Game Changer Wrestling (GCW) has always had an eye for unique events on WrestleMania week, starting with Joey Janela’s Spring Break in 2017. Last year saw the debut of a new series of events, Matt Riddle’s Bloodsport. The idea was a sort of catch and shoot style tournament, combining hard-hitting American wrestling, with Japanese Strong Style, in an MMA meets Catch Wrestling kinda Supercard. It was a fun way to see some heavy hitters and technical grapplers really let loose. Since then, Riddle has headed to NXT and this year it was taken over by former UFC Heavyweight Champion and New Japan wrestling star Josh Barnett. The series continues with a diverse roster of entrants, from small US indie to former UFC stars to international legends.
GCW presents Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport
Phil Baroni vs. Dominic Garrini
The first former UFC and MMA fighter to appear on the card is Phil Baroni. Baroni fought from 2000 through 2014 (with a brief comeback in 2018) and fought for UFC, Strikeforce, and Bellator. He takes on a tough kid from Ohio named Dominic Garrini, a Jui-Jitsu expert who has become a rising star on the US indies with Absolute Intense Wrestling (AIW), EVOLVE, and in the tag team Sadkampf with Kevin Ku.
Simon Gotch vs. JR Kratos
Another jiu-jitsu expert who trained at former UFC fighter Seth Petruzelli’s MMA Jungle Gym, Simon Gotch has revealed a much tougher version of himself than the one previously seen in the WWE when he was a part of the Vaudevillains. He works around the world and is a big part of Major League Wrestling (MLW). JR Kratos is a 7-year veteran of the West Coast scene, primarily with All Pro Wrestling (APW), Supreme Pro Wrestling (SPW) and Gold Rush Wrestling. It’s a jiu-jitsu/catch wrestling versus pure power.
Chris Dickinson vs. Andy Williams
Chris Dickinson may be best remembered as a 2x EVOLVE Tag Team Champion with Jaka in Doom Patrol, but those that watch Beyond Wrestling know that Dickinson is a hard-hitting singles wrestler as well. It’ll be a battle of two rhinos on the plains, as “Dirty Daddy” runs head to head with Buffalo Brother Andy Williams. The guitarist in hardcore band Every Time I Die has become a monster in the ring the past few years and has a solid new tag team with friend Pepper Parks (formerly IMPACT’s Braxton Sutter) called The Butcher & The Blade.
Timothy Thatcher vs. Hideki Suzuki
One of the most dominant factions in Europe is Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw)‘s Ringkampf. Three of its members – WALTER, Axel Dieter Jr. (Marcel Barthel) and Axel Tischer (Alexander Wolfe) – are currently in the WWE. They just added a new member in Veit Müller. But if Ringkampf are Germany’s Four Horsemen, Timothy Thatcher is its Arn Anderson. His 596-day reign as EVOLVE Champion is still a record (and unlikely to be broken at this point) and he’s as powerful as he’s technically sound. But his opponent is up for the challenge. He’s a 11-year veteran of Japanese strong style, learning from the master himself, the UK’s Billy Robinson, when Hideki Suzuki started out with NJPW founder Antonio Inoki‘s Inoki Genome Federation (IGF) in 2008. In 2015, he joined one of Japan’s hardest hitting promotions, Big Japan Wrestling (BJW) where he continues to fight today and became a 2x BJW Strong World Heavyweight Champion. This could be the darkhorse match of the night.
Jonathan Gresham vs. Masashi Takeda
Another match featuring a supremely technical wrestler, as the US’ Jonathan Gresham enters into battle. A longtime standout with Beyond Wrestling, he’s finally come into his own with Ring of Honor after several years on the undercard, with a strong feud with ROH World Champion Jay Lethal and then a beast against Zack Sabre Jr. at ROH Final Battle last year. He’s facing off against a 12-year veteran who has spent his last 10 with BJW, in 2x BJW Tag Team Champion Masashi Takeda. But he’s more than just a traditional wrestler, he’s a deathmatch specialist. He’s a former BJW Deathmatch Champion, and a former 2x King of FREEDOMS Champion with Pro Wrestling FREEDOMS, one of Japan’s top deathmatch promotions. Thankfully, Gresham spent some time in CZW and is no stranger to some bumps and bruises.
Frank Mir vs. Dan “The Beast” Severn
A battle of two UFC and MMA Legends in what could be the closest to a shoot fight all night. Frank Mir is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion who has gone the rounds with Brock Lesnar, Mirko Cro Crop and Tim Silva who is making his pro wrestling debut. And he’s doing it against an absolute MMA icon in Dan “The Beast” Severn, the first UFC Superfight Champion and a 2x NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion. Severn fought last year too, in the main event against Matt Riddle.
Killer Kross vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.
Two big, mean and vicious boys, this will be a lesson in savage precision. Killer Kross is fast becoming the next megastar with IMPACT Wrestling, going from despised to heel to cult favorite similar to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin‘s early ascent out of the Ringmaster gimmick. He’s also a superstar in Mexico with AAA and one of the top exports from the West Coast indie scene of the past few years. He brings his power and ruthlessness into the ring against a powerhouse that’s also a top catch wrestling expert, trained by Billy Robinson himself (as well as his grandfather Stu Hart). Davey Boy Smith Jr. has his father’s power and his grandfather’s technical instinct and he’s used it to become a multi-time champion in the WWE, NJPW and Major League Wrestling (MLW), to name a few.
Josh Barnett vs. Minoru Suzuki
In the main event, we have two rough and nasty men, as former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett goes one-on-one with New Japan’s psycho killer Minoru Suzuki. Barnett has been an MMA fighter since 1997, fighting for the UFC, Strikeforce, PRIDE and even Ken Shamrock and Minoru Suzuki’s Pancrase. The former UFC Heavyweight Champion transitioned into pro wrestling in 2003, training with Billy Robinson and working with NJPW. Minoru Suzuki is one of the scariest and most intimidating presences in pro wrestling and still a lethal threat in NJPW with Suzuki-gun. He’s also a former MMA fighter himself with his own Pancrase, one of the first major MMA promotions. This may not be the bloodiest match of the night, it will be the most cunningly fierce.