By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
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GCW “Cage of Survival 2”
Streamed on FITE.TV
June 4, 2023 in Atlantic City, New Jersey at The Showboat
This is the second consecutive day of shows here; on Saturday, Rina Yamashita won a 12-person death match tournament to earn a title shot. The crowd appears to be 500 to 700. Dave Prazak and Veda Scott provided commentary.
1. Maki Itoh defeated Janai Kai at 5:42. Janai hit a stiff kick; Itoh hit some clearly lighter kicks that had no effect. Itoh hit the Kokeshi falling headbutt. They traded forearms while holding each other’s wrists. Itoh hit a series of punches in the corner and a running kick to the face in the corner at 4:00 for a nearfall. They traded rollups. Itoh hit a DDT, then a second-rope DDT for the pin. Decent opener.
* Matt Cardona and Steph De Lander walked to the ring, with Itoh still in the ring. Cardona reiterated he is the king of death match wrestling, and Steph is a death match queen. SDL has a title belt proclaiming she is the women’s internet champion. SDL said “Maki Itoh is a little bitch.” Cardona said his match tonight won’t be a death match, it will be “sports entertainment,” which got boos. Itoh got on the mic and told Cardona “suck my d—.”
2. Matt Cardona and Steph De Lander defeated Brandon Kirk and Casey Kirk at 15:32. There are banners on the wall with the faces of the 12 competitors from Saturday’s tournament, and Casey pointed to hers, making it clear that Cardona wasn’t in it but she was. The heels stalled on the floor as the crowd chanted, “we want Chelsea!” Casey and SDL locked up in the ring at 4:00, with Casey hitting some chops. Steph is significantly taller than Casey. Brandon tagged in and hit a series of chops on Cardona. Cardona rolled to the floor, grabbed the mic, and said “I’m changing the rules to this match.” He said it is no longer a sports entertainment match. He went under the ring and grabbed a light tube. “This is a death match!” he shouted… he paused and added, “Not!” So, they brawled on the floor.
Brandon ran on the floor, but Steph hit a Pounce at 8:00. Brandon got into the ring before being counted out, while Prazak and Veda made some breaking-the-fourth-wall, tongue-in-cheek comments about how this is sports entertaininment, and the show is being re-written as we go. Brandon hit a stunner, and they were both down at 11:00. The women made the hot tags. Steph hit a German Suplex on Brandon! Steph grabbed her internet title belt, but she accidentally struck Cardona! She then accidentally struck the ref! Casey got a visual pin on SDL, but the ref was out.
SDL hit a low blow uppercut on Brandon, then she hit a Death Valley Driver across six open chairs at 14:30. Cardona hit a low blow uppercut on Casey, which had no effect. SDL hit Casey from behind with a steel chair to the back of the head. Cardona crawled over and covered Casey for the cheap pin. Cardona went under the ring and got a roll of light tubes, and he was setting up to use it. However, Maki Itoh returned to the ring, and Nick Gage joined her. Gage hit a chairshot across Cardona’s back. Itoh slammed the bundle of light tubes across Cardona’s head. Matt’s back was bleeding in several places. Yuck.
3. El Hijo Del Vikingo defeated Ninja Mack at 13:02. Both men are about 5’4″. Mack certainly isn’t fat, but he’s thicker and has the weight advantage. Vikingo applied a bow-and-arrow early on. They traded Mafia Kicks at 4:00. Mack walked on his hands and did a flip, landing in a ‘super hero pose.’ They had a standoff after several flips and the crowd was going nuts for this. They traded offense while tied in a knucklelock. They fought on the top rope, with Vikingo hitting a jump-up Frankensteiner!
Mack went for a top-rope Poison Rana; it didn’t quite land and Vikingo wisely jumped down on the ring apron rather than sell it. Very forgiving crowd. Vikingo hit a huracanrana, then a twisting dive to the floor. He slammed Mack into the rows of chairs at 8:00. In the ring, Mack hit a spin kick, sending Vikingo the floor, so Mack hit his Sasake Special with several back flips before leaping to the floor. Insane. Back in the ring, Mack hit a corkscrew splash for a nearfall at 10:30. Mack went for a second-rope crossbody block, but Vikingo caught him and hit a swinging side slam.
Vikingo hit a springboard corkscrew splash from the outside of the ring, and getting a nearfall. Mack hit some spin kicks. Vikingo fired back a hard spin kick. Vikingo went for a springboard move, but Mack caught him and hit a powerbomb. Mack missed a top-rope corkscrew splash. Vikingo hit a shotgun dropkick, a Meteora running double knees, then a top-rope 630 Splash for the clean pin. As good as you would hope for.
* I just want to point out that Nick Wayne wrestled Kenta in Seattle on Saturday, while Mike Bailey wrestled Kevin Ku in Indiana. I point this out because the travel schedule for today’s top indy talent is just insane.
4. Mike Bailey and “The East West Express” Nick Wayne and Jordan Oliver defeated Jimmy Lloyd, Alec Price, and Jack Cartwheel at 15:48. Handshakes all around, but then Price’s team attacked from behind. Bailey’s team hit triple planchas. In the ring, Bailey hit a Helluva Kick on Lloyd at 1:30 and a Vader Bomb-style kneedrop for a nearfall. All six fought on the floor, with Oliver fighting Cartwheel (finally! They have missed each other of late!) Price and Bailey got back in the ring, with Price hitting a snap suplex. Price’s team began working over Bailey in their corner, with Jack hitting a flipping senton elbowdrop.
Bailey hit a missile dropkick on Lloyd, and Wayne made the hot tag at 5:00, and he hit a stunner and a Code Red on Lloyd for a nearfall. Prazak pointed out that Wayne will wrestle in New York City for the first time ever in July, as he will finally be 18 by then. Cartwheel entered and hit a nice Crucifix Takedown for a nearfall on Wayne. Oliver tagged and traded blows with Cartwheel. Oliver applied a cross-armbreaker on Jack. Oliver hit the Acid Kick. Cartwheel hit a German Suplex. Oliver hit a mid-ring Spanish Fly, and suddenly everyone was down at 8:30.
Bailey hit a series of kicks on Price, but he missed a running Shooting Star Press. Bailey hit his Speedball kicks on Price at 10:30; he went for the Tornado Kick but Price caught his leg. Price hit a flying leg lariat on Bailey. Bailey nailed the Triangle Moonsault to the floor. Oliver slammed teammate Wayne onto Price. The EWE hit team superkicks, and they went for team Clout Cutters but they were cut off. Wayne hit a second-rope Poison Rana on Lloyd! Cartwheel hit his Sasake Special to the floor at 12:30. In the ring, Price hit his step-up mule kick on Bailey for a believable nearfall, but Oliver made the save, and we have a “this is awesome!” chant going.
Cartwheel went to the top rope, but was cut off. He fought Bailey on the ropes. Bailey set up for the Flaming Driver, but Cartwheel fought free. Bailey missed a moonsault kneedrop. Price hit his top-rope Blockbuster on Bailey. Price hit a dive to the floor. Cartwheel went for his top-rope Phoenix Splash, but Bailey got his knees up. Wayne hit a flip dive to the floor. Oliver hit a top-rope Clout Cutter on Cartwheel. Bailey hit the Flamingo Driver, simultaneously as the EWE hit Clout Cutters, for an amazing triple pin. What a match. Wow.
* Oliver got on the mic and thanked Bailey for being a veteran leader in the locker room. Bailey thanked Wayne and Oliver for being dedicated to the industry, and Bailey left. Oliver got back on the mic and said they have faced everyone from Aussie Open to the Motor City Machine Guns to the Workhorsemen. “I’m starting to think there are no teams on the indies that can take on the two hardest workers in the room,” Oliver said. Out came Ultra Violette, and she was wearing a “House of Glory” T-shirt. Following them were “The Bookers” Amazing Red and Brian XL, carrying the HOG tag titles! Brian XL said “we drove two-and-a-half hours” from New York for this. (Really? It’s that far away?) Oliver challenged them to a match the next time they are in New York, as Wayne will be old enough to compete. The HOG team accepted the match, but then Ultra Violette hit double low blow uppercuts from behind on EWE, allowing Red and XL to beat them up. The HOG left with their belts AND the GCW Tag Titles!
5. “Los Macizos” Miedo Extremo and Ciclope defeated Tomoya Hirata and Toru Sugiura in a death match at 7:31. I don’t know the Japanese duo, but they were in the death match tournament on Saturday. They all immediately hit light tubes on each other. Ciclope used a small chainsaw-type tool across someone’s forehead. I tuned out but the crowd loved it.
* The Japanese duo didn’t want to shake hands. Gringo Loco ran into the ring. Jimmy Lloyd also came to the ring, then John Wayne Murdoch and Sawyer Wreck. All the GCW guys beat up the Japanese duo, who scrambled to the back. Murdoch got on the mic and said GCW is coming to Japan to kick their butts.
6. El Desperado defeated Joey Janela in a death match at 18:52. I love Desperado (I had him favored to win his Block in New Japan’s BoSJ) but I certainly haven’t seen him in a death match before. (No, I didn’t watch Saturday’s show.) I admittedly wish this were a regular match. Instead, there was a barbed wire board set up in the ring. Janela dropkicked Desperado into the barbed-wire board. Yuck. Both men were bleeding; the cut under Desperado’s mask looked awful. Janela hit a Michinoku Driver. Desperado hit his Angel’s Wings/double-arm faceplant for a believable nearfall.
Janela hit a doublestomp off a ladder in the ring and onto debris on Desperado’s chest for a nearfall. They took turns beating each other over the head with light tubes. Janela hit a superkick. Desperado hit a Jay Driller, then a second Angel’s Wings to score the pin. Blah; these two are so good they don’t need to resort to garbage wrestling.
* A ridiculously long intermission to set up the Cage of Survival. Luckily I wasn’t watching live so I was able to fast-forward. When we return, we have barbed wire everywhere, a cage wall on just one side of the ring, and a scaffolding near the ring. Why? Who knows.
7. Blake Christian defeated Masha Slamovich and Rina Yamashita in a “Cage of Survival” match to win the GCW Title at 25:14. This started as Masha vs. Rina. Seconds into the match, Masha hit a snap supex onto a glass pane in the corner. They hit each other with light tubes and Masha tossed Rina into a barbed wire web at 12:00. Masha hit her with a chair. Masha hit an Air Raid Crash into a board. At 19:00, Blake Christian’s music played. No sign of him but the distraction allowed Rina to take control.
They climbed the scaffolding and brawled. Masha slammed her off the scaffold and through a door bridge in the ring! However, a cameraman hopped in the ring at 25:00 and took off his goggles and hoodie! It’s Blake Christian! He demanded to be included in the match! He hit a Rollins-style Stomp to Masha’s head and pinned her! New champion! Fans pelted Blake with debris. Blake stood on top of the scaffolding and posed with the title belt above his head as the show faded to black…
Final Thoughts: A tale of two halves, which is often the case with GCW shows. The six-man tag was amazing, just absolutely amazing. No offense meant to Jimmy Lloyd, but the other five men in that match showed why they are booked every weekend across the country. Again, no offense meant to Lloyd, but if Gringo Loco was in the building, why wasn’t he in that match? Either use him instead of Lloyd, or make it an eight-man tag. Vikingo-Mack was every bit as good as expected. Mack is so underrated, but it’s great to see him getting used in ROH recently.
So… Blake Christian had this “money in the bank” (whatever GCW wants to call it) since WrestleMania weekend, and he taunted Masha for a full two months that he was going to cash it in. However… on this particular night.. Blake wasn’t listed as being in New Jersey, and with ROH running a taping, I presumed he was there. The playing of his music was a nice misdirection, as I’m sure most of the fans in attendance also knew there was an ROH taping and Blake was most likely there. So, the title change was made even better because few people had to have seen this coming.
Because I don’t care for hardcore matches, I won’t say anything other than… the crowd here loved what they saw. They got what they came to see. Even if they hated seeing Blake win the belt.