By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
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GCW “Joey Janela’s Spring Break 7”
Streamed on FITE TV
March 31, 2023 in Los Angeles, California at Ukrainian Cultural Center
“The Collective” is a series of 10 wrestling shows, led by Game Changer Wrestling, held over WrestleMania weekend, with all the events at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Most of the shows have a specific theme (there is a lucha show, a show highlighting Black wrestlers, and another featuring the LGBTQ community.) This venue can probably hold 600, and it is packed; this is big of a crowd as the “Bloodsport” show a day ago.
This is a review of “Joey Janela’s Spring Break 7,” which took place Friday evening (after Smackdown and after ROH”s Supercard of Honor), on March 31, 2023. Joey Janela and Lenny Leonard provided commentary; Leonard has stepped away from announcing in the past year, so this is a nice treat.
1. Blake Christian defeated Gringo Loco, Alec Price, Komander, Shane Mercer, Tony Deppen, Billie Starkz, Jack Cartwheel, and Cole Radrick in an eight-way scramble match at 13:49. We started with eight, but Blake Christian hit the ring to join the match before it got underway, and he was loudly booed. Loco hit some quick armdrags and a handspring-back-double elbow on Deppen and Blake. Shane tossed Komander in the air, caught him and hit a backbreaker over his knee. Jack hit the Sasuke Special cartwheel flip to the floor at 2:00.
Shane (who I compare to Brian Cage) picked up Price and threw him to the floor on everyone. Deppen hit a senton on a chair lying on Radrick’s chest for a nearfall at 4:00. Christian hit a superkick on Deppen. Blake rode on a ladder down as it slammed onto Deppen. Gringo hit a flip dive to the floor. Billie air-balled a spin kick on Gringo, but she hit on her second attempt. Price hit a double stomp onto a board that Billie was lying on. Loco hit a flying stunner on Price at 7:00.
We had a tower spot off a ladder, with Deppen crashing hard to the mat. Mercer held Cartwheel in his arms, climbed a tall ladder and hit a fallaway slam to the mat for a nearfall at 9:30. Awesome move. Gringo used a chair across Mercer’s head. Gringo tried to put Mercer on a door but it immediately broke, so they got another one. Price hit a dive to the floor. Komander walked the top rope and hit a dive to the floor. Loco hit a Swanton Bomb off the tall ladder onto Mercer as Shane was lying on the door bridge at 12:00. Some insane spots. Billie put Radrick on her shoulders and she slammed him to the mat. However, Blake hit the Rollins-style Stomp on Billie to pin her. A really good scramble featuring the very best of GCW.
2) “The East West Express” Nick Wayne and Jordan Oliver defeated “Motor City Machine Guns” Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley to win the GCW Tag Team Titles at 12:37. A nice video package aired to preview the match. The crowd chanted, “New champs!” before the bell. The MCMG attacked before the bell, and they all brawled on the floor. Wayne has a cut by his left eye and his bleeding. They finally got back in the ring at 2:00. The MCMG hit a Magic Killer team faceplant move. Shelley hit a basement dropkick on Wayne’s face as Nice was tied in the Tree of Woe at 4:30. Shelley applied the Border ity Stretch on Wayne, and he gouged at the cut by his eye!
Wayne hit a superkick and a shotgun dropkick on Shelley, then a mid-ring Spanish Fly on Sabin for a nearfall at 7:00. Shelley hit an assisted Flatliner for a nearfall on Wayne. Shelley dropped Olver face-first on the middle turnbuckle. Sabin hit a Helluva Kick on Oliver, and the MCMG began working over Oliver. Oliver and Sabin traded mid-ring forearm shots. Sabin hit a superkick; Oliver hit a superkick. Sabin nailed the Cradleshock for a nearfall at 9:00, but Wayne made the save. Shelley hit the Shellshock swinging faceplant on Wayne, and he immediately applied the Border City Stretch. Meanwhile, Sabin applied a Sharpshooter on Oliver, but the EWE escaped.
The MCMG hit their quick team offense on Jordan. Sabin accidentally kicked Shelley. Wayne hit a flip dive to the floor. Jordan hit a Clout Cutter for a believable nearfall on Sabin. THe EWE hit superkicks and simultaneous Clout Cutters, but both MCMG kicked out at 12:30. The EWE immediately hit a team Clout Cutter on Sabin for the pin. The building erupted for the new champs!
* Emil Jay interviewed Yoshihiko in the ring. Yoshihiko wore a black outfit and dark black mask, and he carried an inflatable girl doll; I think the doll is actually Yoshihiko. Yoshihiko was apparently a part of the DDT-GCW show earlier Friday (I haven’t had a chance to watch that one yet.) This is dumb. Apparently Yoshihiko will be in GCW in the future. Charles Mason and Parrow hit the ring. Mason kicked and stomped on the plastic inflatable, and he shouted, “You’re not f—ing real!” and the crowd booed him. Parrow hit a sit-out DDT on the masked man. They tore off the mask to reveal it is Jimmy Lloyd. However, Yoshihiko got a waist-lock on Parrow, and gave him a German Suplex. This is all very silly. For me, it crossed the line into just being dumb, but the crowd liked this.
3. El Hijo Del Vikingo defeated Mike Bailey at 17:59. Veda Scott joined commentary. Prazak noted this show sold out the day it went on sale. Quick reversals the first minute and a standoff, and a handshake. Vikingo hit a spin kick to the head at 3:00. Vikingo hit a double-jump huracarana, then a dive through the ropes onto Bailey; he nearly came down head-first. Bailey nailed his Triangle Moonsault to the floor. In the ring, Bailey hit a series of kicks and he was in charge. Bailey hit a dragon screw leg whip at 5:00, then he applied the Jamie Noble Trailer Hitch leglock, keeping Vikingo grounded.
They traded overhand chops. Bailey hit a running Shooting Star Press for a nearfall at 9:00. Vikingo fired back with a swinging uranage, then a Meteora double knees strike to the chin, then a running Shooting Star Press from the ring apron to the floor. Vikingo hit his Phoenix Splash while standing on the middle rope on the outside of the ring, getting a nearfall. Bailey hit his top-rope moonsault to the floor at 11:00. In the ring, Bailey hit his moonsault kneedrop for a nearfall, and a spin kick to the head for a nearfall.
Bailey hit his Tornado Kick into the corner, but he missed the Ultima Weapon. Vikingo hit his top-rope flip into a huracarana at 13:30, then a German Suplex for a nearfall. They traded kicks to the chest as they fought on the ring apron. Bailey missed a moonsault kneedrop. Vikingo hit a top-rope Canadian Destroyer onto the ring apron at 15:30, with both of them crashing to the floor, and the crowd chanted, “Holy shit!” Bailey hit a top-rope Spanish Fly for a believable nearfall. Bailey set up for the Flamingo Driver/modified One-Winged Angel, but Vikingo escaped. They fought on the top rope, and Vikingo hit a swinging uranage. Vikingo then nailed a top-rope 630 Splash for the pin. That was really good.
4. “MDK” Nick Gage and Maki Itoh defeated “Bussy” Effy and Allie Katch in an intergender tag match at 16:06. The women started. Itoh played to the crowd, showing she’s “the cutest in the world.” Katch got (a rare!) boo for applying a headlock and stopping these shenanigans. Itoh hit the Kokeshi falling headbutt at 2:00. The men tagged in and Gage hit a pair of bodyslams. Itoh hit a tornado DDT on Effy, and they worked him over. Katch put a chair around Gage’s neck and slammed him into the ring post at 7:30. In the ring, Effy used Gage’s pizza cutter across Maki Itoh’s forehead, drawing quite a reaction. Katch also used the pizza cutter, and Itoh was bleeding.
Gage climbed back in the ring and hit a DDT on Katch and a spinebuster on Effy at 9:30. Gage pulled out another pizza cutter, but this one has a red bow on it, matching Itoh’s outfit. Itoh used her pizza cutter on Allie, while Gage used his on Effy. Yuck. Gage hit a chokeslam over his knee on Katch for a nearfall at 13:00. Effy hit Gage with a chairshot to the head. Itoh chokeslammed Effy across two open chairs for a nearfall at 14:30. Itoh did her fake crying, which made Katch pause her attack. It’s funny stuff. Itoh hit a tornado DDT, simultaneously as Gage Slammed Katch for the pin. Solid match; I can do without the pizza cutters and blood.
* Gage got on the mic but Matt Cardona and Steph De Lander attacked Gage and Itoh with chairs. Cardona got on the mic and said it is ‘f**king bullshit we’re not booked on spring break,” or booked on WrestleMania! Steph also got on the mic and berated the crowd. However, Masha Slamovich hit the ring, with her GCW title belt around her waist. Gage and Cardona brawled to the back. Meanwhile, it appears we are having an impromptu match!
5. Masha Slamovich defeated Steph De Lander to retain the GCW Title at 6:21. Masha charged at Steph and hit a series of kicks. Steph hit a snap suplex for a nearfall at 2:00; she is in regular clothes, not her ring gear. Steph hit a German Suplex for a nearfall. Masha went under the ring and got a door, which she set up in the corner of the ring. Steph chokeslammed Masha across two open chairs for a nearfall at 4:30. Masha nailed the Air Raid Crash through the door set up in the corner.
Masha set up for the piledriver, when Cardona returned to the ring and broke up the hold. Gage and Itoh returned to the ring, with Gage brawling with Cardona. Masha jumped on Steph’s back and applied a sleeperhold, fell to the mat, and Steph tapped out. Entertaining and a fun bonus match.
6. Kota Ibushi defeated Joey Janela at 24:18. A very nice pop for the returning Ibushi; I am surprised that he appears to be an inch taller. Mat reversals to open and a feeling-out process. Kota hit a dropkick at 3:00. Janela nailed a roaring elbow. They traded forearm shots at 7:00. Kota snapped off a nice huracarana. Kota hit a nice top-rope moonsault to the floor on Janela at 8:30. Lenny Leonard said “any thoughts about ring rust on Kota Ibushi have been answered.” In the ring, Ibushi hit a Regal Plex for a nearfall.
Janela hit a top-rope superplex for a nearfall at 10:30. They traded stiff forearm shots, and Janela was bleeding heavily from his forehead. This is actually quite gross. They brawled to the floor, and Janela set up some door bridges on the floor. He’s dripping blood onto the doors. No way he meant to bleed this much. They traded more forearm blows on the floor, and Janela whipped him into the ring post at 15:30. Ibushi hit a Dragon Suplex off the turnbuckles to the floor and onto the door bridges. That was incredibly dangerous and reckless.
In the ring, Janela hit a Death Valley Driver at 17:30, then a second one, but Kota kicked out at one, and the crowd popped. They got up and traded more forearm shots. Janela hit a brainbuster; Kota hit a suplex. Janela hit a German Suplex; Kota hit a German suplex. We had a close-up of Janela’s blood-covered face and Leonard said he’s definitely going to a local medical center afterward. They traded open-hand slaps to the face. Kota went for a standing moonsault at 22:00, but Janela got his knees up.
Janela hit a hard clothesline, then a package piledriver for a believable nearfall. Janela nailed a superkick that staggered Kota. Joey hit a second superkick, then a third. Ibushi caught him with a jumping knee. He grabbed the wrists and nailed the Kamigoye kneestrike to the collarbone for the pin. Good match that was hurt by too much blood loss and one really dangerous spot.
* Janela got on the mic and talked about how he landed his first wrestling contract, but he lost himself in the process. While he said there is no heat with Kip Sabien and Penelope Ford, he admitted it was difficult to go to work and see his ex with a new guy. He thanked Tony Khan for everything he did for him. He applauded Kota for deciding a few years ago not to sign with WWE, and at least for now, hasn’t signed with AEW. He thanked Kota for coming to the company “that I killed myself for.” He said Kota doesn’t know how much this means to him.
Final Thoughts: I’ll go with Bailey vs. Vikingo for best match. Vikingo didn’t quite land his top-rope 630-into-a-huracanrana move, but everything else looked really good. The tag title match also was really good and earned second place. While I give Kota-Joey third best, I still hoped for a bit, well, a bit less. Less blood. And that dangerous spot onto tables could have easily put Kota back on the shelf. It will make you cringe. The good news is that Kota looked great here, and a day earlier against Mike Bailey. The show-opening scramble featured the best of GCW’s roster and earns a very good honorable mention.
This is a much better use of Nick Gage’s abilities now. He shouldn’t be the champion; as I’ve noted, while he’s only 42, his body has taken so much abuse from years of hardcore matches, he is just better being used as a special attraction than as the promotion’s flag bearer.
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