We kick off our sample of WrestleMania weekend with Bloodsport, featuring the likes of Jon Moxley, Chris Dickinson, Timothy Thatcher and Biff Busick!
Masha Slamovich submitted Janai Kai in 4:43 (**¾)
Ninja Mack defeated Yoya via referee stoppage in 6:04 (***)
Royce Isaacs submitted Bad Dude Tito in 5:35 (**¾)
Alex Coughlin defeated Slade via referee stoppage in 3:58 (***)
John Hennigan defeated Simon Gotch via referee stoppage in 5:56 (**¾)
Marina Shafir defeated Zeda Zhang via referee stoppage in 7:52 (**¾)
JR Kratos defeated Timothy Thatcher via referee stoppage in 9:21 (***¾)
Yuya Uemura submitted Mike Bailey in 7:05 (***½)
Josh Barnett submitted JONAH in 8:46 (**¾)
Jon Moxley defeated Biff Busick via knock-out in 10:00 (****½)
Chris Dickinson defeated Minoru Suzuki via referee stoppage in 9:44 (****)
This is the start of my WrestleMania weekend – and while I’m not going to be watching as much (live, or on tape), I’m hoping that my picking and choosing doesn’t leave me cursing my credit card… or any irrational hatred caused by staring at the same environ for an entire weekend!
This being part of the Collective, we’re coming from Fair Park in Dallas… and we open with the fighters coming out, paired for their matches later on. Dickinson and Suzuki had a staredown on their way to the back. Commentary comes from Lenny Leonard and Rocky Romero. It’s a pairing!
Masha Slamovich vs. Janai Kai
Those ring posts certainly are shaking as Kai and Slamovich swung into the air with strikes early on…
Slamovich pulled Kai down in a rear naked choke in the opening 30 seconds, but Kai escaped, before her kick was pulled down into a Dragon screw. Masha goes for a leglock, then grabbed a rear naked choke as Kai rolled through into a guillotine. Kai escaped and fired off some kicks as Masha was on the deck, only for Masha to apply a Lebell Lock. Rolling free, Kai’s kept in trouble as Masha threw in some hammer fists, before Janai got into the mount to throw some strikes of her own. Masha grabs a knee bar, but Kai uses her free leg to kick it away, following with a side kick from the bottom.
Masha quickly returned with a Northern Lights suplex, rolling into a cross armbar… and there’s your tap. An explosive finish to our opening match, with Masha getting her first Bloodsport win. **¾
Ninja Mack vs. Yoya
Having seen Ninja Mack flip around Germany earlier this month, I’m very curious to see how the former Shotgun champion does here. He unmasks before the match, and it really is one of those deals “he’s not how I imagined…”
Yoya tried to go for Ninja Mack early, but got thrown down as the pair then went for a tie-up, but to no avail. A cravat from Mack’s kicked away, as Yoya connected with a kick, taking Mack down as some hammer fists nearly stopped it. Mack holds on as they reset, before he threw himself and Yoya outside to try and break a rear naked choke. Yoya beats the count-out as Mack was putting the blood into Bloodsport, having been busted up. A belly-to-belly takedown has Yoya down as Mack flipped around… and got pulled into a triangle armbar, only to lift his way free. Things nearly went awry as Yoya was thrown up.
After a powder to the outside, Yoya stings Mack with more kicks, before knee strikes rocked the “Shooterweight.” Yoya replies with a suplex, then an ankle lock as he countered a takedown. Mack kicks it free though, only for Yoya to pick him up and charge the pair off the ring to the floor. Bloody hell, lads! Returning to the ring, a single leg crab traps Mack, but he powers out, then cracked Yoya with a spinning kick to cause the TKO. They’re getting these goddamn finishers going here, as Mack edged the win here. ***
Bad Dude Tito vs. Royce Isaacs
A match right out of NJPW Strong these days…
A front facelock from Tito’s quickly escaped early on as Isaacs rolled free. Tito tries again, but Isaacs grabs the wrist as the pair jockeyed for position. Punches from the mount by Isaacs led to him rolling in for a calf slicer, only for Tito to slip out and try a rear naked choke instead. Tito’s takedown led to him getting caught in a guillotine… but he slips out and waffles Isaacs from the mount. An attempted knee bar’s escaped as Isaacs elbowed Tito out of the ring. Back inside, a belly-to-belly had Tito down, but he’s on top for some right hands, before they traded German suplexes.
Isaacs is on the defensive, until he caught Tito with a capture suplex… then went back in with a grounded Dragon sleeper. Tito floats free and back into a knee bar, which Isaacs breaks up as he went in with a guillotine, rolling Tito to the mat for the eventual tap-out. Nice and even this, although I can see some taking issue with some pro wrestling-y spots sneaking in… **¾
Slade vs. Alex Coughlin
Slade won Brownie points from me for coming out to the Hollywood Blondes’ classic WCW music…
The ref perhaps called for the bell a little early, then rang it again 25 seconds later. Slade’s all fight and perhaps little finesse, but it’s effective as he rolled Coughlin down for some right hands… Coughlin returns with wild shots of his own, only to get pulled into a rear naked choke, which he manages to escape from. A back elbow from Slade has Coughlin back down, with some elbows nearly stopping this. Slade’s attempt at a rear naked choke’s broken up as Couglin tied him up in a Deathlock, but Slade fought free and tried for a regular choke before they reached a stand-off. They just go to pelt each other with elbows next, ending with a Saito suplex from Coughlin… only for Slade to just chokeslam him in return.
Coughlin refused to quit, and deadlifts Slade into a German suplex, before dragging Slade to the mat in a rear naked choke for the stoppage. Entertaining as hell for the four minutes it ran, with Coughlin looking like a big deal… even if Slade was back up afterwards… ***
John Hennigan vs. Simon Gotch
You can tell Hennigan’s back on the indies – his music had a long, long intro that led to him coming through the curtain.
Gotch’s Elvis-like quiff is a little distracting to me, uh huh huh. Hennigan swings with kicks early, so Gotch comes in with some body shots, only to get taken outside. Back inside, Hennigan trips Gotch by the leg, then went to the mount for some shots from above, only for Hennigan to get free and grab a knee bar. Hennigan’s rolled up so Gotch could pelt him with some kicks, forcing a response as Hennigan went for a double leg. Some elbows follow as Hennigan riled up Gotch, break-dancing his way into a clothesline before a rear naked choke was broken up with headbutts.
We’ve a stand-off that Hennigan breaks, going back into the mount for a cross armbar, but Gotch rolls free and hit some elbow strikes as the pair reset, trading right hands until a guillotine from Hennigan had Gotch turning red… leading to the ref waving it off. **¾
Zeda Zhang vs. Marina Shafir
We start with a lot of strikes being thrown, as a left hand from Shafir knocked Zhang to a knee early on.
Zeda heads outside, but Shafir joined her to start the scrapping, following up back inside with Marina grabbing a rear naked choke. The hold’s broken as we reset with a takedown from Zeda, who then grabbed a heel hook, which Shafir tried to defend. A punch breaks the neutrality here, allowing Shafir to lift Zhang up for a quick slam, then a more wrestling-y bodyslam. Shafir gets back to the mount for some strikes, but Zeda slides out and grabbed a rear naked choke… but Shafir countered out and threw Zeda down. An ankle pick tripped up Zhang, but she goes back for a rear naked choke which Shafir escaped, then returned with a heel hook that Zhang blocked.
We reset again with Shafir catching a kick, rolling through as Zhang tried to take it down as a triangle armbar led to the referee breaking the hold and calling for the match. A slippery match with neither woman able to grab the upper hand for long. **¾
JR Kratos vs. Timothy Thatcher
These two have had skirmishes before, with Thatcher unbeaten in singles action… this was Timo’s return to the indies after his spell in NXT.
The crowd came alive for this one, as we hit the business end of the card. Kratos’ waistlock take down had Thatcher on the mat, but Timo’s got a smirk on his face as he rolled out and drove a knee into Kratos’ back. Kratos double-legs Thatcher to break the offence, before he then went for Thatcher’s ribs. Thatcher escapes and returned the favour, tying up Kratos’ legs for an unlikely bow-and-arrow stretch, but Kratos rolled out, only for Thatcher to get back on top with some elbows from above. A half crab followed, with Thatcher then transitioning it to a Deathlock, before he tied up Kratos’ arm so he could punch him in the head. It worked.
Clubbing forearms stop Kratos as Thatcher teed up for a back suplex… but Kratos lands on top of Tim before he rolled him up for a deadlift suplex. Thatcher gets back ahead, kneeing and clubbing Kratos… only to get decked with an elbow strike. They keep throwing shots, so Thatcher headbutts the big man, busting him open… it prompts Kratos to leather Thatcher with a clothesline, before a head and arm choke nearly had Thatcher out. Kratos loses grip as Thatcher rolled free to hit a back suplex, before a Fujiwara armbar was defended by the big man. Rolling free, Kratos snaps Thatcher into a short piledriver… before a leaping Superman punch KO’d Timo, much to the crowd’s disapproval. Cue LOUD “bullshit” chants, but hey, I’m just happy to have Timothy Thatcher back on the scene. ***¾
Mike Bailey vs. Yuya Uemura
We’ve more New Japan representation here, with Yuya Uemura looking to test his mettle.
Speedball looks to sting Uemura early on, as the on-excursion Young Lion was finding his striking opportunities limited. The strikes stop and the grappling starts though, with both men going to ground. A flash takedown from Uemura dumps Bailey, as he then spun around looking for a limb… opting to back off and let Bailey reset. A high kick from Bailey stuns Uemura, before he dove in on him… but Uemura gets the mount and fired off some quick strikes before another separation. Uemura even invited Bailey to the mat, forcing Bailey to kick him a la Inoki/Ali, before Uemuea managed to slow things down with a front chancery attempt.
Bailey rolls free for an armdrag though, before some elbows pelted Uemura on the mat… only for Uemura to roll free and issue some of his own. He rolls Bailey through for an armbar attempt, before the pair spilled nastily to the floor. Back inside, Bailey goes hell for leather with high kicks, dropping Uemura… who powered up with a big Samoan drop, before he snapped Bailey into an armbar, then a cross armbreaker for the quick tap! Lovely stuff this, with Uemura snatching that win from the jaws of defeat. ***½
JONAH vs. Josh Barnett
A Bloodsport debut for JONAH, who gets the man the show’s named after…
We’ve a tentative start here, with JONAH taking down Barnett with ease before they stood back up. Barnett tries to pull down JONAH, only to get tripped up. A chop to the back breaks some resistance as JONAH took Barnett’s back, rolling him over for a rear naked choke, but Barnett rolled and slipped free, only for JONAH to leather him with an elbow from above. Barnett rolls free of the big man and composed himself, only to get slammed to the mat by the Australian. A side headlock’s broken as Barnett went for kicks, only to be waffled with a clothesline, smashed with a back senton, then caught some strikes before engaging in an exchange of elbows.
JONAH throws in a headbutt to take down Barnett as he was about to fight back, before a spinning heel kick and a front facelock from Barnett led to a half-hatch suplex… with a heel hook following as JONAH ended up tapping. **¾
Biff Busick vs. Jon Moxley
We’re getting into the thick of it now… throw ‘em up! Moxley’s rocking the Blackpool Combat Club gear, which led to the biggest ovation for that town outside of their illuminations getting turned on every year…
The pair headed to the mat in their early skirmishes, then headed back up as Moxley proceeded to ground Biff. Some shots to the back of the head lead to a waistlock takedown from Moxley, as his search for a submission ended with Biff rolling free. Busick grabbed a front facelock, holding on through Moxley’s takedown. Moxley gets free and applied a Regal Stretch, because of course, before Biff got out and went back to the side headlock. It allowed Moxley to ragdoll him with a Saito suplex, before some 12-6 elbows led to a Regal knee that knocked Biff to the floor. Following outside, a bloodied-up Biff gets suplexed, but he shrugs it off as we get a fight, with back-and-forth chops ending with a camel clutch from Moxley.
A chicken wing’s next from Moxley, dragging down Biff as he tried to make his entry to the Muta Scale… but Biff rolls out and hits some elbows. Moxley bit Busick, who was really on the back foot as Moxley was peppering him with kicks as a set-up for a Key lock. Busick grabs and slaps Moxley before going for his own wristlock, but again, Moxley breaks free, only to get dumped with a half-and-half. Busick charges in with a European uppercut before a Bulldog choke, only for Moxley to get out and spin Biff down with a clothesline. Elbows from the mount follow, then a cross armbreaker, only for Biff to stomp his way free. An up-kick clobbered Biff, who was met with another half-and-half suplex as he continued to bleed, before a right hand and the Death Rider left Biff down once again, with a Bulldog choke still not getting it done.
Biff flips off Moxley… who charges in with a running knee, and there’s the knock-out. Fan. Freaking. Tastic. This is what I want from my Bloodsport – blood AND sport! ****½
Minoru Suzuki vs. Chris Dickinson
Suzuki’s 2-0 so far in this rivalry, beating Dickinson on NJPW Strong and on the last Bloodsport last October. This was Dickinson’s first match back after dislocating his hip at Battle in the Valley last year…
Dickinson goes for a waistlock early, taking things down to a rather-more blood-soaked mat, as his attempt at a leg lock ended with Suzuki taking his back instead. Getting free, Dickinson looked to take the mount, but instead grabbed the leg as Suzuki tried to break free, slipping out to the floor for some respite. Back inside, Dickinson grounds Suzuki, pinning the arm to the mat before Suzuki got free and eventually torqued at Dickinson’s leg. Dickinson returned the favour with a toe hold, only for the pair to switch in the mount, throwing strikes from above. It’s Dickinson who’s pulling ahead though, clamping in a head-and-arm choke, before a chop ended with Suzuki sitting up, looking nonplussed.
This is where it’ll kick up a gear.
Back-and-forth chops have the crowd ooing, as a leg lock from Suzuki was broken up with Suzuki’s overhand chops. Again, Suzuki looks pissed, so we’re back to them paintbrushing each other, and then… SUZUKI’S CLONKING ELBOW! It has Dickinson on jelly legs, as did a flurry of unanswered palm strikes from Suzuki, who smelled blood. Probably the stuff on the mat. A low-ish kick from Dickinson stopped Suzuki’s flurry, before a brainbuster and some hammer elbows out of nowhere led to the sudden stoppage! That’s two results the crowd were pissed at here, as Dickinson wins on his return. Suzuki took the loss as well as you’d expect, ripping chairs up as he threw a tantrum on the way to the back… ****
An entertaining palate cleanser from the rest of the weekend, but if you’re the kind that analyses technique and what have you, these modern-day Bloodsport cards may be a little lacking for you as more “established” pro wrestling creeps in. Tune in for the business end of the card, because for the most part, what you expect to be good… was!