Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 2020
October 11, 2020
Marion County Fairgrounds
No ropes? No pinfalls? NO PROBLEM! It is another installment of Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport happening live at The Collective. This show has a mixture of talent I know quite well and a few entries I know only a tad bit about, so with that going in I really don’t have a high or low expectation bar. I enjoy this show’s concept, I am looking forward to Dickinson/Moxley quite a bit, we got a four women tournament, and I’m just excited to finally have this show going on once again. So, I’m going to sit back, relax, and hopefully enjoy the hell out of what I’m about to be viewing.
Just a brief summary for those not in the know. There are no ropes, there are no pinfalls. Victories are obtained by K.O or Submission. This presents itself in a shoot fight environment. I’m ready, let us do this!
The show starts with opening ceremonies and the introduction of all the competitors. The crowd is hot and amped during this, so I hope this continues throughout the night! This opening ceremony gives the show a good and different feel and I like it.
Simon Grimm def. Matt Makowski
We arrived at our opening contest! I thought this match was a good introduction to what you could expect in this show. A lot of mat wrestling, trading submissions, and of course there were some nice strikes. I’m not going to pretend this was the most exciting of contests, but as far as opening contests go I thought it served its purpose in what it was trying to achieve. It showcased the show’s style it was striving for, both men got some displays of offense in, and it made it clear a match end coming come quickly as Grimm puts Makowski away suddenly after a “half and half suplex”. This was particularly helpful as Makowski dominated, at least it felt to me, a good chunk of the match so a sudden match ending made it clear all it took was one mistake/one strike/one move to change the shape and face of everything. **3/4
Allysin Kay def. Killer Kelly
The first match in the four women tournament was up next. At first, I was getting slightly annoyed because there was quite a bit of stalling/hesitation. I felt like God in Monty Python declaring “GET ON WITH IT”. Once they got through that though this was a good contest. Enjoy the solid pacing throughout. Both women worked with each other very well and I enjoyed their ground and pound and I also enjoyed the extended leg lock segment Allysin put on Kelly with Kelly having to fight out of it. The final part of the match I really enjoyed with things picking up and both women finding themselves in potential victorious positions with Allysin finally catching Kelly in a submission hold as Kelly tried to survive some MMA elbow strikes. This was a very good start to the women’s tournament and I thought both Kelly and Kay showcased themselves well here. This was a much better outing for Kay than her first bloodsport, and Kelly’s performance was quality. Hot stuff and just like that this show has a worthwhile match! ***3/4
Lindsey Snow def. Leyla Hirsh
I admittedly don’t know much about Snow coming in, but I really enjoy Hirsch so I hoped they mesh well here. Unlike the previous match, there was no hesitation or circling, they went at it with the wrestling and getting some submission attempts on each other. This match was quick, which again puts over matches that can end at any time and at any length. They traded submissions, Hirsch got some strikes, Snow hit hard and then was able to lock on a leg lock and get the victory. Both women looked good in the short amount of time they had and I don’t mind short matches as long as I enjoy the work that happens during the period of time we are given. It also means Snow is going to have a bit more energy and rest when she goes to face Kay later in the night thanks to her quick work of Hirsch. Make no mistake though, this was short but the work was good and this was a fun outing for both of them. You will not regret making sure to watch this short but feisty bout between two competitors that were more than game to do their thing. ***
Calvin Tankman def. Alexander James
While I’ve appreciated the submissions and the grappling, I really hoped for some hard-hitting and slugging when I entered this match. The final minute of this match was the slugfest I wanted, and also the most interesting part of the match to me. Which was fine (With Tankman getting quite a bit of dominance) but not exactly what I was hoping for going in. I don’t feel like I got the greatest sense of what Alexander James could bring to the table, and I hope I get opportunities in the future to see more of what he’s capable of. The final minute with both men swinging to put each other away and Tankman putting James down. That was good stuff, I wanted more of that good stuff though. This ended up disappointing and that’s a bummer to me as I was really wanted to like it. **
Erik Hammer def. Cal Jak
They start throwing and Jak takes him down and it’s on from there. They waste no time grappling and clobbering away at each other and I am all here for it. . Hammer does some good strikes and attempts at getting submissions while Jak hits various takedowns all of which I enjoy quite a bit. I find myself liking this quite a bit at this point and then a kimura gets locked in by Hammer and we have ourselves another short match, but I quite enjoyed what we got out of it. Both men stayed engaged, got some good moments in, and the ending while sudden was worked for and made sense. It didn’t so much come out of nowhere. Rather Jak finds himself caught, realizes he couldn’t get out of the situation and tapping was the only escape he would know. It made sense. Another three-star effort but that’s not a negative. There are good three stars and a disappointing three stars. This is one of those good ones. ***
“Filthy” Tom Lawlor def. Homicide
They sprawl to start and I have surprisingly good hopes for this match. Homicide seems to have one weaker knee and I was curious if that would come into play. Also was interested to see how Homicide does in this format. This match didn’t take long to click and personality and added to the going on. This brought me in quickly and kept me. The answer to my question of how Homicide would do? QUITE WELL! They scrapped in a very entertaining fashion and went on to have a quality bout. At one point to get out of a leg lock Homicide just keeps stomping on Lawlor’s head and I love it. I absolutely loved it. This was quality. The knee did come into play as Lawlor hit a nice single leg crab that he sits down on hard after a nice closing stretch. I really enjoyed that. Different energy than the rest of the show so far. There was personality, there was electricity, both men came to work and fight, and it all came together to create something entertaining as hell. The most I’ve enjoyed Homicide in awhile. This is worth watching. ****
Davey Both Smith Jr. def. Josh Alexander
I had quite the bit of expectations going into this matchup. I also expected good grappling and mat work considering who the competitors were, and we definitely did start with that. Mat work can easily be boring, but when you have two people who know how to utilize and work it, it instead succeeds at being engaging. We got a sharpshooter at one point from Smith Jr. If matwork isn’t your thing though, first, why are you watching this? Second, forearms get thrown soon enough and just like that a Liger Bomb throws Alexander down and it is over and I’m a little upset. I really wanted more. I felt like I didn’t get a good chance at all to see what Alexander would bring and thought there was a legit good match up that could have happened between these two. I appreciate as I’ve stated before, the match can end at any time elements but all the same, sometimes a match just needs time to progress and advance into something good. This did not do that. For the sharpshooter, Ligerbomb, and what work I get being solid this lands at but I really wanted a lot out of this match, and it didn’t come close. **1/4
Lindsey Snow def. Allysin Kay
I got to do a gear comment and say Kay’s gear in blue is fantastic. This is the finals of the four-way tournament and there are possibilities to be had. Match started and stayed on the ground for a bit with both women wanting that submission. We end up with some strikes, Allysin Kay goes for the MMA elbows finish only for Snow to escape and get a kneebar submission and that puts an end to this match in another short affair where the ending comes just like that. I felt this match had a bit more potential and just like a few matches tonight it got cut off before it could even attempt to reach that potential. The four-way tournament was a good idea, and I really like Kay/Kelly quite a bit, it’s just a shame this couldn’t get a bit more of a showcase of what they could achieve. I don’t mind quick matches, I do mind quick matches that cut them off before they can reach the level I know they might reach. What we got was solid but I need more. Hopefully, in the future, I get more. **1/2
Jon Moxley def. Chris Dickinson
I really hope this delivers at the level I want it too. Dickinson seems fired up so that is a very good sign. Dickinson is one of my absolute favorites and Moxley has just been alive since leaving WWE and having the time of his career, so the elements are there! There’s a feeling of energy as this match started. Things started with both men grappling with each other and I cringe when Moxley manipulated things and sent Dickinson into the steel corner which was not something I was expecting to happen but it fits Moxley. It was a cool spot. Dickinson not long ends up on the outside courtesy of Moxley once again and I’m enjoying the pace of the match and what Moxley is bringing so far. There is just an energy and presence that this main event has that puts it a step above everything else.
There is a point where Dickinson hits a beautiful German Suplex that if it wasn’t Moxley I would’ve bought was ending the match right then and there. Both men are not afraid to throw shots and playoff how effective they are being on each other, and this match is definitely for me. Make no mistake Moxley might be the attraction but Dickinson is using this opportunity to bring it and bring it does. Dickinson got screwed more than many when Mania weekend got canceled, and it feels he’s doing everything he can here to make up for it. This is great stuff. Dickinson is shown doing everything he can to put Moxley away and I must admit, I did eventually sink into the possibility, just like Dickinson eventually sinks into Moxley’s sleeper attempt to end this affair and received some hard earn applause. Excellent bout. This was definitely worthy of being the main event of Bloodsport and Moxley’s arrival was well worth the wait. Watch this. ****1/4
First off the one-person commentary was awesome throughout the night. That should not go unremarked! Second, this show brisked by a breezy, comfortable, and welcomed two hours and fifteen minutes. Third, there were disappointments throughout the night, some matches I really needed to marinate more before they reached their conclusion. That being allowed, Kay/Kelly and Lawlor/Homicide were very good to great and the main event is excellent and definitely worth a checkout. All and all, I had fun watching tonight even with the disappointments and I look forward to future Bloodsport shows. I can’t promise this is an event for everyone, but it is something worth giving a chance and seeing what you think!