By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
GCW Presents Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport
Jersey City, New Jersey at White Eagle Hall
Broadcast live on FITE TV
Fans chanted GCW to open the show… The ring announcer read through the rules of the fights for the matches held in a ring with no ropes. The rules include no pins. Fights stop based on knockouts, submissions, or disqualifications. The referee whispered “no rope breaks” to the ring announcer, which got a laugh…
1. Phil Baroni vs. Dominic Garrini. Baroni was the heel and gave crotch chops to the crowd during the introductions. Garrini worked the match in a karate gi. Baroni avoided a submission and the fans booed. Garrini went for cross arm breaker, but Baroni avoided it. Baroni threw several punches at Garrini and then covered him and counted his own pinfall while the broadcast team reminded viewers that there are no pinfalls. Garrini beat the ref’s count only to have Baroni punch him again. Garrini failed to get to his feet. Baroni put his hands on the ref after the match, and it was announced that the referee was reversing his decision…
Dominic Garrini defeated Phil Barino via reverse decision disqualification.
Powell’s POV: Baroni had great heat and did a nice job of working up the crowd. The live crowd liked the reversed decision more than I did, though it’s possible it plays into something else that will occur on the show.
2. Simon Gotch vs. JR Kratos. The fighters bumped fists before the match. Kratos slapped Gotch at one point, and Gotch responded with a leaping kick to the head. Later, Gotch went for a piledriver, but couldn’t get Kratos up. Instead, he rolled into and put him in an armbar. Kratos broke the hold and then delivered a big punch to the head of Gotch to knock him out. Kratos grabbed Gotch’s legs, but the ref called off the match..
JR Kratos defeated Simon Gotch via knockout.
Powell’s POV: A fun match with the big knockout at the end. Gotch did a great job of selling the big punch at the end by leaning on the referee as he stood up. Gotch shook hands with Kratos, then fell to the mat. The lack of ropes makes for an awkward visual if only because it somehow makes the ring look small, but the live crowd is into the concept. It’s fun to hear them react to basic submission holds and big punches.
3. Killer Kross vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr. Kross entered the ring and bowed to all four sides of the crowd while the broadcast team spoke about how Kross is very selective about where he works. Both wrestlers were cheered during the introductions. Smith threw kicks at the legs of Kross, who smirked and then threw some of his own. Later, Smith had an armbar applied, but the ref broke it up, apparently because they were too close to the edge of the rope-less ring. Smith and Kross traded punches and slaps to the face. Kross threw a kick to Smith’s head and performed his Saito suplex. The wrestlers traded leg kicks, and Kross fell to the mat to sell one of the kicks. Thy traded slaps again. Smith ducked a kick and then suplexed Kross. Smith applied a crossface and got the submission win. One of the broadcast team members noted that Smith held the hold a little after the bell. Afterward, Kross bowed at Smith, they shook hands, then Smith bowed to Kross and all four sides of the building. Smith left and the crowd applauded Kross and chanted his name…
Davey Boy Smith Jr. defeated Killer Kross.
Powell’s POV: This is one of the matches I was looking forward to most on this show and they delivered with the early fight of the show. Kross really work the gimmick he uses in Impact Wrestling, which is smart considering the style of the show. Both men did a hell of a job and I’d like to see more of this style of work from both men in their respective companies. I like the pacing of the show thus far. The first two matches were fairly quick, and this match seemed to get little more time and deservedly so.
4. Jonathan Gresham vs. Masashi Takeda. The crowd was hot for Takeda and chanted his name even before he made his entrance. Gresham took Takeda down. Takeda ended up going for a hold on Gresham, but the referee broke it because they were hanging over the edge of the ring. The fighters tumbled to the floor moments later. They traded punches before returning to the ring. Takeda bled from a cut above the eye. Gresham ended up on top of Tadeda and threw strikes at the injured eye. Takeda rolled on top and threw strikes of his own. Gresham got back to his feet and threw a eries of kicks. Takeda knocked him to his knees with a punch, then blasted him with a knee. The ref stopped in and one of the broadcast team members exclaimed, “Holy f—in’ shit.” The fighters shook hands afterward…
Masashi Takeda defeated Jonathan Gresham.
Powell’s POV: Another strong match. Dot Net staffer Jake Barnett noted that Takeda is more of a death match fighter. He did a good job with this style. This has been a blast so far.
5. Andy Williams vs. Chris Dickinson. The fighters opened with a flurry of punches and slaps and the crowd loved it. There were dueling chants for the fighters followed by a “both these guys” chant. Dickinson won via submission with a rear naked choke.
Chris Dickinson defeated Andy Williams via submission.
Powell’s POV: The match didn’t go very long, but the live crowd loved it while it lasted. There are photos on social media of WWE’s Dean Ambrose and William Regal watching the show from the balcony, but they have not been acknowledged or mentioned during the broadcast.
6. Dan Severn vs. Frank Mir. Both MMA legends were well received and a “holy shit” chant broke out before the introductions. Both fighters wore shirts as they fought. They went to the ground quickly. Mir won via submission with a kneebar. One of the broadcast team members said it only takes a second to lose and this may have a different result if they fought again tomorrow. Mir addressed the crowd afterward (I believe he mentioned something about Brock Lesnar). Phil Baroni was with Mir and taunted the crowd as they left together.
Frank Mir defeated Dan Severn.
Powell’s POV: This was very short, which had to be expected given that Severn is 60 years old. The crowd was still disappointed with how brief and uneventful the match was.
7. Hideki Suzuki vs. Timothy Thatcher. They went to the mat quickly and Thatcher targeted the knee and ankle of Suzuki. Eventually, Suzuki broke free of a hold, got to his feet, and kicked the head of Thatcher. Suzuki threw additional kicks and blasted Thatcher with a knee to the head. Thatcher came back with a kick of his own. Suzuki punched Thatcher and got back to his feet. Thatcher stood up and ate another punch. The fighters exchanged forearms. Thatcher powered up Suzuki for a gut-wrench suplex at the ten minute mark of the match that carried a 20-minute time limit. A short time later, Suzuki threw a high kick to the head and then powered up Thatcher and slammed him onto his knee. Suzuki performed a big suplex. Thatcher sold it by acting dazed. The referee called for the bell. The fighters were respectful to one another afterward.
Hideki Suzuki defeated Timothy Thatcher via ref stoppage.
Powell’s POV: A solid match. I’m surprised they didn’t come back with something a little flashier given that they knew how brief the previous fight would be. That said the main event is up next, so perhaps this was done by design. By the way, a Twitter reader recapped the Mir promo that I missed. Mir said he was getting into pro wrestling to face Brock Lesnar. He said he couldn’t make him the first octagon death, maybe he’ll make him the first in the ring.
8. Minoru Suzuki vs. Josh Barnett. The fans popped big for Suzuki and chanted his name. Fans chanted “Bloodsport” once Barnett entered the ring. Suzuki went face to face with Barnett, then stepped back and the referee called for the bell to start the match. A “Kumite” chant broke out. Suzuki targeted the knee and ankle of Barnett and eventually went for a rear naked choke, which Barnett escaped. Suzuki applied another submission hold a short time later. Barnett escaped it, but Suzuki then applied a kneebar. They got back to their feet and Suzuki blasted Barnett with three knees and a forearm to the face. The broadcast team questioned if Barnett was still with us.
Barnett got back to his feet. A loud “Suzuki” chant broke out. Barnett charged at Suzuki and they exchanged strikes. Barnett caught Suzuki with a kick and a knee, then took him down and worked over his right arm. Suzuki broke the hold with knees to Barnett’s head. Suzuki got back to his feet, then blasted Barnett with a knee to the head. Suzuki went for his piledriver finisher, but Barnett blocked a couple of attempts, then took Suzuki down by his leg, stomped his head, and applied a submission hold. Suzuki got back to his feet and suplexed Barnett.
The fighters rolled to the floor. Suzuki took out the referee and hit Barnett with a chair. Barnett no-sold the chair shot and threw several strikes at Suzuki. Barnett returned to the ring and dragged Suzuki in with him. The referee noted there were five minutes remaining. Barnett threw knees and then punches to the head of Suzuki. The broadcast team said the ref seemed to be letting them go despite Suzuki getting physical with him, though the referee was still down at ringside. Barnett powered up Suzuki and performed a release suplex. The referee returned to the ring. The fighters were on their knees and moved closer to one another. Suzuki and Barnett exchanged forearm strikes. They got back to their feet and continued to exchange big blows, including headbutts. The ring announcer said there was one minute remaining in the time limit. They threw a flurry of strikes and the fans were on their feet and counted down to the time limit draw.
The fans chanted for five more minutes. Suzuki got the fans to quiet down, then called for five more minutes. The fans roared and the referee granted them five more minutes. Another GCW chant broke out. Barnett threw a series of kicks at Suzuki and knocked him down. Suzuki popped right back up. Barnett gave him a German suplex. Suzuki appeared to no-sell it, then fell face first to the mat. Barnett applied a rear naked choke. A loud “Suzuki” chant broke out. Suzuki smiled and stuck his tongue out before the hold was broken. Suzuki worked over Barnett’s knee and bit his foot. They jawed at one another and Barnett said something to Suzuki in Japanese, which resulted in the wrestlers trading strikes. The ring announcer noted that there were two minutes remaining, which drew boos. Suzuki applied a submission hold. Barnett collapsed. Suzuki applied another hold on the mat that Barnett rolled free from with one minute remaining. More boos followed by a “fight forever” chant. Suzuki had a leg hold on as the time counted down to zero again.
Minoru Suzuki fought Josh Barnett to a time limit draw.
One of the announcers called for no time limits and fans chanted “let them fight.” The match was announced as a draw. Fans booed initially, then gave a standing ovation to both wrestlers. The fighters met in the center of the ring and shook hands. “Bloodsport,” Suzuki said. Both men dropped to the knees and bowed while putting their heads on the mat, then shook hands and hugged again. Suzuki pointed at Barnett, then left the ring, Barnett bowed to each side of the venue to close out the show.
Powell’s POV: The longest match of the night and a terrific main event to cap off a highly entertaining show. The time limit draw was bold, but it worked as the fans were booing for roughly three seconds before erupting in applause for both men. Suzuki is such a freakish athlete to be performing at such a high level and to look as good as he does physically at age 50. If there’s a Bloodsport 2 (and there better be), here’s hoping we get a rematch and a fight to an actual finish.
What a unique and fun event. It’s crazy that we don’t see more pro wrestling like this in 2019 given the popularity of MMA. I had high hopes for this show on paper and it over delivered. The main event and Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Killer Kross were my favorite matches on the show, but it was filled with good matches in front of a lively crowd that clearly enjoyed the style and concept. I definitely recommend catching a FITE TV replay, as the show will be available via VOD.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest John Thorne, who discusses promoting the AIW Slumber Party Massacre on the Thursday of WrestleMania weekend (available live and via VOD on FITE TV), being a small fish in the big WrestleMania weekend pond, his long history with Johnny Gargano, and much more.