WrestleWatch- The Wrld On GCW
By Mick Robson
So I've mentioned in the past that I typically cover WWE, AEW and the Aussie indie scene. And that's expanded a little bit this past month. Part of the reason for that is that it's school holidays and I've got the time, but also it's because we're seeing other promotions make big moves. First, we had the Forbidden Door opening between WWE and Impact Wrestling, prompting me to review Impact's Hard To Kill PPV. And this time, we have what could be considered the spiritual successor to ECW, GCW, or Game Changer Wrestling. They've created a lot of buzz over the past few years, even with the pandemic, and they're running a show at the Hammerstein Ballroom, the site of many ECW events in the past, including one of my top 3 favourite PPVs, ECW One Night Stand 2005.
Not only are GCW embracing the hardcore, alternative, counter-culture style that made ECW famous, but they're also thinking outside the box in terms of the talents they use. In today's pro wrestling world, there's an embarrassment of riches when it comes to high-level free agent talent, and GCW have sure picked up some great ones.
Perhaps top of that list is Matt Cardona. The artist FKA Zack Ryder is a as dyed in the wool former WWE star as you can get. He took to the indies and other major wrestling promotions like AEW and Impact as the exact same guy we saw for a decade plus in WWE, just under a different name for copyright reasons. But in GCW, he flipped the script, playing the entitled mega-heel, self-proclaimed Deathmatch King, and has done a tremendous job riling up the core GCW fanbase, with his wife Chelsea Green adding to the heat by his side. On this big Hammerstein show, he's facing a guy who was there on GCW's first show, the Bad Boy, Joey Janela.
They've also made a left-field choice with the booking of Jeff Jarrett. The former WWE/WCW star and founder of TNA/Impact Wrestling doesn't seem to fit in this gritty environment, but then again, you could say the same about the man he's feuding with, the flamboyant Effy. They've also got former AEW World Champion Jon Moxley on this show, who is the current GCW World Champion as well. He's facing long-time indie standout, Homicide.
I won't pretend to know all the "homegrown" GCW guys. This is my first time, be gentle. Let's do this!
Kick-Off on YouTube
Big Vin wins the PBR Battle Royal. I tuned in just in time to see a final four of Lufisto, Charles Mason, Thunder Rosa and Vin. Vin chokeslams Mason to the outside for the final elimination and celebrates ringside with his father, 911 of original ECW fame.
Grim Reefer defeats Alex Zayne, Jack Cartwheel, Shane Mercer, Dante Leon & Ninja Mack in a Scramble Match. Reefer looks like Bill Alfonso's little brother, and his whole gimmick is that he smokes weed. That's it. He did do a pretty sick flip dive with a lit joint in his mouth, though. Mercer was an impressive powerhouse in this one too.
Match 1: Brass Ring Ladder Match- AJ Gray def. Jordan Oliver, Tony Deppen, Jimmy Lloyd, Alex Colon, PCO & G-Raver (at 15:00)
Thoughts: I'm always partial to a spot-fest ladder match to kick off a PPV. This was about as spotty as it gets, with everyone flipping and flying all over the place. I was really impressed with PCO, in his 50s, showing no fear of getting in there with the ladder and taking hits and bumps. Unfortunately, AJ Gray fucked his big spot diving off the biggest ladder in the building, crashing into another ladder rather than striking his would-be victim. He also struggles to unhook the brass ring later, but hey, a win is a win. (**3/4)
Match 2: Gringo Loco, Flamita & Arez def. Bandido, ASF & Laredo Kid (at 15:00)
Thoughts: This was crazy lucha fun, with non-stop movement for the duration. Some inventive spots too as the two teams pulled off a Tower of Doom Canadian Destroyer in the spot of the night. Credit to Flamita throughout this show, who looked to get some heel heat rather than just letting the match be, "Yay! Cool Moves!" Lucha tag rules meant the action never slowed. The finish seems to get botched as they were looking for something creative on the ropes, but Gringo scores with the piledriver to end it. Great dose of athleticism. (***1/2)
Ian Riccaboni comes in to call the ROH Championship match, but champ Jonathan Gresham isn't there, presumably COVID-related. So Blake Christian calls out a familiar opponent...
Match 3: Blake Christian def. Lio Rush (at 12:00)
Thoughts: Blake Christian definitely got more chances to shine here than Trey Baxter got in NXT/WWE! Incredible smooth technique, speed and skill from both men here. Rush, who was originally scheduled for the ladder match opener, was on his game here, and it was obvious the two have worked together a lot in the past, with this being the first match of the show without any noticable botches. Christian kicked out of the Final Hour Frog Splash in a nice near fall, before landing his 450 stomp to put his old rival away. (***1/4)
Match 4: Matt Cardona (w/ Chelsea Green) def. Joey Janela (at 20:00)
Thoughts: This was full of sports-entertainment fuckery with a little GCW hardcore flavour. Cardona did the Sandman entrance in the Hammerstein, complete with Chelsea wielding a kendo stick, and we had run-ins from a bunch of people, including Swoggle, Marko Stunt and finally Brian Myers (fka Curt Hawkins) who did the spear through a table with a motorbike helmet that Edge did at ECW One Night Stand 2006. This allows Cardona to hit Radio Silence through a door on Janela for the win. The kind of match you hate or love, but I got a kick out of all the shenanigans. (***)
Post-match, the old Run DMC version of the DX theme hits, and Sean "X-Pac" Waltman hits the ring! Spin kick for Myers, X-Factor for Cardona, and the heels scamper. Great to see Waltman, who recently revealed he's medically cleared to wrestle. Hope he gets one more good run!
Mance Warner comes out to put over GCW, and Atticus Cogar comes out to rain on his parade. They fight, and a bunch of wrestlers join the fray, then the lights go out. Sabu and Bill Alfonso appear! Sabu launches a chair. Fonzie hits a DDT on Greg Iron, who I know as the wrestler who has the same disability as me, Cerebral Palsy. Maybe there's hope for me yet! Then Iron takes a top rope splash to end the segment. Maybe not. Very cool to see Sabu & Fonzie again!
Match 5: Ruby Soho def. Allie Katch (at 10:00)
Thoughts: My first time seeing Katch, but it was a good first impression! Ruby seemed to be leading the dance, but Katch got her big moves in, including a great piledriver for a near fall. Katch sets up for a piledriver from the top rope, but Ruby fights out and hits a top rope version of her kick finisher (previously known as the Riott Kick, I don't know the new name). Hammerstein boo a little seeing one of their own lose, but Soho gets them back on side with a post-match embrace of Allie. Good midcard level match. (***)
Match 6: Jeff Jarrett def. Effy (at 11:00)
Thoughts: My first Effy experience, besides some social media stuff. He's a hoot! Jarrett looks in great shape for his age, and isn't afraid to get rough, choking Effy with his belt. But since Effy is a bit of a wild child, he gets a kick out of being choked as the crowd chants "Daddy". Well then. Double J hits Effy with the guitar, which gets no sold, but then Jarrett hits the Stroke for the 3 count. Commentary go to lengths to point out that this was Jarrett's first GCW match, and this feud isn't over. It was fine. (**1/2)
Match 7: GCW World Championship- Jon Moxley (c) def. Homicide (at 11:00)
Thoughts: Respect for both guys from the audience, with Homicide being a indy wrestling legend, and no one has a bad word to say about Mox at the moment. Well, besides Bully Ray. The crowd deliver a "Fuck Bully Ray" chant as this match gets going, and they waste little time throwing hands and exchanging big moves. Mox wins after a Paradigm Shift on a chair. Pretty standard stuff again with a brief runtime for a world title match, not bad but not especially great either. (**3/4)
Match 8: GCW Tag Team Championship- Nick Gage & Matt Tremont def. The Briscoes (c) (at 6:00)
Thoughts: Bit of a surprise here as it seems FTR were the most likely to answer the Briscos' open challenge, but instead it's MGK all fucking day! Nick Gage is the biggest star in GCW, and swerved everyone by making us think he had a falling out with GCW management. Gage opens the match by spearing one of the Briscos through a door- so many doors got broken on this show! Extremely quick work which saw Gage win with the Choke Breaker. Disappointing (*1/2)
Post-match, Gage fires up the New York crowd with a promo. He calls GCW the best promotion in the world, and shouts out to his gang. No official sign-off as the FITE feed just abruptly ends with Gage hugging someone at ringside.
The show started strong and energetic, with a crowd that was as rowdy as GCW could have hoped for. Unfortunately, the top matches didn't really deliver and felt rushed. The show ended just inside the 3 hour window, so guessing the company had no extra rope from PPV providers. They need to time things a bit better. My highlights were the lucha match and the craziness of Cardona vs. Janela, but they could have easily shaved a few minutes off both to give the main event matches a fighting chance. Both seemed to end before they could really get going. Not a terrible show, but certainly fell short of my expectations after a promising start.
Overall Score: 6.5/10
Until next time, take care.