By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
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GCW “Say You Will”
Streamed on FITE.TV
September 1, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois at Grand Sports Arena
is a large fieldhouse, and this crowd might be in the 800 range. (It’s not the same fieldhouse that ROH used in Chicago Ridge for several years, but it has the same interior, with plenty of space for a big indy crowd.) As the show started, we have five wrestlers in the ring but no sound. As Jordan Oliver came to the ring, we suddenly have sound! Dave Prazak and Veda Scott provided commentary.
1. Jordan Oliver defeated Fuego Del Sol, 1 Called Manders, Jimmy Lloyd, Brayden Toon, Adam Priest in a six-way scramble at 8:30. Oliver carried his JCW Heavyweight Title with him as he came out last. Everyone immediately started hitting dives from the ring onto the grassy floor; it appears we have an artificial surface. Toon is the New South wrestler from Alabama they are booking a lot recently; he’s thick and gets Kevin Owens comparisons for his agility for his size. Manders and Priest traded chops, but Manders has a significant size advantage. I like Priest; I’ve compared him to a QT Marshall gatekeeper, but really he’s more Jamie Noble with that scrappy fight for a man his size. Because we didn’t have sound as the ring intros were happening, I thought that was Komander, not Fuego Del Sol.
Manders hit a Bulldog Powerslam on Oliver for a nearfall at 3:30. Toon hit a running Shooting Star Press and a second-rope moonsault, showing why I just made that Kevin Owens comparison. Fuego Del Sol hit some quick moves. Lloyd hit a superplex on Priest at 6:00. Fuego hit a top-rope corkscrew dive onto everyone on the floor. In the ring, Fuego hit a tornado DDT on Manders for a nearfall. Manders and Toon traded hard chops, and they traded rollups. Fuego hit a double Crucifix Driver for a nearfall. Priest and Lloyd traded rollups. Oliver got an O’Connor Roll on Priest out of nowhere for the pin. I write it all the time, but nobody does scrambles like GCW.
2. Mike Bailey defeated Mance Warner at 11:30. Mance has become my least favorite indy wrestler to watch, just for his sheer willingness to recklessly take and receive unprotected chairshots to the head. This is definitely a contrast of styles. Mance came out first and he attacked Bailey as he got into the ring. Bailey hit his Triangle Moonsault to the floor. In the ring, Bailey hit a top-rope missile dropkick at 1:30. He hit a kneedrop to the chest, then a Helluva Kick, then a Vader Bomb-style kneedrop for a nearfall. He hit his Speedball Kicks to the ribs at 4:00 and was in charge,, applying the Trailer Hitch leglock, but Mance reached the ropes.
Mance got up and they traded forearm shots; Mance’s height and size advantage is really noticeable here. Mance hit a Mafia Kick to the face; Bailey did an eye poke to get revenge for one earlier. Mance picked up the ref and used his legs to ram into Bailey. (Silly fun but the ref is wearing a shirt and no one can believe Mance had confused them.) They got chairs; this is a bad idea, Mike! They banged the chairs together but never landed blows on the body. Mance hit a running knee to the side of Bailey’s head at 7:30. Mance set up a wood board bridge, and he powerbombed Bailey through the board for a nearfall at 9:00.
They got board shards and hit each other over the head with them. I don’t care if these are thin, you shouldn’t take these blows to the head. They traded roundhouse kicks to the chest. Mance hit a piledriver onto an open chair for a nearfall at 11:00. Bailey hit a brainbuster onto an open chair, then the Tornado Kick into the corner, then the Ultima Weapon summersault kneedrop for the pin. A good brawl; Mance didn’t bleed and at least no one took a chairshot to the head.
3. “Violence if Forever” Kevin Ku and Dominic Garrini defeated “Bussy” Effy and Allie Katch at 11:26. Bussy just returned from the Australia tour just days earlier; the travel schedule for the top indy talent is just insane. ViF just scored a huge win over Los Macizos at a recent GCW show, so hopefully this is a sign they are going to become GCW regulars. Effy and Garrini opened with mat reversals. Katch and Ku tagged in at 2:00 and he’s significantly taller and thicker than her; this is just absurd to pretend she could battle him; he grabbed her left arm and quickly grounded her. She hit a Hogan Legdrop and tagged in Effy. They hit their running buttbumps to the sides of Ku’s face. Effy hit his Whoopee Cushion buttdrops for a nearfall at 4:30. Garrini entered and hit a German Suplex on Effy. ViF began working Effy over in their corner.
Allie made the hot tag and she hit her running buttbumps and rolling cannoballs on each opponent, then a double suplex on them at 7:00. Effy hit a Blockbuster on Garrini. Ku and Katch hit simultaneous Mafia Kicks on each other and suddenly everyone was down. Garrini and Effy traded forearm shots; I always say this, but Effy is deceptively big. Ku hit a lungblower move on Katch. Effy applied a Dragon Sleeper on Garrini while Katch applied a Boston Crab on Ku, but Kevin powered out. Ku and Katch traded forearm shots, which is just ridiculous, but he did knock her down. Garrini hit a hard clothesline on Effy. Effy hit his top-rope flying leg lariat for a nearfall at 11:00. ViF hit the Chasing the Dragon (spine kick and brainbuster combo) on Katch for the pin.
* Violence is Forever continued to beat down Bussy after the match, drawing boos. Los Macizos ran down to make the save. This brought Rina Yamashita and Masha Slamovich to the ring for our next match!
4. Rina Yamashita and Masha Slamovich defeated “Los Macizos” Ciclope and Miedo Extremo at 9:53. They all immediately brawled. I have the same opinion of Rina as I do of Mance; I just can’t endorse her willingness to take and receive unprotected chairshots to the head. Masha hit a Helluva Kick. Los Macizos hit a Team 3D-style move, dropping Masha stomach-first on a board bridge in the ring at 4:00. Masha hit an enzuigiri, then an Air Raid Crash on Ciclope through a door in the corner for a nearfall. Miedo hit a backbreaker over his knee on Masha, then he slammed Rina onto Masha. Miedo hit a superkick. Rina grabbed Miedo’s groin, so Miedo grabbed her nipples and twisted them. Yes, this is not a kid-friendly show.
Ciclope nailed an unprotected chairshot over Rina’s head at 7:30. Ciclope and Masha crashed from the apron to the floor. In the ring, Miedo tossed Rina through a door bridge in the corner but she no-sold it and popped back up. Rina hit a running kneestrike to Miedo’s face. Rina hit a top-rope frogsplash for a enarfall at 9:30. Rina hit a Razor’s Edge overhead powerbomb on Miedo onto a folded chair for the pin. Solid brawl. Former champs Los Macizos sure are losing a lot lately, though.
5. Joey Janela defeated Lash LeRoux at 13:39. Sometimes I think GCW just pulls names out of a tumbler and pairs them together, because who thought we would be seeing 46-year-old LeRoux in a ring in 2023? He seems to be in very good shape, and I guess I’ll quickly point out that Chris Jericho, PCO, Dustin Rhodes, Billy Gunn and Bully Ray are older than he is. Emil Jay said this is his return to wrestling after 13 years! Janela is a perfect choice for an opponent, as Joey has a very deliberate pace that just works better for facing aging stars. They traded punches and LeRoux hit a head-scissors takedown that sent Janela to the floor. Janela shoved LeRoux head-first into the ring post, and they brawled on the floor. Janela hit a running kick as LeRoux was seated on a chair on the floor at 3:00.
LeRoux dove through the ropes onto Janela and turned it into a DDT. LeRoux did his signature splits/pop to his feet/lariat combo. LeRoux hit a German Suplex on the ring apron at 6:30, with them both rolling to the floor. In the ring, they hit simultaneous clotheslines and were both down. Janela nailed a running kneestrike to the head at 8:30, then a brainbuster. They rolled to the floor, where Janela hit a brainbuster onto the artificial turf surface! Ouch! In the ring, Janela went for a top-rope doublestomp, but LeRoux got his knees up to block it. LeRoux hit a Russian Legsweep for a nearfall.
LeRoux went under the ring and got some weapons that he threw into the ring. Janela put LeRoux on a door bridge and went to the top rope. However, Lash hopped up and they fought on the ropes in the corner. LeRoux hit a Sabin-style Cradle Shock through the door bridge at 12:30, drawing a nice pop. He was slow to make a cover and only got a nearfall. They got up and traded chops. Janela nailed a superkick for the pin. That was fun. The crowd gave a small “you still got it!” chant.
6. Davey Bang and August Matthews defeated Alec Price and Cole Radrick at 7:43. Price was in Massachusetts for Wrestling Open 24 hours earlier. Bang and Matthews have the experience advantage as a tag team. Price and Bang started. Price leapt off the ropes but Davey caught him with a dropkick. Price hit a half nelson suplex. Radrick entered at 2:00 and he hit a leaping DDT. Radrick hit a butterfly suplex on Matthews. Bang entered and hit a handspring-back-elbow on Radrick. Matthews hit his moonsault to the floor. Price hit a dive over the top rope to the floor. Matthews dove through the ropes to the floor and everyone was down on the turf at 5:00.
In the ring, Bang went for the “Spears Tower” but Radrick caught him and hit a stunner. Price hit a second-rope flying legdrop. Price hit a Doomsday Blockbuster move for a nearfall at 7:00. Bang nailed the Spears Tower/team spear move. Bang then nailed the top-rope 450 Splash on Radrick for the pin. Good high-flying match, and I liked that the established tag team won, even though, if this were a pair of singles matches, Price and Radrick undoubtedly would have won.
* Emil Jay got in the ring, reminded fans of Effy’s “Big Gay Brunch” on Saturday afternoon, but he was interrupted by Frank the Clown, one of my least-favorite indy characters today; he draws ‘go-away heat’ from me. He talked about how beloved he is (while fans pelted him with boos.) Out came Maki Itoh! She doesn’t have an announced match! She also was in Australia with Bussy and Janela just a few days ago. He told her to get out of his ring and he started counting. She responded by punching him and she hit her Kokeshi falling headbutt, then a Facewash in the corner. She went to her bag and pulled out a pizza cutter, which she used on his forehead until he bled. Adequate segment; I would have preferred an actual Itoh match but the crowd enjoyed this.
7. Blake Christian defeated Francesco Akira to retain the GCW Heavyweight Title at 14:13. Akira is coming off good showings at the NJPW junior festival in Philadelphia and an excellent match vs. Bryan Keith in Texas, so this Italian star is getting around the country. Blake offered a handshake; these two could be brothers with their short identical redhead haircuts. Blake hit a German Suplex and a snap suplex and popped to his feet, drawing boos. Akira dove through the ropes onto Blake at 2:30. Akira hit a head-scissors takedown to the floor. Blake hit a rolling splash as they fought on the turf. Blake teased a dive to the floor but stopped and taunted the fans. Moments later, Blake hit the Fosbury Flop to the floor at 4:30 and he soaked in the boos.
In the ring, Blake hit a flipping senton for a nearfall at 7:00 as he remained in control of the offense, and he tied Francesco up on the mat. Blake nailed a handspring-back-stunner. Akira caught Blake with a stunner and they were both down. The crowd has been surprisingly quiet so far; they’ve booed Blake but not really gotten behind Akira yet. They began trading mid-ring chops. Akira hit a DDT on the ring apron at 11:00; his white chest is splotchy red from those chops. He hit a suplex for a nearfall. Blake hit a jumping knee; Akira hit a superkick and a clothesline. Blake nailed the mid-ring Spanish Fly for a nearfall. Blake set up for the Rollins-style Stomp but Akira avoided it. Akira nailed a twisting neckbreaker for a nearfall at 13:00.
Blake avoided the Fireball running double knees. Blake nailed a springboard 450 Splash for a believable nearfall. Rollins immediately hit the Stomp to the head for the (surprisingly!) clean pin. A very good match but admittedly didn’t have the crowd involvement I hoped for; I guess no one believed that the outsider Akira had a chance at winning. I also think the champion needs to be in the main event with rare exceptions, or it devalues the importance of the title.
* Blake got on the mic concluding with “Goodnight, and go f–k yourselves.” However, Chicago native Gringo Loco walked to ringside. Blake rolled to the floor to avoid a confrontation. Blake said, “Already beat him; back of the line, bitch boy.”
8. Tony Deppen defeated Gringo Loco at 10:10. Deppen just returned from a several-month absence after breaking his arm. They traded quick reversals with Loco doing his cartwheels. Loco hit a split-legged moonsault for a nearfall. Deppen hit a senton at 1:30 and he choked Loco with his t-shirt. Deppen nailed a running double knees to the jaw in the corner, then a flip dive over the top rope to the floor, landing on his feet! In the ring, Loco hit his inverted Angle Slam, dropping Deppen stomach-first to the mat at 4:00. Loco hit a handspring-back-elbow. Loco hit his top-rope falling stunner (it looks like Darby’s Coffin Drop but he catches Deppen’s head as he comes down.) Deppen nailed a lungblower to the chest for a nearfall at 6:30.
Deppen hit a Frankensteiner. They hit simultaneous roundhouse kicks to the head and were both down. They fought on the top rope, with Loco hitting a Spanish Fly at 9:00, then a top-rope twisting senton for a nearfall. Deppen got a bag of powder and threw it in Loco’s eyes! Deppen then nailed a running kee to the back of the head for the cheap pin. Good match.
* Deppen got on the mic and talked about being out for four months, and he couldn’t wait to get back on the road again… until he got to Chicago and wished his arm was broken again! “This town is a cesspool of shit!” he said. Out came Swoggle to a nice applause. “Do you know who you are talking to?” Deppen asked. Swoggle replied, “Someone who hasn’t been on six WrestleManias.” Swoggle said “you’ve been here since day one but you haven’t drawn a goddamn dime, bitch.” John Wayne Murdoch jumped in the ring and attacked Swoggle; they are slated to fight. Out came Colt Cabana for the save! The crowd popped for this unexpected development, and we have an impromptu tag match!
9. Colt Cabana and Swoggle defeated John Wayne Murdoch and Tony Deppen at 7:39. Cabana was going to start but the crowd demanded Swoggle, so he got the tag. Murdoch immediately dropped to his knees to be at Swoggle’s height, and Swoggle hit a series of punches. All four men fought. Swoggle dove off the ring apron to the floor on the heels, drawing a “holy shit!” chant at 3:00. Back in the ring, Deppen and Cabana tagged in and they traded forearm shots. Cabana got his Superman cover for a nearfall. Cabana hit his flying buttbump in the corner on Murdoch, then a hard clothesline. Deppen hit a hard running knee on Swoggle at 6:00.
The heels hit a team flapjack on Cabana. Deppen got more powder, but he accidentally tossed it in Murdoch’s eyes. Swoggle hit a chokeslam on Deppen, and Cabana immediately hit a top-rope frogsplash to pin Deppen. Acceptable comedy, and this was much better than the announced Murdoch-Swoggle match.
10. El Hijo Del Vikingo defeated Nick Gage at 18:18. GCW is really going all-out on these clash of styles matches, as this was a match I wouldn’t have expected a few months ago. Gage got mobbed by the crowd. Vikingo hit a flying clothesline in the corner seconds into the match, then a springboard missile dropkick that sent Gage to the floor. Vikingo immediately hit a dive through the ropes at 1:00. They brawled on the floor, where Gage hit a chairshot across the back. Vikingo whipped Gage into rows of empty chairs, and they brawled on the green turf, far from ringside. Vikingo put a trash can over Gage’s head and he slammed a chair against the rubber trash can at 4:00. Gage slid a board into the ring.
Back in the ring, Gage hit a spinebuster at 5:30. He put a chair over Vikingo’s face and hit a running knee in the corner. He whipped a chair at Vikingo’s head; I hate that. Gage hit a DDT at 8:30, then a Michinoku Driver for a nearfall. Gage set up a door bridge. Vikingo hit a series of quick kicks, then a top-rope doublestomp for a nearfall at 10:30. Gage hit a chairshot to the back as Vikingo climbed the ropes. Vikingo did the spot where he leapt off the ring post, did a springboard off the top rope, and hit a missile dropkick onto a door placed on Gage’s back, and the door exploded, popping the crowd. That was cool. Vikingo hit a frogsplash for a nearfall at 12:30.
They took turns beating each other over the head with door shards. Gage hit a tornado DDT. Gage set up six open chairs in the ring. Gage hit a piledriver onto the open chairs for a nearfall at 15:00. Gage set up a door bridge, and they fought on the ropes in the corner. Vikingo nailed a Shooting Star Press onto Gage, who was lying on the door bridge, for a believable nearfall. They traded forearm shots. Vikingo caught Gage coming off the ropes and hit a swinging uranage onto an open chair! Vikingo then nailed a top-rope 630 Splash for the pin. Wow that was really good and topped all of my expectations.
* The crowd chanted, “both these guys.” Gage got on the mic and put over Vikingo.
Final Thoughts: I always say GCW shows are hit-or-miss, often based on the venue. Here in this building, we had no light tubes or glass or staple guns or gusset plates. We still had some good hardcore matches without the excessive blood loss or violence. A hot crowd helps make this a really good GCW show. I’ll go with the main event for best match, ahead of Blake-Akira, with Deppen-Loco for third. There was a lot to like here.
Showing my age (I will turn 50 on Tuesday!), when I hear the phrase “Say You Will,” I think of a Fleetwood Mac song you don’t know with that title. And because I just showed my age, I do have warm memories of Nitro before it fell off a cliff in 2000-01, and that includes Lash LeRoux on the undercard. He looked good here and should be proud of his showing here. I again will give Janela credit, as I’ve seen him work with several guys from Ricky Morton to Too Cold Scorpio and making them look good and not getting them winded.
With their nonstop schedule, Masha, Bailey, Manders, Veda and Mance are headed about four hours west to Des Moines, Iowa, for Wrestling Revolver tonight. Presumably, there will be an ROH taping at Collision tonight in Chicago, and I really hope some of these guys wind up on that show. I am still baffled that Jordan Oliver has never had an ROH/AEW taping match. I am sure that Tony Khan has at least heard of him by now.
This show gets a strong thumbs up and it can be viewed now at Fite+.