Game Changer Wrestling (GCW) continues to pioneer how to run shows during WrestleMania week, and have since 2017 when they debuted the first Joey Janela’s Spring Break. Last year, they continued the Spring Break series, plus debuted a new event, Matt Riddle’s Bloodsport, that featured 14 competitors in a shoot fight/MMA style event featuring some of the toughest wrestlers in the world, including Matt Riddle, Nick Gage, Chris Dickinson, WALTER and Eddie Kingston. With Riddle now signed to NXT, a new host was announced for the second installment in New Jersey on Thursday, April 4, 2019, in the form of former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett. Over the past few months, Barnett (and GCW) have been slowly revealing this year’s field of entrants in the renamed Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport, with the latest happening on Friday in the announcement of the return of New Japan Pro Wrestling star and Suzuki-Gun leader Minoru Suzuki. Here’s a round-up of the first seven names announced so far.
Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett will be competing as well as hosting (like his predecessor Matt Riddle), returning to the professional wrestling ring for the first time since last year, when he defeated Jeff Cobb at an Alternative Wrestling Show (AWS) event last spring. He also briefly worked with IMPACT Wrestling in a program with then IMPACT World Champion Bobby Lashley that January. Josh Barnett began his MMA career in 1997 withUnited Full Contact Federation. Following a victory over UFC Legend Dan “The Beast” Severn at Superbrawl 16 in 2000, he joined the UFC, making his debut at UFC 28 that November. His last fight was in 2016, also a submission victory under three minutes, against Andrei Arlovski at UFC Fight Night in Hamburg, Germany. His MMA record stands at 35 wins and 8 losses. Barnett has been involved in the world of pro wrestling since 2003 when he debuted with NJPW. He spent two years with New Japan before becoming a longtime regular with Antonio Inoki‘s new promotion, Inoki Genome Federation (IGF).
Timothy Thatcher returns for his second Bloodsport appearance after fighting on the inaugural card last year. The tag partner of WALTER in Ringkampf, Thatcher is a former EVOLVE Champion and Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw) Tag Team Champion. Last year, Thatcher lost his fight against Nick Gage by knockout and will be looking to fare better this time around.
He may be the smallest competitor announced so far, but Ring of Honor‘s Jonathan Gresham is a master of the technical game. What he lacks in power, he more than makes up with smarts and athleticism, and if “The Octopus” can get someone down to the mat, Gresham gets the advantage.
A student of legendary catch wrestling icon Billy Robinson from the UK, 38-year old Hideki Suzuki makes his US debut at this year’s Bloodsport. A star with Big Japan Wrestling (BJW), he’s a former 2x BJW Strong World Heavyweight Champion, he’s also a former fighter for Inoki’s IGF, where he faced Josh Barnett in 2011. A tough as nails combatant, he’s also fought for ZERO1, Pro Wrestling NOAH, and DDT Pro.
Another returnee, “Filthy” Tom Lawlor is another former UFC star who has successfully transitioned to the world of pro wrestling. Last year, Lawlor faced the Austrian brute WALTER in defeat, but last year, not many people scored wins over one of 2018’s most successful wrestlers internationally. Since then, Lawlor has become the face of Major League Wrestling (MLW) and depending on how his MLW World Championship match against Low-Ki at MLW Superfight on February 2 turns out, he could be walking into Bloodsport a World Champion.
Making his pro wrestling debut at Bloodsport is another former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Frank Mir, who still competes in MMA for Bellator. He’s touched on the world of pro wrestling before, albeit in a UFC ring, as a two time opponent against current WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, going 1-1 against “The Beast Incarnate”.
Dan “The Beast” Severn is an MMA Legend, a former UFC Superfight Champion and 2x National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) World’s Heavyweight Champion. The 60-year grappler is still a force to be reckoned with in the ring, winning his match at the first Bloodsport last year against Chris Dickinson by knockout.
The most recent announcement, Minoru Suzuki is only becoming more lethal as he ages. The 50-year held the IWGP Intercontinental Championship and NEVER Openweight Championship last year in NJPW and is one half of the Revolution Pro (RevPro) British Tag Team Champions with Suzuki-gun protege Zack Sabre Jr. He headlined last year’s Bloodsport, defeating the host, Matt Riddle, by knockout.