By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
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GCW “Long. Live. GCW 2023”
Streamed on FITE+
September 22, 2023 in Oberhausen, Germany at Turbinenhalle Oberhausen
This show aired live in the early afternoon here in the United States.
* However, as the show attempted to come on air, we have no sound, but they got it working about a minute it, as Jordan Oliver walked to the ring to open the show. Dave Prazak and another man provided commentary. They said the crowd there has been eager to see the GCW roster. The building is packed with maybe 600 or so fans; this appears to be a night club, as wrestlers entered from the stage on the opposite side of the hard camera. The lights are low but the ring is exceptionally well lit for an indy show, and I’m really liking what I’m seeing.
1. Jordan Oliver defeated The Rotation to retain the JCW World Title at 9:15. I knew I’d seen The Rotation once before, and Prazak reminded me it was a Los Angeles GCW show. He has Matt Riddle looks and hair style. Prazak said this is now the fifth country this belt has been defended in, so thus, he’s calling it a world title and I can’t argue with that. Standing switches to start but the signal got lost from the building; I certainly hope they have the ability to restore footage; we rejoin at 2:00 so we haven’t missed much. Hopefully this glitch doesn’t keep happening. Rotation had Oliver’s legs tied up on the mat. Rotation hit a Frankensteiner at 5:30 and was loudly cheered.
Oliver hit a Helluva Kick, but he couldn’t get the Acid Bomb. Oliver hit a mid-ring Mafia Kick and they were both down. Rotation blocked the Clout Cutter by doing a handstand to avoid it. Rotation hit a twisting faceplant for a nearfall at 8:30. Oliver nailed the Acid Bomb (face-first Lance Archer’s Blackout) for a believable nearfall. He immediately nailed the Clout Cutter fallaway stunner for the clean pin. A really good match and luckily the ‘lost signal’ parts of the match were short and early on.
* I want to point out Scarlett Donovan is our referee; I think it’s great she also gets these incredible opportunities to travel, because she’s certainly valuable to what is happening in the ring.
2. Gringo Loco defeated Leon Slater at 13:29. I always describe the lanky, Black, British Slater as a clone of Nick Wayne, as they are both age 18 with similar builds and skills far ahead of their age, and Slater was on the three GCW shows in the UK last week. As expected, quick reversals to open and a standoff. Loco caught Slater and hit a faceplant for a nearfall at 3:00. Loco hit a military press into a faceplant for a nearfall. He missed a moonsault. Slater hit a running stunner, then a Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall at 6:00, and he took control of the offense. Loco hit a top-rope Clout Cutter for a nearfall at 8:00.
Slater hit an enzuigiri and a hard Mafia Kick, but he missed a top-rope 450 Splash. Loco hit a mid-ring Spanish Fly for a nearfall at 10:00. Slater hit a second-rope Sunset Powerbomb, then a Frankensteiner, then his Swanton 450 Splash for a nearfall, but Loco grabbed the ropes to avoid being pinned. Loco nailed a top-rope Spanish Fly for a nearfall. Leon hit an enzuigiri. They fought on the top rope, where Loco hit the Base Bomb/swinging powerbomb to the mat for the pin. That was excellent.
3. Shigehiro Irie defeated Arez at 8:26. I always compare Irie to EVIL and Shingo Takagi for their thick body size, and he has the size advantage; he had a match in MLW that aired just two weeks ago. The commentator with Prazak said Arez competed in wXw earlier this year so they are familiar with him. Fast reversals from Arez to open. (We lost the signal but it returned after five seconds.) Arez tied Irie in the ropes and chopped him at 2:00. Irie hit his slingshot splash for a nearfall as we started having more issues with the signal, as it was down for perhaps a full minute as we return to action at 4:00. A replay showed Irie hit a top-rope fropsplash. Arez hit a brainbuster then he ran up Irie’s back.
Irie tied Arez in the Tree of Woe and he hit a pair of rolling cannonballs into the corner for a nearfall at 6:00. Arez hit a sit-out powerbomb and they were both down. Arez hit a top-rope doublestomp to the chest but only got a one-count at 7:30! Irie hit a second-rope Samoan Drop then a decapitating clothesline for the pin. Another very good match, and again, luckily the lost signal from the building was confined to the first half of the match and I don’t feel like I missed much.
* An excellent video aired showing highlights of the three UK GCW shows, set to “Down” by Love and Death. When we return, there are barbed-wire boards set up in the corners of the ring. Ugh.
4. Rina Yamashita defeated Jimmy Lloyd to retain the GCW Ultraviolent Title at 10:54. I know I’m a broken record, but the size difference here is significant and I just find it absurd for him to even sell to her. He hit her across the top of the head with a kendo stick, then threw her into one of the barbed wire boards at 1:00. He pressed barbed wire into her forehead, and she was bleeding immediately. He used the staple gun on her forehead. She grabbed him in the groin at 4:00. They traded punches with barbed-wire-covered fists. She shoved cooking skewers into his forehead and this is just gross. She pulled the skewers out of his forehead and she planted them in her own forehead, rightfully earning a “you sick f–k!” chant.
Lloyd hit a piledriver, jumping off the ring apron and through a barbed wire bridge on the floor at 8:30, earning a “holy shit!” chant. In the ring, Rina hit a Death Valley Driver onto an open chair. She hit a top-rope frogsplash onto a barbed wire board on his chest for a nearfall at 10:30. Rina hit a Splash Mountain overhead powerbomb (Razor’s Edge) onto a pile of folded chairs for the pin. Acceptable… at least we didn’t have glass and light tubes.
* A video aired from Lou Nixon, who is challenging Rina Yamashita on Saturday.
5. Dark Sheik defeated Norman Harras at 7:08. Harras has Joey Janela-style blond hair, and he was listed as 6’5″ — he’s certainly tall, and he’s an arrogant heel, reminding me of Ludvig Kaiser but with long hair. Prazak said Sheik was slated to face B3cca, but B3cca is injured and couldn’t make the trek. That’s unfortunate. Sheik hit a series of kicks and a clothesline to the floor at 2:00, then a dive to the floor. Harras hit a suplex onto chairs on the floor. This has been as quiet as this crowd has been all night. In the ring, Harras hit a forward Finlay Roll for a nearfall at 4:00. Sheik hit a top-rope spin kick, then a slingshot legdrop across the throat. Harras hit a flapjack and a flying back elbow. Sheik hit a straight punch to the groin and a Sliced Bread, then a top-rope legdrop for the pin. Basic but fine.
6. “Bussy” Effy and Allie Katch defeated “Second Gear Crew” Mance Warner and 1 Called Manders at 11:18. The SGC weren’t on the UK shows so they arrived sometime this week, and Prazak said they just competed in a wXw tag tournament hours ago. Prazak said it is 1:38 a.m. in Oberhausen! (This crowd is very lively considering the time!) Mance got on the mic and said these two teams have been each other up all over the world. They brawled to the floor at the bell and Mance immediately threw a chair at Allie; I hate that. Effy dove through the ropes but was also hit by a flying chair. In the ring, Katch hit a DDT. Mance was already bleeding from the forehead. Effy hit a top-rope Blockbuster at 2:30. Bussy hit their team buttbumps on Mance’s head, and Effy hit a Whoopee Cushion buttsplash. Manders hit a running hip attack in the corner on Effy at 5:30.
They did some lewd humor where SGC grabbed Bussy by their groins. Manders hit a stunner while Mance hit a Pedigree for simultaneous nearfalls at 7:00. They slammed Effy onto an open chair. Manders hit a second-rope Bulldog Powerslam. Effy hit a piledriver on Mance for a nearfall at 9:00. Allie hit a series of punches on Manders. Allie hit a piledriver out of the ropes, and Effy hit a running leg lariat for a nearfall, but Mance made the save at 11:00, and the crowd chanted “Fight forever!” (I haven’t heard a chant in German!) Effy got a rollup out of nowhere to pin Mance. Acceptable.
7. Blake Christian defeated Peter Tihanyi to retain the GCW Heavyweight Title at 13:50. My first time seeing Tihanyi, who came out to rave-style beats, and Prazak said his style is similar to Blake. He has a short crewcut and makes me think of a young Flip Gordon-meets-Alex Wright, and he’s just 23. Standing switches to open. Blake teased a dive to the floor but did crotch chops at the fans instead. Tihanyi hit a snap suplex for a nearfall at 4:00. Blake grounded Tihanyi and twisted the left wrist. Blake set up for his Stomp at 7:00, but Peter avoided it and he applied a rear-naked choke. Tihanyi hit a superkick and they were both down. TIhanyi hit a spike tornado DDT for a nearfall.
Blake hit a Divorce Court armbreaker and he stomped on the shoulder. He hit his mid-ring Spanish Fly for a nearfall, but he missed his springboard 450 Splash. Tihanyi hit a flip dive to the floor at 10:00. Blake hit a spear on the ring apron, then the Fosbury Flop to the floor, then a sickening-looking piledriver onto the floor. That looked scary. Blake rolled Tihanyi into the ring for a nearfall at 11:30 and the crowd rallied for Tihanyi. Blake hit a Pele Kick. Blake leapt off the ropes but Tihanyi caught his head and nailed a stunner. Blake hit a handspring-back-stunner, and he switched to a cross-armbreaker at 13:00. Blake hit a low blow, then his Rollins-style Stomp to the head for the pin. Another very good match for Blake, who has beaten some of Europe’s best on this tour.
* Jimmy Lloyd joined Dave Prazak on commentary.
8. Nick Gage defeated Joey Janela at 26:08. The crowd was totally into Gage’s entrance. It just felt wrong to allow someone other than Emil Jay do Gage’s ring intro, though. Prazak said it has been five years since these two have fought in a GCW ring. Standing switches to open and neither man went down on shoulder tackles. They brawled to the floor at 2:30, and Gage hit a suplex onto the hard plastic chairs; these are bucket seats that don’t fold up. Janela hit a Death Valley Driver onto the ring apron at 4:30, earning a “holy shit!” chant. In the ring, they traded punches. Gage hit a DDT at 7:30 and a running forearm into the corner.
Gage hit his Vader Bomb-style elbow drop for a nearfall. He slid several metal folding chairs into the ring. Janela hit a Swanton Bomb for a nearfall at 10:00. Gage hit a superplex, and he pulled out a pizza cutter. Yuck. He raked it across Janela’s forehead, and Joey was bleeding. Janela got up and hit a series of punches, and they traded forearm shots. They hit simultaneous clotheslines and both collapsed and were down at 17:00. Janela got a bag of thumbtacks, which he poured over his head, with them falling to the mat. However, Gage hit a Falcon Arrow onto the thumbtacks for a nearfall at 19:30. Janela immediately hit a brainbuster for a nearfall.
Gage hit a running knee onto a chair over Janela’s face as Joey sat in the corner at 21:00. Janela hit a package piledriver onto six open chairs in the ring for a nearfall at 23:00. Joey dragged Gage’s back over the thumbtacks. Janela hit a top-rope doublestomp onto a chair on Gage’s chest for a nearfall. Gage nailed a second-rope fallaway slam onto several open chairs, then a backbreaker over his knee, then a piledriver for a believable nearfall. Gage hit another piledriver, then a standing powerbomb, for the pin. Fans of this style will like this.
Final Thoughts: The German fans got what they came to see — some incredible action to open the show and a pair of violent death matches that straddled the border of being too gross to watch. Luckily, the problems with the signal were worked out early and weren’t an issue after the third match. This is about as good as GCW is going to look, in terms of production. The commentary was great but it ‘sounded’ good, the lighting was great considering the lights were low over the fans, the ring looked clean and new.
I fully expect disagreements, but I’ll go with Loco-Slater for best match. It had great back-and-forth action and I wouldn’t have been surprised if Slater had won. Blake-Tihanyi was really good for second place, with the Oliver-Rotation match taking third. A very good Irie-Arez match earns honorable mention. The two hardcore matches were fine, and while I can do without all the blood loss, at least we were light on blows to the head and no use of light tubes or glass panes.
GCW is back in action on Saturday with Blake Christian facing Axel Tischer, Joey Janela vs. Shigehiro Irie and Oliver Jordan vs. Latigo.