Every good movie has a sequel – so here we go with the sequel to the remake. Yup, we’re not having to wait long for Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 2!

Taking over from Matt Riddle over WrestleMania weekend this year, we’re back less than six months later for a standalone show. We’re coming from the Showboat in Atlantic City, and we’ll dip into the new matches that were on pre-show…

As a primer, all you need to know is that these are no-rope matches, with victories only possible via knock-out, submission or stoppage. Yes, star rating shoot-style matches is weird, so just look at these as “how I was entertained” rather than stories told, etc… although if these ever start to look like a regular match but “with more submissions”, you’ll hear about it.

Rory Gulak vs. Matt Makowski
Makowski is a former MMA fighter, with his peak having been in Bellator about ten years ago according to Sherdog. Gulak’s back in the States after a brief tour of Europe.

Makowski fakes a kick early on, then manages to sting Gulak’s leg with some kicks from distance. Gulak takes the match to the mat, scrambling for a hold, but Makowski rolls free, as neither man was able to land much. Another feinted kick, this time from Gulak, led to a headlock takedown, but Makowski switches into a triangle choke…then a cross armbar that Gulak kicked away from. A German suplex dumps Makowski next, before he nearly rolled Gulak down to the mat for a Kimura attempt. That doesn’t quite come off, so Makowski scores a double-leg takedown before a goddamn standing moonsault onto Gulak led into an O’Connor roll into an armbar… but Gulak slips free! More kicks from Makowski drop Gulak, and the ref instantly waves it off! That got wild towards the end, as the expected result came to pass. ***

Sumie Sakai vs. Lindsay Snow
This was the first women’s match in Bloodsport’s relatively-short bloodline (ahem)… I’d complain that it’s “stuck on the pre-show”, but I doubt they’re banging the drum too much, especially as there’s another women’s fight on the main show.

According to the tail of the tape graphic, Sakai’s from the “Jersey Shore, Japan”. I think that’s meant to be an “and” inbetween those. Sakai tries to throw dropkicks early,before she got taken to the ground by Snow, albeit not for long. Tom Lawlor’s on commentary and is doing some excellent play-by-play, throwing in the knowledge he’s got from, you know, actually doing this stuff. Snow tries to get into Sakai’s guard, but instead rolls through to take Sumie’s back in the search for a choke. Sakai slips into side control and looked for a cross armbar… only for Snow to try and powerbomb her way free. That didn’t work, but a kick to the head did. A kick from Sakai’s caught, with Snow turning it into a Saito-ish suplex before she got tripped by the former ROH women’s champion.

Sakai leaps in for a guillotine choke, and actually succeeds in dragging down Snow, only for Lindsay to stand up and get herself free with a brainbuster. Snow stays on top of her with some ground and pound, only for Sumie to get back to her feet as a cross armbreaker’s tried again. Snow tries to roll free, but it just gets her deeper into trouble as Sakai forces the submission – as David beat Goliath! I genuinely thought the brainbuster had ended it, but this was a good come-from-behind performance from Sakai. ***

The main show opened with a parade of fighters like the old PRIDE days, just without the epic music. There’s big pops for Anthony Carelli, who didn’t do the Santino power-walk, along with Timothy Thatcher, Tom Lawlor, Nick Gage and Chris Dickinson, while Simon Grimm got booed. I didn’t realise MLW had that wide a reach…

Zachary Wentz vs. Anthony Henry
Well, there’s one name I wouldn’t necessarily have picked for a shoot-style show – let’s see if Wentz can surprise.

Wentz charges in with a knee at the bell, looking for a flash knock-out, but Henry’s back up with a German suplex to throw away the younger Rascal. A scramble to the mat sees Henry look for Wentz’s back, before Zachary lands a nice double-leg takedown as the pair end up edging closer to the edge of the ring. Duelling leg locks turn this into a war of attrition for a spell. Henry lands a suplex, but Wentz just flips him back down in the search for a rear naked choke… Henry throws his way free, countering a guillotine into a Northern Lights suplex, following up with a cross armbar that Wentz rolled out of. Some hammer blows looked to rock Henry, as did a head kick with Wentz’s knees looking to finish the job, but Henry throws fists before catching Wentz in a triangle choke for the submission. One slip at the end for Wentz undid all his work, as Henry ended this one in pretty short order. ***¼

Erik Hammer vs. JR Kratos
Kratos beat Simon Grimm on the WrestleMania weekend show, while Hammer is one of Josh Barnett’s training buddies, having prior wrestling experience for the Inoki Genome Federation in Japan, holding wins over the likes of the former Vladimir Kozlov and Daniel Puder.

We’ve got two beefy lads here, with Kratos and Hammer over 250lbs, as Tom Lawlor rejoins commentary alongside Emil Jay. Hammer takes down Kratos early on, before he went to side control and looked to throw some hands, only for Kratos to take him down with a side slam. Kratos spins around as he tries to stuff a takedown attempt, before the referee forced a break as the pair were on the edge of the ring. From the restart, Hammer looks for another takedown and gets Kratos’ back, but Kratos slips out and takes the mount, throwing fists from above before he cartwheeled down into a North-South position. Knees follow as I’m thankful for Filthy Tom calling out names here, right as Hammer caught Kratos in a knee bar before the pair rolled back to their feet.

Kratos finds his mark with some kicks, which just seems to irk Hammer, as this descends into a slugfest a la Frye/Takayama. Hammer takes Kratos down, only to get met with a T-bone suplex as the momentum swings wildly, before Hammer got Kratos’ back with a rear naked choke, switching into a cross armbar, ending with the pair getting back to their feet. Hammer comes back out with knees in the clinch, before he scooped up Kratos… but it’s turned into a rear naked choke as Kratos slipped out, only to abandon it for a slap. A suplex helps Kratos roll through into a guillotine attempt, but a Northern Lights helps Erik escape as a bloodied Kratos ends up getting choked out for the submission. Gotta love the throws here, as the Hammer was brought down on Kratos. ***

Nicole Savoy vs. Allysin Kay
It’s nice they didn’t try and play this as a “first ever” match, given the pre-show. This was played as a normal match, which I dig – we should be long past the point where “first time, because it’s a women’s match” should be a novelty.

Savoy looks for a takedown early, but Kay stuffs it and ends up on top with side control. Some elbows to the side keep Kay in control as she looked for a cross armbar, but Savoy rolls out as she gets the mount and begins some ground and pound by the edge of the ring. Kay throws her to the outside, but Savoy’s right back in as she looked to take down Kay with a leg lock. Savoy strikes away Kay’s attempt at a receipt, as the submissions descended into palm strikes. The referee stands them up, but Kay goes back to the leg, taking down Savoy with an ankle lock until both women rolled to the outside. They resume again, with Kay once more going for a takedown as she got the guard, then hammered down side elbows to the ribs… but Savoy replies in kind!

The ref breaks it up as Savoy looked to roll out, and once more Kay goes back to the legs. This time Savoy hammers down with fists as she prepared for that takedown, as a flurry of strikes sting Kay… who stops it all with another takedown. Forearms from the mount looked to have Savoy in trouble, but she comes back in with a Keylock attempt as Kay locked in a guillotine. Savoy escapes the guillotine as they flirted with the edge of the ring, before Kay looked to grab the arm. Kay moves to a gutwrench as she trapped the leg and rolled Savoy into a Twister submission attempt… only for Savoy to roll free and bring the hammer down on Kay. A triangle armbar attempt from Savoy’s slapped away, before things broke down into another flurry of strikes, ending with a Saito suplex that saw Kay spill to the outside as the referee started a standing ten-count.

Kay beats the count, but can’t avoid a headlock suplex as Savoy ramped up the aggression, which just left her open as Kay rolled into a crucifix with a bunch of side elbows for the ref stoppage. I absolutely loved this – the ebb and flow felt natural as this was all about tactics rather than blindly swinging, and Kay’s measured approach paid off in the end. ***½

Anthony Carelli vs. Simon Grimm
Perhaps best known as Santino Marella, Carelli was working under his real name here, just weeks after a random, but brief, tour of DDT in Japan. Meanwhile, Grimm again got booed, presumably by everyone fed up of seeing him in their YouTube recommendations…

Carelli fakes out some kicks early as he ended up sweeping the leg to take down Grimm in the hunt for an armbar. Instead, Carelli gets the mount, throwing down some hammer forearms and elbows that looked to be getting the throat, before Grimm grabbed a heel hook to get himself free. Carelli stands up and looks for the arm, using a hammerlock to help roll Grimm into another armbar, before Grimm got free and threw some wild forearms. Another armbar from Carelli gets him on top, as Grimm looked to be having trouble stopping those. Kicks to the leg were also proving problematic, as Grimm was again taken down, with Carelli throwing some solid shots to the ribs from there.

Back to his feet, Grimm throws some kicks before a knee dropped Carelli. Another leglock from Grimm ends up with the pair rolling outside, as the referee’s forced to break it up with the pair fortunately landing on their feet. The crowd are baying for blood as the ref called them back into the ring, where Grimm again looks for the legs. Carelli fights back with a Dragon sleeper, but Grimm gets free and begins to throw some more kicks before he… looked for a piledriver? A back body drop counters that out into an armbar, but Grimm stomps his way free. A heel hook from Carelli puts him right back on top, before he fought up to try and wheelbarrow Carelli, switching into a choke… which is thrown out of as Carelli again rolls back to a cross armbar for the submission. This was good, although I’d have liked Grimm to have played up the crowd’s negative reaction just a little. I was starting to worry when they dug into wrestling moves at the end, but in the end they were a means to an end. ***¼

Timothy Thatcher vs. Ikuhisa Minowa
Ah man, I miss the Lonely Boatsman. Thatcher, incredibly, hasn’t won at a Bloodsport yet, losing to Nick Gage and Hideki Suzuki in the prior events. Save for a brief outing as Tiger Mask V in All Japan, Minowa/Minowaman is probably better known for his long MMA career, sporting a 64-42-8 record, including outings against Bob Sapp (won), Mirko Cro Cop (lost), Katsuyori Shibata (lost) and Giant Silva (won).

Minowa starts this hot with a dropkick before he peppered Thatcher with kicks… which quickly got caught and turned into a single leg crab. That was quickly escaped with Minowa looking for a leg lock, before he got back to his feet as Thatcher took him back down with a scoop slam. A side headlock from Minowa came to nought as Thatcher tried to roll him into his back… but things descend into a scramble as Minowa threw kicks from the mat before he spun back to his feet. Thatcher gets surprised with a roll-through that turned into a takedown, but he stands up and manages to fight his way into the mount as he slapped away at Minowaman, who quickly gets free to return the favour, throwing in hammering forearms from above for the hell of it.

Thatcher gives up his back as Minowa locks in a chokehold, but again Thatcher got free, heading into the mount for some strikes until Minowa pushed him away. We reset again, as Minowa rolled through back into another heel hook, but Thatcher kicks his way free, as Minowa instead grabs a side headlock, transitioning it into an armbar… only for Thatcher to get free as he uses a side Salto suplex to throw Minowa down again. Thatcher looks to work on the left arm, but again Minowa rolls Thatcher down, as the pair instead swap forearms for a spell. Another side Salto’s attempted by Thatcher, but Minowa blocked it… and came back in with a Koppo kick as he quickly dived in with an armbar. Rolling free, Thatcher manages to counter back with a Fujiwara, before he rolled in with a heel hook that Thatcher turned into a STF for the eventual submission. Thatcher gets his first Bloodsport win, and this was absolutely a no-sizzle, all-steak affair. If you’re into the mat-based stuff, this is for you! ***½

Cue intermission…

Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Tom Lawlor
Davey Boy beat Killer Kross in April’s Bloodsport event, while this was Lawlor’s second, having lost to WALTER in April 2018 – back when Matt Riddle was in residence.

Lawlor looks for an early takedown, but Smith blocks it as the pair rolled to the mat, with Smith now looking for the wrist of Lawlor. He eventually gets it, but they quickly roll to the outside, before returning to the ring as Lawlor instead looked for Smith’s leg. Things remain pretty neutral for a while as they hit a stalemate, with Lawlor rolling to the floor to give himself a restart.

A snap headlock takedown from Smith followed, but Lawlor is quickly back with knees and elbows before he took Smith back down to the mat, following in with a cross armbar before Smith countered with an ankle lock. Another restart sees Smith look to work a wristlock, taking Lawlor down as he again focused on the arm, throwing in some elbows to the head and knees to the ribs to try and wear down Lawlor some.

Lawlor manages to escape with a rear naked choke, but Smith pulls him over and turns it into a powerslam. Just like dad! Ground and pound follows briefly, before Lawlor and Smith exchanged right hands. A kick to the leg decks Smith, as Lawlor kicked Smith’s leg out of his leg, following up with a guillotine attempt. The pair fight back to their feet, with Smith looking for a German suplex, eventually getting it off while retaining the waistlock, but Lawlor manages to roll down, only for the pair to end up in duelling leg locks. Smith forces through as he seemed to be going for a Sharpshooter, but they rolled down as Lawlor got straight back up and clotheslined the pair of them to the outside!

Smith barely gets back in in time, but Lawlor shows no mercy as he peppered him with kicks, before Smith replies with forearms. It descends into a slugfest, with Smith landing a Saito suplex to dump Lawlor awkwardly, ahead of a Ligerbomb… and that’s enough for the stoppage. This had its moments, but man, this was veering into a hard-hitting wrestling match more than it perhaps ought to have done given the style of the show. Still, two big bombs back-to-back keep Lawlor winless in this format. ***¾

Killer Kross vs. Nick Gage
Kross lost to Davey Boy Smith Jr. on the last Bloodsport, while Gage knocked out Timothy Thatcher on the original show 18 months ago. Yep.

Gage charges at Kross with wild strikes, but Kross calmly takes him down and smothers him instead. Kross loses his grip as Gage rolls on top, throwing down forearms, before Kross caught him in a heel hook. That seemed to do the trick, but Kross lets go as Gage gets free. A headbutt from Gage decks Kross, before he leapt in with a rear naked choke and some wild shots, before Kross’ backdrop driver was shrugged off, with Gage running in with a kick. A rear naked choke follows, but Kross doesn’t tap, and instead gets free to apply the choke on Gage. Middle fingers show Gage won’t quit, but Kross doesn’t let go as the middle fingers fade away… and the referee waves it off.

Well, Wild Nick Gage made this look more like a street fight than a UFC-style contest – and this was all the more entertaining for it. The crowd didn’t like Kross winning, nor did Gage… but at least this wasn’t for his title. ***¼

After the match, Gage tosses the referee out of the ring before begrudgingly shaking Kross’ hand. Kross stayed behind and issued a challenge to Batista, who was around filming scenes for a movie. I mean, there’s shooting your shot, especially while things are awkward with Impact…

Chris Dickinson vs. Josh Barnett
Dickinson’s got new music here, opting not to use the KISS track he’s used pretty much everywhere else. Barnett went to a time limit draw with Minoru Suzuki back on April’s Bloodsport, while Dickinson is 1-1 on prior events, beating Andy Williams in April, after losing to Dan Severn a year earlier.

We’ve a tentative opening spell as Dickinson finally locked up with Barnett, but it’s Dickinson who drew first blood as he caught Barnett in a rear naked choke, only to lose the grip pretty quickly. Barnett swings after swivelling into the mount, but Dickinson regains his positioning, throwing in elbows to the ribs before taking Barnett’s back… but it just opened it up for Josh to grab a side headlock instead.

A knee to the back of the head got Dickinson free, but Barnett takes him down… only to end up in a guillotine choke as Dickinson looked to force a stoppage. Barnett again gets free and throws shots from above, but again gets left down by Dickinson who throws hammer fists too as he looked to keep Barnett down. Barnett manages to stand up out of a guillotine, but Dickinson just pulls him back down as the pair remained at close quarters. Dickinson looks to work a keylock on Barnett, but they’re right by the edge of the ring as Barnett gets free and throws fists once more. Sliding into the mount, Barnett looked to throw strikes from above, before rolling into a cross armbar in the corner of the ring, grabbing a leg to stop some kicks too as Dickinson eventually struggled free as the referee stood them up.

Barnett stays on Dickinson’s arm though, throwing in some headscissors for good measure as he looked to work a head-and-arm choke, but Dickinson gets out and throws some shots before he’s caught again. A facelock suplex puts Dickinson down as Barnett switches things up, trapping Dickinson in body scissors… but it backfires as Dickinson switches around and throws some forearms as the crowd went wild.

Hammer elbows from Barnett have Dickinson covering up, allowing Barnett to switch into a leglock. Dickinson got free, but a headlock takedown follows as they’re back on the mat… and again, Dickinson extricate himself and throws in some more knees. A front facelock has Barnett restrained again, but it’s just an easy opening for a takedown before Barnett went back to a cross armbar, blocking some kick attempts before switching to another rear naked choke.

Another flurry of strikes from Dickinson look to have him ahead, as does a knee drop, before he was forced to block another heel hook. It worked too, as Dickinson has another armbar, before they got back to their feet for more strikes, trading kicks and right hands. Some palm strikes from Dickinson stun Barnett, who couldn’t avoid an Everest German suplex or some kicks as the veteran was forced to cover up. Wild strikes from Barnett connected after he got back to his feet, making Dickinson wobbly, before a gutwrench powerbomb and some driving knees to the face and a buzzsaw-like kick left Dickinson laying… and there’s your stoppage. All it took was a strong flurry at the end, but this was a heck of a scrap to close out the show! ***¾

While the in-ring action on Bloodsport 2 delivered throughout, this show felt like it lost something compared to its prior WrestleMania counterparts. Not being part of a long weekender, almost becoming a palate cleanser, hurt somewhat, as did the location. On VOD, the Showboat felt almost “too good” for this, as the lack of a “fight club feel” took away from the intensity. Still, stylistic choices are entirely subjective, and if you’re up for a few hours of shoot-style graps… give this a go!