-Phil Baroni vs. Dominic Garrini – Great heel heat from Phil Jabro.. Baroni. Garrini was 10x better here in the Grace babyface role than that 1-star thing he had with KTB from last year’s inaugural Bloodsport. Although Phil knocks Dom out on his second hook that sent the EVOLVE wrestler to the mat, the ref reverses the decision since Phil is such a dick. We’re already off to a wild start. – 2.75/5
–JR Kratos vs. Simon Grimm – Not even the great Simon Gotch of Vaudevillain fame can handle the might of KRATOS! What a name. Only HHH would be more suitable. This was a nice pro wrestling match with a KO powerbomb finish. Just like we’ve seen in the UFC, yes you can get KO’d by a hard AF slam. – 3.25/5
-Killer Kross vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr. – Kudos to this line-up Josh and the GCW crew out together. Since last year’s Bloodsport was such a disappointment (I only cared for 3 of the matches with a 2.75/5 overall), I didn’t bother heading to Jersey early Thursday for this one. Huge mistake. I always heard Henry Smith was a real shoot guy, so it was cool to see glimpses of that style here. More impressively, his mat technique resembled Kurt Angle in his prime. Kross was a solid opponent for him, too. Can DBSJ just be this way forever? – 3.5-3.75/5
-Jonathan Gresham vs. Masashi Takeda – Takeda would go on to have a 4-star Death Match at Spring Break, so what would he do here? Oh, nearly the same! While completely diff than bashing light tubes and beer cans over Jake Lloyd’s cranium, Big Japan’s Takeda delivered a very intense mat-wrestling game that we know the Octopus more for. Gresham throws some crazy hands and wild kicks and that’s where this match excels, with Takeda matching Jonathan in every realm. All bloodied up, Masashi throws an absolute bonkers knee to finish off Gresham. What. A… Fight! – 3.75/5
-Andy Williams vs. Chris Dickinson – Pretty wild for what it was, with two jarheads throwing bombs until they drop. This wasn’t as exciting as Dickinson’s shoot(?) with The Beast last year, but still pretty good. – 3/5
–Frank Mir vs. Dan Severn – Speaking of The Beast, I’m not sure if this was a legitimate squash due to Mir’s youth edge over Severn, or a ploy to give Frank some eyes towards the Performance Center with Regal in attendance. Either way, Mir may have fucked it all up with his thoughtless post-match promo that I won’t repeat here. – N/A
-Timothy Thatcher vs. Hideki Suzuki – Back to pro wrestling. Thatcher has the best (aka ugliest) facials in the industry. Suzuki appears unconcerned with Thatcher’s intensity. While their methodical grappling style might put some drunks in the audience to sleep, they both hit some serious suplexes including a shoot/”shoot”(??) backbreaker that sends Thatcher to another time zone. – 3.5/5
–Minoru Suzuki vs. Josh Barnett – Suzuki battles the figurehead of Bloodsport again. While last year’s Matt Riddle and Suzuki main event was great for 8-minutes, the fans in attendance got far more than their money’s worth with this one! It went at a relentless, scintillating pace the entire 20-minute plus time limit. Every time the former PRIDE/UFC star controlled the ground, Suzuki found a way to get a hold of Josh’s limbs.. much to the crowd’s delight. Although I’m sure there have been others, Minoru is also the most dastardly babyface I can think of. While marks have always rooted for heels, when was the last time they loved a (non-Death Match) guy this sadistic? Mankind? Suzuki played to the crowd but still did his usual thing, smashing Barnett with stiff forearms and terrifying knees and went after the ref whenever the little twirp got too close. He even –and most hilariously!– attempted to kick-shoo the zebra outside of the ring.
After several fujiwara attempts and heavy germans, both monsters flailed some wild shots as time would expire. The crowd boos because they want more. They get more! This Bloodsport is for the people and the additional 5-minutes raises this great match to a superior one. Usually when a crowd is granted more time it’s more of the same, but these ageless wonders take it to another place: Josh lands a wild high arching kick that Minoru half-sells. Following a guillotine attempt and a rear-naked choke, Suzuki bites the arm! Crowd goes apeshit! He then transitions into a leglock while biting Barnett’s foot! They both say some shit while locked up on the mat and the time expires again. Crowd boos for two seconds before realizing they just witnessed a Mania Weekend classic and burst into uproarious cheers. No wonder people couldn’t stop talking about this match at other shows. – 4.5/5
Overall = 3.5/5 Bloody Bibles
The biggest mistake I made this past weekend was not going to this show. After the 2.75/5 overall effort last year, I didn’t believe them and never gave it a thought. Nothing against the Broooo, but major props to Josh Barnett and crew for solving all of the issues of last year, tightening up the direction, rules, presentation and match-ups. I can imagine my ratings being even more bloated in person. Bloodsport 2019 was a very good show with an amazing crowd and tremendous efforts by all. I’m now looking forward to next year’s follow-up as much as any other GCW, High Spots, or WWN produced Mania Weekend show. Bravo.