GCW Presents Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport
April 4 2019
I was supposed to be flicking between two live streams right now but I don’t have that level of attention span so it’s time for Bloodsport!
Phil Baroni vs. Dominic Garrini
As you can see there’s no ropes and it’s a major shoot-style promotion. I am here for it. It was good last year but I’ve been hearing that this year was better. They do an excellent job of setting this out like a shoot. Garrini trying to get Baroni off his feet, Baroni trying to keep Garrini on his feet so he can hit him. Baroni is an asshole so the crowd chant “Phil Jabroni” at him. The atmosphere is electric because they’re treating it like a sport and reacting to everything but also they’re wrestling fans. So there’s that atmosphere on top of it. It’s great. Baroni, like a total asshole, throws his sweat in Bryce’s face while he’s counting Garrini down. Bryce is all “fuck you Phil, you’re disqualified”.
Final Rating: ***
JR Kratos vs. Simon Grimm
Grimm looks weird clean shaven. The picture is JR Kratos by the way not Grimm. In case you think he looked really different. Grimm asking for a slap is when this match hits a higher level, even if it leads to a lot of pro-wrestling style strikes. They do some really nice counter wrestling though. Throws and mat switches.
At some point Kratos his nose busted. This clearly irks him because he hits a shoot powerbomb and jumps on top to knock Grimm clean out. The ref is very slow reacting to it but that’s a great finish.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Killer Kross vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr
Kross is bland. DBS Jr is even blander. But here they are two big dudes.
Look at this fucking Hoss! If this is pro wrestling I’d be dozing off because he’d be doing boring stuff. But here, even the smallest kick looks horrific. It’s like watching gladiators engaging in unarmed combat. Davey going after the shoot Sharpshooter is fucking wild. Davey’s defence blocking various holds by holding his own body in place and using his weight to transition blows my mind. Why does he never do anything like this in wrestling? Kross barely survives twice because they’re about to fall out of the ring. Davey using his body control in phenomenal fashion. Then he starts throwing strikes and they’re fucking great too. Where has this Davey Boy Smith Jr been hiding? He’s stunk in the ring for the last five years! It takes two to tango and Kross looks good here but Davey is out of this world good. He hooks a crossface and Kross taps. The crowd know they saw something special here and give this match a huge reaction. DBS Jr is back baby!
Final Rating: ***3/4
Jonathan Gresham vs. Masashi Takeda
Both these guys are fucking awesome at this style. Takeda might be known as a death match guy but his mat skill is off the charts good.
I’m a little sad that comms are clueless about Takeda’s background. He’s legit. He’s had MMA fights. Gresham is legitimately one of the best wrestlers in the world at mat countering in freestyle and Takeda is equal to him. It looks like they’re shooting. They stick to the mat until they spill out of the ring and then it’s time to throw some fucking hands! Takeda gets some of that scar tissue opened up and they head back in swinging. AHHH, this is so great.
Comms show they ignorance again by suggesting Takeda might get finished with blood loss! Hahaha. What! Takeda bleeds that much in one minute of a normal match! They swing some more and Takeda knocks Gresham out cold with a knee. Oh fucking hell that was awesome.
Final Rating: ****1/4
Andy Williams vs. Chris Dickinson
If the last match was about two guys who were capable mat technicians who got pissed off and went after each other this is about two big untrained street brawlers throwing bombs. It’s incredible for a couple of minutes and then they both get gassed, it goes to the mat and slowly dies. If there’s a match that could have benefitted from a quick knock out it’s this one. Dickinson gets Williams’ back and taps him with a choke. This was great fun.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Frank Mir vs. Dan Severn
This is completely different to everything else because they have that strong MMA history and it’s mat based skill so they roll around looking for an opening. I’m willing to bet it’s all unplanned. Mir gets a heel hook and Dan taps out in quick order.
Final Rating: **1/2
Timothy Thatcher vs. Hideki Suzuki
This is another good match up with two guys of similar size and strength. Both of them are very focused on wrestling too. Even when they’re pro-wrestling.
Neither one really wrestles for the amusement of people. They wrestle for the excellence of pro wrestling. I imagine they train in similar fashion. Thatcher just rolls around with other wrestlers in Essen trying to improve his skill and his fighting body. That’s what he does. They spend a while trying to submit each other but with neither able to get an advantage so they switch to smacking each other around a bit before going back after the body part. The shoot backbreaker is aces and it leads right into Hideki throwing Tim and knocking him out.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Minoru Suzuki vs. Josh Barnett
Kaze-ni-nare gives me chills. It peaks and wow.
I love that Josh Barnett volunteered to put this show on, when Riddle signed, so he could fight Minoru Suzuki. Meanwhile Suzuki is very dismissive of Josh’s attempts to control on the mat. It’s beautiful to see. Both of these guys are up there in age but hey, they’re still passionate about the style. Barnett’s mat work here is like Davey’s from earlier but faster.
Barnett ends up having to wrestle defensively with Suzuki constantly looking for an opening. Switching from leg to head and back again. Suzuki’s insane transitions are nothing short of magical. The full on leg extension spot is painful to watch. Can I tap out on his behalf? When Barnett flat out refuses to tap Minoru comes after him with forearms. I’m reminded during the match that Suzuki uses a lot of moves in wrestling that are shoot holds. I resent them doing the stupid three-arm drop spot on a sleeper. That’s such a pro-wrestling thing. If the arm drops the guy is unconscious.
But then Suzuki goes insane, tries to drag Barnett out of the ring and kill him on the floor. Suzuki then nails the ref. That’s a DQ then. Odd finish. But then there’s no DQ? Why have a ref bump? I don’t get it. It’s frustrating because the stupid things hold back what could be a classic. Especially when Suzuki breaks out the big forearms and the tongue hanging out attitude. They go nuts with the strikes as the time limit is expiring, swinging wildly looking for a KO. No one can land and it goes to a draw.
But wait…FIVE MORE MINS! They’re both gassed but still trying to throw the KO shot. Minoru popping back up after the kill shot spin kick and no selling is great. Ha, I love him. Suzuki is almost choked out but he bites the arm! He bites the foot! Back to the stand up! Trash talk in Japanese! The five mins are over. Time limit draw. “This is Bloodsport” – Minoru Suzuki.
Get rid of that dumb ‘arm drops three times’ spot and the pointless ref bump and this was pushing MOTY territory. As it stands it’ll still be one of the best matches of the weekend. I’m exhausted just watching it.
Final Rating: ****1/2
This was fucking incredible. There were mistakes, sure, but it was a better put together show than last year and it peaked a lot higher. Having Takeda and both Suzuki’s over probably helped. Two absolutely essential matches here; the main and Takeda/Gresham but lots of good bouts besides that. A sure-fire contender for best show of the weekend.