By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
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GCW “Fight Club 2023 – The Art of War Games”
Streamed on FITE+
October 7, 2023 in Atlantic City, New Jersey at The Showboat
Atlantic City is GCW’s home, but they are notably missing Mike Bailey and Matt Cardona, who are in Australia, and Nick Wayne, Billie Starks, Komander, and Gringo Loco, who are in Utah for AEW/ROH. Instead, we have several talents from Japan that I admittedly don’t know, and it sounds like this show is going to be filled with hardcore garbage matches.
* We open with a coin flip between the two teams in the “Art of War Games” match later. No surprise, the heel Japanese team won the coin flip.
* We have two side-by-side rings in the venue. Dave Prazak and Nick Knowledge provided commentary, and the crowd is huge, maybe 700 or so fans. In a nice touch, we have banners on the wall opposite the hard camera, showing the faces of the 10 wrestlers in the main event. It’s a nice big room, but it lacks the charm of the multi-colored carnival-top room they previously used here. (We also had a handful of times where the signal was lost from the building.)
1. Alec Price defeated Tony Deppen at 12:36. They traded rollups in the first minute and Deppen rolled to the floor to regroup. In the ring, Deppen hit a brainbuster for a nearfall at 2:30. Price hit a tornado DDT for a nearfall. He hit his kneestrikes in the corner and a second-rope flying legdrop for a nearfall at 6:00. Deppen went for a cross-face chickenwing but Price fought free. Deppen nailed a brainbuster for a nearfall. They rolled to the floor, where Deppen hit a powerbomb on the edge of the ring. In the ring, Deppen hit a top-rope doublestomp to the chest for a nearfall at 9:00.
Deppen hit a low blow and a running knee to the back of the head for a believable nearfall, and Deppen was shocked it didn’t get him the win. He went back to the cross-face chickenwing, and he applied it on the mat, but Price rolled him over and got a nearfall. Price got a rebound lariat. Deppen hit a kneestrike. Deppen hit a diving elbow to the back of the head. Price hit his diving Blockbuster, then the Surprise Kick/step-up mule kick for the clean pin. That was a really, really good opener.
* Emil Jay joined commentary. The sound is a bit ‘off;’ it’s not ideal.
2. Joey Janela defeated Masha Slamovich, Jack Cartwheel and Jordan Oliver in a four-way at 12:05. Cartwheel hit a standing neckbreaker on Oliver. Masha hit a decapitating clothesline on Cartwheel, then a snap suplex and a crossarm breaker. She applied an anklelock on Jordan. She then applied a crossarm breaker on Janela. Cartwheel did the Sasake Special to the floor, but he was hit with superkicks on his way down at 4:30. Masha hit a top-rope summersault onto all three opponents. In the ring, Masha hit a spinning kick for a nearfall. Oliver hit a superkick, then a Helluva Kick, on Masha at 6:00. He nailed the Iconoclasm slam on Masha.
Cartwheel hit his slingshot senton on Oliver, then his rolling Death Valley Driver. Cartwheel launched off someone’s back and hit a Phoenix Splash onto Oliver at 7:30. Masha hit an Air Raid Crash into the corner on Janela for a nearfall. Jack did some cartwheels but Oliver caught him with the Clout Cutter. Janela nailed a piledriver on Masha. Oliver hit an Acid Kick on Janela. Jack nailed the Crucifix Driver on Oliver, and everyone was down at 9:00. Janela hit a series of running elbows on each opponent, then a brainbuster on Cartwheel at 10:30.
Oliver hit a Frankensteiner on Cartwheel, with Janela catching Jack and hitting a powerbomb. Nice spot. Masha applied a rear-naked choke on Jordan. Jack went for a top-rope moonsault-into-a-stunner but it didn’t quite connect. Janela immediately hit a top-rope doublestomp on Cartwheel for the pin. Lots of fun, innovative offense: Prazak just said “lots of creativity” and I’ll agree with that.
3. Charles Mason (w/Parrow) defeated Richard Holliday at 11:08. We saw a video recapping their feud. Mason wore a button-down shirt and tie. Holliday hit a swinging side slam, and he clotheslined Mason to the floor. Mason sprayed water in Holliday’s eyes, then he hit a DDT onto the apron. Parrow powerbombed Holliday on the apron at 2:00. They fought on the floor. The crowd isn’t too into this so far. In the ring, Mason applied a rear-naked choke but Holliday escaped. Holliday hit a stunner at 5:30.
Parrow kept interfering and Prazak was frustrated. Mason removed his belt and choked Holliday with it while Parrow was distracting the referee. The ref made a couple quick counts, and the fans immediately chanted “f–k you ref!” Holliday nailed a spinebuster at 9:00, then a Stinger Splash. Holliday put Mason on his back but Parrow hopped on the ring apron so Holliday let go to charge at Parrow. Holliday hit a powerbomb and a twisting neckbreaker for a nearfall, but the ref made a ridiculously slow count at 11:00 and was booed. Mason got a rollup, the ref made a super-fast count, and Mason got the cheap win. After the bell, Mason hit a low blow and he choked out Holliday.
* Parrow gave the referee some money… but then he hit a piledriver on the referee, and took the money back. Awesome.
4. 1 Called Manders, Mance Warner, Sawyer Wreck, and “Bussy” Effy and Allie Katch defeated Brayden Toon, Shane Mercer, Cole Radrick, and “Wasted Youth” Marcus Mathers and Dyln McKay in a 10-person tag at 9:06. Mercer is so strong and I just don’t know why he isn’t used more. Toon is the New South (Alabama) wrestler who I loosely compare to a young Kevin Owens for being a little rotund but is quite athletic. All 10 brawled on the floor at the bell; Nick Knowledge pointed out that there are two rings and neither are being used. Funny. In the ring, Toon hit a moonsault. WY hit a team missile dropkick. Mercer and Sawyer traded offense. Mercer nailed the Moonsault & Battery second-rope fallaway slam at 5:30.
WY hit their moonsault-and-piledriver combo for a nearfall. Sawyer hit a double clothesline on WY. She hit a chokeslam on Radrick. Mance and Manders threw chairs; I hate that. Mance hit Mercer with a chairshot to the back that Shane no-sold, and the crowd chanted “you f—ed up!” at Mance. Katch hit her piledriver in the ropes on Mercer. Manders and Sawyer hit a team chokeslam on Toon at 8:30. Mance set up for his finisher, but Effy hit a flying leg lariat on McKay for the pin. Mance looked irritated at Effy for getting the pin before he could hit his move. A fun messy match.
5. Blake Christian defeated Jimmy Lloyd to retain the GCW Heavyweight Title at 7:53. Lloyd has a slight height advantage and he’s much thicker, and the crowd loves him. Lloyd came out first and he dove onto Blake. He dragged Blake into the ring, hit a piledriver, and got a nearfall. Blake hit a flying crossbody in the corner. Lloyd dove through the ropes onto Blake at 2:00. Blake dove through the ropes, hitting a door that Lloyd had grabbed; I don’t think Lloyd got the worse of that one. In the ring, Blake hit a 619 and a springboard flying forearm, then a flipping senton at 4:30. He made a cocky one-footed cover, and he jawed at the referee.
Lloyd hit a running neckbreaker and a slingshot Falcon Arrow for a nearfall at 6:30. Matt Cardona’s music hit but he’s in Australia. Blake nailed a Fosbury Flop, then a springboard kneestrike for a nearfall. The music had stopped, and Prazak speculated it was a planned distraction. Blake hit his Rollins-style Stomp to the head for the pin. Quite underwhelming. I never expected Lloyd to win, but I thought he’d have a few more believable nearfalls. (This crowd is quite knowledgeable and I’m sure a high number knew that Cardona is on the other side of the planet.)
* Intermission to set up the Art of War Games match. I wasn’t watching live, but this might have taken 20+ minutes. When we return, the cage is erected, with light tubes strapped to the walls of the cage. There are also doors in the ring and a scaffold next to the cage. Emil Jay explained the rules with alternating participants from each team. However, this match has elimination rules! Emil said you can be eliminated by pinfalls, submissions… and being thrown off the scaffolding to the floor! I am fearful for someone’s health hearing this. Just to be clear, I don’t know these Freedoms wrestlers from Japan at all.
6. Rina Yamashita, John Wayne Murdoch, Nick Gage, and “Los Macizos” Miedo Extremo and Ciclope defeated Masashi Takeda, Toru Sugiura, Violento Jack, Takashi Sasaki, and Jun Kasai in a Art of War Games match at 43:02. Takeda came out first and he held scissors. Rina came out first for her team. Prazak pointed out she has held the GCW Ultraviolent Title for more than a year now. He threw a bundle of light tubes at her as she entered the ring. He used the scissors across her forehead and I’m already disgusted by this match just 40 seconds in. Toru Sugiura joined the match at 2:30 to make it 2-on-1. They took turns whacking each other over the head with light tubes; I find this not only disgusting but rather boring. John Wayne Murdoch made it 2-on-2 at 5:00. Prazak said these teams are the “all-star games of death match wrestlers.”
Violento Jack entered at 8:00 as Freedoms regained the advantage. Miedo Extremo entered at 10:00 by climbing the scaffolding and doing a senton off the top of the cage onto everyone. Takashi Sasaki entered at 13:00. Wow this is dull… too much time with no action at all, just taking turns whacking light tubes over each other. Ciclope entered the match at 15:30. Jun Kasai entered at 18:00, and he rammed cooking skewers into the heads of both Ciclope and Miedo. Gross. Needless to say, everyone is heavily bleeding. Nick Gage got in the ring at 21:30 and the “Art of War Games” is officially underway, as Prazak reminds us that we can now have eliminations. Gage was thrown through a glass door.
Murdoch hit a Canadian Destroyer for a nearfall. Violento Jack hit a piledriver to pin Murdoch at 24:12. Prazak pointed out how both rings are covered in glass. Violento Jack hit a frogsplash on Ciclope for a nearfall. Ciclope hit a moonsault to pin Sasaki at 27:54, and it’s 4-on-4. Ciclope and Violento Jack fought on top of a scaffold. Violento Jack threw them both off the scaffold and through a door bridge on the floor at 29:35, and both are thus eliminated, making it 3-on-3. What a stupid, dangerous spot. Someone hit a back suplex on Extremo to pin him 31:04, so it’s 3-on-2.
Rina hit an Air Raid Crash through a door in the corner. Sugiura and Rina fought on top of a scaffolding, and she grabbed his groin. She hit Sugiura across the head with a light tube, and Sugiura fell through a door to the floor at 34:58 to be eliminated. Kasai climbed the scaffolding and fought her there, but she grabbed his groin too. He forcibly kissed her, then he tossed her into the ring, so she is not eliminated. Kasai hit a frogsplash off the scaffolding onto Rina Yamashita to pin her at 36:11. Gage pulled out a pizza cutter. Takeda took the pizza cutter and used it on his own forehead. Gross.
It is just 2-on-1. Gage hit a running kick onto light tubes. He pinned Takeda at 38:45, so we’re down to just Gage vs. Kasai. Gage hit a chokeslam over his knee, then a piledriver but Kasai kicked out at one. Gage hit a piledriver through a glass bridge for the pin. Gage is the sole survivor for his team. Everyone came back to the ring; they were all covered in blood. Gage offered a handshake to Kasai, and Kasai shook it.
Final Thoughts: I want to be clear… I watched the final match Sunday morning while also watching the Bills-Jaguars. I wouldn’t have watched this match if I wasn’t also watching the NFL game. Just not my style of action. I dislike all the glass, and I dislike all that blood spilled. If you like death match wrestling, you’ll probably like this.
Price-Deppen opened the show with the best match, and the four-way earns second place. The 10-person tag was a fun, crazy mess and earns third place. I’m such a huge fan of Blake Christian and I was just surprised and disappointed that match didn’t land like I thought it would. GCW is back in action on Sunday afternoon.