Joey Janela is back! After sitting out the last few GCW shows with injury, he’s back on the scene as we get the first half of Spring Break…
We open in a living room as “For Whom The Bell Tolls” plays. A kid’s got a pizza cutter as he’s initiating himself as a Nick Gage fan. O-kay… Live in the arena, Rich Palladino’s doing dress down Friday at the sold-out White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, New Jersey! Denver Colorado, Dave Prazak and Kevin Gill are on commentary. At least two thirds of that are good.
Joey Janela vs. Marko Stunt
It’s a triumphant return for Janela, who’s having his first match back in seven months after breaking his leg… and yes, he’s treated like a God at his own show. His opponent? Another guy returning from injury, as barely five months on from a broken leg, Marko Stunt is back in the ring!
There’s a video introducing Stunt, including the Destroyer spot that broke his leg last November, before he too got a monstrous reaction. We start with Joey testing his knees and cardio with rope running, before he skinned the cat and slingshotted back into the ring. Yep, knees are fine. Of course, Stunt makes a beeline for the knee as he kicked at it, before Janela kicks away the leg for the hell of it. Stunt tries to nick it with a crucifix, but Janela stood up and powered back with German suplexes to ragdoll the child-like Stunt.
A military press slam followed from Janela, who dumps Marko into the crowd… but they catch him as he’s crowd surfed back to the ring… which gave Joey an idea. He gets a crowd surf too, and manages to chop Marko while doing so. What the hell is this?! They get back to the ring, but Stunt decides to go flying with a cannonball into the front row, then again with a low-pe con giro! Except Janela avoided that second one and threw Marko back into the ring, where more chops and forearms just lit up the undersized Stunt. Marko kinda goes all al-Ani on us with a sunset flip and kip up, but Janela blocks and throws him across the ring before Stunt almost got thrown into Penelope Ford’s boot.
Instead, Stunt kisses Ford, who then gets knocked off the apron as Marko finally connected with a sunset flip/kip up/knee combo. Janela’s right back with a lariat to fold Stunt around, but it’s not enough as a massive superkick and a spinning package piledriver followed for yet another two-count. From there, Janela tries for an avalanche package piledriver, but he’s pushed down as Stunt hits a flying rana onto the edge of the apron, which led to some bloodshed as Stunt looked to have busted his eye open. Janela makes a beeline for that, only to get caught in a tiltawhirl lungblower as Stunt nearly took it.
In response, Janela goes up top for a death valley bomb… but it’s still enough for a two-count as those near-falls were getting closer. Janela argues with the ref… and that’s enough of an opening for Marko to catch him with a small package for the win! Joey Janela loses on his return, but neither man showed much in the way of ring rust here. Perhaps a little spotty towards the end, but a heck of an opener. ***½
Tony Deppen comes out next, and he’s still a little sore after being eliminated by Mantaur in last year’s Clusterfuck… and not being announced for this year’s. Cue chants for Mantaur, and an open challenge as Deppen challenged a fan to a match. Instead, he picks a fan… who’s in a wheelchair, and “this guy” accepts the challenge.
Tony Deppen vs. Dustin Thomas
Deppen kicks the fan out of his wheelchair… and it’s at that point where it’s obvious he has no legs. What the actual hell?
The bell sounds as Deppen puts the boots to the fan, later ID’d as Dustin Thomas, and this crowd is fixing to riot here. “No Legs” manages to catch Deppen with a sleeperhold, but he’s charged into the corner, before a lucha armdrag caught Deppen unawares. Somehow there’s a 619 from “No Legs”, then a springboard crossbody for a near-fall as this guy is fixing to be the breakout star of this show already. The madness continues with a cannonball to the floor, before he’s brought back in with a superplex as Deppen somehow got a near-fall. Denver Colorado saying “he couldn’t hook the leg” is a line of commentary that’ll send so many of us to hell!
A tornado DDT and another springboard 450 splash followed… but somehow Deppen just got up, before he avoided a big splash off the top, and followed in with a diving knee for the win. Molten heat, but this was a wacky as hell match that I have no idea how to summarise. Dustin Thomas is the Marko Stunt of this year’s show, and while this isn’t something you can really repeat, for a sideshow, this was all kinds of fun. ****
After his match he dragged himself back to his chair for the remainder of the night.
Jake Atlas vs. A-Kid vs. Australian Suicide vs. Slim J vs. Shane Mercer vs. Jungle Boy
This was Jungle Boy’s first match back after the passing of his father last month, and it’s a good ol’ fashioned scramble.
We start with everyone going after Shane Mercer, as superkicks put the beast outside early doors… but on the outside Mercer catches a few folks before A-Kid hit his baseball slide German through the ropes. This is way too fast to call, let alone type, but it slows down a little as Atlas boots A-Kid in the corner before he got clocked with a superkick in return. A lucha armdrag has A-Kid wobbly ahead of a neckbreaker, as Australian Suicide comes in for a brisk series that led to satellite headscissors. Slim J’s back with headscissors of his own, before he hit a springboard spinning enziguiri off the top! Jungle Boy adds to the high speed fun with headscissors before he hung up Slim J for a springboard legdrop… and now Mercer’s back to kill a fool.
Mercer chokeslams people for fun while he held Jungle Boy in a one-armed press slam, eventually dropping him into the crowd. Duelling moonsaults follow to the floor as we go back to Atlas, Suicide and A-Kid, but some co-ordination backfires as Suicide’s twisting crossbody put the other two down. Slim J nearly wins with a crossbody, before he took a Jungle Boy backbreaker on Mercer’s knee. Atlas keeps the MOVEZ going with a death valley driver before he missed a standing moonsault to Jungle Boy, who responded by teasing a Spanish Fly, only to get caught with an Angle slam off the top. Woah.
We’re back to the fast-paced stuff as A-Kid gets flung across the ring, catching his knee in the turnbuckle as Mercer showed off his power, before Mercer caught Slim J on the top with a rope-walk death valley driver. WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL?! Jungle Boy misses a charge as he got sent outside, with A-Kid following through with a 619, a moonsault off the apron, then a crossbody… which Mercer caught ahead of a moonsault fallaway slam off the middle rope. Yep, we’ve two breakout stars here on one show, folks. A springboard Destroyer from Australian Suicide takes care of Mercer though, as Jake Atlas comes in with a cartwheel DDT off the top rope (the other “LGBDDT”) as another Parade of Moves broke out, ending with an Octopus stretch from Jungle Boy that made A-Kid tap. A fantastic scramble match, with a hot, intimate crowd bellowing for every minute of it. This show is all home-runs so far… ****
Just a reminder than EVOLVE had Shane Mercer for a few shows last night and barely put him beyond the openers…
GCW Heavyweight Championship: Shinjiro Otani vs. Nick Gage (c)
With GCW heading to Japan later this year, why not?
Otani was taken into the ropes from the off, and already it looks like Gage has split his shorts. Fortunately there’s something underneath, as Otani grounded Gage, looking for a wristlock which ended quickly in the ropes. Gage didn’t appreciate Otani holding on after the break, as the pair worked into shoulder charges, sending Otani into the corner before Gage slid out for… a door?! Yep, Gage wasn’t going to stay technical for too long.
Gage props the door against the corner, as Otani returned with a series of palm strikes, eventually chopping Gage down ahead of a single leg crab. Standing on Gage’s face perhaps wasn’t such a good idea from Otani, especially as Gage came back with an atomic drop and a back elbow in the corner, before a Vader Bomb elbow drop almost got a win. Face-washing boots follow in the corner, but Otani stands back up and German suplexed Gage through the wood! Gage goes to the corner, where he’s prone for some real face-washing boots, with the finale even knocking down Otani’s cornerman!
More boots had Gage rocked, but he’s able to come back with a DDT for a two-count, before a roll-up and a big ol’ handful of tights proved to be enough for Gage to steal the win. This was fun at least as far as for Otani spots, but as a match… perhaps not so good. **¾
Invisible Stan vs. The Invisible Man
Yeah, I have no words. This was a “brother vs. brother” grudge match after news broke of the Invisible Man (from prior Spring Breaks) having been killed by his brother… only to rise from the dead.
This was one you needed to be invested in, and my God, the live crowd were. Referee Bryce Remsburg wore Joey Janela’s sunglasses, so he could see the action… and to be fair, Bryce was working like a trooper, counting the early pinfall attempts before he admonished Stan for raking the eyes. Bryce has to stop a strike-battle because there’s blood, but the match spills to the outside and up onto the balcony ahead of a dive! Back in the ring, Kikutaro runs out after Bryce Remsburg was shoved by Stan… and after he grabbed the glasses, he threw a chair into Stan in the corner. A DDT follows to Stan, before Bryce regained the glasses to count the near-fall!
We continue the wackiness after Kikutaro was ejected, with a superplex nearly getting the win (I assume), before Invisible Stan was thrown through the table for the win. Holy GOD. This was one big sketch, throwing back to Bryce’s days as part of the Secret Pants comedy troupe. So yeah, don’t be shocked that this worked! The crowd even through money into the ring afterward, so yeah… they played to the target audience, and then some.
TAKA Michinoku vs. Orange Cassidy
This was TAKA’s first match in the US for almost 15 years, and he started by trying to jump Orange from behind.
You know what you’re in for with Orange Cassidy. He doesn’t lock up because his hands stay in his pockets, so he tries to do it with his legs. Pocket comedy ensues, frustrating TAKA in the process, who couldn’t even get the tie-up started… so he decides to join him and shove his hands into his shorts. Slow-mo shoulder tackles follow from Cassidy, who then slips out of a waistlock by putting his hands back in his pockets, as the Easiest Match Ever continued. He turns it up with a hands-free sunset flip, then a hands-free dropkick, before he confounded TAKA with taps to the shin.
TAKA tries an eye poke, but he forgot about the sunglasses… so he throws them down. NOW the hands come out, as Orange fires up with chops, only to get caught with a finger to the eye. Angered, TAKA keeps on Orange’s face, catching him with a step-up knee in the corner for a near-fall, before Orange turned it up with a crossbody and a lucha roll-up for a near-fall, before landing a superkick for yet another two-count. Cassidy heads up top, unusually, but his big splash comes up short, as TAKA capitalises with a crossface that quickly ended in the ropes. Cassidy juices up in the corner, but he has his OJ superkicked away before a roll-up nearly got the win. Another superkick from TAKA followed, as did a Michinoku driver as TAKA got the win on his return to the States. Fun for what it was, but unusually brief. ***
Ethan Page heads out next for promo time. He’s got another fight for his “soul and dignity”, which has been a theme on these shows. Page heels on the crowd as he demands his opponent comes out here and now so he can win… and cancel tomorrow’s Clusterfuck.
Ethan Page vs. Starman
Page’s mystery opponent was Starman – one of Janela’s old gimmicks, who came out to the theme from the NES game, Pro Wrestling. Starman rolls up Page from behind and gets the win in four seconds. The crowd bizarrely chanted for Virgil, and sure enough, he unzips to reveal Virgil!
Looks like Ethan Page agenting the Clusterfuck…
They have a very brief interval to remove the Collective canvas ahead of the Death Match main event. No way are they cutting that thing up! Low Life Louie’s out to ring announce this one…
Death Match: Jimmy Lloyd vs. Masashi Takeda
After beating Jonathan Gresham at Bloodsports the prior night, this was more Takeda’s kettle of fish. Blood. Guts. Light tubes…
They started out on the mat, as Lloyd catches Takeda with a springboard armdrag before Takeda… elbow drops a light tube. Lloyd back sentons into one before they start smashing tubes over each other’s heads, and this is violent insanity from the off. Lloyd’s got some gusset plates, which they smash into each other’s heads, before they headbutt deeper into each other. Takeda smashes one into Lloyd’s arm, drawing blood, before stomping a light tube on Lloyd’s arm for good measure. A light tube-assisted side Russian legsweep is predictably nasty, before another light tube strike showered the crowd.
A tube-assisted big splash gets Lloyd a near-fall, before he superkicked more tubes into Takeda for a two-count. If you remove those tubes, they’re having a decent little match… and just as I type that, Takeda shotgun dropkicks tubes into Lloyd before he went under the ring for… a board of scissors?!
The board’s placed against Lloyd and then ran a knee into the board, digging the handles of some of those scissors into Lloyd, who pulled them out quickly. Yeeeeuch. Another board comes in, but Lloyd hits a crucifix bomb into what looked to be a board with razor blades glued to them in the corner, ahead of a Tiger Driver for a near-fall. Lloyd no-sells a Dragon suplex… as does Takeda, as they smash more light tubes onto themselves. Out comes a weedwhacker for… reasons… which Lloyd turns on and tries to use, but Takeda commandeers it and jabs Lloyd in the arm with it. Oh, there’s my lunch again! Out comes a door with light tubes and forns, which Lloyd gets dumped into with a German suplex, but he’s still nowhere near done as he kicks out from a tube-assisted knee.
Not to worry, Takeda puts some tubes on him and heads up top for a senton bomb, which still isn’t enough, before a Next Stop Driver into tubes got Takeda the win. Bloody. Violent. Chaotic. Probably too much for most fans, but this was a war to end the show… and now the uninitiated know how Takeda got his scars. ***
You know what you’re getting with these shows, and we even got some breakout performances here with Shane Mercer and Dustin Thomas stealing the show. Since Spring Break was being split into two halves, this was a much breezier, faster paced show than in years gone by. Perhaps that contributed to the crowd not being as rowdy and party-like as past shows, but this was entertaining as hell, and with the show going under two and a half hours, a veritable thumbs up on a busy weekend. Just make sure you turn off before the main event if you loathe blood.