mutual dislike.
Timothy Thatcher Vs JR Kratos
Kratos is a very big dude who looks like he could be a character in a Soul Calibur game or something. He reminds me a bit of PCO crossed with Perry Saturn. Thatcher has previously worked for NXT and was known for being a very good technical grappler whilst there, which obviously meant WWE had no idea what to do with him. This company seems tailor-made for him.
Thatcher gets side control early on and throws some nice looking knees. Side control is something you could probably see more in a company like this as there are no pins and there are a lot of ways you could work that in a believable manner. Thatcher busts out a standing deathlock ala Great Muta at one stage, but Kratos refuses to submit so Thatcher goes back to side control in search of an Americana. That doesn’t work either so Thatcher tries a suplex instead.
Kratos shifts his weight on that to land on top before delivering a big suplex of his own, which leads to both men trading strikes until Thatcher delivers a head butt. In a nice touch, Thatcher sells the head butt as well because Kratos is such a big dude. Kratos comes up bleeding from that and does a great angry look before turning Thatcher inside out with a lariat. Head and Arm Choke follows that, but Thatcher calmly slips out and gets a lovely looking back suplex before going to a Fujiwara attempt.
Kratos uses his power to fight that before slipping out and getting a piledriver followed by a superman punch for the surprise knock out, much to the crowds disconcertion as they were hoping that Thatcher would pick up the win.
WINNER: JR KRATOS
That was good, and I liked the surprise finish. Thatcher looked great and his work had an air of legitimacy to it that others on this show haven’t managed to portray as well as he has. That was probably the best portrayal of the style from someone on the event thus far, as Thatcher looked comfortable working it and they put together a good match that allowed both men to shine
Kratos gives stick to the crowd following that before leaving. Thatcher gets a nice reception from the crowd following the match as the refs come down to check on him.
Speedball Mike Bailey Vs Yuya Uemura
Bailey has worked quite a bit in the UK and his main spot is standing in place throwing kicks. I think for a while he couldn’t work in the USA due to visa issues but he’s back now. Uemura is a Young Lion from New Japan who is currently on excursion in the USA. He even has the old Inoki style red towel that he brings down to the ring with him, although he also has the black tights white boots combo that Go Shiozaki is known for.
Both men like throwing kicks, so we get some stand-up to start and it’s worked well. Uemura drops to his back in classic Inoki style and almost manages to catch Bailey with an arm bar, but Bailey is able to slip out and almost catches Uemura with a wristlock from the bottom when Uemura has side control. Uemura’s punches from the mount don’t look amazing, but his mat work is solid. Bailey is the better of the two at working the strikes from the mount, mainly because he focuses more on slaps which are easier to deliver.
Both men end up taking a spill to the floor whilst working on the mat, which leads to Bailey landing on his head. Bailey recovers from that though and throws some kicks back inside for a knock out tease. Uemura survives that and fights back with a slam to pop the crowd before going for the Fujiwara. Bailey slops out of that, but Uemura manages to catch him with a cross arm breaker and that’s enough for the tap out.
WINNER: YUYA UEMURA
Some of Uemura’s worked strikes on the mat looked a little light, but aside from that he looked good here and Bailey’s kicks were excellent. The crowd really got into it towards the end and it had good energy throughout
Both fighters make nice following the bout and shake hands.
Josh Barnett Vs JONAH
JONAH was Bronson Reed in WWE. Barnett has done both pro wrestling and shoot fighting at different periods in his career. For a while he was almost treated like a hometown guy in New Japan even though he was a foreigner, in the same way The Funks were almost seen as honorary Japanese during their peak days in All Japan.
This one is fought at a more deliberate pace than some of the earlier bouts, but it’s worked in a believable fashion and the work itself is solid. It’s mostly both men on the mat jockeying for position and attempting submission holds, with the odd strike thrown in. Barnett seems to get tired quicker than JONAH does even though JONAH is carrying a lot more weight on his frame than Barnett is.
Barnett is actually on the defensive quite a bit in this one, with him constantly having to fight back up from the mat, with the goal being to throw kicks when he does. JONAH matches to catch a kick and knocks Barnett down before following up with a big senton and a choke attempt. Barnett manages to survive that and eventually slips out.
Both men are eventually trading elbows on the feet, which leads to JONAH getting a head butt in, only for Barnett to reply with spinning wheel kick (?!?!) and a suplex before going to a heel hook for the submission win.
WINNER: JOSH BARNETT
Bit slow in parts but it was a well worked match for the most part and it had some good intensity to it. Barnett popped me with that wheel kick
Barnett is beat up following that and shows respect to JONAH for giving him such a tough fight, which leads to a handshake between the two fighters.
Jon Moxley Vs Biff Busick
Moxley I’m guessing most of you will know, whilst Busick was Oney Lorcan in WWE. Busick tenaciously holds on to a front face lock early doors, but Moxley manages to fight out and goes to a modified Regal Stretch, which suits his Blackpool Combat Club gimmick. Sadly the commentators miss that, although they do notice when Moxley tries to kick Busick’s head in ala stablemate Bryan Danielson.
Moxley throws some 12 to 6 elbows following that and then knees Busick out of the ring for good measure. Both guys fight out there for a bit, with Moxley getting a snap suplex onto the concrete floor, as Busick comes up bleeding. Busick throws some chops back inside, with Moxley egging him on before kicking Busick down and applying a camel clutch. Well it is WrestleMania 38 this weekend so it’s about time the Sheik got here!
Busick is just streaming blood here, with it caking Moxley for good measure in a gruesome visual. The fans sing in order to get Busick back into the match, and he bravely keeps going despite the rampant blood loss. Busick throws some stiff slaps at Moxley and gets a head and arm Taz-Plex before following up with an uppercut and a choke attempt. Moxley gets out of that and turns Busick inside out with a lariat before throwing some elbows from the mount.
Busick fights off choke and arm bar attempts whilst the crowd thinks this battle is awesome. I must say I agree! Moxley gets the Death Rider though and goes to the Bulldog Choke, which Busick refuses to tap to so Moxley throws some knees until he knocks a defiant Busick out.
WINNER: JON MOXLEY
That was one heck of a fight right there. I’m not one who likes blood for blood’s sake, but when it’s used properly it can really add to the drama of a match, and that was the case here. It was a gruesome image due to how much plasma left Busick’s body, but it complimented the story they were telling of Busick being a gutsy defiant guy who wouldn’t give up and the crowd loved the match from that point onwards
Moxley and Busick show respect to one another following that. And I should hope so too!
Minoru Suzuki Vs Chris Dickinson
The crowd of course loves singing along with Suzuki’s entrance music. Suzuki defeated Dickinson at Bloodsport 7 so Dickinson is looking for revenge tonight. Suzuki almost ends it right away with a choke but Dickinson is able to survive that and eventually slips out. Part of me wondered if they’d have the balls to end the show closing fight that quickly to be honest but it would certainly add to the feeling of hyper realism they are trying to go for with this sort of product.
There’s some very nice stuff on the mat in this one, with both men nailing the brief, which shouldn’t be a surprise for someone like Suzuki who has wrestled this way a lot over the course of his career. In a nice touch, Suzuki goes for some nasty looking palm strikes from the mount but has Dickinson move out of the way, so he gets to throw them full strength to show he can but they have Dickinson dodge them to plant a seed that if Suzuki is able to eventually land one then it’s going to be bad time for Dickson.
Dickinson ends up slapping Suzuki from the mount and then gets up and challenges Suzuki to trade, which Suzuki is of course down for, leading to both men trading elbows in a fun rally. Suzuki’s facial expression when Dickinson essentially called him out there was fantastic, very “so, you have chosen death” and the crowd popped big for it and chanted that Dickinson had messed up. Suzuki eventually leaves Dickinson punch drunk with kicks and slaps, but Dickinson keeps pulling himself up to keep fighting.
Dickinson gets a big spinning back kick to the gut to actually put Suzuki down, although the crowd boos that thinking it was low but I don’t think that’s the story they were telling. Dickinson follows that up with a suplex and then throws elbow from side control to get the ref stoppage finish to the absolute shock of the crowd. I mean, it was pretty much time for Dickinson to win after already doing jobs for Suzuki in Bloodsport and in New Japan.
WINNER: CHRIS DICKINSON
Suzuki flings a chair following that as he thought the stoppage was early, which I guess means we need a rematch and I’m down for that. Dickinson grabs a mic and calls out the fans who are booing him, saying that GCW is his house and he’s bad.
If you’re not a fan of this style of wrestling then this show will be unlikely to convert you, but if you do like it then this should give you what you are looking for, with the last two matches in particular being of high quality.
It’s £19.99 over on FITE and they also have a GCW bundle offer if you want to watch all of the GCW shows this weekend at a discounted price. If this sounds like your jam then it might be worth dropping some coinage on it.