By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
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GCW “Dead on Arrival – Japan”
Streamed on FITE TV
Taped September 27, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan at Shin-Kiba 1st Ring
The ring was well-lit but the crowd sat in the shadows, so it is hard to gauge how many people are in attendance. In general, Japanese crowds are still not allowed to make noise with their mouths (pandemic rule), but they are loudly clapping. Unfortunately, we don’t have commentary. I don’t need it, but it is startling different to watch a show without it.
1. “Strong Hearts” CIMA, El Lindaman, and T-Hawk defeated Joey Janela, Jordan Oliver, and Nick Wayne at 9:23. It is worth reiterating that Wayne just turned 17 in July, but he’s already made treks to the UK and now here to Japan. (This is the match on this card I was looking forward to the most.) The Strong Hearts trio have competed in the U.S., including some of the very first AEW shows. Wayne still has tape on his right shoulder from a recent injury; he opened against CIMA with standing reversals. Wayne hit a huracanrana.
Oliver entered at 2:00 and brawled with T-Hawk. The Strong Hearts team began working over Oliver. (NOTE: the 5-minute announcement is right on with my stopwatch.) Janela entered and hit a flipping stunner. Wayne hit a series of kicks on Lindaman. CIMA hit a Lungblower on Wayne. Everyone hit big moves and suddenly everyone was down at 7:00. All six got up and traded forearm shots. The American trio hit simultaneous dives to the floor on the Strong Hearts.
In the ring, Janela hit a Death Valley Driver, and Wayne immediately hit a Swanton Bomb, on Lindaman for a nearfall. Strong Hearts isolated Wayne and everyone hit a big move on him. CIMA nailed his Meteora/top rope flying knees to Wayne’s jaw for the pin. I really enjoyed that, and it was over all too quickly. All six shook hands after the match.
2. Masato Tanaka and The Great Sasuke defeated Jimmy Lloyd and Kikutaro at 11:52. It has been years since I’ve seen the 49-year-old Tanaka wrestle, primarily in ECW; I admittedly see very little Japanese wrestling outside of NJPW. Sasuke is now age 53. My knowledge of Kikutaro is limited to his ROH matches; he wears the goofy oversized mask and is mostly a comedy act. Sasuke and Kikutaro did some comedy stuff early that I admittedly didn’t ‘get.’
Lloyd entered at 6:00 and traded offense with Sasuke. Sasuke went for a second-rope summersault but crashed hard onto an open chair. Kikutaro and Tanaka traded hard mid-ring forearm shots. Kikutaro hit a Shining Wizard for a believable nearfall. Tanaka and Sasuke dumped Lloyd onto two open chairs on the ramp. Tanaka then hit a sliding clothesline on Kikutaro to score the pin.
3. Ryuji Ito and Abdullah Kobayashi defeated Cole Radrick and Mance Warner at 10:29. I don’t know these Japanese guys, but they are clearly older, so I did a quick Wikipedia search. Abdullah, age 46, wore a shirt and is much heavier. Ito, also age 46, and Warner opened by trading shots. Abdullah entered and removed his shirt and he’s on par with Fallah Bahh in size of his gut. Radrick, the James Ellsworth-style dork, couldn’t budge Abdullah. They brawled on the floor and Abdullah was bleeding from the forehead.
In the ring, Abdullah got out a fork hidden on his leg, but Mance jabbed it into Abdullah’s forehead. Everyone let go of the fork, showing it was deep enough in his skull it would stay in place. That’s gross. Abdullah stabbed Radrick in the arm (in my mind, turning him babyface!). Ito slammed table debris on Radrick. Abdullah hit a Shining Wizard on Mance for a nearfall at 8:00. Radrick entered and hit his springboard cutter; he’s the only guy not bleeding from the forehead now. The ring is covered with tiny pieces of debris. The Japanese team worked over Radrick, with Ito hitting a top-rope frogsplash for the pin. Just so-so.
* Rolls of light tubes were set up in the corner of the ring.
4. Masashi Takeda defeated Shlak in a death match at 12:26. I have seen the muscular, tattoo-covered Shlak on XPW shows from California, and I know he’s a hardcore death match guy. With his short Mohawk, he has a passing resemblance to Brian Cage. Takeda has a splash of green hair, and his back is covered in scars. They immediately hit each other with light tubes, and Takeda used what appeared to be a saw across Shlak’s forehead. That’s just gross.
The ring was quickly covered with light tube debris; the female referee wore black gloves the entire match. Takeda’s face was covered in blood. Shlak powerbombed Takeda onto a pile of light tubes for a nearfall at 6:30. They hit each other over the head with light tubes and Shlak hit a sit-out powerbomb for a nearfall. Takeda hit a Dragon Suplex and a running knee for a nearfall. Takeda hit a belly-to-back suplex onto a pile of light tubes to score the pin.
5. Jun Kasai defeated Effy in a death match at 11:48. The ring was quickly cleaned of much of the debris, but a lot remained. Kasai is mostly bald but he has a bright purple ponytail. Effy hit his Blockbuster out of the corner at 6:30, then a spear for a nearfall. Effy hit his leg-hook DDT out of the corner for a nearfall. A fork was jabbed into Kasai’s head. They got out the light tubes and took turns whacking each other with them. Kasai put on goggles before hitting a frogsplash, with a pile of light tubes on Effy’s chest. Kasai hit a (Josh Alexander-style) butterfly piledriver for the pin. They kissed on the lips after the match.
6. John Wayne Murdoch, Alex Colon, and Rina Yamashita defeated Drew Parker, Toshiyuki Sakuda, and Violento Jack in a death match at 11:53. All six brawled at the bell. Parker has appeared on a handful of GCW shows in the U.S. this summer, but I don’t know his Japanese teammates. One has a splash of blue in his hair, and I’m guessing that is Sakuda. The other wears a mask, and I assume that is Violent Jack. Rina hit some low blows early, and a suplex on Jack. Parker hit her with a stunner. They started working her over, and I really dislike man-on-woman violence, especially in hardcore matches. They dropkicked a barbed-wire board into her face.
Rina and Drew traded some good offense with her hitting a piledriver when Drew was along her back. Colon hit a Code Red on Jack. A ladder was brought into the ring. Parker missed a Swanton and crashed to the mat. Colon hit a Styles Clash off the second rope on Sakuda, dropping him stomach-first on a pile of light tubes, to score the pin. Yuck.
Final Thoughts: Game Changer Wrestling definitely has a niche with the hardcore death matches, and their fans seem to like this stuff. They also love the man-on-woman violence. While it’s not my preferred style of action, I think the crowd enjoyed what they saw. I enjoyed the opening match, and wished it was longer. The last three matches did nothing for me. This event was on the shorter end, coming in at just under two hours.