Game Changer Wrestling kicked off a big wrestling weekend by making its debut in Southern California, providing fans with an entirely different spectacle than they were sure to see the following nights.
While a GCW show itself would have sufficed in accomplishing that goal, a step further was taken by establishing it as the fourth show in a running series of Joey Janela-branded shows. Shows which fans have come to recognize as being almost completely unpredictable in the wacky matches and bizarre matchups.
Because of this, traditional match ratings should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, a show like this is not intended to be your PWG or NJPW event where great, awe-inspiring matches are expected. For a Joey Janela-branded show is anything but traditional. Nostalgia, comedy, madness, fantasy, and everything in between are what’s on tap. And no matter how sloppy, unusual, or “great” a match is, the whole point is to take a seat and go on a journey. It is all about having a good time.
The Great Sasuke vs. DJZ
Sasuke’s original opponent was supposed to be Amazing Red. But due to blizzards in the northeast, Red was unable to get a flight to the show. The card was going to be moved around, but nobody knew what was changing.
So when DJZ came out first, everyone was still expecting his original opponent, Marko Stunt, to come next. But then Sasuke’s music played and the building erupted.
This was all about the wild factor of seeing The Great Sasuke in Southern California, in 2018. And while Sasuke is much older now and nobody expects him to be having classic matches anymore, both men worked hard to have a proper fun opening match the crowd enjoyed. Sasuke was crazy enough to do a top rope senton onto the apron — missing DJZ. And in the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Sasuke did a hypnosis spot on DJZ, halting him in a daze before telekinetically throwing him in the ring.
Sasuke made a comeback in the end, powerbombing DJZ and then hitting a top rope dropkick on him while he was still down, getting the pinfall victory.
Tony Deppen vs. Jungle Boy
Jungle Boy is a wrestler that’s been growing a reputation among hardcore fans as one of the next big prospects on the indy’s. It is uncertain whether this show will help catapult him quite like Marko Stunt earlier this year, but he most certainly left an impression on a bigger stage than he’s ever had to this point.
Deppen immediately established himself as the heel and maintained it well throughout the match. And the two went on to have a hell of a match together. Jungle Boy’s flying is already impressive, and at only 21 years old, one can only imagine how much better he could become. Deppen was no slouch in the match either, doing his fair share of flying and cutting off Jungle Boy at all the right points in the match.
In particular, the near-falls in this match were especially effective and helped bring it to a proper climax after the two did so well building it up. However, it was Deppen who stole the win in the end when he got a roll-up pin while holding the tights for the three-count.
Brody King vs. Hardcore Holly
Everyone knew what this was going to be heading in. Two badass bruisers like these two — there’s only one way it can go.
This was a meat and potatoes kind of match. And that is stated in the most complimentary manner possible. Because there was nothing flashy about the match. There was nothing out of the ordinary. King and Holly just used the bare essentials of a big-man match — almost built purely around tie-ups, chops, and suplexes — and had an awesome match.
The match built along the story of who could establish control with the tie-ups and land their chops, and from there it just became a full-on mean-guy match.
Holly might be 55 years old now, but he easily has among the hardest chops in the business still to this day. We’re talking those chops that sound like gun shots going off once they hit flesh. So, of course, while completely predictable, yet in no way undesired, Holly and Brody squared off in a wild duel of chops that brought the crowd to their feet.
After landing an Alabama Slam and King kicking out, Holly went to set up another one, but was reversed and King hit a huge lariat for the pinfall.
Holly got over big with the crowd and capped the match off with a sincere promo putting over King, GCW, and the fans.
Penelope Ford vs. Human Tornado
Tornado was over huge with the fans, naturally, being a SoCal legend. But once the match began he quickly turned it around by working the nasty male heel against the underdog female, as is often natural in intergender matches.
Ford struggled to gain any sort of momentum throughout the bout. And it is a formula that worked, but would have worked far better if the match did not go so long. At several points in the match, the action was stalled too long for the sake of gaining extra heat. But it was too much. Including one point at the end of the match where Tornado had Ford beaten, but decided to taunt and gloat instead for what felt like two minutes straight.
Ford did eventually end up getting the victory, though, after countering Tornado and handstand-springboarding off the ropes into a huge DDT for the pinfall.
Ethan Page vs. D-Lo Brown
If you had forgotten the wackiness of the show, this next match had Page’s soul at stake, in a continuing vendetta of Joey Janela to get Page beaten on one of his shows.
And if that was not wacky enough, apparently the proper opponent to do it on this night was D-Lo Brown, of all people.
If you know Page, you know he’s a heel. And you’re probably not going to be cheered much anyway going up against another callback to the Attitude Era on this show.
Page kept attempting signature moves by Brown’s old Nation of Domination stablemate, The Rock, in order to get more heat, one would guess. And he did eventually end up landing a Rock Bottom for a near-fall.
Brown also got some of his signature stuff in, including his famous snap leg drop and landing the Sky High for his own near-fall.
Page eventually resorted to a chair, but upon swinging it on Brown’s back and Brown getting fired up instead, Page tossed the chair and went to get out of the ring. Once Brown stopped him and tried to give him a suplex, Page punched Brown with brass knuckles mid-suplex and got the pinfall victory.
Jimmy Lloyd vs. Chase Owens vs. Facade vs. Kikutaro vs. Delilah Doom vs. Jake Atlas vs. Takeshi Minamino — Seven-Person Scramble Match
Minamino took the place of Eli Everfly here, which pretty much confirmed the rest of the card for fans.
As random of a match as this looks on paper, that is exactly how it played out as well. Like other big multi-man matches of Janela’s other GCW shows, this match was a big, sloppy mess of a match. And, yes, that is actually a compliment.
Because what else would one expect from this? Just a wild, jumbled assortment of personalities and moves that make little sense but come out completely entertaining in the end.
Kikutaro had his comedy, Atlas had his hard-hitting moves, Lloyd was the maniac of the match, Facade has his high flying, Minamino was a fun callback to fans of old Japanese wrestling, Doom played both the underdog as well as one of the most dominant forces of the match, and Owens was the Bullet Club guy who set the foundation of the match for everyone to work off of.
It was not smooth, it was not pretty, but it was a lot of fun.
Fatu vs. KTB
If King vs. Holly was a mean-guy match, this was a sprint, hoss match. It was shorter, the pace was higher, and they got a bit more creative with the carnage.
Fatu, in particular, is far more agile than a man of his size has any right of being. And his offense is impressive, to say the least.
The match started off as a wild brawl and soon became hardcore with the introduction of doors to the match. While tables are a tried and true weapon in wrestling history, GCW’s version of that are literal doors. Fatu went through one of those via spear to the corner. And then KTB was victim to the second after a door was planked in the ring across two chairs, and Fatu moonsaulted from the top rope onto him while he was standing, through the door. Following that with an elevated Samoan drop onto the broken door for the pinfall.
Eli Everfly vs. Marko Stunt
The match got started before Stunt could even properly make his entrance as Everfly attacked him.
It was strange seeing these two matched up against someone their own size. It completely changed the dynamic of the match compared to what fans are used to seeing in both of their cases. Instead of being a big man – little man match, the two were on even playing fields.
Because of that, the match essentially became a contest of two high-flyers. And after a lot of back-and-forth in the ring, trading strikes and high spots, the action eventually spilled to the floor.
Everfly buried Stunt in chairs before setting up a door planked across a side stage and a set of wooden stairs. Stunt got the momentum briefly, attempting some sort of Death Valley Driver through the door. Everfly escaped and landed a Canadian Destroyer through the door. And that’s where the match stopped.
Stunt broke his left fibula in the spot. As his body whipped around in the Destroyer, his legs slammed onto the edge of the wooden stairs upon impact. The match was shortly called off and Stunt was taken to the hospital.
Coincidentally, your author was standing mere feet away when it happened and caught it on video for one of few proper angles to see the bad landing.
Not only a shame as the match was getting really good to that point, but an absolute shame as this means Stunt will be out of action for quite some time now as he gets ready to have surgery on his leg at the time of this writing.
An incomplete match, but fun while it lasted.
Nick Gage vs. David Arquette — GCW World Championship Match
Perhaps the pinnacle of absurd matchmaking. In one corner, you have a Hollywood actor and a former WCW World Heavyweight Champion during the year 2000 of the company when it was plunging to its death in one of its most despised angles. And in the other corner, one of the most notorious and violent deathmatch wrestlers of the business.
But you know what? This match was completely wild and an absolute blast, beyond anyone’s expectations.
Arquette played the timid guy at first. Reluctant to engage. But eventually, Gage got a hold of Arquette and the beatdown began.
What you have to remember is Arquette was a replacement for this match. Gage’s original opponent was Joey Ryan, but after suffering an injury, Arquette took his spot on a week’s notice. Arquette himself having just started wrestling again in 2018 after 18 years away.
Arquette had his hope spots, but the match was largely all Gage. And then the match started heading in directions no one expected Arquette to endure. Chairs, doors, light tubes, and even a pizza cutter wheel were introduced to the match — all used on Arquette.
By now, most everyone is aware how the match ended up. After accidently getting his neck cut by a light tube, Arquette nearly quit the match before heading back in. But shortly after, the match briefly turned into a shoot as Arquette went after Gage, before Gage got him down and the pinfall was counted.
Gage cut a promo after the match, seemingly taking a shot at Arquette for how he handled the end of the match, and then putting over the fans.
It was a wild match. More so than everyone expected. And while things got hairy at the end, somehow that actually added to the power of the match. And it will likely be one that won’t soon be forgotten.
A very hard match to rate. It was dirty, brutal, sloppy, and the ending was all screwed up in a way that added a new charm of sorts.
Bonus Review: GCW vs. Suburban Fight Pro Wrestling
Immediately after the GCW show, smart people decided there was no reason not to hold another show immediately after once the ring had been taken down. To make it as easy as possible, the show would take place in the exact same venue fans were already at.
Many fans left, and all of them missed out on a fun show well worth the extra time and money.
Jimmy Lloyd vs. Tony Deppen vs. KTB vs. Koto Hiro
If you imagine a large venue/bar with no ring set up, and some 150 rabid fans filling the space, you can imagine how a four-way match would go.
They started off slow, urging fans to close in on the action as they began a chop battle. But the action quickly broke down among the four men, forcing fans the scatter. The four men brawled freely from that point forward.
The action quickly worked its way to the main stage in the venue, and eventually a door was brought out and set up between two chairs below the stage.
Lloyd got a hold of Hiro and delivered a double-underhook piledriver off the stage, through the door, to get the victory.
Facade vs. DJZ
Give these two an open venue/bar, and you know it is going to be wild.
They brawled up and down the place. High spots were performed off of several platforms across the venue. Several times runways had to be created among the fans for a sprinting high spot to take place across the floor.
All of it eventually led to Facade climbing a ladder up to the venue’s rafters and landing a senton on DJZ from some 15 feet above for the victory in a wild finish.
Nick Gage vs. Brody King — GCW World Championship Match
If you have seen any of the LA Park vs. Rush matches, then you can picture this match perfectly. Two savages squaring off, and they cannot wait to get a piece of one another. Gage made his way down the stairs and King was already headed towards him to start fighting.
The brawl began immediately and it never ceased. Nothing flashy whatsoever, just straight intensity and violence from beginning to end. Again, picture Park vs. Rush or old Bruiser Brody brawls, and this one fits right in that genre.
Gage and King beat the hell out of each other.
Towards the end, they start calling for chairs and a small fort of chairs is set up on the floor. Mind you, after King has put Gage through a door against the wall and they’ve been beating each other with the remnants.
King nearly powerbombs Gage through the chair fort, but Gage escapes and lands a Death Valley Driver through the chairs to get the pinfall. An absolute war.