GCW Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 9
March 30, 2023
After the shambolic, and yet also wonderful, Circle 6 show we must leave their medical Marijuana podcast show (yes, really) to head back to the Ukrainian Cultural Center for Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 9. We start with the parade of competitors.
Josh Barnett joins us to say this is the toughest show in all of wrestling. “Let the battle commence”.
Jeff Cobb vs. Calder McColl
I don’t know McColl but there’s also a chance I’ve seen him wrestle live as he’s Scottish. McColl tries to outwrestle Cobb as Cobb has a size and thickness advantage. Cobb did wrestle at the Olympics so that’s probably not the smartest move. Cobb underestimates McColl and that does give the Scotsman an edge. Cobb deadlifts McColl’s carcass into a big old powerbomb and then murders him with a forearm to his cold dead body. His bald Scottish bonce isn’t split open like a ripe melon, covering the canvas in claret, but a suitably brutal finish.
Calvin Tankman vs. Erik Hammer
Hammer only works once a year. On Bloodsport. Tankman has a lot of size and Hammer finds himself at a disadvantage. Tankman takes him down repeatedly but can’t seem to land a finish. Tankman looks all over the place and Hammer submits him with a double armlock. Not good.
Marina Shafir vs. Killer Kelly
Shafir throws her socks out into the perverts in the crowd. Oh, disgusting things are going to happen to those socks.
This is Shafir’s expert area. She controls Kelly right from the off. Shafir just toys with her. She whoops her. Kelly takes a shortcut on the floor and some decent suplexes follow. Kelly is popular but her technique is short of what Shafir can do. I like how they explain away the gap though with minor cheating and scouting of Shafir’s skillset. Shafir gets the submission with a twister into a head scissors. Shafir looks mad it took that long and wasn’t a satisfying finish. They told a good story though.
Mike Bailey vs. Kota Ibushi
This is one of the most hyped up matches of the weekend. Ibushi claimed a shoulder injury on Twitter yesterday, a reoccurrence of the one he suffered against Kazuchika Okada back in October 2021. He’s not worked since. This is his first match back.
My internet craps out at a terrible time. Right in the opening of the match. We’re back quickly. Ibushi looks a little rusty. 18 months off will do that. Luckily the match is like a training session, rather than a bunch of stuff Kota has to remember. Kota Ibushi makes me nervous at the best of times but when Speedball kicks him out of the ring, I gasp. Bailey dropping double knees onto his face has me outright sucking in the air. When Bailey tries to bail (heh), Ibushi deadweight Germans him back in. This is great stuff. Each big spot means so much more in shootstyle. Ibushi hits his big Kamigoye knee to KO Bailey and we’re done. This was all kinds of great. Kota Ibushi could walk into the main event of any show in the world tomorrow. ****
POST MATCH: Chavo Guerrero Jr is out here to induct someone into Josh Barnett’s Hall of Fame. It’s Erik Paulsen. Rumour has it Paulsen was forced to turn down UFC and he ended up cornering Royce Gracie, rather than fighting him. He’s been in an actual Bloodsport movie so this is on brand.
Yuyu Uemura vs. Bad Dude Tito
Yuyu is working on Tanahashism. Seriously, he looks like a junior version.
Tito seems to have based his look on Adam Bomb. Goddamn it, now I want to see Tanahashi vs. Adam Bomb. Tito is good at the style. Controlling Yuyu’s head and throwing him around. Uemura does pro wrestling things. Did he not get the memo? He also attempts the Inoki defence, which doesn’t work against mobile grapplers. It’s a defence against strikers. At one point he goes to hit the ropes and there aren’t any. Dives are a lot easier when there’s no ropes. He also goes for pins. He leaves his leg hanging and Tito taps him out. This was a weird mesh of shootstyle with random bits of pro wrestling in there. Tito looked pretty good though.
Davey Boy Smith Jr vs. JR Kratos
Two big beefy men who’ve done a bunch of these shows before. Two graphics for this. One reads “Davey Boy Jr”, the other reads “Harry Smith”. I think I’ll stick with DBS as it’s easier to type. DBS is a weird one because he looked like a JAG in WWE but on the Indies he looks enormous. A stark reminder that everyone in the fed is a giant. They spend a surprising amount of time rolling around on the mat. I kinda wanted them to throw hurting bombs. They do eventually get around to slugging each other but I wanted a match full of that until someone got knocked the fuck out. Kratos overthinks his strategy. He’s out here trying for wacky shit like a Boston crab and DBS just knees him in the ribs a lot. They go from there to goofy business like DBS hitting a piledriver and Kratos responding with a backflip kick. Just punch each other until one of you is dead. It’s not rocket science. Davey gets a crossface to block JR’s latest dumb idea, and it’s over via tap out. This had moments that were good but my overwhelming feeling is that they drifted in and out of doing dumb things that made no sense too frequently.
Royce Isaacs vs. Johnny Bloodsport
Royce comes out to “California Lovin” like “hey, you’re in my yard now bitch”. You’re from Denver pal. I doubted Johnny before his last Bloodsport outing but he was good. Isaacs does have a good look. He’s thick. They do a good job of aping MMA with the circling and looking for an opening.
Isaacs takes up a boxing stance quite often while Johnny brings a more extravagant style based on capoeira. They do resort to some pro wrestling but the Rolling Germans make sense. It’s just Isaacs grabbing Johnny and looking to mess him up. I’m less convinced by Johnny breaking out the Mutalock but it does leave him open to get caught by a choke. The mat counters are fascinating and this gets genuinely good. The piledriver should be the finish and the way they countered into it made me gasp. Johnny counters out and gets the choke for the win. This was really good but the piledriver should have ended it. They went on sequence too far. ***½.
Alex Coughlin vs. Jon Moxley
Mox was originally facing Davey Richards but he got cancelled. Comms gloss over this by saying he had some “out of the ring issues”. Mox comes out here to “Violet” by Hole, so now I like him.
Coughlin has nothing to lose here. It’s a great spot. If he does good, it could make him. If he doesn’t, who cares? Mox tells most of the story of this match with his facials. He does a great sell of staring at the ceiling with his mouth open. The story is that Moxley takes Coughlin lightly and finds himself constantly in trouble. Coughlin busting out a range of mat based assaults. I don’t like Moxley using his wrestling moves, but I like that Coughlin refuses to sell them. Mox manages to bust himself open beating on Coughlin. The mat work in this is good until the finish, which is a little underwhelming. Mox catches a choke and Coughlin passes out rather than tapping. ***
Josh Barnett vs. Timothy Thatcher
There’s no one in all of wrestling who’s better suited to Bloodsport than Timmy Thatcher. He loves this shit. Two old fellas with beards beating each other up? Yeah, that’ll do me.
The mat wrestling in this is basically flawless. Tim goes to town on Barnett’s ribs to try and wear him down. I love how Tim stops when he’s in mount and just looks around the room. Looking for reactions.
The best thing about the match is it feels organic. It feels like they just went out there and called it in the ring. Or felt it in the ring, more accurately.
Tim gets to a point where he’s the aggressor. Everything is coming together so he looks to finish and Barnett seems to have an answer for everything. But neither man can get a submission and the match is taking its toll. It’s believable fatigue selling. It does lead to what appears to be drunken brawling. They roll a few counters and Tim catches a kneebar for the tap out win. If anyone deserved to beat Barnett it was Tim! This was great. Barnett really put over Tim huge here. Two grappling specialists doing their thing. Brilliant. ****
Bloodsport was always going to be my kind of shit. I love shootstyle. I love realism in pro wrestling. Tim Thatcher is one of my favourite wrestlers to watch because he generally tends to apply common sense into his matches. This show had a lengthy mat grappling contest in Thatcher-Barnett but also the rapid paced exciting ‘anything can happen’ contest between Kota Ibushi and Mike Bailey. Both worked superbly well. I also loved the Bloodsport-Isaacs match up. This has a strong chance of being my favourite overall show of the weekend. We’ll see what happens.