Game Changer Wrestling
Tournament of Survival 5
August 22, 2o20
The Sandlot at the Showboat
Atlantic City, NJ


It feels trite to lead any review with “2020 has been cruel to…” because it has been spectacularly cruel to everyone and everything everywhere, but the point still stands: GCW has had to deal with uncertainty, changed plans, and major injuries this year. Going into 2020, the ongoing Rickey Shane Page vs. Nick Gage feud was looking to be a year-shaping and, perhaps, promotion-defining feud. The long-awaited Gage vs. RSP match at February’s “Run Rickey, Run” show ended in a near-riot, with fans showering the ring with garbage and RSP and his 44OH crew having to quite literally fight their way out of the building. Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic halted the feud’s momentum and left the idea of a rematch and conclusion hanging in the air. Then, finally, after returning to shows in June and getting their feet wet again, GCW was able to reignite the feud during its Homecoming weekend in late July, scheduling a 44OH vs. Gage and Shlak match on night 2 that put Gage’s wrestling career on the line against a future title shot. Once again, life was cruel; Gage suffered an apparent major achilles injury during an early Beyond show just hours before the planned match. It isn’t clear if Gage would have been in this tournament, but he certainly would have factored into the plans of this show. 

Tournament of Survival is traditionally the tentpole of the GCW year and one of two annual deathmatch tournaments thrown by the company (the other being the Nick Gage Invitational). This is the 5th edition. It traditionally features 8 of the best deathmatch wrestlers from around the world. Of course, this year limits the availability of international talent, so GCW has pooled 8 from its own roster, including a few not normally known for deathmatches. 

This year’s competitors:

  • Alex Colon (2019 winner, 3rd TOS)
  • Rickey Shane Page (GCW Champ, 1st TOS)
  • Atticus Cogar (1st TOS)
  • Shane Mercer (1st TOS)
  • Eric Ryan (2nd TOS)
  • Allie Kat (1st TOS)
  • Jimmy Lloyd (3rd TOS)
  • SHLAK (3rd TOS)

Tournament of Survival 5 First Round Match
Rickey Shane Page def. Jimmy Lloyd

Page is a true rarity in wrestling: a heel with absolutely no redeeming factors. There’s nothing to cheer for, no “cool” factor. Immediately, he’s met with boos and jeers. Before the match starts, he calls out the injured Gage, knowing GCW’s ace will not be able to answer due to injury. He also states that members of 44OH (RSP, Cogar and Ryan) will have no problem facing each other in this tournament. Gage joins Kevin Gill on commentary.

After Lloyd comes out fast, RSP is the first to use light tubes, using them to change the tide in his favor. He then immediately slows down the match. Lloyd tries to use a gusset plate (you know those metal things that hold wooden plates together? Yeah, that), but is countered with an armbar that ends with RSP scraping Lloyd’s bare arm with the plate, leading to the first blood of the day. Shortly after, his forehead is stuck with another plate. Lloyd quickly makes a comeback; he’s relying more on wrestling maneuvers than weapons. He does try to throw some tubes at Page, but Page shrugs them off with a knee and again gains the momentum, pulling out possibly the most disgusting move in the deathmatch playlist: the syringe through the cheek. In this case, one isn’t enough and RSP sticks another syringe through the other cheek and squeezes the liquid out of both,creating a pretty sick visual. Still, Lloyd doesn’t give up and keeps making his own comebacks. Meanwhile, Gage is calling Page a pussy throughout most of the match, which would be annoying from anyone else, but works here because it’s Nick Gage, it’s GCW, and this is shaping up to be the biggest feud in company history. Despite Lloyd gaining the advantage when he actually wrestles RSP cleanly without weapons, he dumps a box of syringes on a door set up on two tables. RSP counters Lloyd’s attempt to get him through the table with his own successful one, then hitting Gage’s trademark Chokebreaker and advancing to the next round without losing a drop of blood.

This was a solid match. It relied more on the ongoing story of Page running rampant in GCW. Despite the syringe spot, it was barely a deathmatch, which hurts in a tournament built around them, but it still served a purpose and set the groundwork for the rest of the show.

Tournament of Survival 5 First Round Match
Eric Ryan Def. Shane Mercer

To begin, there is a glass pane set up in one corner, a barbed wire board in another, and tubes and bundles on the canvas. Shane Mercer enters carrying a mace, wearing a denim vest, looking like a complete badass. He’s made a name for himself in GCW over the past year or two by doing impressive strength and agility spots. I’m very excited to see how it translates here. His opponent, 44OH member Eric Ryan, enters with his trademark fork necklace. Meanwhile, Nick Gage apologizes for taking a break from commentary to say hi to one of his boys. (Side note – So far, Gage has been great on commentary: he’s putting over the matches and the competitors, he’s sticking to his own story, and he comes off as real and endearing. I have no idea how long he’ll be out for, but I hope he stays at the commentary table for as long as he can’t wrestle.)

This match starts hot, with Ryan attacking Mercer and immediately stabbing him in the head with a fork. Mercer powers through the stabbing, grabs Ryan and throws him through the pane of glass with a belly-to-belly suplex. Mercer then grabs his mace and starts destroying Ryan with it, smashing tubes over him with it and using it to strangle Ryan as well. A mace is a pretty awesome specialty weapon in a deathmatch. Ryan, the 2020 IWA Mid-South King of the Deathmatch, doesn’t stay down for long and dives through the ropes to the outside holding a bundle of tubes, then returns to maiming Mercer with the fork. Mercer picks up Ryan to do gorilla presses, holds him above his head with one arm, grabs a bundle of tubes, and slams Ryan down one-handed while simultaneously smashing the glass over his flying body all at the same time. This was an incredible spot. A few minutes later, Mercer hits a Croyt’s Wrath onto the barbed wire board. This is exactly what I was hoping for: Mercer mixing his feats of strength with Ryan’s pure insanity. Mercer now goes to the top to stop Ryan, catches him in a powerslam position, and does a moonsault powerslam that looks like it was supposed to be through tubes; they missed, but this didn’t hurt the impressiveness of the spot. Ryan makes a comeback, hits a flip into a corner through tubes but only gets a two count. Both men’s bodies are stained with blood and the canvas is covered in shards of glass, making every move seem like it hurts just a little more. Ryan gets a single leg crab, then transitions to holding Mercer’s ankle while stomping his head in, forcing the ref to stop the match. My first impression was that after seeing some of the impressive spots in the match, the finish was a little underwhelming, but after I thought about it, I realized that grounding Mercer and destroying him until he couldn’t continue was a great conclusion. Since he’s a 44OH member, you never quite know if the rest of the crew will be involved in a Ryan match, but thankfully they were nowhere to be seen here.

MUST SEE. This match was awesome. This was a fast-paced match filled with big spots and blood, with both guys busting their asses and delivering. 

Nick Gage just gave a shout out to a 12-year-old and says that anyone who has an issue with him will see Gage or his gang. Then, he calls the production crew pussies because he wanted a mic during matches so he could get closer to the action when it spilled outside the ring, but was denied. I could listen to him talk all day.

Tournament of Survival 5 First Round Match
Atticus Cogar def. Allie Kat

Allie Kat has been proving herself in GCW for about a year, having bloody matches with the likes of Nick Gage and Mance Warner, and is the first female TOS competitor ever. Cogar is the last member of 44OH in the tournament. In what has become a trend in the first three matches, Kat comes out fast and starts attacking Cogar right away. Unfortunately, she’s also the first to take a tube shot. Cogar delivers a brutal German suplex that folds Kat in half, then takes out the wooden skewers made popular by Masada. Although she tries to resist, Cogar is able to stick the skewers into the top of Allie Kat’s head, causing them to fan out. He then kicks her with the skewers still there. They spend the next few minutes setting up someone going through a soda can board, only for Kat to trip and slightly miss lariating Cogar through it. Luckily, she did realize this, got back up and crossbodied him through. After some back and forth, Cogar hits a big Air Raid Crash though bundles on top of a chair, leading to a big Allie Kat kickout to major cheers. The momentum doesn’t last long. Cogar stuns her with a punch on the ropes. He reaches for a mystery grocery bag and reveals lighter fluid! He douses a door with the fluid and lights it on fire. While sometimes this spot backfires and the fire goes out, it didn’t here, and Allie Kat was quickly powerbombed through it. Stunningly, she kicked out again, before finally getting spiked on her head and taking the pin. I’ll admit to not being the biggest fan of hers, but Kat really did deliver, taking major moves and not looking too clunky or awkward on offense. Meanwhile, all 3 44OH members have advanced to the next round, meaning there will be at least one face off between the faction today.

Good match. Solid action with an awesome, fire-scorched finish. 

A dad just tweeted in and said his son is watching GCW for the first time, but likes 44OH. What does Gage have to say to young Aiden? “Listen to the God of this shit. My name is Nick Gage, I’m the leader of the MDK Gang, the greatest deathmatch wrestler in the world, and I want to give you a little lesson to let you know that them guys, them 44OH guys, are called pussies, ok, and if you don’t know what a pussy is, ask your father.”

Tournament of Survival 5 First Round Match
Alex Colon def. Shlak

Alex Colon has long been the best American deathmatch wrestler. He comes out to a hero’s welcome here. For the first time today, this match doesn’t start with one competitor rushing the other. Still, it escalates very quickly to both men trading tube shots.To up the stakes, Colon slams a gusset plate into his own forehead, smashes a tube over his head, and challenges Shlak to do the same. Shalk obliges, but also eats the tube. The match progresses and Shlak gains control. Both men are quickly covered in blood, which Shlak makes worse by carving Colon’s forehead with an icepick. They then trade dives through the ropes. Momentum in the match has slowed as Shlak walks Colon around the ring while still maiming him with tubes. Business picks up fast though with Colon running at Shlak’s back and nailing him with jumping knees through a pane of glass. Shlak returns with his own chokebomb, then does an elbow from the top through a pane of glass placed over Colon. The pacing of this match is suffering a bit; it will pick up with big moves, then slow down with Shlak lumbering around and setting up weapons. After they both almost fall off the ropes, Colon hits a top rope Spanish Fly through a pane of glass, but Shlak kicks out. Colon hits running knees through tubes, Shlak kicks out at one. Colon hits a superkick to the head through tubes, but Shlak still gets up and punches through the next pile of tubes that Colon was going to use. Colon then hits a sloppy rollup/cradle combination, and that wins it. Colon is the last man to reach the semi-finals. The ring is left a warzone,with glass and blood everywhere. Both men are the bloodiest of any competitors so far.

This was very good with some flaws–the pace slowed at points, and Shlak can be plodding and clunky–but this was still the showcase match of the first round between the two most popular men in the tournament, and it did well in its role.

AR Fox def. KTB, Andrew Everett, Lucky 13, Myron Reed and Jordan Oliver

The scramble is a staple for all GCW shows. This one features the GCW debut of both AR Fox, who is unfortunately Skulk-less, and Andrew Everett. KTB immediately impresses with a moonsault armdrag onto Fox and Reed, who both turn their momentum into dual tope suicidas to the outside. The action stays fast paced, with each guy shining with his own big moves and dives. You know what you are getting with a scramble like this: guys will be lying outside the ring while a pair is in the ring, then they rotate out, sometimes with sloppy transitions and pacing. Still, this is the best case of that: cool moves, a fast pace, and everything looks crisp. Lucky hits a huge flipping dive from the ropes to the outside, but Fox follows up with a springboard Coast-To-Coast to Lucky. KTB is really impressive here; he’s lost a lot of weight, leading to increased agility mixed with his already impressive power. A spot where KTB had Lucky in a fireman’s carry position while powerbombing Reed ends awkwardly as KTB loses his balance and falls backwards, leading to groans while Everett and Oliver awkwardly wait on the ropes for them to correct themselves. Everett attempts a Shooting Star Press, but Oliver scouts it perfectly and counters with his own flying cutter onto Everett in midair, which I think looked good but was partially missed by the camera angle. Fox takes advantage, hitting a prone Oliver with a 450 splash for the win. 

This was the perfect GCW scramble for 95% of the match. Lots of fun moves and high action. Unfortunately, the botch at the end did hurt it a lot, but nevertheless a fun watch.

Tournament of Survival 5 Semi-Final Match
Rickey Shane Page def. Eric Ryan  

44OH squares off. There’s not much better than Gage yelling “YOU FUCKING PUSSY” at RSP as he walks to the ring. The match stip places into Ryan’s weapon of choice: he immediately dumps a box of forks all over the mat, and there is a very unsettling board lined with sticking up leaving in the corner. As promised, there’s no holding back between the two stablemates. Ryan tries to run at a prone, seated RSP in the corner but is met with a flying tube bundle right in the face. I can’t imagine how great it feels to take bumps on a canvas covered in forks. Ryan takes the fork board and places it face down over RSP in the corner and prepares to crash through it. Impressively, though, by the time the camera cuts to a running Ryan and comes back to the board, RSP has flipped the board around, causing Ryan to fly into the exposed, upright forks. That was a very cool spot. The tough part about this match is that it is heel-vs-heel between two partners in a stable that is universally hated. The crowd is booing both, although Ryan’s athleticism and brutality, plus the elevated hatred of RSP, leads to Ryan being the defacto babyface. After exchanging fork blows and elbow shots, RSP is able to hit another Chokebreaker–this time through a tube–and puts away Ryan. 44OH then bump fists and return to the back as boos rain down. 

Despite the awkward matchup, there were some cool spots in this match. It was solid, but a bit short though, which made it hard to really reach a higher level.

Tournament of Survival 5 Semi-Final Match
Alex Colon def. Atticus Cogar

Colon attacks Cogar immediately with tubes to start. Gage: “What’s this guy’s name?” “Atticus Cogar.” “How about Pussy? So, Pussy…” Gage really is incredible. Colon is clearly the veteran and is in the driver’s seat, but Cogar does flip it around and regain his own control at points. That said, it always comes back to Colon finding a way to stay in command. Meanwhile, Nick Gage is smoking weed on commentary. Colon delivers a huge backdrop to Cogar right on top of a barbed wire board. Eventually, Colon is on the ropes, and Cogar returns to what ultimately won him his first match: lighter fluid. In a move that will surely get his license revoked by the New Jersey Commission, the referee is forced by Cogar to light a pane of glass on fire. He’s not able to actually get it lit before just giving up as Colon delivers a Styles Clash from the ropes through the glass for the win. Colon moves to the final to take on RSP. The lack of working fire for the finish did hurt it a bit, but luckily the final move still looked nasty.

Another solid match. The semi-finals were a bit subdued compared to the first round, but they both continued the story of the day leading to the final. Cogar did a good job of keeping up with the much more experienced Colon.

Before the final starts, Eddie Only, the last member of 44OH, comes to the ring smoking a cigarette and lets the fans know that he doesn’t believe in coronavirus but says that the reason he hasn’t been there for the show is that he is so disgusted by the people of New Jersey that he couldn’t bear it. Then he challenges anyone from the back to come out and try to kick his ass. The call is answered by Chris Dickinson in street clothes and a fanny pack.

Chris Dickinson Def. Eddie Only

Only starts the match with the cigarette still in his mouth, and Dickenson still has the mic, taunting Only while simultaneously beating him down. Only won’t give up the cig, keeping it in even while being powerbombed. This is a complete decimation. Only finally loses the cigarette with a belly-to-back suplex, then gets a Pizzouzu Bomb through a table.

This was a fun squash that featured the guy getting squashed smoking a cigarette through most of the match. 

Tournament of Survival 5 Final
Alex Colon Def. Rickey Shane Page

Before the match, light tube towers and contraptions are brought to the side of the ring. Colon enters to the music of the late Danny Havoc, a nice tribute to one of Colon’s career-defining rivals who passed away a few months ago. Colon, last year’s winner, is the clear favorite here. His road to the final has featured a lot more punishment than RSP, who has barely shed any blood. RSP gains control early and works Colon with tubes. Colon threw a chair at RSP, but to the chagrin of the audience, RSP catches the chair and throws it through a pane of glass in the corner, ruining the idea of either man going through it. Then, he sets up another pane of glass in the same corner and gets thrown through it anyway, laying waste to his best-laid plans. Colon then begins destroying RSP with every light tube he can find, finally causing Page to bleed everywhere. In total, at least 30-40 tubes were smashed over RSP before he finally had enough. RSP’s face and arms are completely masked in blood. Colon grabs one of the tube contraptions–a wooden cylinder lined with tubes that looks like a fan–and smashes it over Page. He then goes for his trademark knees through tubes, but Gregory Iron, RSP’s second at ringside, grabs his legs and stops him. This backfires, though, as Iron gets on the apron to argue with Colon and gets greeted by an accidental tube bundle shot from RSP. Eddie Only returns with a new cigarette and gets his own tube to the skull. Ryan runs out, but Colon hits a tube suicide dive before Ryan even enters the ring. Now Cogar appears! 44OH will do anything to make sure its leader wins. Cogar too is met with a tube shot and leaves the ring. Colon is still able to withstand 44OH until RSP hits him with a chairshot and regains control. He takes too long, though, and Colon is able to hit another suicide dive, this time through one of the setup light tube apparatus set up outside the ring. Colon returns to what’s worked for him: bombarding Page with tubes. A tube tower has been set up in the ring, to which Colon promptly sends Page through with a top rope one-man Spanish Fly. The referee counts three. Colon is now back-to-back Tournament of Survival champion.

This was a great final that was a natural culmination of the tournament and played into the ongoing story of 44OH’s reign of terror over GCW. While they were able to succeed in beating Gage with similar tactics back in February, this time Colon powered through and overcame all obstacles to win.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I found this year’s Tournament of Survival to be a very enjoyable, easy to watch show. Sometimes deathmatch tournaments can be exhausting, but this one clocked in at about 3 hours (less if you skip intermission), with no egregiously bad matches and two great ones. Going into the show, I didn’t think that Colon had much of a shot to win since he did last year, but he really was the MVP of the day and became an even bigger star coming out of it. While Gage beating RSP at some point is the obvious endpoint to the Gage vs. RSP feud, I do think Colon also deserves his own title reign, as he’s been solidly the best wrestler day-in-day-out GCW has had over the past few years. Also, Nick Gage is the best commentator of all time. 

Best match: Eric Ryan vs. Shane Mercer