GCW “Project GCW” results (3/1): Vetter’s review of Maki Itoh and Nick Gage vs. Los Macizos, Blake Christian vs. John Wayne Murdoch for the GCW Title, Mance Warner vs. 1 Called Manders

By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

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GCW “Project GCW 2024”
Streamed on TrillerTV+
March 1, 2024 in Sauget, Illinois at Pop’s Nightclub

Dave Prazak and Nick Maniwa provided commentary. This is a large bar and GCW has run shows here before. Most of the fans are standing and it appears we have 500 or more fans. The ring is really well lit for a bar. Nine matches were announced in advance.

1. Billie Starkz defeated Killer Kelly at 12:20. We just saw some ‘non-finishes’ in Wrestling Revolver when a TNA-contracted talent took on an AEW-contracted talent, so we’ll see what happens here. Standing switches early and a feeling-out process. They brawled to the floor at 4:30. In the ring, Billie hit a backbreaker over her knee for a nearfall. Billie hit a stiff kick to the back and she stomped on Kelly. She hit a short-arm clothesline for a nearfall at 7:30. Kelly hit a fisherman’s suplex with a bridge for a nearfall.

Kelly hooked the arms, hit a series of headbutts, then she hit a butterfly suplex at 9:30. She hit a basement dropkick to Billie’s head for a nearfall, then she applied a sleeper. Billie powered to her feet and slammed Kelly back-first into the corner to escape. Kelly nailed an Electric Chair drop for a nearfall. Billie hit a Swanton Bomb for a nearfall at 11:30. She hit a spinning kick to the head, then she put Kelly on her shoulders and hit her version of One-Winged Angel for the pin. A really good match.

2. Joey Janela defeated Dante Leon and Aerial Van Go in a three-way at 9:37. This is a bonus match! Leon has been competing in NOAH in Japan. Aerial Van Go (yes that is spelled correctly. It’s not “Van Gogh”) is formerly known as “Zenshi;” he wore a colorful lucha mask with scales (like Laredo Kid’s mask.) They traded armdrags. Leon hit a superkick on Aerial at 1:30. Janela hit a double suplex. Aerial hit a huracanrana. He pushed off of Joey to hit a plancha to the floor; that was um, unusual. Joey hit a Death Valley Driver on AVG on the ring apron at 4:30. Leon hit a Swanton Bomb on Joey’s back for a nearfall. In a cool spot, Leon held AVG’s arms behind his back, and flipped both of their bodies onto their shoulders.

AVG hit a Pele Kick. Janela hit a half-nelson suplex at 7:00. Leon dove through the ropes onto both men. They brawled away from the ring; AVG scaled the wall, flipped his body off a beam on the ceiling and landed on his opponents at 8:30. Back in the ring, Janela hit a superkick on Leon but he couldn’t hit a package piledriver. AVG hit a Sliced Bread on Leon. AVG hit a 630 Splash onto Leon! However, Janela grabbed Aerial, hit a package piledriver, and scored the pin. Fun match.

* A highlight package aired showing matches from a recent show in Dallas.

3. Effy, Allie Katch, and Sawyer Wreck defeated Alec Price, Cole Radrick, and Jack Cartwheel at 9:12. Effy and Price opened; I always say that Effy is deceptively big and he’s making Price look scrawny. Price hit an assisted crossbody block on Effy. Jack got in and hit a satellite headscissors takedown on Effy. He did some cartwheels to avoid Allie’s offense. Sawyer entered and hit a double clothesline at 3:00, but she couldn’t hit a double chokeslam. Price and Radrick hit dives to the floor, then Jack hit the Sasuke Special to the floor on everyone. In the ring, Cole slammed Sawyer to the mat. Jack hit a back suplex on Allie. Jack’s team did John Cena elbow drops for some comedy spots.

Jack’s team all did cartwheels and they hit kicks in the corner on Sawyer. Jack put Effy on his shoulders and hit a cartwheel slam on her. Effy hit a Helluva Kick on Jack, then slammed him to the mat at 6:30. Effy hit a double Blockbuster. Katch hit her buttbumps and cannonballs on their opponents. Effy hit a flyig leg lariat on ack for a nearfall. Sawyer hit chops on Price and Radrick. Cole hit a stunner on Effy, and Price hit a Rebound Lariat on Effy. Parrow appeared at ringside at 8:30; he beat up Price, then Radrick. Sawyer hit a chokeslam on Jack Cartwheel for the pin. But why is Parrow interfering?

4. Oni El Bendito defeated Myron Reed at 8:51. This should be really good. Myron has picked some big wins here of late, including a pin on Lio Rush and winning a scramble in the J-Cup tournament. I always say the masked Bendito has the size and outfit of WCW-era La Parka. They shook hands and this is a first-time meeting. Quick reversals with neither man really able to land anything, then a standoff. Reed hit an enzuigiri at 2:30. On the floor, Reed shoved Bendito into the ring post. Bendito powerbombed Reed onto the ring apron. Myron hit a Stundog Millionaire, then a Helluva Kick, then a Lungblower to the chest at 4:30.

Reed hit an impressive dive to the floor, earning a “GCW!” chant. Reed hit a superkick in the ring for a nearfall. Bendito hit a split-legged moonsault for a nearfall. Reed hit a modified Canadian Destroyer for a nearfall at 7:00. Bendito hit a superkick for a nearfall. Reed hit a kip-up stunner, and Bendito bailed to the floor. Reed hit a flip dive over a ring post onto Bendito! Back in the ring, Bendito hit a release powerbomb and a kick to the jaw for a nearfall, then a Razor’s Edge across his knee for the pin! Good match; you could see they weren’t always on the same page, and I’m sure a rematch will be even better.

5. Alex Zayne defeated Mike Bailey at 16:09. Prazak said this is a rematch from an early 2023 show. I noted this last week, but Zayne has put on some good size of late and he’s bigger than Bailey. They shook hands, traded some quick offense, and had a standoff at 2:00. They caught each other’s legs but set them down in more shows of sportsmanship. They hesitantly shook hands again; Bailey held on and hit a spin kck at 4:30. Zayne hit a double kneedrop, then a corkscrew senton for a nearfall. Zayne ran on the floor and hit his axe kick across the back of Bailey’s neck. He put Bailey on the lap of fans at 6:00 and chopped him.

Bailey nailed a Triangle Moonsault to the floor. In the ring, Bailey hit a kneedrop to Alex’s back as Zayne was draped across the top rope at 8:00. He hit a hard kneestrike to the chest and was in charge. He hit his Speedball kicks to the ribs and thighs, but he missed his running Shooting Star Press at 10:00. They traded forearm strikes, and Zayne hit a clothesline. Alex hit his axe kick to the back of the neck for a nearfall. Bailey hit a Helluva Kick; Zayne hit a running knee in the corner. They avoided each other’s kicks, and Zayne hit another hard clothesline, and they were both down at 12:30.

Zayne avoided Bailey’s Asai Moonsault, and Alex hit a superkick on the floor. Back in the ring, Zayne hit his jump-up Frankensteiner, then his twisting faceplant for a nearfall at 14:00. Alex couldn’t hit a pumphandle powerbomb. Bailey nailed a moonsault kneedrop. Bailey hit the Green Tea Plunge/mid-ring Spanish Fly at 15:30 and a series of kicks, then the Tornado Kick into the corner. Zayne somehow avoided the Ultima Weapon, and he hit the Taco Driver/pumphandle powerbomb for the pin! That was an unexpected outcome. Good stuff. They shook hands, as Prazak noted they are 1-1 all-time and they’ll need to schedule a rubber match down the road.

* A video package of “Spyder” Nate Webb. On Saturday, GCW will be celebrating the 25-year mark of his wrestling career. (I first saw him wrestle live in 2004.)

6. Matt Cardona, Steph De Lander, and Jimmy Lloyd defeated Dan the Dad, Shazza McKenzie, and KLD at 9:45. Lloyd cut a Cardona-inspired promo. (It sounds like every catchphrase Matt has ever said.) Matt grabbed the mic and said “It’s bullshit we’re in this f—ing enhancement match tonight. We should be in the main event.” Cardona also is upset they don’t have a match at “Joey Janela’s Spring Break” over Mania weekend. Shazza and Cardona opened, but Matt was more interested in barking at the fans. He easily dragged her to the mat. She hit some forearm strikes, then a back suplex at 1:30! SDL entered and she shoulder tackled Shazza. The rotund, bald KLD (seriously, think Vader in size) tagged in, so Matt ordered Lloyd to “get him.”

Jimmy tried some chops that had no effect. KLD hip-tossed Jimmy across the ring at 3:00, and he hit a spinning heel kick! Dan entered for the first time and he did some comedy stuff with Matt and Jimmy. SDL hit a snap suplex on Shazza for a nearfall at 5:30. Lloyd bodyslammed Shazza. She hit a huracanrana on Matt and made the hot tag to KLD, who hit shoulder tackles on all the heels. KLD hit a cannonball on Matt for a nearfall at 8:00. Shazza hit her Splits Stunner on Lloyd. Matt hit a low blow on KLD. Dan drank some coffee, which fired him up, and he hit some jab punches on Matt, then a DDT. Dan took off his belt and whipped Jimmy on the butt. However, Matt hit a running Radio Silence leg drop on Dan for the pin. Good match with a decent mix of action and comedy.

7. Masha Slamovich defeated Arik Cannon in an intergender match at 8:44. The timing of this match makes no sense. Cannon is getting a title shot the next day, but Masha just won the J-Cup tournament and is back in the mix as a No. 1 contender. So, neither can really afford to lose this one. I first met Arik circa 2002 and he’s now in his early 40s. Masha carried her JCW Title but not her TNA women’s tag belt. She hit a Shining Wizard just seconds in. He hit a back suplex, then a clothesline for a nearfall at 1:00. He hit a basement dropkick to the back of the head for another nearfall. They traded rollups. He hit a buzzsaw kick for a nearfall at 3:00.

Arik tied up her legs in a modified Figure Four. He hit a swinging neckbreaker for a nearfall at 5:00. Masha fired back with her rolling kick. He suplexed her into the corner. He hit some forearm strikes. She hit a snap back slam for a nearfall at 7:30. He hit a swinging neckbreaker. Masha applied a sleeper and turned it into a back suplex. She hit the White Knight Driver/sudden piledriver for the pin. Good match and Masha does intergender matches better than any other woman, but again… Cannon just lost, so how do you justify giving him a title shot on Saturday?

8. Blake Christian (w/Shane Mercer) defeated John Wayne Murdoch (w/Reed Bentley) to retain the GCW Title at 10:28. Glad to see Mercer back in Blake’s corner; I really like him as Diesel to Blake’s HBK. Murdoch threw a chair at Blake’s head at the bell! He beat up Blake early. Blake hit a dive through the ropes at 1:30, and they brawled in front of the fans. In the ring, Blake hit his handspring-back-spin kick, then a snap suplex. He hit a top-rope elbow drop. Mercer choked Murdoch. They went back to the floor, where a door bridge was set up on a stage near the ring. Blake leapt off a speaker (he was only 5 feet off the stage) onto Murdoch, who was lying on the door bridge at 7:00.

In the ring, Murdoch hit a swinging neckbreaker and some chops. Blake hit a springboard 450 Splash. However, Murdoch applied a leglock around the neck; Mercer pulled Blake to the floor. Murdoch hit a flip dive to the floor. In the ring, Bentley and Murdoch hit a team piledriver for a nearfall at 9:00. Mercer and Bentley brawled to the back. However, Murdoch hit another piledriver for a nearfall! Murdoch rolled to the floor and got a roll of light tubes and that popped the crowd! However, as he marched toward Blake, Blake hit a low blow uppercut! Blake then hit his Stomp to the head, pushing Murdoch face-first onto the light tubes, which exploded and made a big mess. Blake immediately covered him for the pin.

9. Maki Itoh and Nick Gage defeated “Los Macizos” Ciclope and Miedo Extremo at 9:55. Itoh has been sidelined for a couple months so great to see her back; she carried her pizza cutter. All four brawled at the bell; Itoh is so much smaller than Los Macizos this is a bit absurd to pretend she can hang with them. They twisted her hair. Ciclope hit a falling headbutt to her groin. Itoh hit a tornado DDT. Gage made the hot tag at 3:00 and he hit a swinging neckbreaker on Ciclope. Itoh hit a dive to the floor on both Los Macizos.

In the ring, Itoh and Gage hit team Kokeshi falling headbutts at 5:00. They set up chairs in the ring. They pulled out their pizza cutters and used them on the foreheads of their opponents. Los Macizos hit a team Flapjack, dropping Gage through a door bridge at 7:30. Itoh got a chair and hit Los Macizos. They hit DDTs, and Gage hit his Vader Bomb-style elbow drop. Itoh hit a tornado DDT on Miedo. Gage and Ciclope traded headbutts in the corner, and Gage hit a second-rope piledriver onto a door bridge for the pin. The crowd was totally into this.

10. Mance Warner defeated 1 Called Manders at 25:30. These former best friends meet, as Mance has turned on all of his friends in rapid order here in 2024. We had a pre-taped statement from Mance. Mance came out last and he jawed at fans as he walked to ringside. Manders immediately hit a series of chops. Mance tried using a screwdriver on the forehead but Manders blocked it. Manders jabbed Warner in the head, and Mance was bleeding at 1:30. They went to the floor, and Manders pushed a chair into Warner’s throat. They kept brawling on the floor and now Mance jabbed Manders in the forehead with a weapon.

They brawled on the floor for several minutes. They finally got back in the ring at 8:00 where they kept brawling. Both men are bleeding heavily from their foreheads and this was gross. Mance speared Manders through a door in the corner at 9:30. Manders hit a superplex through a door bridge at 13:30 and they were both down. They traded headbutts. Mance whipped unprotected chairshots and Manders’ head for a nearfall; I really hate that. Mance chokeslammed Manders onto a guardail that was placed in the corner to get a nearfall at 17:00. Manders hit a piledriver onto the guardrail for a nearfall.

Manders hit a decapitating clothesline for a nearfall at 19:00. He set up a double-decker door bridge. Manders vanished to the back and returned with a roll of light tubes, which he set on the door bridge. They fought in the corner, careful not to shake the ring and knock down the door bridge. Manders hit a second-rope Bulldog Powerslam, sending Mance onto the light tube-covered door bridge for a believable nearfall at 24:00. Mance hit a low blow uppercut. Mance hit a running kneestrike to the cheek for the pin.

Final Thoughts: First the good. Zayne and Bailey met my lofty expectations and had the best match of the show. Bendito-Reed was good for second place and to me, it was a mild upset, as Reed had picked up big wins here recently. I will go with the show-opener Starks-Kelly for third place, and as I noted, I was surprised we had a clean winner, after the way Wrestling Revolver had a series of non-finishes in matches of TNA vs. AEW talents.

I’m a firm believe that your world title match should be the main event. Blake Christian can be in a non-title match, or a multi-man match, in the undercard. But it diminishes the importance of your title when it’s not your marquee, final match. Blake continues to step up to the plate against all types of challengers. Murdoch’s brawling style isn’t my favorite, but they made it work. Of course, Murdoch is only sporadically on GCW shows and doesn’t win often, so it was hard to buy him as a legit challenger for the title. The Joey Janela three-way was fine, even though that winner also was never in doubt.

The rest of the show is more of a miss for me than a hit. You literally had four matches with intergender action and most of it is cartoonishly unbelievable. The main event was simply too bloody and violent for my tastes, and I just have no patience for those unprotected blows to the head. Last year, Mance Warner hit Trey Miguel so hard on a Wrestling Revolver show that Trey was rushed to the hospital. Yet here we are with him still unnecessarily using hard chairshots on unprotected skulls. This match could be violent without those blows.

This is a great roster of wrestlers. But if I were booker with this roster, I’d have a vastly different lineup that played more into some of their strengths.


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