REVIEW: Game Changer Wrestling – Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 8 (2022)

A Pay-Per-View by GCW

I’m still not too far into all these shows from WrestleMania Weekend, so here’s another chip off the pile of shame. Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 8 consists of a series of matches with a unique ruleset compared to “normal” pro wrestling matches. Every match must end in either a knockout or submission, and your standard wrestling ring is replaced by a ring canvas with no ropes or turnbuckles. In many ways, this reminds me of what WWE attempted with their poorly received WWE RAW Underground, only treated much better and predates that concept by a couple of years.

Another inspiration could be the numerous Japanese “shoot-wrestling” groups that did a combination of worked or shoot matches, such as Pancrase. Having Minoru Suzuki involved somewhat leads credence to that, and with Barnett’s status as a former UFC champion, you can see where they are going without this being a worked MMA match, which rarely are any good. Overall, it’s a cool idea and adds yet another layer to the overall heterogeneity of GCW as a whole. The matches are pretty short and have a bit of unexpectedness to them that is refreshing for a seasoned wrestling watcher.

Above is the list of all of the WrestleMania Weekend GCW shows, and so far I have watched three. Plenty more to go!

For anyone wanting to watch this, I would recommend Fite.TV. you can get some FITE credits (10 dollars I believe) with the following code: “6m6lyyn”. I’m sure there are other ways to watch it, but FITE has a solid interface and has been worth it so far.

The Card:

  • 1 Masha Slamovich defeated Janai Kai by submission Singles match
  • 2 Ninja Mack defeated Yoya by TKO Singles match
  • 3 Royce Isaacs defeated Bad Dude Tito by submission Singles match
  • 4 Alex Coughlin defeated Slade by TKO Singles match
  • 5 John Hennigan defeated Simon Gotch by TKO Singles match
  • 6 Marina Shafir defeated Zeda Zhang by submission Singles match
  • 7 JR Kratos defeated Timothy Thatcher by KO Singles match
  • 8 Yuya Uemura defeated “Speedball” Mike Bailey by submission Singles match
  • 9 Josh Barnett defeated JONAH by submission Singles match
  • 10 Jon Moxley defeated Biff Busick by TKO Singles match
  • 11 Chris Dickinson defeated Minoru Suzuki by TKO Singles match

My Thoughts:

As I’ve stated before, my methodology for this is to avoid giving arbitrary star ratings or anything resembling the typical ratings people give in wrestling reviews. I usually go through the show and pull a half-dozen or so things that I thought were significant or that I liked. You might think some of my choices are dumb and that’s okay – we all like different things!

Ninja Mack gets unmasked:

It was cool to see another side of Ninja Mack (a.k.a Kamikaze), as he ripped off his standard mask and Karate Gi for more of an MMA fighter look for the first time that I’ve ever seen. Mack seems charismatic with or without his garb and did well in a match that largely removed his ability to do high-flying moves. Yoya also surprised me, as I’ve seen him be presented in an almost comical Spike Dudley-esque way the few times I’ve seen him, here he actually seemed pretty competent and nearly had the match in the bag. This match was VERY surprising to me.

Familiar Faces:

It was cool to see Simon Gotch on here, I have been a fan of his ever since he was a member of a local Missouri area federation (WLW) under the name of Ryan Drago. He’s one of those underrated guys that I feel got a raw deal in WWE and had to re-invent himself entirely to get where he is now. He had a hell of a run in MLW, but with his upcoming foray into Pro Wrestling Noah, the sky is the limit. Having a match with “Johnny Bloodsport” John Hennigan was always going to be an uphill battle, and he hung in there as long as he could. Hennigan is always amazing wherever he goes, and seeing him here, forced to slow down a bit, was a nice change of pace.

Thatch as Thatch Can:

I think one of the cooler things in that final stretch of the original NXT was Timothy Thatcher and his “Fight Pit” concept – It was interesting and different, not try-hard like the aforementioned WWE Underground. His matches with Ciampa and Riddle were definitely highlights and I was amazed he was lost in the shuffle and let go the way he was. I would say that WWE dropped the ball but at this point it feels like they were never even interested in holding it. considering the NXT UK desperately needs people after rampant sexual abuse destroyed it’s roster, holding onto guys that wrestle in a similar style should have been a priority. This match with JR Kratos was cool as we never really see him do much technical wrestling, and Thatcher brought the best out of him.

Making up for Lost Time:

“Speedball” Mike Bailey was almost lost in the shuffle after a, quite frankly, silly border issue. Bailey was one of the MANY victims of our past administration’s efforts to grind immigration to a halt (The sector I work in BTW) when he got arrested trying to get into the United States to compete for Evolve, thus suffering a FIVE year ban. He was in the process of obtaining a Visa through Combat Zone Wrestling at the time of his ban, however the process was going extremely slowly and would have forced him to miss multiple commitments. Not saying what he did was right under any circumstance, but it is what it is. Bailey went to literally every other country seemingly and trained and became an international star preparing for his eventual return. Now wrestling just about everywhere, this guy is doing some great stuff!

Hell of a match:

How could you go wrong with a match between The War Master and Jonah? I’m becoming more and more of a fan of Barnett’s pretty much every time I see him, and he ALWAYS delivers. I also noticed recently that he has quite a few Norse-inspired tattoos which makes me like the dude even more. He even did some work with Grimfrost which is super cool. I’ve spoken a LOT about why I like Jonah and enjoy his matches – the dude is a best and a complete loss to WWE. My dream match is still to see Jonah wrestle Samoa Joe, especially with this big crossover show between AEW and NJPW coming up – fingers crossed.

Regal Would be Proud:

Hot off the heels of the introduction of the Blackpool Combat Club, Jon Moxley has tossed himself into quite a match to test his overall fighting credentials. Both he and a freshly liberated Biff Busick put on a BRUTAL match involving some of the hardest slaps I’ve seen this side of some of those professional slap contests. By the end of the match, both men are drenched in blood and barely able to walk – truly the epitome of “Blood sport”.

Conclusion:

With this being my first Bloodsport event I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect, but this went far above any expectations I had. I am usually lukewarm on worked MMA matches, but this retains enough professional wrestling rules to stay in my wheelhouse, and yet does something entirely different with them that is refreshing. The matches were unpredictable and fun, and you can tell the audience was VERY into everything. So far, this has been my favorite of these WrestleMania weekend shows, and that surprises me a lot. I will now need to go back and watch some older ones!

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