Josh Barnett on WWE wrestler Shayna Baszler working Bloodsport X, crossover of MMA and pro wrestling fans, what Nic Nemeth can prove at Bloodsport


By Jason Powell, Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

Good Karma Wrestling with guest Josh Barnett
Hosts: ESPN Chicago’s Jonathan Hood, ESPN Milwaukee’s Gabe Neitzel, and ESPN West Palm’s Brian Rowitz
Twitter: @GKW_Wrestling

On the reaction when they found out that WWE wrestler Shayna Baszler would be able to compete at Bloodsport: “I mean, it’s a surprise even for me. You know, I’m her manager and her coach, but I fully recognize that the commitment to being a WWE athlete are well, they’re first and foremost and anybody that puts that kind of effort and… you know into securing the use of a particular talent, you know, they want it for themselves and they want to protect that investment. So, you know, it shows that they have a lot of trust towards me and what I’m doing here and towards Brett (Lauderdale) and myself with GCW in the show.

“And I just want to do as much as I can to not only prove them right, which I have no, concerns with, but I ultimately, you know, this is a wrestler’s show, this is a show that I want the wrestlers to be first and foremost and to really feel like they’re getting something out of this that they can’t get anywhere else and that they get to be in a ring that is really oriented, around them and wrestling purely in it’s rawest form, the hardest hitting form at that.”

On how did Bloodsport became the spot for talent from so many companies under one roof: “I guess I greased all the right palms, kissed all the right asses. I don’t know. I’m just fortunate is all I can really say. And I think that it just goes to show you that what’s been built with Bloodsport here has proven itself to be something that is valued not just by our fan base and by the wrestlers that are commonly associated with it, but by those from the outside, like New Japan, like AEW, like WWE. And they think it’s a valid place to send their talent and let their athletes run wild.”

How much does he see the crossover between MMA fans and pro wrestling fans?: “I think it’s less than we think it is. I don’t think that there’s a lot of crossover. I think there’s some fair-weather or maybe somewhat casual fans that may enjoy both. I think there are diehards that enjoy both and then there are diehards for each one. But that could change. You know, anything is possible with the winds of professional wrestling and MMA being the way that they are and are constantly changing. One minute it’s a gentle breeze, next minute it’s a full blown typhoon. You don’t know what’s going to hit and when. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to think about them in a pairing as such. But I think that they are ultimately it’s a mistake to think that they are something that can just be traveled across easily and that goes for how you promote it. But also thinking in regards to talent going either way. And, you know, that’s okay.

“You know, I feel like they’re each separate disciplines, although they are, in my opinion, they’re one side of the same coin. So, MMA fighters are pro wrestlers and pro wrestlers are MMA fighters, so to speak. In a sense, but you know, going out there and working a match and going out there and being a full time professional, MMA fighter. They’re different. Also, I would say that it’s if this was 1975, it would be a different story. This is 2024 and the way people train to be professional wrestlers isn’t really conducive towards MMA, like it may have used to be.”

What Nic Nemeth can prove this week at Bloodsport: “Arguably, I think we offer more than anybody else can, because when you come to this, this arena, everything is stripped away. So, there are many, many great wrestling companies out there. And you know, Nic is the I think he’s the Intercontinental Champion for New Japan Pro Wrestling right now. That’s a massive win and a really nice feather in his cap. And no surprise to me that he would accomplish such a thing even as quickly as he has. But if you go to New Japan Pro Wrestling, there is these massive, glitzy arenas and stage presence and, you know, there’s all the trimmings and the other external elements around all of these matches, plus, you know, everybody is as gimmicked out as possible. And there is a bit of a, it’s hard to call it a safety net of sorts, but a bit, right? You could even say they’re accentuating aspects with Bloodsport and none of that is there.

“And it’s not to say like we are deliberately not having as nice a production as New Japan or something like that, because even if we had the same budgets, we’d do it differently and ultimately at the end of the day… I want this to be a wrestler’s type of event. It’s not just about allowing them an opportunity to shine, but that’s all that’s available. You know, we’ve stripped this thing down as much as possible. So, you have no safety rails. You have nothing else that you can lean on to try and make what you do out there have the impact that you want it to. It’s just you. It’s just you and your opponent. And you know, he’s looking to be the one coming out with his hand raised. But I think that because of how stripped down and raw Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport is, it actually is the place for someone to really either ignite who they are to people that are unaware or reignite and show everybody that what you’ve come to understand about me can now be flipped on it’s head.”

Other topics include Bobby Lashley’s MMA career, the success of Jon Moxley and more.


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