Wrestling Review: GCW Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport (2019)

As the wrestling world descended on New York City, the next entry in the series started last year by Matt Riddle returns, as this time Josh Barnett and GCW Wrestling present Bloodsport. A mixture of MMA and pro-wrestling, the only way to win is by referee stoppage or submission, and the ring is not surrounded by ropes. New Japan Pro Wrestling’s scariest man, Minoru Suzuki, returns in the main event against event co-promoter Josh Barnett, whilst UFC legend Dan Severn, wXw’s Timothy Thatcher, and MLW’s Simon Grimm all see action, and Killer Cross and Davey Boy Smith Jr. will do battle in my most anticipated match.

+ Minoru Suzuki vs Josh Barnett: this main event was really good early, before trailing off a little bit int he middle. Barnett was just not able to keep up with Suzuki, and Suzuki seemed to be one step ahead in where the fight was going to go next. Suzuki’s striking was heads and shoulders above Barnett’s, but there is no questioning Barnett’s real and present technical skills. The crowd was rabid for Suzuki early, but Barnett did bring them back around a few times. This was really good, especially as the main event of a show of this type
+ Timothy Thatcher vs Hideki Suzuki: this was a hard hitting fight, and it certainly went back and forth. In some ways this was more like a traditional pro-wrestling match, with reasonably limited MMA influences. I still enjoyed it, because I am a big fan of Thatcher, and I hope he comes back next year for three in a row
+ Andy Williams vs Chris Dickinson: as far as two big ugys smacking each other goes, this was a simple but effective showing. There wasn’t much flash or substance, but for a show like this, that wasn’t really necessary. Williams’ awesome moustache was a personal highlight
+ Jon Gresham vs Masashi Takeda: this was a different type of fight, as a ZSJ style grappler, Gresham, faced the Deathmatch legend in Takeda. This was the first of a few Takeda matches for GCW over the few days, and most likely the least deadly. Nonetheless, the styles clash worked to their advantage, and the crowd was well into this
+ Killer Kross vs Davey Boy Smith Jr.: Kross is just fantastic in Impact these days, and was really enjoyable in Lucha Underground, and I look forward to seeing him in bigger and better showings in the near future. This was really, really good, full of back and forth action, and probably the match of the night. There were some referee shenanigans, but never enough to overshadow the competitors, which is something a few of the other fights didn’t get quite right
+ J.R. Kratos vs Simon Grimm: I’m a big Grimm fan, and this was much more enjoyable than the opening. Grimm played the underdog against the much larger Kratos, but this was not quite as unbelievable as it first seemed. I enjoyed this one

Frank Mir vs Dan Severn: another year on from my thoughts on Severn, he is further past his prime. This was short and uneventful, and honestly, I just don’t like Frank Mir so much I couldn’t even bring myself to care about this
Phil Baroni vs Dominick Garrini: there was good character work by Baroni, but this was not a particularly thrilling fight. Much like last year, the opening contest was one of the weakest

> It was interesting not to see Nick Gage here, and I know Filthy Tom was scheduled to return, but there were some issues with MLW

Should you watch this event: Once again, as a once-a-year spectacle, this was really interesting. Suzuki/Barnett had a good brawl, and Davey Boy versus Killer Kross may well be one of my matches of the weekend. At only two hours or so, this was an easy watch with none of the dead-air that permeates most MMA shows, so it really is the best of both MMA and pro-wrestling in one bloodthirsty package.

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