Game Changer Wrestling presents Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 2, the sequel to one of my favourite cards of the year. A hybrid MMA/Pro wrestling event, no rope ring where wins can come via KO or submission/referee stoppage.
The original introduced me to one of my favourite wrestlers, Masashi Takeda, and we saw a hard-hitting style from Davey Boy Smith Jr. that surprised those who had only seen him in NJPW. And one of the must see matches from Wrestlemania weekend, Josh Barnett vs. Minoru Suzuki.
Hopefully this review introduces you to some new favourites.
The pre-show opened with a video package reminiscent of 80’s action movie trailers which complemented the throwback charm of this show. A match from April’s show was shown, Chris Dickinson vs. Andy Williams, a short action-packed match that was a good primer on Chris Dickinson who was a late replacement in the main event for Jon Moxley who had to withdraw after a MRSA infection.
Now onto the free pre-show matches
Rory Gulak vs. Matt Makowski
Matt Makowski tried to finish things off early with a wild swinging kick which Gulak managed to evade. After some snug leg kicks Gulak grappled Makowski to the mat however he fought back to his feet and landed some knees from the clinch.
Both struggled to gain advantage and they separated, crowd applauding their efforts.
Gulak secured a takedown but as he looked to establish a more dominant position Matt wriggled free back to his feet but was again taken back to the ground via a headlock takedown.
Makowski forced a break, feigned a left and followed up with a spinning back kick to the head that didn’t full connect. Both men threw some shots when Gulak manged to toss Makowski to the ground, but that lead to a triangle choke attempt by Makowski followed by an armbar.
Gulak kicked himself free and followed up with a German suplex.
Makowski rolled through into an armbar but was unable to maintain control. Fighters were back to their feet.
Double leg takedown to Gulak, followed by leg kicks and a standing moonsault by Makowski.
A spectacular looking O’connor roll into an arm bar by Makowski however Gulak easily slipped free and he followed that up with a right to the face.
Matt Makowski hit a stiff leg kick that dropped Rory Gulak to his knees and ends the match with a nasty looking head kick for the KO victory.
Great first match, action packed 5 minutes with a spectacular finishing sequence.
Sumie Sakai vs. Lindsay Snow
Final match on the pre-show is also the first women’s Bloodsport.
Snow has the weight and height advantage. Both fighters started tentatively until Sakai hit a right and a dropkick which only seemed to annoy Snow.
Sakai attempted a roll through leg takedown but her leg was caught by Snow.
They exchanged strikes when Sakai tried to secure Lindsay in her guard, but both ended back to their feet.
Sakai used her speed and technical advantage to take her opponent to the ground however Snow would prove too strong and power out.
Lindsay Snow showed off her own technical skills when she rolled through Sakai’s guard and secured her back and attempted a choke.
Sakai broke free, transitioned to a more dominant position and locked in an armbar. Snow tried to power her way out by slamming her opponent on the back of her head repeatedly. She finally broke the hold by stomping the head.
Snow countered Sakai’s kick with an awesome looking back suplex, laid in some forearms before Sakai got back to her feet and beckoned her opponent to come at her.
Sakai jumped on Snow and applied a guillotine choke, after a few seconds of control she was punished with a brain buster as Snow escaped. Sakai looked KO’d.
However, she managed to get back to her feet, throw Snow to the ground and sink in an armbar, after some struggling from Snow, Sumie Sakai won via submission.
An engaging contest of the technique of Sumie Sakai vs. the power of Lindsay Snow. I really enjoyed this. I felt Tom Lawlor added to it calling out the transitions and holds that were attempted.
I really enjoyed both preshow matches and felt they delivered a good indication of what these shows can offer.
Onto the main card and the show opened with a parade of the fighters, a nice touch that evoked the Pride MMA shows, just on a much smaller scale.
Zachary Wentz vs. Anthony Henry
Zachary Wentz charged in and hit a flying knee, but Anthony Henry got back to his feet and hit a German suplex. Both guys looked fired up.
A mixture of strikes and grappling as both attempted to gain control. Henry looked to have the advantage on the ground until Wentz got to his feet and hit a huge double leg takedown.
They almost fell out of the ring as they were jostling for position, they then both apply leg locks, but they break those after neither gains the upper hand.
Henry was unable to capitalize on a nice looking capture suplex as Zachary flipped him and tried to secure a rear naked choke. That didn’t last long as Henry got back to his feet and threw Wentz off him.
Wentz’s guillotine attempt was reversed into a northern lights suplex followed by an arm bar.
Henry was unable to maintain control and absorbed both a head kick and some heavy looking knees from Zach. They both started swinging and when Henry ended on the ground Wentz flew in his guard with a punch, but he got caught in a triangle choke and he tapped out.
Great opener to the main card, lot of energy courtesy of Zachary Wentz and some stiff sounding strikes throughout.
Erik Hammer vs. JR Kratos
These are two massive dudes, Kratos is a wall of muscle!
Erik Hammer took JR Kratos down to the mat early on but Kratos got back to his feet easily and hit a side slam to gain the upper hand.
Lots of grappling on the ground until Hammer attempted an arm bar and the referee ordered a break as they got too close to the edge of the ring.
Single leg takedown to Kratos, followed up with another armbar attempt. Kratos freed himself and started to ground and pound. A cartwheel from Kratos into north/south position however Hammer managed to transition back into a more advantageous position and went after the arm again then locked in a knee bar.
A kick by Kratos broke the hold and took the fight off the mat.
Kicks and a stiff right to Hammer fired both guys up and they stared each other down in the middle of the ring. They traded big punches, chops and forearms, they then screamed at each other, locked up and started swinging. The crowd was loving this.
Erik Hammer ducked a punch and hit a German suplex, took Krato’s back, laid in some strikes and targeted the arm again. Kratos got off the mat and used his power to throw Hammer off his feet with a T-bone suplex. Unable to capitalize and maintain control, this allowed Hammer to take his back and he applied a choke then transitioned into another armbar and then a kneebar.
As they got onto their feet again, Kratos took some big knees to the body, Hammer picked Kratos up but that was reversed and Kratos took the back and tried to lock in a choke. When Hammer got loose, he ate a slap and a snap suplex. Kratos tried to roll through into a guillotine but Hammer used a northern lights/belly to belly suplex to escape, wrapped his arm around Krato’s neck for the win via submission as JR Krato’s tapped out to his chin lock.
While this lacked finesse, it was an engaging, hard fought contest by the two big guys. Very grapple heavy on the ground, which must have been grueling for both considering the sheer mass of them both. Match went up a notch when they started to throw some hands and bust out the big suplexes.
Nicole Savoy vs. Allysin Kay
Nicole Savoy started things aggressively, landing some palm strikes while Kay struggled to land kicks.
Kay tried to take things to the ground, but Nicole maintained control and tried to apply an armbar.
This allowed Kay to gain a good position as she freed herself and took side control. Armbar attempt to Savoy but this was countered into full mount by Savoy and she starts throwing down some ground and pound until Kay throws her off and out the ring.
Imanari roll by Kay ends with both on the mat with each in a heel hook. Back and forth palm strikes. Savoy’s aggression cost her as she loses control and Kay got to her feet.
Another Imanari roll from Kay, Tom Lawlor adds legitimacy to the hold detailing its recent use in the UFC. Heel hook to Savoy but both were laying in some stiff heel kicks on the mat and then ended up rolling out of the ring.
Back in the ring Allysin Kay took Savoy down, moved to side control and then both exchanged elbows to the head. The ref stood both fighters up as they got too close to the edge.
Savoy was prepared for a third attempt at an Imanari roll and threw a flurry of strikes at Kay.
A double leg takedown brought Kay to full mount laying in some forearms, elbows and then finally some slaps.
Eventually Savoy managed to lock in a wristlock, transition to full guard and throw down some ground and pound. The pair then exchanged submission attempts.
They worked away on the ground, both sharing moments of control when Kay freed herself and they both started slapping each other. A huge back suplex to Kay sent her rolling out the ring.
The ref started counting a 10 count, but Kay made the ring and was met with a half suplex which Savoy tried to transition into an armbar. As they both tried to counter each other on the ground, Kay managed to roll through into a crucifix and batter Nicole Savoy with elbows for the referee to call an end to things.
This was an even contest, more methodical than the rest of the matches so far. It was at times repetitive, which did take the heat out the crowd at times. Saying that things picked up at the end and the finish was particularly violent looking.
Anthony Carelli vs. Simon Grimm
The former Santino Marella, Anthony Carelli proved to be very popular unlike his opponent Simon Grimm, who was loudly booed here.
Carelli quickly showed off his excellent technical ability and took Grimm to the ground, a first of many armbar attempts followed then Carelli showed some smooth looking transitions and ending up in full mount hitting devastating looking and sounding elbows.
There was a quick reversal into a heel hook by Grimm but Carelli got free, showed off his grappling skills again with a hammerlock transition into an armbar. Grimm wriggled free and threw some big elbows that didn’t wholly connect. Slick reversal to Grimm allowed Carelli to attempt a wristlock.
Each time Simon Grimm tried to escape a hold Carelli was quick to counter into an armbar.
When the fighters got back to their feet, Carelli showed off his striking prowess with some stiff sounding kicks to the leg, following up with a takedown and shots to the midsection of Grimm.
Grimm showed resilience and fought his way off the mat and threw some kicks and knees to the ribs of Carelli, flooring him.
Carelli got back up and tossed Grimm to the ground before quickly locking in another submission. He was clinical with his takedowns and the speed in which he locked in a hold was impressive. Grimm broke free and locked the leg but they ended up rolling out of the ring. The crowd got upset when they didn’t throw down outside as the referee demanded they get back in the ring.
Back inside Grim targeted Carelli’s legs, his takedowns lacking the explosiveness of Carelli’s, but Carelli adjusted position to sink in a dragon sleeper. Innovative knee to the head from Grimm broke the hold.
Grimm attempted to assert his dominance with some strikes, he attempted a piledriver which Carelli reversed with a bag body drop.
Grimm fought free but Carelli took him down easily and quickly applied a heel hook. Grimm got free, tried a wheelbarrow suplex which Carelli broke out of. Grimm then tried a choke but a Judo throw by Carelli followed through into an armbar earned Anthony Carelli the immediate tap out for the submission victory over Simon Grimm.
This match was a lot of fun, Anthony Carelli came in and delivered. His strikes had a snap to them, his takedowns were explosive and his grappling on the ground was very smooth. When he was in control it was very entertaining.
Timothy Thatcher vs. Ikuhisa Minowa
Timothy Thatcher had great matches against Hideki Suzuki (April’s Bloodsport) and most recently against Davey Boy Smith both of which highlighted his catch wrestling skills. This match should be one he excels at.
Minowa started things on the front foot with a dropkick and kicks to a downed Thatcher, he got caught though and Thatcher managed to put Minowa in a half crab.
A counter into leg lock put Minowa back in control. They rolled for dominance, but they were quickly back to their feet.
Flurry of strikes to Thatcher who then hit a big European uppercut and followed this up with a scoop slam. Some more grappling on the mat as both tried to lock in submissions but both guys end up back on their feet to which the audience applauded.
Roll through into a leglock from Minowa that Thatcher fought out of and gained full guard, hitting some forearms to Minowa who reversed positions quickly and threw some of his own. Taking Thatcher’s back, he went for a choke but this just led to them standing back up.
Snap suplex to Thatcher puts him on his back and Minowa in full mount. Thatcher blocked an armbar attempt and managed to lay in some body shots.
They traded some shots and submission attempts until Thatcher freed himself and hit a gut wrench suplex. Minowa rolled through on an armbar attempt.
This led to a forearm exchange on the ground and another suplex attempt by Thatcher. Minowa blocked this and freed himself and hit a rolling kick.
Minowa went for an armbar which Thatcher countered into a Fujiwara, Minowa tried to roll free but Thatcher went for a heel hook and finally a neck crank which Minowa submitted to. A fired-up Timothy Thatcher does a lap of the ring after his first win at a Bloodsport event.
If you are a fan of Thatcher’s mat-based work, which I am, then you will enjoy this. The transitions from both guys were fluid and it was very technical match up. Maybe could have done with some more striking to keep the crowd more involved as they were quiet for portions of this.
Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Tom Lawlor
One of the matches I was looking forward to the most due to DBS’ impressive match back in April and his excellent match with Thatcher in MLW.
Tom Lawlor was over big time with the crowd, he has a star quality about him. This helped heat the crowd up after the intermission.
They exchanged strikes that didn’t fully connect at first. DBS stuffed a takedown attempt from Lawlor, and they wrestled for control on the mat, but both showed a technical ability on par with each other and end up back on their feet.
DBS rolled them back to the ground and they traded submission attempts before the referee forced a break as DBS ended up on the outside of the ring.
They grappled with intensity; the pace of the reversals/transitions must have been the quickest of the night.
Lawlor rolled to the outside to escape DBS after more grappling on the mat.
DBS took Lawlor to the mat again with a headlock takedown, Lawlor was able to free himself and struck DBS with a knee strike and some forearms to the head.
As DBS was on his back, Lawlor went for an armbar, DBS escaped easily. They then traded a number submission holds as neither could gain the upper hand.
Once they were back on their feet, DBD secured a takedown with a wristlock. As Lawlor defended his arm, he ate some knees and forearms to the head. Lawlor managed to roll through and returned the favour, kneeing DBS’ ribs. There was some back and forth on the ground when Lawlor was able to transition into a rear naked choke only for DBS to fight up and powerslam him. Full mount ground and pound from DBS before he was pushed off by Lawlor.
Forearm exchange which fired Lawlor up who landed a combination that took DBS down with a strong kick to the thigh. Leg Lock and guillotine to DBS but they both fought back to their feet where DBS got the German suplex after an initial struggle. Another suplex attempt ends with a reversal from Lawlor and both in leg locks. DBS attempted a sharpshooter attempt by DBS, but Lawlor blocked it and knocked both out the ring with a clothesline.
Inside, Lawlor started to chip away at DBS with strikes, DBS responded with some of his own and it became a full-on brawl which the crowd loved and began chanting “G-C-W”.
DBS heavy forearms put him firmly in control as he dropped Lawlor on his neck with a back suplex and finished him off with a sit out powerbomb for the TKO victory.
Excellent match, both guys went at a fast pace, hit hard, showed off superior technical ability and wasted no time. Unlike other matches on the card, this didn’t not dip when they hit the mat.
Match of the night so far.
Killer Kross vs. Nick Gage
The crowd’s energy levels were through the roof before this match began, Nick Gage came out to the biggest pop of the night, the fans were going wild for them as he was firing up amongst them.
Gage tried a running knee at the start only to be caught by the much bigger Kross, who asserted his dominance by holding Gage down. Gage managed to roll out from under Kross and hit some forearms but Kross easily gained top position and locked in a heel hook.
Gage tried to slap his way free, but this only annoyed Kross who locked the hook in tighter.
Gage broke free and put Kross on the mat with a nasty looking headbutt. Gage started to wildly swing at his downed opponent.
Kross managed to gain waist control of Gage and hit a backdrop driver but Gage got back up, kicked Kross on the head and went for a choke.
Killer Kross easily escaped and applied his own rear naked choke. Gage defiantly raised his middle fingers to let the ref no he wasn’t tapping. However, as those fingers lowered the referee stopped the match due to Gage passing out to give Killer Kross the win.
Post-match Nick Gage was not happy and was demanding a restart. When the referee refused Gage threw him out the ring and then reluctantly shook Kross’ hand.
Killer Kross not to be outshined calls out Dave Batista. Make it so!
This was the shortest match of the night, but it was the wildest and the most fun! Nick Gage brought a crazy energy to the card and it resembled a street fight more than a pure MMA contest but that made it entertaining and a nice alternative.
Chris Dickinson vs. Josh Barnett
A prolonged feeling out process ended with Dickinson taking Barnett’s back and going for a rear naked choke.
Barnett easily escaped and after a couple of shots to the ribs he threw a huge right hand to Dickinson’s head. Dickinson rolled Barnett over and returned the favour, smacking Barnett’s ribs with some big right hands and elbows.
Quick transition and Barnett had Dickinson in a side headlock with wrist control. A knee to the back of Barnett’s head freed Dickinson who started to lay some body shots in.
Barnett regained his composure and took Dickinson down and hit big elbows all over the body and head of Dickinson.
Dickinson countered a transition and landed some strikes of his own. After a struggle both ended up in heel hooks which Dickinson brook both free from with a boot to Barnett’s face.
A slam attempt by Barnett resulted in Dickinson countering into a guillotine choke. This lead to an extended period on the mat which ended when the referee stood them up.
Dickinson came at Barnett with a wild kick and jumped at him but was taken down and put in a head scissors. Barnett was unable to capitalise but as they got to their feet, he suplexed Dickinson and took control of Dickinson on the mat.
They traded top position until Barnett threw some elbows and applied a leg lock. Nothing came of it as Dickinson struggled to his feet. Barnett hit another takedown then a headlock, but Dickinson escaped and put Barnett in head scissors.
Releasing the hold, Dickinson hit Barnett’s torso with a kick and some heavy knees.
Barnett broke out of a headlock with a slam and went for Dickinson’s arm again. When that wasn’t working, he transitioned to a rear naked choke. This allowed Dickinson to escape and he landed a double knee drop to Barnett’s side.
Unable to capitalize Barnett put a heel hook on Dickinson, but he rolled through it and ended up on top of Barnett.
As Josh Barnett pushed Chris Dickinson off, he ripped the tape off his wrists as if to focus up, and they started throwing fists and kicks. A right to Barnett floored him and Dickinson hit a massive delayed German suplex and a punt to the head.
Barnett fought back hitting some palm strikes, a gut wrench powerbomb, big knees to the downed Dickinson and a solid kick to the head to win this match via KO.
This match was awesome, Chris Dickinson showed he was a worthy replacement for Jon Moxley delivering a great main event with Josh Barnett. Both guys took some nasty looking strikes, timed the big spots well and built to an exciting finish.
Overall, I enjoyed this card start to finish. It may have not had the fast pace of April’s card, but nothing outstayed its welcome and each match had exciting finishing stretches. Davey Boy Smith put in another standout performance alongside Tom Lawlor as did Chris Dickinson and Josh Barnett.
The GCW crowds always add to their shows and this was no different, most notable when Nick Gage made his appearance.
Hopefully they announce another show but give it another couple of months as they feel more like special attractions spaced out like this.
If you are skeptical about the shoot style matches, the pre-show is available for free on Fite TV. Those two matches will give you a good indication of what you will get if you decide to purchase this card.
As for recommendations if you can make time for the whole show give it a shot but if not the final 3 matches should convince you Bloodsport is a good time.
Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Tom Lawlor
Killer Kross vs. Nick Cage
Josh Barnett vs. Chris Dickinson
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