Game Changer Wrestling
Tournament Of Survival 4
June 1, 2019
The Showboat
Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA

Watch: FITE tv

I never thought I’d be here, turning my back on puro reviews, but this GCW show looks legitimately great. I’ve kept up with GCW all year, and while many have probably only seen their WrestleMania weekend shows, the promotion has been consistent throughout 2019 and has really gotten back to their death match roots.

This is their big yearly eight-man deathmatch tournament, the so-called “Tournament of Survival,” which is in its fourth year, previously having been won by Danny Havoc, Nick Gage, and Ciclope. This year’s field is the most stacked yet and features the top deathmatch wrestler on two different continents with both the BJW Death Match Heavyweight Champion Isami Kodaka and Gage, the GCW Heavyweight Champion in the mix. GCW also brought in rising Japanese deathmatch star Toshiyuki Sakuda and the legendary Great Sasuke along with GCW regulars Alex Colon, Orin Veidt, G-Raver, and Jimmy Lloyd.

Tournament of Survival 4 First Round Match
G-Raver def. Nick Gage

Gage is the only previous champion to be back in the Tournament of Survival, he took on G-Raver in the opening match of the night. I think I’ve watched all of the Gage title defenses this year, but I still don’t really understand why he has a cowardly heel manager now, because it obviously doesn’t fit with the “MDK” character.

Gage jumped Raver before the bell and played to the AC crowd throughout. While I don’t think he’s the best wrestler in the promotion, you can clearly see why Gage has been strapped up for so long, the dude is a legit star. The crowd went wild throughout the finishing stretch, and Raver picked up the upset with a roll up.

This started off really hot but probably went a little too long and they messed some stuff up in the closing stretch. Overall a pretty good little opener with a shocking result. ***1/4

Tournament of Survival 4 First Round Match
Isami Kodaka def. Orin Veidt

On its face, it may seem like Kodaka is the obvious favorite to win this tournament, why would Big Japan let their champ go lose in another promotion? However, GCW is running a doubleheader in Japan a few months from now and I realized while watching this that a Kodaka loss could be used to set up the main event for one of those two shows.

There were a ton of crazy spots in this one and had a little bit of the opposite problem of the last one, I wanted it to go longer. Kodaka finished Veidt with a combination of knees and a superkick through the light tubes in a really fun match. ***1/2

Tournament of Survival 4 First Round Match
Jimmy Lloyd def. Great Sasuke

Lloyd has been one of the fastest rising stars on the US indie scene, and he broke out this WrestleMania weekend in a great deathmatch against Masashi Takeda in the main event of the first Spring Break show. He took on another former Spring Break main eventer here in the legendary Great Sasuke.

They brought out the barbed wire boards for this one. Sasuke had an incredible match here for his age, and while they did result to the ol’ “deathmatch comedy” from time to time it completely worked for the structure of the match.

This wasn’t really your standard 2019 Big Japan style work rate deathmatch but it was a ton of fun and way over-delivered on my expectations. Lloyd picked up the win with the Assault Driver on a saw board. ***1/2

Tournament of Survival 4 First Round Match
Alex Colon def. Toshiyuki Sakuda

This was far and away the most anticipated match of the opening round. Colon has shown himself to be the top deathmatch wrestler in the west over the past couple of years and Sakuda has been a rising star in Japan, having incredible matches with both Jun Kasai and Masashi Takeda earlier this year (****1/4 and ****1/2 respectively, both of which are available to watch for free) and has quietly climbed to being a top five deathmatch wrestler in the world.

Sakuda wrestled for a solid five minutes with a skewer in his mouth, I’ve seen him do it before so I was a little numb to it, but if you’ve never seen it, it can be borderline hard to watch even for deathmatch fans, even one of the commentators sounded quite squeamish throughout.

They worked this at a crazy pace with a ton of crazy looking spots. I will say it didn’t quite have the flow that the two previously mentioned Sakuda matches had, but the spots were just as great if not better at some points. Colon hit a Styles Clash through light tubes for the win in a banging match. ****

This is where we got an intermission, and now would be a good time to point out that we’re getting Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 2 coming up on September 14th in Atlantic City.

Scramble Match
KTB def. Joshua Bishop, Matthew Justice, Kikutaro, Grim Reefer, El Presidente Sanchez

This was a non-tournament wacky scramble match. Once I hear the line “He broke his finger with his rectum! I didn’t know he had a rectum like that!” I kind of check out of a match. Joshua Bishop and Matthew Justice both impressed in their respective debuts and got me back into it, and the match picked up a bunch after the Kikutaro comedy went away and it essentially just became a collection of sick looking spots. KTB picked up the win by tossing two guys through some doors. ***1/2

Tournament of Survival 4 Semifinal Match
G-Raver def. Jimmy Lloyd

I love both of these guys. This was high paced with a ton of incredible spots for this being each guys’ second deathmatch of the night. I love G-Raver’s offense, he’s so innovative.

This delved into being a spotfest/no sell sort of deal, so a warning if you hate that, but it worked perfectly for me, with Raver hitting a crazy looking Canadian Destroyer through weapons and the young Lloyd kicking out at one before eventually being put away with the flying knee. They must see the same things I see in G-Raver as they gave him wins over both the present and the future of the company in Gage and Lloyd. Tremendous match, Raver advances to the finals with the win. ****1/4

Tournament of Survival 4 Semifinal Match
Alex Colon def. Isami Kodaka

I’m not sure how motivated a guy like Kodaka was for this tournament, but they clearly were trying to get in and out of here really quickly, and I can’t blame these guys, one of whom would have to wrestler three death matches in the same night. They started at a quick pace and kept it up throughout the entire match. Colon blocked the light tube superkick and caught the BJW Death Match Heavyweight Champion with a backslide for the shocking quick win, likely securing him a title shot in the future. I’d love to see these two not tired and with a little bit more time. ***1/4

Tournament of Survival 4 Final Match
Alex Colon def. G-Raver

They brought out the barbed wire ropes for this one. They mentioned in the pre-match how Colon went through two of the top Japanese death match wrestlers to get to the finals while G-Raver had to beat two of the top American death match wrestlers, which I found a little interesting. Both guys looked sick with blood just caked on them from their previous matches. About a minute into the match, Raver goes through the barbed wire rope and gets tangled up, also hitting his head on the floor, and they have to call off the match as Raver is helped to the back. NR

Tournament of Survival 4 Final Match
Alex Colon def. SHLAK, Jimmy Lloyd

The crowd started chanting for SHLAK, who lost a qualifying match on a previous show and was just chilling in the crowd drinking a beer. He finishes his drink and charges into the ring with a light tube and the two exchange shots. Jimmy Lloyd then comes out and we now have a three-way match as the Tournament of Survival Final.

I have a ton of respect for these guys, they put together a great match on the fly while dealing with an awful situation. You wouldn’t be able to tell that this wasn’t the planned match, they meshed together seamlessly and the spots flowed with ease. Colon lost a lot of blood throughout, taking on both men before hitting a death valley driver off the ring apron onto a table covered in glass, which didn’t break. He pinned Lloyd on the table, leading to some confusion, and the VOD abruptly ended, but this was way better than it had any right to be. ***3/4

Final Thoughts 

Overall a great tournament despite the tough situation in the main event that was of course out of their control. The future of GCW looks great and it seems Colon, Raver, and Lloyd are all being positioned for big roles in the future which is exciting to me heading into the Japan shows in August.