We take a look at Josh Barnett’s latest Bloodsport event from GCW’s Collective, featuring Josh Barnett and Jon Moxley finally locking up in the main event.
Karen Tran submitted Janai Kai in 9:09 (***)
Matt Makowski submitted Heddi Karaoui in 6:47 (***¾)
Bad Dude Tito submitted Victor Benjamin in 5:06 (**½)
Simon Grimm submitted Alexander James in 6:22 (**¾)
Alex Coughlin submitted Royce Isaacs in 5:05 (**¾)
Super Beast defeats SHLAK by disqualification in 2:15 (***)
Allysin Kay defeats Masha Slamovich via referee stoppage in 5:42 (**¼)
Lio Rush submitted Yoya in 7:22 (***¼)
Davey Boy Smith Jr. defeats KTB via knockout in 3:35 (**)
Chavo Guerrero Jr. defeats Rocky Romero by referee’s decision in 6:14 (**½)
Chris Dickinson submitted Shane Mercer in 5:31 (**½)
Josh Barnett defeats Jon Moxley via referee’s decision in 11:05 (****¼)
We’re outdoors at the Cuban Club in Tampa for this one from GCW’s Collective… this is the third Bloodsport event in 2021, with two taped shows having been held in a rather gritty setting. We open with the parade of fighters, except nobody seems to be coming out? Eventually they get their stuff in order as Rich Palladino rattles off names. Unlike the UWFi stuff on the earlier Family Reunion show, this is a straight-up shoot style show, with victory via submission, KO, forfeit, count-out or DQ. Commentary comes from Max Bretos and Blake Troop.
Janai Kai vs. Karen Tran
Kai’s a black-belt who’s been around on the Florida indies… I’ve not heard of KZT/Karen Tran before, but commentary puts over her background.
Tran rolls away from running knee to start before some grappling on the mat led to Tran grabbing a front facelock. Kai transitions to a waistlock, but Tran grabs an armbar, rolling Kai to the mat… but Kai escapes the armbar and just kicks Tran in the arse. Some right hands from Kai has Tran in trouble, only for Tran to spin free and take the mount, looking for an armbar. She eventually grabs a cross armbar that Kai tries to defend, eventually slipping out of a triangle before throwing some kicks. Out of nowhere, Kai is caught with some headscissors as Tran pulled her into a triangle choke, but it’s again slipped out of.
Tran grabs the leg to try and stop the strikes, then pulled Kai into a guillotine choke… the grip’s lost as Kai came back with knees to the ribs… but Tran goes back to the headscissors. The armbar’s again lost as Kai goes into the guard and throws strikes, only for Tran to move up into the mount as she looks for the triangle armbar again. Once again, Tran loses her grip and gets blasted with some kicks from Kai before we reset. Tran drops down for another triangle, eventually getting the armbar for the submission. Kai looked nice and authentic her strikes, but Tran stuck to her game plan and eventually won out. ***
Matt Makowski vs. Heddi Karaoui
Those lower-thirds sure are unfortunate, seemingly implying Josh Barnett owns these guys…
Makowski’s getting some buzz as of late, having won Beyond’s Greatest Rivals Round Robin series… while Karaoui is apparently into “lucha-resu”. That explains the “lu-cha” in his music then! We get going with Karaoui looking for a clinch, eventually landing a hiptoss as he took the former MMA fighter Makowski to the mat. Heddi gets on top, but Makowski slips free only to get tripped. Makowski’s kicks try to block a calf slicer, but Karaoui rolls it in before he lost grip. A cross armbar from Makowski’s quickly lost, before they got back to their feet with Karaoui taking it back down with some neat grappling en route to a crossface.
Makowski escapes, but is quickly caught in a leg lock as Karaoui kept the initiative. An attempt at PAC’s Brualizer is quickly escaped as Makowski throws knees and kicks, rolling his way into a cross armbar on the Frenchman, switching up into an omoplata. Karaoui escaped that though and looked to reapply his crossface, instead tying up Makowski in almost a grounded Octopus. Makowski’s back with a cross armbar, which turns into a triangle of sorts before the pair reset. Makowski’s punch seemed to stun Karaoui, as did dome knees from the clinch ahead of a hiptoss. Karaoui has to try and elbow out of a knee bar, but Makowski neatly transitions into a Sharpshooter, but Heddi switches out into an Indian deathlock, but Makowski breaks that apart quickly.
Kicks from Makowski are returned with a leaping knee as Karaoui rolls him down to another cross armbar. That’s transitioned into another omoplata, but Karaoui lets go and gets caught with a hook kick before a waistlock takedown into a cross armbar gets Makowski the quick win. This was delightfully pacey stuff between two guys who made this look – and feel – competitive. Lovely stuff. ***¾
Victor Benjamin vs. Bad Dude Tito
Benjamin’s out with Lady Frost – they usually team up as Pretty Proper… meanwhile Bad Dude Tito has a real wrestling name, eh?
Benjamin feints some punches early as Tito backed off. A takedown from Tito’s stuffed, before Benjamin landed a knee as Tito returned with an attempted head kick. The sound’s gone a bit weird, with the venue sound being turned all the way down, so all we hear is commentary as Benjamin tries to give Tito a dead leg. A barrage of kicks to the leg, then a spinning kick knocks Tito down, before Tito flipped Benjamin across into a knee bar attempt. It’s neutralised as the pair stand up, but Tito nails a Judo throw to take Benjamin down, following up with a side headlock that Benjamin tries to knee out of.
Benjamin rolls Tito away and comes back with knees before he rolled him down into a sleeperhold… but Tito slips out and looks for a double wristlock. Benjamin escapes but can’t hit a running knee and ends up in a knee bar… it’s escaped with strikes, but another throw on Benjamin seems to wake him up as kicks and knees lead to a spinning enziguiri. It’s caught and turned into a heel hook for the quick submission. **½
Simon Grimm vs. Alexander James
Commentary instantly notes James’ “Game of Thrones” feel as he looks to pick up his first Bloodsport win. He’s also apparently taken on German citizenship as the commentary team took his adopted hometown of Essen (via Hunt Valley, Maryland) the wrong way. James tentatively looks for a hold early as he rolled for Grimm’s leg… but Grimm tries to block it, only to get caught with elbows from above as James applied a heel hook. Grimm switches out for some elbows of his own, before James tried to get back in with more strikes from above.
Grimm grabs the leg as the pair head onto the edge of the ring… James escapes to the floor and resets. He throws some more right hands, only to get caught with a spinning back chop from Grimm… but James doesn’t go down and slams Grimm to the mat ahead of a rear naked choke. Grimm escapes and goes for James’ leg once more, but he lets go for another reset. James stuffs a takedown with some elbows, then nailed a Doctor Bomb before a Boston crab looked to force a submission as this went a little more pro-wres… but Grimm rolls out and decks James with an elbow from above, before a mounted double wristlock was blocked. James is back in the mount, but Grimm headbutts free and goes for a Kimura. It’s escaped as James tries for an omoplata, but Grimm headbutts the hold apart once more.
A leaping enziguiri from Grimm caps off a flurry of strikes, before some knees to the midsection lead to a double underhook suplex… before an Octopus mixed in with a Kimura forces the submission. This ebbed and flowed nicely, with James looking good on offence, but ended up falling to another loss here. **¾
Royce Isaacs vs. Alex Coughlin
Isaacs beat Coughlin last time out, but the LA Dojo trainee claimed his neck injury played a part… so he wanted (and got) a rematch.
Coughlin RUSHES to the ring – but we have to do the introductions before we can get going. When we do, Coughlin stuffs a takedown attempt, but is taken down with a waistlock as his own energy was used against him. Strikes from Coughlin look to annoy, as Isaacs comes back with a takedown that had the pair at the edge of the ring. Isaacs takes the mount, but loses it as Coughlin took it instead… then gave up the advantage as they reset. Another takedown from Isaacs has Coughlin in trouble, but he rolls out of an armbar and transitioned into a side Salto attempt that Isaacs elbowed out of. More elbows from Coughlin looks to get the move off, but the match descends into a version of SlapStrike before a Fisherman suplex allows Isaacs to reapply a Dragon sleeper.
Coughlin escapes and applies his own version, then caught a knee and countered with a reverse DDT as Isaacs then went for a cross armbar. It’s escaped, as Coughlin’s half crab forces the submission. Some good energy here as Coughlin gets his revenge, and wins in short order. **¾
Super Beast vs. SHLAK
This might not be a technical masterclass… just saying.
We start with some strikes before SHLAK pulled Super Beast to the mat… commentary’s audio goes to hell as SHLAK took the back before getting back to his feet. From the clinch, Super Beast lands a spinning head kick to take SHLAK down, before they threw strikes from the mount. SHLAK grabs a side headlock for some punches, but a back suplex makes him come up bleeding somehow as we’re back to the close-quarters punches. Super Beast takes him down in a leg lock, but SHLAK bites Super Beast’s boot and that’s an instant DQ. Very short (barely two minutes), but this had a totally different energy to it that made this leap off the page. ***
A crew of referees and wrestlers come out to pull SHLAK off Super Beast, as you can now add blood to the puke-covered GCW ring.
Masha Slamovich vs. Allysin Kay
Kay’s had a few matches at Bloodsport in the past – losing at the women’s Bloodsport tournament final at the last Collective in October.
Kay feints kicks early on, then took down Slamovich with a waistlock as she looked to roll into a crucifix attempt. Eventually Kay gets in a cross armbar, but Slamovich counters with a leglock as the pair remained at close quarters on the mat. The pair spun free, before they locked-up with Slamovich getting taken down as a sleeperhold attempt on the mat was escaped. Slamovich switches into the mount and peppers Kay with elbows, before Kay switches out into a cross armbar. Kay goes for a Kimura on Slamovich… but it’s countered out of with a front facelock. The scramble continues with Slamovich going for a rear naked choke, but Kay slips out and resets as the pair trade kicks.
Kay ducks a roundhouse kick and returns with a back suplex… Slamovich hits that roundhouse eventually and takes down Kay for some elbows from above, but Kay slips in with a triangle armbar, throwing in some shots in the hold as the referee forces a stoppage. This felt a little too stop-start, but was fine while it lasted. **¼
Yoya vs. Lio Rush
Rush is all singlet’d up here…
Yoya swings for a kick early on, but Rush ducks him and hits a strike before taking Yoya’s back. It’s escaped as Yoya takes the back himself, and climbs around into a mounted Kimura, only for Rush to push him away ahead of a teased German suplex. Yoya escapes and dives in with a knee to catch Rush unawares… but Rush gets back up and backs into the corner, switching around as he teases a German suplex, before he rolled Yoya back into a roundhouse enziguiri. Rush picks up Yoya for an overhead belly-to-belly, then pulls down the straps to roll together a German suplex into some crossface punches. Rush Gator rolls Yoya next, but Yoya chains together some strikes before he had to duck an enziguiri…he backs Rush to the edge of the ring, then lifts him down to the floor as Rush had to answer a standing ten-count.
Rush heads back in but gets caught in a triangle… Lio tries to powerbomb free, but Yoya clings on before Rush finally pulled off the powerbomb. The pair exchange elbow strikes, then palm strikes ahead of a standing Spanish Fly from Rush, who chains it into an overhead Kimura for the submission. This got a little pro-wres halfway through, but an entertaining scrap between Rush and Yoya. ***¼
KTB vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.
Smith came out with his old New Japan theme… and an updated version of his dad’s old trunks from the mid 90s.
Smith rolls KTB to the mat early on, taking the back before KTB looked for a leg lock… Smith counters with one of his own, then cradled KTB down to the mat for some knees to the ribs ahead of a Kimura attempt… but KTB rolls to the floor which forces a break. KTB beats the count-out, but Smith stays on the arm, only to get tripped as KTB takes the back. Smith switches out for some ground and pound, which almost looked to lead to a stoppage… but KTB fights back, only to get caught with a sitout powerbomb as the referee instantly waves off the match. A Bloodsport squash. **
Rocky Romero vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.
INSTANT FIVE STARS FOR OOH CHAVO.
A rolling kick from Chavo caught Rocky unawares before a scramble led to Romero rolling Chavo down in the search for a leg lock. It’s escaped, but a lock-up from Chavo led to him teasing the Three Amigos, before he instead took Rocky to the mat for a front facelock. Rocky counters out, but he’s again rolled to the mat before he countered back with a cross armbar attempt. Chavo blocks it, then rolled Rocky down with an armbar before taking the guard. Rocky manages to take control with some strikes from above, following up with a triangle choke. Chavo tries to powerbomb free, but Rocky rolls through back into a Diablo armbar, but Chavo rolls to the outside as he tries to escape the hold once more.
Back inside, Chavo uncorks the Three Amigos, before Rocky’s kicks were caught. He nails a rewind enziguiri, before a brainbuster from Chavo dropped Rocky… with some follow-up ground and pound forcing the referee stoppage. This one never really felt like it got going, and some’ll not like how pro-wres this got with the Three Amigos, but this was worked fairly well for the time they had. **½
Shane Mercer vs. Chris Dickinson
Dickinson’s beaten Mercer in their two prior singles outings…
Dickinson starts with a series of kicks to Mercer, who replies with a gutwrench suplex to throw down Dickinson… he takes the back too, looking for a rear naked choke, but Dickinson escapes with a German suplex and looked to ground Mercer for a cross armbar. Mercer blocks it, and tries to powerbomb his way free… but Dickinson clings on as Mercer was right back in trouble. Mercer manages to escape and grab a front facelock, hauling up Dickinson into a Fireman’s carry for a death valley driver into a rear naked choke. A roll through into a leg lock has Dickinson in trouble briefly, but he escapes the hold and looked for a double wristlock.
Dickinson keeps the hold on as Mercer stands up… and rolls the pair back to the mat before Mercer finally muscled his way free with a T-bone suplex. Dickinson’s right back in though, only to get powerbombed… he shrugs it off and goes to a knee bar, switching into a STF before Mercer threw him to the outside. Dickinson’s quickly back in with a German suplex, before Mercer hit one of his own… Dickinson hits an enziguiri, then quickly goes for the kill with a Judo throw and an armbar… and that’s the submission. That’s a quick night’s work for Dickinson, who blitzed Mercer from the off. **½
Jon Moxley vs. Josh Barnett
After injuries and cancellations, we finally get this match!
Barnett looks for some kicks early, but it’s Moxley who lands first as they go to ground… Barnett takes the mount, but has to cover up as Moxley threw elbows from the bottom, only for Barnett to close the distance. Moxley looks for a wristlock, but Barnett slows it down as Moxley switched for a cross armbar. Moxley gets on top for some strikes, but Barnett goes onto his front… he’s caught with forearms to the back of the head from Moxley, who switches into a head and arm choke that Barnett manages to transition out of. A rear naked choke from Moxley can’t be sunk in, as Barnett tries to escape with an ankle lock… but Moxley quickly counters out.
Barnett rolls as he keeps looking for a knee bar, keeping it on as Moxley was grounded. Moxley manages to pull himself free and stomp Barnett ahead of a shoot DDT. Knees to the head follow as Barnett was busted open… a bulldog choke looks to force a submission, but Barnett rolls free, only to get kneed to the outside. Moxley follows Barnett to the outside with a flying knee… he drags Barnett back inside for a German suplex, then followed in with a crossface as commentary stumbled between Bob Backlund and Chris Benoit. Moxley instead tries for what commentary called a gift wrap, which was strangling Barnett with his own arm, before some biting forces the referee to break it up. I mean, that was a DQ earlier…
Barnett manages to get free and nail Moxley with some short-range forearms, then rolled Moxley towards the edge of the ring for more elbows that almost led to the stoppage. Moxley’s bleeding now, as he’s sent outside with a back suplex… giving us a good angle of Moxley’s effort on the Muta scale. He returns to the ring to slug it out, but a Northern Light suplex drops Moxley… who clings on with a front chancery as he teases a Paradigm Shift… but Barnett drops Moxley with a death valley driver before some repeated stomps force the referee to wave it off just after the 11-minute mark. Delightfully brutal, with this match more than earning the show’s label. ****¼
Moxley wasn’t happy with the stoppage, but he’s swinging at thin air… but he’s not got his legs and keeps stumbling to the mat before the decision was announced.
Bloodsport damn sure lived up to the main with that main event, eh? This show has become a focal point of the indie portion of these ‘Mania weekends – and while the show being run fairly often lately has taken some of the gloss off of things, this latest iteration gets it back to the “glory days”. Less is more, funnily enough!