Timothy Thatcher main events the latest Bloodsport as GCW’s Collective put on their first marquee event of this year’s weekender.

Quick Results
Jeff Cobb defeats Calder McColl via referee stoppage in 6:04 (**¾)
Erik Hammer submitted Calvin Tankman in 2:52 (**½)
Marina Shafir submitted Killer Kelly in 5:45 (***)
Kota Ibushi defeats Mike Bailey via referee stoppage in 6:54 (***½)
Bad Dude Tito submitted Yuya Uemura in 5:08 (***¼)
Harry Smith submitted JR Kratos in 10:59 (**¾)
Johnny Bloodsport submitted Royce Isaacs (7:52 in ***¼)
Jon Moxley defeats Alex Coughlin via referee stoppage in 6:31 (***½)
Timothy Thatcher submitted Josh Barnett in 12:50 (****)

This is the start of my Written WrestleMania weekend – featuring a lot less coverage than I’ve done in the past…

We’re live on stream from the Ukrainian Culture Center in Los Angeles, the home base for GCW’s Collective this year. Lenny Leonard and Dan Barry are on commentary for this one, which opens with the traditional parade of fighters… and I will say, the lack of Tom Lawlor, especially when two other members of Team Filthy are here, is striking.

Jeff Cobb vs. Calder McColl
Both men came in with unbeaten records on these shows… and a slightly-off reckoning of how stones work against pounds.

McColl looks to take Cobb’s back, but gets thrown off in the early going as Cobb looked for a toe hold that McColl slipped out of. McColl offers his guard to Cobb, but instead scooted in as he looked for a single leg takedown. We eventually get a hold in as McColl rolled in for a cross armbar, instead having to make do with a wristlock which Cobb manages to break out of with a suplex. Cobb’s quickly on the defensive as McColl went for strikes from above, before the pair rolled to the outside, forcing the referee to separate and reset them. A roll through from McColl allowed him to go for a rear naked choke, but Cobb again slips free… only to be taken down once more. A running triangle from McColl looked to be blocked, but Cobb powerbombs his way free, before the referee dove in for the stoppage on some follow-up strikes. **¾

Calvin Tankman vs. Erik Hammer
Tankman’s got a 50-50 record in Bloodsport, while Hammer’s undefeated… and judging from his Cagematch, that’s all he’s doing wrestling-wise these days.

Tankman looks for strikes early, but has to fight a takedown attempt before he clobbered Hammer in the back. Getting back up, a waistlock takedown has Hammer back down for more strikes, which ended with him getting sent to the outside. After a breather, Hammer comes back in and caught Tankman with knees to the midsection, only to get thrown down with almost a uranage. Hammer blocks some strikes on the ground, then took Tankman’s back for some strikes before he rolled in for a double wristlock to force the submission. **½

Marina Shafir vs. Killer Kelly
Shafir’s unbeaten in Bloodsport, while Kelly’s got a 0-1 record from her prior outing.

Shafir grabs a hold of Kelly early on, throwing her down for a straitjacket choke attempt, then a rolling full nelson to the mat before Shafir just walked off. A Fireman’s carry takedown has Kelly into the corner, with Shafir eventually shoving her to the outside as knees to the midsection follow. A double leg from Kelly took down Shafir hard as she almost took the win via a count-out… Shafir’s dumped with a German suplex back inside as Kelly went for a rear naked choke, which is escaped, so Kelly hits another German suplex before some more strikes led to a blocked back suplex.

Kelly looks for an armbar, stretching Shafir ahead of some cravat knees. A front kick from Shafir knocks Kelly back into the corner, while an Exploder lays out Kelly in the middle of the ring, with an eventual grounded headscissors armbar forcing Kelly to tap. ***

Mike Bailey vs. Kota Ibushi
This was Ibushi’s first match since 2021’s G1 Climax final – which ended via a referee stoppage due to him dislocating his shoulder…

Both Bailey and Ibushi looked to land kicks early on, but a seemingly errant strike to Bailey’s head sent him loopy and into the corner. Ibushi pounces, but gets caught in a triangle armbar that he somehow turned into a high angle Cloverleaf of sorts, before taking Speedball’s back. Bailey manages to take control with a series of forearms from above, before Ibushi rolled the pair into the middle of the ring, with him on top. Bailey clings on with the bodyscissors, reducing Ibushi’s offence somewhat as Bailey ended up rolling him off the side of the ring to the floor. Back inside, high kicks from Ibushi force Bailey to go for cover, eventually coming back with the scissor kicks and a cross armbar ahead of the standing moonsault knees.

Ibushi’s quickly taken back to the cross armbar from there, but he rolls free as Bailey dragged himself outside to try and escape a waistlock. Ibushi just drags him from the floor to the ring in a German suplex, before a headbutt from Bailey earned him a wrist-clutch Regalplex in return. That’s transitioned into a Kamigoye… and there’s the stoppage! ***½

Yuya Uemura vs. Bad Dude Tito
Uemura’s 1-1 while Tito’s got a 1-4 record going in… but it’s Emil Jay who had a bigger fight beforehand, dealing with a troublesome mic.

Uemura locks up with Tito, seemingly trying to force him off the edge of the ring to start, before Tito tried to return the favour. A double-leg takedown from Uemura followed after a trip outside, with him going for a cross armbar… but Tito slips out and hit a front facelock suplex on Uemura, who looked to be going for the non-existant ropes. A double wristlock from Uemura’s slipped out of, but he’s able to grapevine Tito’s leg… only for Tito to escape and take the back instead. Uemura manages to slip out and slap the back of Tito, before going to ground as they invoked some Ali-Inoki. Tito cartwheels over Uemura into a front facelock, before a belly-to-belly took the big man down.

Tito’s sent outside with a dropkick as Bloodsport gets its first tope… a German suplex back inside keeps Uemura ahead, but his attempt to go for a pin ends with Tito rolling in for an ankle lock for the submission. ***¼

Harry Smith vs. JR Kratos
Kratos isn’t as much of an unknown quantity these days, having been somewhat prominent on NJPW Strong…

Eventually locking up, Smith looked to take Kratos’ arm as he rolled to the mat for a double wristlock. Kratos escapes, but Smith still keeps that focus on before Kratos pulled himself away. Kratos looks to take Smith’s back, but to no avail as Harry takes his shot, only to get rolled down as Kratos went for a Kimura. Smith blocks the Kimura and breaks free of the hold, returning with a Judo-ish throw to take things back to the mat. Kratos uses headscissors to break out as the camera panned out to show who my Fite stream made me think was Dan Lambert in the crowd? Anyway, things pick up as Smith throws some knees on the ground, before Kratos upgraded to some elbow strikes in retaliation.

Smith returns with some more knees as they were standing, but that just takes us back to the mat as things get more measured. A Boston crab attempt from Kratos comes up short, with Smith rolling out as he peppered Kratos with elbow strikes. That leads to a powerbomb from Smith, but that doesn’t lead to a ref stoppage, as Kratos returned with a leaping knee, then an overhead kick. On their knees, the pair trade right hands, with the intensity increasing as Kratos looks for something… only to get pulled into a crossface as Smith slipped out of a suplex… and there’s your submission. This was a little too slow for my liking, especially compared to the relative pace of other stuff on this card. **¾

Johnny Bloodsport vs. Royce Isaacs
Johnny Too-Many-Names-For-Cagematch comes in having won his only Bloodsport outing… Isaacs has a narrow losing record, but a sweet Streets of Rage jacket.

We’ve some bobbing and weaving to start as Isaacs’ search for a takedown was blocked by Johnny, who managed to stay a step ahead. Isaacs comes in with a bunch of knees ahead of a suplex that took Johnny down, ahead of a submission attempt that’s slipped out of as Isaacs was right back on the defensive. Johnny throws some strikes from above, but Isaacs manages to slip in a double wristlock, which Johnny slips out of. A German suplex from Isaacs turns up the tempo, as did a second, before a knee strike and some hammer elbows from Johnny almost forced the stoppage. We’ve a Muta lock from Johnny, but Isaacs breaks the grip and rolled Johnny into a rear naked choke.

Isaacs loses grip also and has to knee Johnny away, only to get rolled into a cross armbreaker as Isaacs manages to counter it into a Cloverleaf. It’s turned into almost a Lion Tamer, but Johnny rolls free before his takedown was stuffed and turned into a piledriver. A Dragon sleeper-like choke is next from Isaacs, but Johnny floats out and Gator rolls Isaacs into a guillotine for the submission. Look, I didn’t hate the finish, but if you’re going to throw traditional wrestling moves into this (that aren’t closely-related to throws), make them the finish! ***¼

Alex Coughlin vs. Jon Moxley
Coughlin was a late replacement for Moxley’s originally-slated opponent, and could really do with a higher-res mugshot…

This one starts off real tasty with Coughlin throwing shots on Moxley, before Moxley rolled him down for a cross armbar. Moxley looks to pull Coughlin into a triangle, but ends up throwing Coughlin to the outside after they stood up. Moxley catches Coughlin in a triangle from the edge of the ring, but just got powerbombed into the apron instead as Coughlin returns fire with gutwrench suplexes. Moxley’s forced to defend a calf slicer, before he got muscled up into a powerbomb. It’s not the stoppage though, as Moxley got back up for a hockey fight, following up with a Paradigm Shift-like suplex. Coughlin’s right back up as they resume strikes, but it’s Moxley who wheels away with blows as Coughlin’s forced to cover up… leading to a Bulldog choke that Coughlin stood up from.

Except Moxley takes him right back down into a front chancery with some knees, keeping that choke on until the referee waved it off. ***½

Timothy Thatcher vs. Josh Barnett
Our main event sees the return of Timothy Thatcher up against the man whose name is on the door. Love the old-school RINGKAMPF scarves in the crowd, mind…

Thatcher escapes an early lock-up attempt, but manages to take down Barnett as the pair rolled in and out of attempts of holds. Thatcher backs up as we resume with a takedown and a cross armbar from Thatcher, but Barnett slips out and goes for a knee bar, which Thatcher escaped via punches to the ribs. Knees to the back from Thatcher help weaken Barnett amid a search for what looked like a bow-and-arrow hold on the edge of the ring. Thatcher stays ahead, but Barnett grabs a leg and goes for a kneebar, before the pair stood up… leading to a suplex from Barnett seconds later. Ground and pound from Barnett led to loud chants for Thatcher, who pulled ahead with a half crab, only to need to kick away on Barnett as the tide turned again.

From the mount, Thatcher goes for some short arm scissors, but Barnett powered out and slipped out of the hold as he went to powerbomb his way free. Staying on the deck, Thatcher drills Barnett with some knees, prompting Barnett to roll through and into a double wristlock on Thatcher. Thatcher returns the favour, trapping Barnett on the mat as he gets his leg behind the neck… but Barnett’s able to grab the ankle to counter out. Going to the armbar allows Thatcher to escape as the pair are rapidly looking for holds, until a Saito suplex bounced Thatcher to the mat. The feed dies in the middle – either that or they’re censoring something with a massive GCW logo – as we return with Thatcher and Barnett falling off the edge of the apron as they had each other in leglocks.

The pair make it back into the ring as they go back to leathering each other with haymakers, but it’s Thatcher’s uppercuts that pushed him ahead. Barnett avoids a Regalplex, but couldn’t escape a back suplex as Thatcher then went back to the double wristlock, which Barnett escaped by way of an Exploder. Barnett’s powerbomb looked to finish things, but Thatcher’s able to grab a Fujiwara armbar on impact, then a knee bar after Barnett tried to roll out… and there’s your tap! That’s Barnett’s first Bloodsport loss, in what was match of the night – at least to my tastes! ****

You sort of know what you’re getting on Bloodsport these days – but the one thing I’m starting to notice more now is a level of cuteness with adding in “pro wrestling” moves. Don’t overdo it and poison the well!