On Thursday, April 4, 2024, Game Changer Wrestling (GCW) and Josh Barnett presented Bloodsport X. Bloodsport is an interesting concept. It is an homage to the early pioneering days of pro wrestling and the many incarnations of shoot style wrestling from Japanese wrestling history. The ring has no ropes, and the competitors wrestle a stripped-down style. That style focuses on a mixture of striking, grappling, and pro wrestling high spots. There were numerous competitors with legitimate martial arts backgrounds mixed throughout the show. The most famous competitor being WWE’s Shayna Baszler.

Shayna Baszler was not the only WWE contracted wrestler on the card. Charlie Dempsey also made an appearance. This is his second venture outside of WWE for another promotion’s show. For Baszler, this is her first foray outside WWE since she signed with WWE. The fact that two WWE wrestlers made appearances is a departure from the typical WWE policy. WWE wrestlers do not work matches outside of WWE. Except now they have. (And seen in the crowd were CM Punk, Nia Jax and Braun Strowman … and probably some others better hidden.)

Dempsey’s appearance was not advertised as of yesterday, so it was a surprise for me when he came out. Baszler though was the bigger story. For weeks, we had known Shayna would be on the show. Bloodsport announced that she would be facing a TNA contracted wrestler, Masha Slamovich. WWE allowing Shayna to do the show was intriguing enough, but now she was matched up with a wrestler from another promotion.

Shayna Baszler’s credentials have been part of her story since her arrival in WWE. She has a background in Mauy Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. She also trained with Josh Barnett in his catch wrestling style. Her time in the UFC was brief, but she did make the finals of The Ultimate Fighter. Baszler’s MMA background is a long and decorated one. The Bloodsport style seems a natural fit for her.

Johnny Rodz trained Masha Slamovich. She has wrestled professionally since 2016. She has won titles in several independent promotions, most notably the GCW heavyweight title. As mentioned, she is currently a TNA contracted wrestler. I searched for any type of martial arts background for Masha but did not find any. She has, however, wrestled in a promotion called Combat Fights Unlimited (yes, UFC backwards), which uses a style like Bloodsport. She had a match with Marina Shafir that was decent.

After the grainy, underground looking intro video, the ring announcer went over the rules. He then introduced all the competitors. It was at this point that Dempsey appeared. The crowd seemed surprised and happy to see him. The crowd was packed and were feet away from the ring. There was also no guard rail. It made for an intense, intimate setting.

Match #1: Akira Way vs. Viktor Benjamin

Viktor came out with strange looking hand wraps. They looked like ropes. It made for some awkward moments as the ropes kept coming loose. The crowd was firmly behind Akira Way. Looking at his background, he has participated in several “death matches” so the GCW crowd loved him. The announcers talked about how tough Way was because he gets hit with light tubes. I am not sure I would call that tough. He did not appear to have much if any background in Martial Arts. He did not really look like an athlete either. Just a regular guy. Benjamin won with a spin kick KO. It was an okay match. They did do that I hit you, now you hit me spot that all the wrestlers do nowadays. The crowd hated the finish.

Match #2: Nic Nemeth vs. Speedball Mike Bailey

The announcers go over the credentials of both men. Nemeth was a college wrestler and Bailey has a background in Tae Kwon Do. Bailey came out to “Brass Monkey” by the Beastie Boys. The crowd sang along. They played to their backgrounds. Bailey used kicks early, while Nemeth attempted takedowns. Twice Nemeth nearly threw Bailey out of the ring. The third time Bailey falls out. Then a fourth time Nemeth dumped him outside again. Bailey hit a great kick into an arm bar, which popped the crowd. Nemeth hit a Zig Zag into a choke for the win. Nemeth by choke. Looked like an MMA match. Great action.

Match #3: Lindsay Snow vs. Lady Frost

This one, thankfully, was short. The only background the announcers spoke of is that Frost did gymnastics and Snow did Jiu Jitsu. The match was awkward.
Snow by knee bar.

Match #4: Janai Kai vs. Marina Shafir

Kai is another wrestler who competed on Combat Fights Unlimited, but otherwise she has no notable background in martial arts. At least not competitively. Shafir, on the other hand, has a background in MMA and Judo. She has appeared on AEW in some memorably bad segments, but she looked comfortable and intense in this environment. It is unfortunate the match was a mess. Shafir by choke. She was selling an ankle injury after the match.

Match #5: Matt Makowski vs. Charlie Dempsey

Makowski has a lengthy martial arts background including a black belt in BJJ. Charlie Dempsey, the WWE employee, and son of William Regal, to a pop. The announcers rattled off twelve monikers for Makowski (not really, but more than I could keep track of). One announcer said of Dempsey, “He’s a man.” Referencing a hilarious entrance theme the WWE once gave his father. This match was good and maybe the best match on the show. The grappling was exceptional, and it never looked cooperative. It looked like a struggle. Makowski mixed some Mauy Thai in when they were on their feet. Dempsey did some pro wrestling spots. I would highly recommend seeing this match. This was a clinic. Dempsey by tap with the double wrist lock.

Match #6: Fuminori Abe vs. Takuya Namura

These two are partners in a team named The Astronauts. The crowd ate this match up, but I was bored a few minutes in. It was a typical pro wrestling spots. Neither seemed particularly good at executing them either. We were gifted another trading slaps spot, which I hate with passion. They did do a headbutt spot that drew blood. Otherwise, I did not care. With all the hard-hitting action earlier, even a legit headbutt did not do it for me. The crowd chanted “this is awesome,” though.
Nomura by choke. The crowd liked it. Shrugs. They had a package for Joey Janela’s Spring Break 8. I will give that one a hard pass.

Match #7: Erik Jammer vs. Lou Nixon

Nixon has a legitimate background in martial arts. Hammer is a student of Josh Barnett. So, I expected more than I got here. The action early was good, but then we had another trading slaps spot. The finish looked terrible as Hammer had the double wrist lock, but he slipped off moments before the ref randomly stopped the match. The crowd hated it and I agreed with them. Hammer by hand slippage.

Match #8: Minoru Suzuki vs. Royce Isaacs

I want to note that the show was getting a little long for me. Not in actual time, the show went less than three hours, but in the number of matches. They began to blur together. Having said that the “Murder Grandpa” Minoru Suzyuki was over like a god here. Every facial expression they would pop. They grappled early, which looked good. There was a hilarious spot where Isaacs backed off Suzuki’s back and Suzuki, wanting to continue grappling, presented his butt to Isaacs. He was face down with his butt in the air shaking it to entice Isaacs. In another crowd pleasing, hilarious moment, Suzuki went outside the ring. Then re-entered only to break the count and roll back out. He then repeated that and went to sit next to a fan. Some fun stuff. Of course, we had to end the hilarity with some more slap fighting — this time it was a trading forearms spot, which looked weak. Is that four times in one night? Someone please make this stop. Suzuki by Gotch Style Piledriver.

Match #9: Timothy Thatcher vs. Axel Tischer

This match was awesome. The grappling was great with tiny details like Thatcher raking a fist across Tischer’s face. Both men had noticeable bruising early in the match. It looked like a struggle, and it was here that I wondered how they were calling the match? It looked more like they were reacting to each other rather than calling spots. There were a few wrestling spots thrown in that looked great and were set up with all the grappling. I highly recommend this match. Thatcher with the Fujiwara armbar.

Match #10: Shayna Baszler vs. Masha Slamovich

This was the match everyone had been talking about. There were “holy s—t” chants as Shayna came out accompanied by Zoe Stark. Then it turned to “Masha, Masha” chants. The GCW crowd loves their hardcore wrestlers.

They grappled early, which makes sense for a couple reasons. One, it is safer for Shayna. There is less chance of getting hurt than doing the normal high spots. Two, she has the background for it and that is a big part of the Bloodsport Style.

There were a couple of beautiful sequences, with Shayna hitting a flurry of punches that Masha reversed into an armbar. Another one, Shayna had the Rear Naked Choke, but subtly took her “hooks” out and allowed Masha to reverse out of it. Unless you have watched a lot of MMA, you would not have noticed she released the legs.
Shayna won with a series of kicks to the back and back of the head while Masha laid on the ground covering it. The crowd hated the finish. Masha held up her end and looked surprisingly good in this environment. This was Shayna’s world though.

Shayna by stoppage.

Match #11: Marina Shafir vs. Lindsay Snow

Before the match, a referee walked out with the Women’s Tournament Trophy. The crowd did not react at all. Yet, he would stop and almost bow as he showed off the trophy. Like he was thanking the crowd for the noise they were not making. Hilarious. The highlights of the match were Shafir throwing her socks to the fans; Snow coming out to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton; and Snow’s head tattoos. Otherwise, it was not good. Shafir kicked Snow in the head and sent her crashing from the ring. Shafir by ref stoppage.

Match #12: Josh Barnett vs. Johnny Bloodsport

It is time for the main event. Johnny looked great coming out and Josh, of course, is a tank of a man. The match was awkward with the announcers even noting some of Johnny’s moves were weird. Barnett hit a spinning heel kick, which was awesome. Then hit an awkward suplex (?) or something for the win. It looked bad.
Barnett by KO.

Overall, a very entertaining night. I would have liked it more with a shorter card. Both WWE wrestlers looked great, with Dempsey having the highlight of the show. I recommend the show overall and especially the Dempsey, Thatcher, and Baszler matches.