By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
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GCW “Jersey J-Cup, Night 1”
Streamed on TrillerTV+
February 9, 2024 in Jersey City, New Jersey at White Eagle Hall
This is a 20-person tournament. Night 1 is comprised of seven singles matches, and a six-way scramble for the eighth slot. The quarterfinals, semifinals and finals will take place on Saturday. This building appears packed at maybe 500 fans, and lighting is good over the ring. Dave Prazak, Nick Knowledge, and Veda Scott provided commentary.
* Earlier this week, Mr. Danger replaced the injured Rina Yamashita. Again, Danger is a young, thin, Black high flyer, comparable to ROH’s Cheeseburger in looks because he’s so scrawny.
* The J Cup trophy, perhaps 18-24 inches tall, was in the center of the ring as the show began!
1. Nick Wayne defeated Marcus Mathers in a first-round tournament match at 16:14. Mathers has recently appeared on MLW TV and he’s a 20-year-old rising star. The crowd was hot for Wayne, who is still a babyface here on his (increasingly rare) appearances. They hugged at the bell, but then Wayne hit a huracanrana. Mathers hit a head-scissors takedown, a shotgun dropkick, and a flip dive over the ropes, with them both landing amongst the fans at 2:00. Wayne hit a DDT onto the stage, then he stomped on Marcus’ head. He slammed Marcus back-first on the ring apron. They got back in the ring and Nick was in charge. He hit a hesitation dropkick for a nearfall at 5:30.
Veda talked about Wayne having new confidence that borders on arrogance. Marcus hit a spin kick to the jaw, then a stunner and a German Suplex, then a double-jump crossbody block for a nearfall. Nice. Nick hit a blow to the kidneys at 7:30. Nick hit a Lethal Injection and a fisherman’s suplex for a nearfall. Marcus hit a snap suplex at 9:30 and a clothesline. Wayne hit a Dragon Suplex. He went for a Code Red but Marcus blocked it and he dropped Wayne on his head for a nearfall. Wayne sold an injury; Marcus initially backed away but then he hit some forearm strikes.
Wayne hit his own hard forearm shot that dropped Mathers. Wayne hit an enzuigiri and a Poison Rana, then a Crucifix Driver, but he couldn’t hit Wayne’s World. Mathers hit a Canadian Destroyer and a swinging face plant for a nearfall at 13:00, and the crowd chanted “Both these guys!” Mathers went to the top rope but Wayne kicked him off it. They fought on the ropes, where Wayne hit a top-rope Code Red for a nearfall at 15:00. Mathers again avoided Wayne’s World and he hit a stunner. However, Wayne hit a stunner, then he finally hit Wayne’s World/fadeaway stunner for the pin. That was really, really good. They hugged again afterward.
* (Side note: I wasn’t looking for ‘spoilers’ but I saw earlier this week that Mathers is booked elsewhere on Saturday; he was unlikely to have won here anyway but I wish I hadn’t seen that.)
2. Matt Makowski defeated Tony Deppen in a first-round tournament match at 13:29. Matt is the shoot fighter who has fought his way back from an ACL injury. Standing switches to open. Prazak pointed out that Deppen lost in the first round last year, while this is Matt’s J Cup debut. Matt tied up Deppen in knots on the mat, then he hit a spin kick at 2:30 that knocked Tony loopy. Tony hit a senton, then he nailed a flip dive to the floor. Tony hit a springboard dropkick for a nearfall. They began trading chops at 5:30. Deppen went for a senton but Matt got his knees up to block it.
Matt unloaded a series of roundhouse kicks. Matt hit a nice butterfly suplex, then a spear for a nearfall. He hit a snap suplex and he applied a keylock, but Deppen quickly reached the ropes at 7:30. Deppen tied up Matt in the ropes. He got backslide for a nearfall. Matt hit a release German Suplex, so Deppen hit his own German Suplex. They hit simultaneous jumping knees to the jaws and both were down, and the crowd was hot. They got up and traded forearm strikes. Matt hit a stiff boot to the sternum at 10:30 that sent Deppen flying backwards.
Deppen hit a top-rope doublestomp as Matt was tied in the Tree of Woe, then a second doublestomp for a nearfall, and Deppen was incredulous he didn’t win there. Deppen hit a stunner and a third doublestomp. Matt got a cross-armbreaker but Deppen escaped. Matt applied a rear-naked choke but Deppen escaped again. Matt applied the crossarm breaker again, and this time, Tony tapped out. Hard-hitting match.
3. Masha Slamovich defeated Man Like Dereiss in a first-round tournament match at 14:08. I always describe the Brit Dereiss as similar to a young Shelton Benjamin and he’s really talented. Masha routinely fights men in GCW, but he has such an overall muscle mass and size advantage it’s rather absurd. They opened with standing switches. He easily picked her up and dropped her hard at 2:00. She tried some clotheslines but he no-sold them, and he dropped her with a shoulder tackle, and he was in charge. He hit a bodyslam for a nearfall. He hit a clothesline for a nearfall at 4:30. He tied her up on the mat in a cross-arm sleeper.
Masha fired back with a spin heel kick and she was fired up. She got on his shoulders, but Dereiss turned it into a German Suplex, then a swinging side-slam for a nearfall at 7:30. However, he missed a top-rope 450 Splash. She dropped him head-first into the middle turnbuckle, then she hit a second-rope missile dropkick for a nearfall at 9:00. Dereiss hit a kip-up stunner, then a Lungblower for a nearfall, and he was shocked. Masha was selling the pain in her lower back from that move.
Masha again got on his shoulders and spun him to the mat for a nearfall. She applied a rear-naked choke on the mat and the crowd taunted Dereiss to tap out, but he powered to his feet at 12:00, and he dropped her throat-first on the middle rope, and they were both down. He slipped on the ropes (glad the crowd didn’t taunt him for it) but he recovered and hit a superkick. He missed a top-rope 450 Splash, and she immediately hit a Shining Wizard, then a swinging suplex for a believable nearfall. He sat up, but she immediately applied a rear-naked choke, and he passed out. Good action.
* Blake Christian joined Prazak on commentary. Blake spent much of the next match bashing Joey Janela.
4. Joey Janela defeated Kerry Morton in a first-round tournament match at 17:16. Kerry is a great heel, and he hesitated to tie up at the bell. Kerry did a Gator Roll on the mat at 1:30. Joey hit some chops in the corner. Kerry stalled on the floor, called for a timeout, and jawed at fans. In the ring, Kerry dropped Janela back-first on the top turnbuckle at 4:00 and he took control, keeping Joey grounded. Kerry hit a slingshot suplex, and he applied a sleeper on the mat. This is a typical Janela methodically-paced match; not terrible, just his style. Janela hit a standing neckbreaker at 7:00, then a back body drop. Janela hit a German Suplex, then a DDT.
They fought on the ring apron, where Kerry slammed him back-first at 9:00. Janela nailed a top-rope superplex for a nearfall. They traded mid-ring punches, and the crowd is fully behind Janela. Joey hit a discus clothesline at 12:30. They did the spot where they both got suplexed over the top rope to the floor. In the ring, Kerry hit a jumping knee to the chin for a nearfall. Joey hit a superkick for a nearfall at 14:30. Kerry hit an impressive second-rope Finlay Roll and he got a jackknife cover for a nearfall. Kerry hit a piledriver but Joey no-sold it and popped to his feet, because of course he did. They traded forearm strikes at 16:30. Joey hit a Death Valley Driver, then the Package Piledriver for the pin.
5. Alec Price defeated Jonathan Gresham in a first-round tournament match at 9:38. Price got a big pop; he is the only wrestler in both this tournament and the ongoing Wrestling Open tournament in Massachusetts. Prazak pointed out both men lost in the first round last year. Price has a clear height advantage. He hit a springboard crossbody block at 1:30, but he couldn’t get Gresham up for a Gotch-style Piledriver. Gresham tied up Price’s arms and kept him grounded. Jonathan twisted the wrist and fingers. Price hit a rebound lariat and they were both down at 5:00.
Gresham hit some deep armdrags and he mouse-trapped both arms and got a nearfall. He hit some LOUD chops. Price dropped him with a hard forearm strike at 7:30. Gresham hit a Lionsault Press, then a dive through the ropes. In the ring, Price hit a tornado DDT, then his own dive over the ropes to the floor. In the ring, Price hit a top-rope flying leg lariat for a nearfall. Gresham again tied him up on the mat, and he snapped Price’s shoulder. They traded more rollups on the mat; Price reversed a rollup and got the fluke pin! Good match.
6. Myron Reed defeated Billie Starkz, Jack Cartwheel, Charles Mason (w/Parrow), Cole Radrick, and Mr. Danger in a scramble first-round tournament match at 8:46. Again, Mr. Danger is replacing Rina Yamashita. Starkz is the favorite, but she very well might be going to AEW on Saturday. Mason entered last and he wore a tan suit. Parrow was ejected from ringside before the bell! Prazak said it’s to keep “the tournament fair for everyone involved.” Mason kicked Billie in the chest to open. Jack and Danger were alone in the ring to hit some quick offense. Reed hit an enzuigiri on Radrick. Billie hit a Poison Rana on Myron at 2:00. Danger hit a missile dropkick on Billie, then he dove through the ropes onto her.
Jack it a dive through the ropes. Radrick hit one. Myron hit one. Billie hit one. Danger hit another one. Jack hit one. This kept going and was funny but athletic. Mason hit a DDT on Billie onto the ring apron. In the ring, Mason slammed Jack stomach-first to the mat at 4:00. Radrick hit an enziguri. Reed hit a superkick on Radrick. Danger hit a springboard clothesline on Billie. Mason hit a Mafia Kick and a short-arm clothesline on Danger for a believable nearfall at 5:30. Radrick hit a springboard stunner. Jack hit his slingshot senton, then his cartwheel Death Valley Driver. Mason hit his own rolling Death Valley Driver for a nearfall.
Mason put Billie in a sleeper. She escaped and hit a low blow punt kick on Mason. Billie put Cole on her shoulders and hit a Victory Roll, dropping Cole on Mason, for a nearfall. Nice! Danger hit a springboard corkscrew press to the floor on everyone at 8:00. In the ring, Danger hit a springboard crossbody block on Reed. Reed hit an Air Raid Crash on Danger for the pin. A mild upset; I figured if Billie didn’t win, it would be Jack Cartwheel advancing. But Myron just got a big win here over Lio Rush so I shouldn’t be surprised, either.
7. “Violence is Forever” Kevin Ku and Dominic Garrini defeated “The Astronauts” Fuminori Abe and Takuya Nomura to retain the GCW Tag Team Titles at 13:40. I don’t know the Astronauts, but Prazak assures us they are hard-hitting. Garrini opened with Takuya, who wore Young Lion black trunks and short thick hair (think Ren Narita but thicker.) Takuya slapped Garrini in the face. Abe, who has a buzzcut, entered at 1:00 and he slapped Ku, and those two traded chops. Nick Knowledge said the Astronauts are among the best tag teams in the world. Takuya hit a stiff kick to Ku’s spine, so Ku hit one back. All four brawled on the floor.
Back in the ring, Garrini and Takuya traded chops. Ku hit a doublestomp on Takuya’s back for a nearfall at 5:30, and ViF began working Takuya over in their corner. Abe got in and he hit a dropkick on Ku’s knee at 7:30. Garrini hit some roundhouse kicks to Abe’s chest, but Abe caught the leg and hit a Dragonscrew Legwhip. Takuya got back in and hit a series of kicks on Dominic. Garrini hit a loud, hard series of chops. Ku hit a back suplex on Takuya. Takuya hit a clothesline on Garrini, and all four were down at 10:00. They got up and all traded forearm strikes.
Garrini hit a double back suplex, then a gutbuster over his knee on Takuya. Ku hit a running knee on Takuya for a nearfall. Ku hit a rolling forearm on Abe. Abe tied Ku in an Octopus, but ViF hit the Chasing the Dragon kick-and-brainbuster combo on Abe for a nearfall at 12:30. Garrini hit a piledriver on Takuya on the ring apron, and they both fell to the floor. Abe put Ku in the Octopus stretch. Garrini hit a headbutt on Abe to break it up! Ku collapsed onto the prone Abe for the pin. Incredibly hard-hitting. They bowed toward each other then hugged.
8. Jordan Oliver defeated Griffin McCoy in a first-round tournament match AND to retain the JCW Title at 20:57. Oliver’s JCW World Title is on the line throughout the tournament. Oliver has been competing all over Europe for the past two months, and he’s headed right back overseas after this weekend. Oliver and McCoy are former faction teammates so this match has some hostility and a storyline to it. Nick Knowledge said Oliver has now defended the title in six different countries. They jawed at each other nose-to-nose at the bell, before Griffin slapped him in the face. They began trading chops. Oliver hit a dropkick at 2:00, sending Griffin to the floor. Griffin hit a series of kicks to the chest as Oliver was tied in the ropes.
Nick Knowledge wondered if Jordan is spreading himself too thin and making him vulnerable to an upset. Griffin hit a neckbreaker across the second rope at 4:00 and was booed. McCoy hit some roundhouse kicks as they fought on the floor. In the ring, McCoy hit a gutbuster over his knee and he was in charge. Veda speculated that jet lag is affecting Oliver. Oliver hit some chops. McCoy hit a Helluva Kick and a basement dropkick at 8:00, then a sit-out powerbomb for a nearfall, and he remained in control. McCoy hit a German Suplex, then a Dragon Suplex, but as he came off the ropes, Oliver caught him with a stunner at 11:00. Oliver hit a plancha to the floor and they were both down.
Oliver whipped Griffin into rows of chairs. He hit a superkick on the ring apron, then a Clout Cutter on the apron; he got a nearfall in the ring at 13:00. Oliver set up for the Acid Bomb but McCoy fought free. Griffin dropped him face-first onto the top turnbuckle, then he hit a swinging powerbomb for a believable nearfall at 15:00. McCoy hit a top-rope swinging powerbomb for a believable nearfall, and he argued with the ref. Griffin got a chair from under the ring, but Oliver stole it and gave it to the ref. Griffin hit a low blow uppercut for a nearfall at 17:30. Griffin hit a half-nelson suplex. He hit a hard forearm strike to the back of Jordan’s head, then another half-nelson suplex. They traded punches. Oliver hit his own low blow kick, got a small package, and scored the pin!
9. The Great Sasuke defeated Mike Bailey in a first-round tournament match at 27:42. Sasuke is now 54.; I admittedly know him more by reputation than any specific match. Nick Knowledge listed Sasuke’s accomplishments. We got a “this is awesome!” chant before the ring intros. The crowd was 100% behind Sasuke. A feeling-out process to open and they wrestled on the mat. Bailey hit a shoulder tackle and celebrated at 4:00. Many fans are recording this on their phones; this is truly a historic appearance. Sasuke tied up the left leg. Mike hit his Speedball Kicks to the ribs and thighs at 6:00, and Sasuke rolled to the floor. They traded chops on the floor, and they brawled away from the ring.
Back at ringside, Bailey hit his Triangle Moonsault at 9:00, and he applied a half-crab on the floor. He hit a missile dropkick in the ring and was in charge. Bailey hit a frogsplash going more than halfway across the ring for a nearfall at 12:30. Sasuke hit a piledriver for a nearfall. Bailey hit his running Shooting Star Press for a nearfall at 15:00. Sasuke hit a second-rope superplex and they were both down. They traded chops on the ring apron, but Bailey missed his moonsault kneedrop. Sasuke went for a top-rope summersault, but Bailey moved and Sasuke crashed onto the ring apron, and they were both down on the floor at 19:00.
They each grabbed chairs! They dueled with them. Bailey hopped on a bar and hit a moonsault to the floor onto Sasuke. Nick Knowledge reiterated this is a first-round match and someone will have to win three more matches on Saturday. Bailey tossed Sasuke back into the ring. Mike grabbed the chair again! He swung at Sasuke but GS moved, and the chair ricocheted and hit Bailey in the head at 21:30. Sasuke applied a sleeper in the ropes. Sasuke hit a tornado DDT for a nearfall, then he applied an Octopus Stretch. He hit a top-rope Blockbuster for a nearfall at 23:30. Sasuke went for a top-rope summersault, but Bailey moved again, and GS crashed onto an open chair at 25:00!
Bailey nailed a Falcon Arrow, then a top-rope Shooting Star Press for a believable nearfall. (That is NOT a usual move from Bailey!) Bailey nailed a moonsault kneedrop, then a buzzsaw kick to the head for a believable nearfall at 26:30, and the crowd rallied for Sasuke. Bailey hit a superkick on Sasuke while GS was holding a chair, then Bailey hit a Tornado Kick, but he missed the Ultima Weapon! Sasuke immediately got a small package for the pin! That was a blast, and I admittedly expected Bailey to win here.
Final Thoughts: A very good main event. I now wonder how far Sasuke will go in this tournament, and maybe he gets a match against Jordan Oliver, too. The ViF-Astronauts match also was hard-hitting and earns second place. The Wayne-Mathers match takes third, ahead of Makowski-Deppen for honorable mention. I want to be clear that I think all nine matches were above-average and all quite good. This is GCW at its best… no hardcore garbage. No one bled, either.
The tournament continues Saturday with the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals, plus Blake Christian has an open challenge for his GCW Title. I speculated on Twitter/X earlier this week that if Billie loses in the scramble (which she did!) but doesn’t head to AEW, she would be my pick. Speaking of Blake, it was intriguing he did commentary for just one match and he spent it entirely bashing Joey Janela. Certainly sounds like foreshadowing his next feud. Prazak noted there will likely be some matches among first-round losers as well. (No way Man Like Dereiss and Mike Bailey aren’t on the show!) This show is available on Triller+ and gets my highest recommendation.