GCW Joey Janela’s Spring Break 7
March 31, 2023
We’re in LA at the Ukrainian Cultural Center. GCW’s building for the weekend. I’ve seen it five times already. This makes it six with other shows to still do from there. Hosts are Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.
Grab The Brass Ring DLC Match
Gringo Loco vs. Shane Mercer vs. Tony Deppen vs. Cole Radrick vs. Billie Starkz vs. Alec Price vs. Jack Cartwheel vs. Komander
Oh, come on, a ladder match mere hours after ROH had the most insane ladder match in years?
Billie Starkz is now known as “space jesus”, whatever that means. Is this Tony Deppen’s only match this weekend? Everyone is announced and Blake Christian comes out to add himself to the match. I like that Komander is just out here chilling with all these guys just moments after stealing the show on the ROH PPV. This isn’t an actual ‘climb the ladder’ match because the ceiling is too high. Haha. It’s a “metaphorical brass ring”. Never change, Indies. If there’s nothing to pull down, it’s not a fucking ladder match. It’s a scramble and you know how I feel about scrambles.
Having just watched a well put together ladder match, a lot of this is quite jarring. They have a laugh and the crowd enjoy it. However, there’s no point in having those ladders. None. Some of the things in the match look cool but it’s just guys seeing if they can walk along ladders and flip off them. There’s no purpose to any of it. Christian curb stomps Billie for the win. This was stupid.
GCW Tag Team Championship
The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) (c) vs. The East West Express (Jordan Oliver & Nick Wayne)
This feels like a ‘passing of the torch’ deal. Nick Wayne got busted open working the DDT show earlier and has the scars of war. I need to watch that show next. Or later or something.
In order to try and skew the crowd noise the Guns work heel. Specifically Sabin punching Wayne in the head until he bleeds. “Want to see little Wayne’s head bleed?” – Swingers, 1996. Jon Favreau was ahead of his time. They don’t do much actual tagging in here, which is a typical Machine Guns deal.
Alex Shelley taking perverse pleasure in digging at a child’s cut. Wayne looks a bit sluggish at times. He’s probably not used to the blood loss. Jordan Oliver is in and out of the match. Some of his stuff looks good, some of it doesn’t. It’s a worrying lack of consistency that continues to plague him. The challengers go for, and eventually hit, a lot of Oscutters. The lack of structure really hurts this. Tag team wrestling is called that for a reason, but Machine Guns have always leaned towards tornado style, so it shouldn’t be surprising. I didn’t enjoy this. It’s not my kind of match. I would go into details, but it’s basically all of it.
Emil Jay has YOSHIHIKO out here for an interview. Sadly, not voiced by Ole Anderson from backstage. YOSHIHIKO agrees to stay in GCW for a while. Charles Mason and Parrow come out here to assault YOSHIHIKO. Mason breaks kayfabe by saying YOSHIHIKO is not real. Parrow getting countered and German suplexed by YOSHIHIKO is just stunning stuff. Kayfabe is preserved!
Mike Bailey vs. El Hijo del Vikingo
Vikingo is fresh from stealing the show at ROH.
He doesn’t look quite so primo here, falling off the ropes the first time he heads up. When you’re that fast, you can recover in half a second though, so it’s ok. The speed of the recovery is what throws Bailey on the resultant bump. Bailey is a more complete wrestler than Vikingo, who is more of an aerialist. Veda Scott joins commentary to point out how versatile and skilled Bailey is. Next up, Renee Pacquette commentating on Mox’s match. Bailey is notably hungrier and that seems to be the key difference. Vikingo has gotten over on ROH, he doesn’t need the win. Bailey got squashed by Tanahashi. There are some miscommunication issues out here. Some little timing snafus. Vikingo attempts that imploding dragonrana that he hit on Komander earlier and Bailey can’t take it. They do get in some crazy enough shit like Vikingo diving into an apron Destroyer. 5 years ago that would have had them hanging off the rafters.
Vikingo busts out the urinage off the top. Bailey lands that clean. 630 Splash finishes. This was good, but will forever exist in the shadow of what Vikingo did the rest of the weekend against luchadores. Bailey hasn’t had the same weekend he had last year. ***¾
Effy & Allie Katch vs. Nick Gage & Maki Itoh
Yes, Nick Gage & Maki Itoh. Thank you, Joey Janela.
Everyone in the building wants this on their phone.
MAKI DEATH KILL. It’s adorable. Gage goes to fire up Maki with a headbutt and floors her. Wonderful stuff.
I mark more for Maki Itoh’s falling headbutt than anything else in wrestling. Gage is way less mobile than even a few years ago but working a reduced schedule looks to have helped. He’s not falling apart horribly but he does still look fairly broken. As a special attraction, he’s still a star. I’d pay to see him.
Dear lord. BUSSY taking a pizza cutter to the skull of Maki Itoh. Not something I thought I’d see this weekend. They make a show of cutting her up on each side of the ring so the fans can see.
This is one of the finest pieces of imagery this weekend. Two people from diverse backgrounds finding mutual interests in professional wrestling and pizza. While this isn’t a good match, it does draw on the strengths of everyone involved. Like when Vince McMahon wrestled Shane McMahon. You work with what you’ve got. As a ‘work’, this was perfect. Lots of entertaining spots, playing to everyone’s hits. MDK wins out. A great time at the wrestling. *** for popping me.
POST MATCH: Matt Cardona and Steph De Lander run in and beat down MDK with chairs. Imagine being Matt Cardona, bitching about not wanting to get stuck on AEW Dark and can’t even get booked on any of these dirt Indies. Nick Aldis II. De Lander runs her mouth so out comes Masha Slamovich.
GCW Heavyweight Championship
Masha Slamovich (c) vs. Steph De Lander
Last time I saw De Lander she was really green. She’s still green. Slamovich is better but she’s not able to carry a match. De Lander can’t work and yet here comes the plunder as we try to disguise it. At least the pay off is Maki Itoh doing boot scrapes on Matt Cardona. Slamovich puts De Lander away with a sleeper. Thankfully this was pretty quick.
Joey Janela vs. Kota Ibushi
The storyline of the match is Kota being all thankful for being allowed to wrestle and Joey being downright furious because of a Twitter slight. The match serves as a chance for Kota to test himself out. See what he can do. The triangle moonsault to the floor, for example. He’s not the same wrestler he was before the injury. His switches and transitions aren’t as good but still at a level that’s not noticeably bad. Janela ends up being a good opponent for him as Joey won’t show him up. 75% Ibushi is around 100% Janela.
Joey makes some choices here and a big one is adding colour. It didn’t feel like the kind of match that required a crimson mask. But then, who can tell what goes through the mind of a pro wrestler? With both these two it’s probably “let’s do something stupid, it’ll be a laugh”. Ibushi once shot himself with fireworks. These people need to be protected from their own stupidity. Kota hits a German suplex off the ropes through a door at ringside. It’s a disaster. They’re both very lucky not to be seriously hurt. Why would you put that spot in the match? As with the Shibata match on the ROH show, I’m uncomfortable because wrestlers do dumb things. Only here it’s worse because Ibushi is a lunatic, who can’t be trusted to make sensible decisions. Kamigoye puts a bloodied Joey away. This match would have been way better without the dumb door spot. If you can ignore that one stupid spot, it’s good. I can’t, so, let’s call it ***½.
POST MATCH: Joey cuts an emotional promo about how going to AEW ruined him but that’s on him not Tony Khan. He puts over Kota Ibushi for choosing to come back here when he could have gone literally anywhere. “You don’t realise how much this means to me”.
Joey Janela’s initial Spring Break concept was intended to do wacky shit that no one else would do. However, the success meant everyone else started booking wacky shit because it got over. That’s left Spring Break as just another show. The Clusterfuck is gone. Where it succeeded was in having Kota Ibushi come out here and the show be all about him. This was the Ibushi Show. That was the ticket. They didn’t disappoint. I wish they’d not done that German suplex spot. I don’t know why it went so wrong but the match just didn’t need it and they both should have been strong enough to know the draw was Kota Ibushi, not Kota Ibushi killing himself. Apart from the opener, everything on this show worked. Credit to Janela for that. It was a variety show and everything was over. You can’t ask for a lot more. My dislike of the first two matches is mostly on my personal taste. Well, everyone should hate a ladder match with nothing hanging over the ring.