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  • Connor Ewens

Let's Review: GCW Josh Barnett's Bloodsport 9

As a professional wrestling fan and a lapsed-MMA fan, GCW Bloodsport is right up my street. If you're unfamiliar, Bloodsport consists of worked shoot matches that resembles catch wrestling, the wrestlers usually work stiff and the action has a shoot-style wrestling feel to it. Your traditional wrestling ring is left in the shed and instead we have a ring canvas with no ropes or turnbuckles. With the more MMA feel to the show, there aren't really storylines going into it but the card is full of exciting talent including Jon Moxley, Timothy Thatcher & Johnny Bloodsport (FKA John Morrison) to name but a few. This is also Kota Ibushi's first match since his terrifying injury in 2021. I am big boy excited. Let's review.


March 30th 2023- GCW Josh Barnett's Bloodsport 9


We open up with an introduction ceremony. The crowd cheers loudly for all but especially for Kota Ibushi & Jon Moxley.


Calder McColl vs Jeff Cobb

Calder McColl is currently 2-0 in Bloodsport competition. Jeff Cobb is also currently 2-0 in Bloodsport. Just the day previous, Jeff Cobb wrestled Kenny Omega for the IWGP US Title on AEW Dynamite in a hard-hitting, near 15 minute match. He was unsuccessful.


McColl goes on the offensive first with a takedown attempt, looking for a leg submission but Cobb evades it twice. Cobb slams McColl but eats a few strikes as punishment, they end up rolling to outside but break away peacefully to reenter the ring. Cobb scores a takedown but McColl rolls out, following up with some strikes and a flying triangle attempt. Cobb reverses it into an impactful, then lunges with a killer right hand to his head before the referee stops the fight. This was a solid way to start the show. McColl had some nice offence and Cobb looked like a beast. Nothing bad, nothing jawdropping. Solid work.


Jeff Cobb wins via referee stoppage (6:04)

2.5/5


Erik Hammer vs Calvin Tankman

Erik Hammer has the name and look of an 80's porn star. He has a strong 3-0 record and was known for wrestling in the IGF promotion in Japan before making his name in Bloodsport. Tankman has a 2-2 record and has made a name for himself in a variety of promotions, most particularly in MLW winning and holding their Tag Team Championships for over 300 days.


Tankman immediately goes on the attack, taking Hammer down and unloading punches. Hammer tries to get up but is thrown back down and peppered with more punches. He manages to roll out for a breather. He gets back in, and the two men continue to exchange punches but Hammer throws in some knee strikes. Tankman takes Hammer down with a nice suplex but Hammer fires back with elbow strikes. The fight for control but Hammer takes him down into a double wristlock and Tankman taps out immediately. This was solid action, but too short to rate too highly. It does make Hammer look strong being able to dispatch a beefy strong boy like Tankman. Good for the time they had.


Erik Hammer wins via submission (2:52)

2/5


Marina Shafir vs Killer Kelly

I think Marina gets too much shit from wrestling fans. Her run in WWE wasn't very good, but she was pushed out and advertised way too quickly. As a quarter of the Four Horsewomen of MMA, WWE wanted to capitalise on that. They didn't expect that her and Jessamyn Duke wouldn't be instantly as good as Ronda Rousey of Shayna Baszler. She's improved a lot and she'll continue to do so. She's not quite there yet. She also lacks some real personality, the fans find her boring. But, you can't question her grappling skills. She boasts a 2-0 record whilst her opponent has a 0-1 record. Killer Kelly looking is for her first Bloodsport victory. She appeared in WWE a few times, most prominently in the Mae Young Classic but since her release has been tearing up the competition in Impact Wrestling & WxW.


Shafir shoots for the early takedown and Kelly gets out but is caught by a slick judo throw. Commentary begin talking about Renee Paquette's podcast episode with Jon Moxley very unnaturally. Shafir plays with Kelly, gets her to the outside and unloads with some knee lifts. Kelly gets her down with a double leg before entering the ring, Marina follows her at the count of 9. Kelly nails her with a German suplex followed by a chokehold but Shafir escapes. Kelly nails her with another brutal German suplex then dominates with stuff elbow strikes then a stretch submission attempt. Marina fights out and responds with a huge big boot to Kelly's chest. Shafir has an opening for a takedown, she goes for a choke but instead locks in a body trap and Killer Kelly taps out. This was a good match. It's showcased Marina's incredible MMA ability whilst Kelly got her moments to shine as a dominant force.


Marina Shafir wins via submission (5:45)

3/5


Kota Ibushi vs Mike Bailey

I'm so fucking excited for this one. Kota Ibushi was one of my favourite New Japan wrestlers. He's like a real life super hero I love him. His last match was in November 2021 against Kazuchika Okada in the G1 Climax finals, suffering a serious shoulder injury that benched him for a long time. Following that, Ibushi called out NJPW for a variety of horrendous things including pushing talent to work whilst injured. His contract expired a month ago, and this is his first show back, his first Bloodsport. I had chills. I don't know much about Mike Bailey but I've heard he has been killing it for years in a variety of promotions. I may have watched him before and forgot about it. Looking forward to watching more from him. Bailey has a 0-1 record in Bloodsport.


Ibushi gets a heroes welcome, bringing him to tears in emotion. It was a really heartwarming ovation. We see a respectful handshake. The two stand face to face in a fighting stance, Bailey throws some kicks and punches and Ibushi just absorbs them. Kota throws offence back before Bailey takes him down with a spin kick and goes for a choke. Ibushi escapes, Bailey locks in a triangle choke, Ibushi escapes again. Bailey escapes a body trap and throws clean punches. Ibushi goes for mount but is pushed off and outside of the ring where he almost lands on his freshly healed shoulder. Kota Ibushi reenters, the two begin to trade kicks. Bailey has Kota down and lands a flipping double knees right on Kota'a fucking head! Brutal spot. Bailey locks in an armbar but Kota manoeuvres into a waist lock. Bailey goes to the outside to break it up, but Kota holds on and lands an impressive dead-lift German suplex back into the ring. A neutral double arm lock, Bailey looks to get the advantage with a headbutt but Ibushi retaliated with a Regal Plex followed by a stiff as bricks Kamigoye for the victory. This was incredible. Non-stop exciting action through to the end. It was short though, I was expecting maybe at least 10 minutes but I'm happy with what we got. You've caught my attention Mike Bailey, great to see Kota Ibushi back.


Kota Ibushi wins via knock out (6:54)

3.75/5


Next we have a presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award for Erik Paulson. Erik is a MMA Fighter with a professional record of 11 wins, 4 losses and 2 draws, 8 of those victories via submission. He was the first American to win the World Light-Heavyweight Shooto Title in Japan. He has black belts in Tae Kwon Do, Judo & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and he has a few notable students to his name. Brock Lesnar, Ken Shamrock, Josh Barnett, Sean Sherk & Cub Swanson were all trained by Paulson. Funny fact, Erik Paulson also starred in a Bloodsport 3 movie, to which the reviews are mediocre at best. Not an actor, but as a mixed martial artist Paulson has more than proved himself a notable figure in the sport's history.


Presenting the award, is Chavo Guerrero Jr! Nice reaction from the crowd who chant for Chavo then ultimately Eddie. He compliments Erik Paulson before introducing him. Paulson gets a nice ovation. He tries to deliver a speech but we ran into some audio issues, which would occur a couple times throughout the stream, so I didn't catch much of it. Chavo presents him the award as the crowd cheers. Chavo shouts in the microphone "ERIK POULSON" in an unintentionally hilarious manner. Congratulations Erik Poulson. Without you we may not have had Ken Shamrock, Josh Barnett or Bork Laser.


Bad Dude Tito vs Yuya Uemura

Tito has been making his name as a part of the TMDK faction in New Japan. He has amassed a 1-4 record in Bloodsport, this match his 1 of 3 matches he is wrestling over the course of the day. I will be talking about his again when I watch the Multiverse United show. Yuya Uemura is 1-1 in Bloodsport and is also wrestling on the Multiverse show. Yuya has been putting in solid displays not only in New Japan, but Impact and AEW also.


Both men look for control and Tito just pushes Uemura out of the ring. Yuya reenters to try a takedown, scores but eats some shots from Tito. Tito tries for face lock before brutally suplexing him with neck control. Uemura fires back with arm drags which Tito manoeuvres into a cross arm breaker position, but Yuya gets out and lands a ringing SLAP to the back of the Bad Dude. Uemura tries to goad Tito in to shoot at him, exchanging kicks and Tito does a nice cartwheel. Uemura catches him with a nice belly-to-belly suplex followed up with a dropkick, sending Tito to the outside. Yuya with a running crossbody to the outside! Yuya looks for a finish, nailing a German suplex but Tito transitions into an ankle lock. He drops down into a grapevine and Yuya has to tap. Yuya offers a handshake post-match but Tito disrespects him instead. I assume because he's a bad dude. This was another good match between two guys I haven't watched much of, I liked what I saw from both guys. I look forward to seeing them again in the next show.


Bad Dude Tito wins via submission (5:08)

3/5


Harry Smith vs JR Kratos

I always liked Harry Smith's work. I haven't watched him wrestle in a while. He was good but underutilised in WWE but his time in New Japan was his best work. He boasts an impressive 5-1 in Bloodsport, JR Kratos also has a strong 4-2 record. Kratos has been tearing it down in New Japan & NWA, last holding the NWA Tag Championships alongside Aron Stevens in '20-'21.


The two big boys circle each other then lock up. Harry takes Kratos down with a double wrist lock, they wrestle on the mat with Smith gunning for a heel hook but they both end up up on their feet. Smith gets a waist lock, taking him down but Kratos gets into mount and his own double wrist lock but Smith escapes, pointing at his head. Big beefy boys have big beefy brains. More back and forth as Smith throws Kratos who follows that with a head scissor and elbow's Smith in the face. Smith fires back with some big knees, now they both just trade big strikes in the center of the ring. The wrestle back to the mat, Kratos blocks heavy punches before firing his own back. Kratos fails to lock in a Boston Crab, Smith fires back with punches and knees to the ribs before hitting a BIG powerbomb. The fighters still continue to leather each other with strikes both on the ground and on their feet. Kratos blocks a kick and tries a suplex but Harry reverses the move into a Crossface for the win. Good match this, a bit slower than the other bouts but I enjoyed the hard-hitting hoss fest.


Harry Smith wins via submission (10:59)

3.5/5


Johnny Bloodsport vs Royce Isaacs

The man of a thousand surnames Johnny Bloodsport aka Johnny Mundo, Superstar, Impact, Caballero, Elite, Game Changer, Progress, WrestleCade, Revolver, Morrison and Hennigan. Since his WWE release Johnny Drip Drip has been going around the wrestling world appearing for various companies. I know Royce Isaacs for his time spent in NWA, I always thought he was talented. He's been a solid member of New Japan's American roster. Johnny has a 1-0 Bloodsport record and Isaacs has a 2-3 record.


They both look for takedowns but also demonstrate solid defence, Johnny escaping out of a waist lock on the mat. They teases each other with kicks before Johnny lands a punch which lights Isaacs up, returning with knee strikes and a suplex before transitioning into mount. They tussle for control on the ground, Isaacs secures a double wrist lock but Johnny escapes and dishes out some knees of his own. They continue to wrestle for control but Isaacs breaks away with 3 consecutive German suplexes, however Johnny evades the third and mounts with a flurry of punches. Johnny flips into a Muta lock, Isaacs transitions into a rear naked choke, Johnny movies into a double wrist lock. Very back and forth contest. Johnny goes for the cross arm breaker but Isaacs moves it into a Texas Cloverleaf. Johnny attempts an escape but Isaacs stays in control, planting him with a devastating piledriver. Isaacs looks to have it won with a choke but Johnny gets out of the gator roll into a front choke and Isaacs taps quickly. A good contest, I liked how even it was constantly going back and forth. Johnny continues to prove WWE made a mistake letting him go


Johnny Bloodsport wins via submission (7:52)

3.25/5


Jon Moxley vs Alex Coughlin

Alex Coughlin was trained by Bull James (FKA Bull Dempsey) before joining the NJPW LA Dojo. He's gained popularity for his performances in AEW & RevPro as well as New Japan. He is another wrestler part of the Multiverse United show later in the night. He has a 2-3 record in Bloodsport. Moxley has been killing it in AEW, most recently in his feud with Hangman Adam Page & the Dark Order. He boasts a solid 3-1 record in Bloodsport.


Huge crowd reactions for Moxley as expected, but Coughlin gets a few chants amongst the noise. Moxley gets right in his face before the bell and the action is underway as Moxley kicks at him. Coughlin scores a takedown but they're quickly back up exchange strikes. The lock up again this time Moxley gets the takedown. The wrestle for control on the mat until Moxley gets to his feet and sends Alex to the floor. Moxley tries an armbar on the ring apron, but instantly regret his choices when Alex powerbombs him on the edge of the ring! That looked nasty. Coughlin maintains control with suplexes and a wishbone submission. Coughlin moves for a calf crusher, but Moxley pulls the hair to break it and takes control with a front choke. Coughlin powers up and escapes with an impactful powerbomb. They trade uppercuts, Moxley fires off some headbutts before locking in a rear naked choke. Coughlin fights out again, they go back to smacking the piss out of each other. Moxley locks in his bulldog choke but again Coughlin impresses to power him up. However, he can't for long and Moxley delivers a brutal knee to his face, maintaining the bulldog choke until the referee stops the match. This was really good. Both guys looked tough as tyres as they leathered one another. Coughlin put in great effort but Moxley prevails. I wish it had went on longer.


Jon Moxley wins via referee stoppage (6:31)

3.5/5


Main Event: Josh Barnett vs Timothy Thatcher

Josh Barnett was a renowned MMA fighter, amassing a 35-8 winning record and becoming the youngest ever UFC Heavyweight Champion. He first made an appearance in pro wrestling for New Japan in 2003, even wrestling Yuji Nagata for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. He continued to make sporadic appearances mainly in Japan before challenging Bobby Lashley for the Impact Wrestling Heavyweight Championship in 2017. After Matt Riddle signed for WWE, Josh Barnett took over as the face of GCW Bloodsport and has 4-0-1 record so far. I highly recommend his time limit draw with Minoru Suzuki if you haven't seen it before. His opponent Timothy Thatcher has been on tear since his WWE release, primarily in the NOAH promotion in Japan but has appearances for AEW & ROH to his name. He has a 1-2 Bloodsport record, looking to take down the undefeated Warmaster.


Both men shoot for takedowns, Thatcher locks Barnett down with a wrist lock. Barnett turns it into an ankle lock but Thatcher breaks it. They wrestle for an advantage, Thatcher avoids a knee bar using elbow strikes. He throws knees and elbows at Barnett's ribs then stretches him out with a surfboard. There's a knee bar attempt but Barnett hits a powerful suplex and gets into mount, firing off punches. Thatcher covers up and moves into a Half Crab, which Barnett moves into another knee bar. Thatcher just hoofs Barnett with face kicks to try to escape, he targets the elbow but Josh powers up and drops Thatcher down. Thatcher throws more vicious knees as Barnett scrambles for a control. He moves from a double wristlock into a guillotine choke, Thatcher moves into his own wristlock and wraps Barnett up with his legs. The back and forth continues, they're both on their feet until Barnett hits a beautiful Saito Suplex. Technical difficulties cuts out a solid 20 seconds of action, but when we're back they're both locked up and rolling towards the outside. The get back to the ring and Barnett challenges him to go tit-for-tat. They trade blows, Thatcher throws uppercuts but Barnett responds with kicks. Thatcher hits a great enziguiri followed by a belly-to-belly suplex, going for another double wristlock. They get to their feet, Barnett hits a suplex followed by a big powerbomb. Upon impact though, Thatcher traps the arm and transitions into a knee bar, Barnett taps out! His first ever loss in Bloodsport! Great match here. Slick wrestling, stiff strikes and big moves at big moments. A huge win for Thatcher here in what was genuinely a shock result. Both men put on a belter showing and Thatcher's tour of having great matches with anyone and everyone continues.


Timothy Thatcher wins via submission (12:50)

4/5


Overall- 63.3%

This was a very good show. It last just over 2 hours and it's very easy to watch and digest. There were some technical issues, the microphone kept cutting out occasionally since the Bailey/Ibushi match, didn't help that Chavo Guerrero shouted ERIK POULSON to dangerous volume levels. That was funny. Good action from top to bottom with a killer main event. I just wish a couple matches maybe went a bit longer. It's worked shoot wrestling so I'm not expecting every match to go over 10 minutes but only 2 matches did and they just over. I was expecting a long main event with how short the rest of the card was. Still, all the action was good and I recommend watching it.


MOTN: Josh Barnett vs Timothy Thatcher


Let me know what you thought of the show and if there is any other shows over Wrestlemania weekend I need to tune in to. Until next time, see ya!

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