By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
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GCW “Now & Forever”
Streamed on FITE.TV
July 14, 2023 in New York, New York at the Melrose Ballroom
Veda Scott provided the lead commentary. This is a legit sellout and it might be 800 or so fans; it’s hard to gauge as we have fans in an upper deck, too.
1. Charles Mason defeated Alec Price, Cole Radrick, Marcus Mathers, and Brayden Toon in a five-way scramble at 8:05. This was supposed to be a four-way, but Charles Mason and Parrow walked to the ring before the bell and were loudly booed. Toon (a New South wrestler from Alabama) competed nearby Thursday at Mathers’ “All I want 2” show; he’s thick and comparable to Joe Gacy. Mathers hit a swinging neckbreaker on Toon. Price hit a springboard crossbody block on Toon at 2:00. Parrow choked Price in the ropes. Mason nailed an Exploder Suplex on Radrick, then a decapitating clothesline on Mathers. Price choked Toon on the mat.
Price hit his running kicks in the corner then his top-rope flying legdrop. Toon hit a moonsault to the floor. In the ring, Price hit a flipping DDT on Mathers, then a step-up Mule Kick on Mathers. However, Mason shoved Price to the floor, and he put a sleeper on Mathers, and Mathers tapped out. It’s often said, but no one does scrambles like GCW. Mason hit a tombstone piledriver on Price after the bell, and Parrow hit a piledriver on Radrick, then a chokeslam on Toon.
* We heard the ‘gong’ of the Undertaker and his distinct music! Out came Matt Cardona in an Undertaker jacket and he did a full Undertaker-style ring entrance with the slow walk to the ring; Veda said he’s “the Indytaker.” Steph De Lander carried an urn. The crowd chanted for Cardona to “shut the f— up” before he said a word. Cardona said he’s “the Rydertaker,” and “This is my yard!” Emil Jay joined Veda Scott on commentary.
2. “Deathmatch Royalty” Matt Cardona and Steph De Lander defeated “Bussy” Effy and Allie Katch at 10:04. Steph and Allie opened with some intentionally-suggestive reversals; the men entered the ring and separated them, drawing boos. Funny. (This crowd wants some HLA!) Cardona and Steph kissed Effy on the cheek, and suddenly Effy kissed Matt on the lips, while the women kissed. All comedy early on.
Allie hit a butt splash and her hip attacks and rolling cannonballs on each heel at 7:00. Effy hit a spear on Cardona. Cardona set up for a double chokeslam, but Bussy hit low blow kicks. The powder from the urn was thrown into Effy’s eyes! However, Cardona accidentally hit SDL with the urn, and dust flew everywhere. Cardona got a rollup out of nowhere to pin Allie Katch. Fine comedy stuff.
3) Gringo Loco defeated Arez and Komander in a three-way at 9:02. Quick reversals out of the gate. Komander hit a huracanrana. Arez and Loco traded armdrags, and we had a three-way standoff at 1:30. Loco hit his fallaway slam on Komander. Arez tied up Loco in the ropes, then he hit his repeated stomps on Loco’s back. Komander walked the top rope then hit an Asai Moonsault on both opponents at 4:00. (Unbelievable how he just stopped and stood on the top rope.) In the ring, Komander and Arez traded forearm shots. Arez hit a slingshot legdrop on Komander, then a top-rope doublestomp to the chest.
Loco hit a top-rope flying Canadian Destroyer on Arez at 6:30; Komander tried to steal the pin. Arez hit a superkick on Loco. Arez and Komander fought on the ropes in the corner. Loco joined and hit a Spanish Fly on Arez; Komander hit a springboard Shooting Star Press on Arez. Loco then nailed his second-rope swinging powerbomb to the mat to pin Arez. A really good three-way; all their high-flying lucha moves conncted and looked good.
4. Mance Warner defeated George South at 6:32. My first time seeing Warner compete since he sent Trey Miguel to the hospital after an unnecessary chairshot to the head, and South is 60 years old, so a shot to the head could be quite damaging. South carried a barbed-wire bat to the ring. He got on the mic and said it has been 30 years since he last wrestled in New York, and these people stink as bad today as they did then.
The wrestlers brawled to the floor, and South hit a blow to the throat. They fought against the guardrails (hey GCW has guardrails!) in front of the fans. In the ring, South hit a low blow at 3:00 and remained in charge. South shoved the ref to the mat. Mance hit a shot with the bat across the stomach and got a rollup with his feet on the ropes for the cheap pin. I’m pleased to say Warner didn’t strike him over the head with a chair.
Quick take: It is unclear how often Nick Wayne will compete on the indy circuit now that he’s in AEW. Thus, I think the GCW Tag Team Titles could change hands at any time… whether it’s against a makeshift team, or an established team that isn’t seen as a “GCW roster” squad. Last month, Amazing Red and Brian XL of New York-based House of Glory Wrestling attacked Wayne and Jordan Oliver and stole their tag title belts. They have the belts with them today.
5. “The East West Express” Nick Wayne and Jordan Oliver defeated Brian XL and Amazing Red (w/Ultra Violette) to retain the GCW Tag Team Titles at 14:12. The heels attacked at the bell. The EWE hit planchas to the floor. Oliver slammed Wayne onto Brian XL. The EWE hit quick kicks on Red and sent him to the floor. UV tripped Oliver, allowing Brian to take control of the offense, and the heels extensively worked over Jordan.
Oliver clotheslined Brian at 6:30, but UV pulled Wayne off the ring apron before Oliver could tag out. Wayne finally made the hot tag at 8:00 and he hit a shotgun dropkick on Brian, then the handspring-back-stunner on Red, then a Sliced Bread on Red for a nearfall. Red caught Wayne with a spin kick to the head. Wayne hit a mid-ring Spanish Fly on Brian, and suddenly everyone was down.
Red set up for a second-rope Code Red, but Wayne rolled out of it. Wayne then hit his own Code Red on Amazing Red for a nearfall at 11:00. Red hit a top-rope frogsplash on Wayne for a believable nearfall. Red and XL hit the Chasing the Dragon brainbuster-and-kick combo for a believable nearfall. UV threw the belts into the ring. However, Oliver pulled Brian to the floor and hit a superkick. UV hopped in the ring and she hit a low blow uppercut on Oliver at 13:00.
Mane Event (Midas Black and Jay Lyon) suddenly appeared at ringside and they dragged Ultra Violette to the back! Brian followed to the back to save her, leaving Red alone in the ring! The EWE hit a team Superkick, then their team Clout Cutters for the pin on Red. Good match.
* Veda Scott pointed out that was Nick Wayne’s first-ever match in New York City because of rules that require a competitor be age 18; Wayne turned 18 on Monday.
6. Maki Itoh defeated Billie Starkz at 11:14. Starkz has the height and overall size advantage. Veda pointed out that Billie won their prior meeting. This crowd was HOT before they even locked up. They traded mat holds early, and Itoh stopped to pose, drawing cheers. So, we had a silly pose-off. Of course, Itoh kicked her from behind to end the silliness.
Billie hit a snap suplex at 4:00 and the crowd began booing her, because they love Itoh so much! She hit a stiff kick to the spine, and Billie tried posing but got booed. Funny. They began trading forearm shots with the crowd fully beind Maki Itoh.
Itoh nailed the Kokeshi falling headbutt at 6:00. She hit a running Facewash kick in the corner for a nearfall, then a tornado DDT for a nearfall. Billie hit a neckbreaker over her knee at 8:00. Itoh applied a Boston Crab and sat down deep on the back, but Starkz reached the ropes. Starkz nailed a German Suplex, sending Itoh rolling to the floor.
Starkz set up for a dive to the floor, but Itoh hit a DDT in the ropes. Billie went for a Swanton Bomb, but Itoh got her knees up. Itoh immediately hit a DDT at 10:30. Itoh leapt off the second rope and hit another DDT for a believable nearfall, and we got a “this is awesome!” chant. Itoh applied a vertical Texas Cloverleaf with her knee pressing on Starkz shoulder and neck, and Starkz tapped out. A really good match.
* Nick Gage got in the ring and celebrated with Itoh. He made a challenge to Steph De Lander and Matt Cardona for a tag match in New Jersey. On the video screen, we saw Cardona and SDL accept. However, Cardona and SDL attacked from behind while the (obviously pre-recorded) video was still playing. They beat down both Gage and Itoh.
7. Mike Bailey defeated Yoshihiko at 21:33. Again, Yoshihiko is a full-sized mannequin. Here are some indy wrestlers on the East Coast who I’d rather see in the ring with a top star like Bailey: Marcus Mathers, Diego Hill, Junior Benito, Ichiban, Mortar, Richard Holliday, Sammy Diaz, Jay Malachi, Dustin Waller, Bryce Donovan, Gabriel Skye, Kylon King. I don’t mind comedy matches — I enjoyed Yoshiko vs. Jimmy Lloyd a day earlier — I just would rather see Bailey work a rising star who could use the rub and in-ring time with him. Obviously, this type of match requires Bailey to do all the work, and I applaud him for making it entertaining. Bailey channeled Will Ospreay by hitting a Hidden Blade forearm and a Stormbreaker spinning slam off the shoulders for the pin. Truly something memorable.
* Dave Prazak has joined Veda on commentary.
8. Homicide, Grim Reefer, and Matt Tremont defeated Jimmy Lloyd and “Los Macizos” Ciclope and Miedo Extremo at 11:20. All six brawled in the ring. Homicide hit a flip dive through the ropes onto everyone, and everyone brawled on the floor. Lloyd and Tremont fought on the entrance stage. In the ring, Homicide hit some rolling suplexes. Tremont went under the ring at 5:00 and got a door. Reefer lit a joint and was about to leap onto Miedo, but the door bridge collapsed under Miedo at 9:00. Unintentionally funny. Ciclope and Lloyd slammed Reefer through a door in the ring. Tremont hit a Death Valley Driver at 11:00. Homicide hit a Copkillah backslide driver on Lloyd for the pin. Pretty standard hardcore match; because we are in NYC, it was blood-free, no glass, no light tubes, etc.
9. Blake Christian defeated Mao to retain the GCW Heavyweight Title at 12:27. Again, Mao (rhymes with ‘now’) has short, uncombed messy hair and he’s quite a talent. Mao came out first; Blake attacked from behind to kickstart the match. Mao hit an Asai Moonsault to the floor. In the ring, Blake hit a 619, then a second-rope flying knee to the side of the head. They brawled up the ramp, and Blake hit a bodyslam onto the stage at 2:30. In the ring, Blake applied a Figure Four Leglock, and he pulled on the ropes for leverage. Blake hit a basement dropkick in the corner for a nearfall. He hit a hard forearm to the back of the neck at 6:00.
Mao hit a leg lariat and the crowd rallied for him. He hit a shotgun dropkick and a running knee in the corner, then his split-legged moonsault for a nearfall. He hit a top-rope kneedrop to the chest, and he applied a mid-ring Octopus. Mao hit a Poison Rana for a nearfall at 8:00, then an O’Connor Roll for a nearfall. Blake hit a handspring-back-spin kick and they were both down. They got up and traded forearm shots. Blake hit a stunner; Mao popped to his feet and hit his own stunner. Blake hit a mid-ring Spanish Fly, then a springboard 450 Splash for a nearfall at 10:30, and Blake was livid at the referee.
Blake hit a running knee for a nearfall. Mao hit a Crucifix Takedown driver for a nearfall, then a superkick. Mao hit a top-rope corkscrew splash for a nearfall. Blake hit a low blow uppercut with the ref out of position, then his rolling Death Valley Driver for a believable nearfall. Blake nailed the Rollins-style Stomp to the head for the pin. Good match; there were a few seconds where they weren’t on the same page but it was still really good.
10. Utami Hayashishta defeated Lufisto at 16:18. Utami beat Billie Starkz and Janai Kai last week, so she’s trying to finish her U.S. tour at 3-0. Intense lockup early on. Lufisto dropped her with a shoulder tackle; Utami hit her own shoulder tackle, then a headbutt. Lufisto hit a modified Death Valley Driver and took control, putting the boot to Utami’s head as Utami was in the ropes. She applied a Camel Clutch at 6:00, then she hit a Curbstomp for a nearfall. They traded stiff forearm shots, and Utami hit a dropkick at 10:00.
Utami hit a clothesline for a nearfall, then an Angle Slam for a nearfall. Lufisto hit a Tiger Suplex with a bridge for a believable nearfall. They traded more forearm shots. Lufisto put Utami on her shoulders and hit an Electric Chair, falling backward, for a nearfall at 12:30. Lufisto hit a spinning back fist, but it just ticked Utami off. Lufisto hit a series of headbutts. Utami hit an Air Raid Crash, then two German Suplexes for a nearfall. Lufisto hit a fisherman’s suplex for a nearfall. Lufisto hit a slam for a nearfall but she missed a rolling cannonball in the corner. Utami suplexed Lufisto into the corner. Utami hit a swinging Razor’s Edge overhead powerbomb for the pin. Another really good match to close out the show.
Final Thoughts: I think the GCW shows from New York are my favorite. They always have a great lineup, and because of NY rules, they can’t have light tubes, glass, gusset plates, staple guns, and excessive bloodloss. It allows GCW to focus on having shows with good wrestling.
I could see how someone would consider Bailey-Yoshihiko for best match, as it certainly was very entertaining, and of course, Bailey had to do all the work. It was truly memorable. I’ll go with the tag title match for best, Blake-Mao for second, and the lucha three-way for third. I must acknowledge we had two very good women’s matches on this show, too. Catch all GCW shows at Fite+.