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Josh Barnett's Bloodsport results: Minoru Suzuki vs. Barnett

We kickoff GCW's full slate of unique shows over the next three days with Josh Barnett's Bloodsport, a show Barnett recently talked about at length on my podcast for the website.

For those not familiar with this style, there's a specific ruleset: fights can be stopped by KO, submission, forfeit, or dq only. Action is stopped and restarted once it spills to the edge or outside of the ring.

From the White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, NJ, via the magic of Fite.TV, let's get to it.

Dominic Garrini defeated Phil Baroni by referee decision reversal

The former MMA fighter Baroni came out in wrestling shoes and MMA gloves while Garrini was in a BJJ gi with accompanying purple belt. Baroni dumped Garrini on the ground, but Garrini wanted the action on the ground so that didn't last long. Baroni laid in some ground and pound which almost led to an Garrini omoplata. Baroni was the heel, calling for timeout and was disliked because he wasn't a pro wrestler like Garrini. He played the crowd a lot and they gave it right back.

The end came when Baroni hit a right hand that knocked out Garrini for a 10 count. However, Baroni put his hands on the referee which led him to reversing the decision. This was a short match, but was entertaining in spots. It was a good introduction to this style which was completely different than traditional pro wrestling.

J.R. Kratos defeated Simon Grimm by knockout

Kratos is a massive guy and resembles a much bigger Jay Glazer. Grimm is the former Simon Gotch of WWE sans moustache and employing a more strong style persona. This featured a lot of amateur wrestling and jiu jitsu along with some big slaps and elbows. The end came when Kratos (bleeding from the nose) hit a big slam as Grimm was attempting an armbar, followed by a flying elbow to the grounded Grimm for the knockout. This was very entertaining if you like physical, no nonsense matches.

Two matches in and you can see how this style can be a big challenge to some pro wrestlers. With no ropes or near falls available, that eliminates transitions and spots you'd normally see, leaving the guys to use strikes and chain wrestling to flow through the match. 

Davey Boy Smith Jr. defeated Killer Kross by submission

DBS is a Barnett disciple while Kross has been in Impact Wrestling as of late. The two started out trading kicks, but it didn't take too long to go to the ground with the grappler Smith. Kross tried for a toehold that Smith tried to reverse into a Sharpshooter that Kross then reversed into a leglock attempt but both guys rolled to the outside in a fun sequence. Smith had Kross seemingly beat several times with submissions, but every time, they would roll to the ring apron. The ref would break them up which turned the crowd against Kross.

Both guys were exchanging hard slaps, kicks, and suplexes in the final few minutes. The end came when Smith was able to transition to a crossface for the tap. This was fun, but the final few minutes were really awesome. The crowd absolutely loved it as did I.

Masashi Takeda defeated Jonathan Gresham by referee stoppage

Gresham is the fast riding darling of the indie scene, while Takeda is a deathmatch wrestler who sports a ton of scars all over his body. After a few minutes of amateur wrestling, action spilled to the outside where a slapfight broke out and Takeda threatened using a chair which escalated things a bit. Takeda also started bleeding from the head. Gresham later worked on the cut with hammerfists that the crowd ate up, chanting 'GCW' when Takeda made a comeback. 

After Gresham hit a flurry of kicks, Takeda hit a huge knee that floored Gresham followed by some ground and pound that ended it. The crowd really got into this late which amped things up considerably. Once things escalated outside the ring, this match went from ok to really good.

Chris Dickinson defeated Andy Williams (w/Pepper Parks) by submission

Williams is part of The Butcher & The Blade tag team with Pepper Parks and the band Every Time I Die while Dickinson is a fan favorite through Northeast indies. I believe he replaced 'Filthy' Tom Lawlor was was unfortunately pulled from the show. The two started slapping the hell out of each other like a real fight. Williams hit our first powerbomb of the night and went into ground and pound mode. Dickinson reversed things and landed some more punches and slaps. Williams tried a rollthrough but Dickinson clamped on the rear naked choke for the tap in a quick match that really resembled a fight.

Frank Mir def. Dan Severn by submission

This was a clash of former UFC champions. Baroni randomly came out to shake hands with Mir and then corner him. Mir was smiling, but looked nervous for his first pro wrestling match, dressed in a sleeveless rash guard and Bellator shorts.

Severn controlled the action early which featured a lot of ground work. Mir locked in a heel hook and Severn just submitted out of nowhere in a very short match. Mir did a promo afterward that was hard to hear because the audio wasn't piped into the broadcast. It was something about taking on Brock Lesnar and the crowd changed "Sign him, Regal" as he left. This was the most disappointing match of the night to this point.

Hideki Suzuki defeated Timothy Thatcher by referee decision

This was nearly all chain wrestling and the first part of the show to this point where things started to drag a bit. Both guys were flawless in transitioning from lock to lock to lock without any slow down. Suzuki hit a big knee and Thatcher came back with an enziguri to tempoarily regain the advantage. the end came when Suzuki hit a double arm suplex that knocked Thatcher silly for the stoppage. The commentators speculated that Thatcher had his bell rung. Post-match, Suzuki threw his towel in Thatcher's face before eventually shaking his hand. The crowd came alive at the end of the match.

Josh Barnett vs. Minoru Suzuki went to a time limit draw

The crowd was into this from the second Suzuki's music hit. Both guys eased into things early with a lot of back and forth exchanges. Suzuki flashed a leg lock or heel hook that popped the crowd with Barnett showing off his armbars late on. Both guys showed off an intensity, especially as they were in submissions, that really stood out. Barnett did a great job selling for his smaller opponent who didn't fight like he was smaller. 

Action eventually spilled to the outside and the referee didn't do anything about it, eventually getting a Suzuki strike for his trouble. Suzuki hit a chair shot on Barnett on the floor who then fired up and laid his opponent out with a big boot. They got back in the ring sans referee where Barnett hit some elbows and a side headlock before hitting a gut wrench suplex. The men then traded elbows and a few headbutts for several minutes which the crowd quieted down for so they could hear the slap.

The final 30 seconds featured both men unloading slaps, strikes, knees, and kicks before the 20-minute time limit expired....until both guys agreed to five more minutes. 

Barnett his a series of kicks that just fired Suzuki up more, leading to a suplex that fired him up even more before he collapsed and got locked in a Barnett rear naked choke. Suzuki bit his way out of it and eventually bit the toes of Barnett's boot. Suzuki then worked Barnett through a series of painful looking submissions before the two locked on matching heel hooks as time expired again.

The two embraced and bowed as they got a standing ovation from the crowd. If you're an MMA fan that likes pro wrestling, you need to watch this show.

Other Notes:

- The event was sans the red mat from last year's Matt Riddle-named event. Instead, it was a traditional pro wrestling mat with advertising on it with no ropes.

- I didn't like the commentary at times. There was too much complaiing about the referee's actions, a little too much swearing, and a lack of calling some of the moves. It was fairly easy to get past, but when it stood out, often it was for the wrong reasons.