Game Changer Wrestling
Nick Gage Invitational 5
November 7, 2020
The Sandlot At The Showboat
Atlantic City, New Jersey

Watch: FITE

GCW returned to The Sandlot in Atlantic City, New Jersey for the fifth annual Nick Gage Invitational, the first back in New Jersey since 2017. 

The same lot was home to GCW’s other yearly deathmatch tournament, Tournament of Survival. I always thought of the Nick Gage Invitational being a bit more violent and grungy than Tournament of Survival. Despite being only a few months apart, only two of the eight competitors—Alex Colon and Shane Mercer—were in both tournaments.

The show started with the namesake of the tournament, Nick Gage himself, coming out to the ring. Gage has been sidelined since July with an Achilles injury. Immediately, he called for getting “that pussy Trump out of the White House!” The crowd went crazy. Gage then honored the recently passed Tracy Smothers with a 10 bell salute before retreating to the commentary table, a positive as Gage’s commentary was the highlight of Tournament of Survival.

Nick Gage Invitational 5  First Round – Swingin For The Fences Deathmatch
Low Life Louie def. Mance Warner

Tubes, chairs, and wiffleball bats were placed in the middle of the ring to start. Louie, accompanied by his son, brought a flat-screen tv attached to a stick to the ring. Louie presented Mancer with a tall boy Bud Light, while he indulged in a 4 Loko. They each took some sips and then got to business. Warner got the first real offense in, smashing some tubes and thumbtack bats over Louie’s head. The tacks immediately stuck all over Louie’s head as he screamed in agony. After the action spilled outside, Mancer grabbed a water jug on a broomstick and shattered it over Louie’s head. The punishment continued as Mancer used a wiffle bat lined with cut soda cans to distribute more pain. Lou finally had enough, mounting a comeback that culminated in raking a barbed wire bat over Warner’s back.  Louie then brought some submission, mat-based wrestling into the equation, locking Warner’s legs, using a Zack Sabre Jr. esque bridge… then stabbing Warner in the head with a fork. Warner then got hold of the fork himself and stuck it right into the top of Louie’s head. Unfortunately, it fell out he smashed Louie’s own TV over his head. Louie was completely covered in blood by this point. Finally, Warner smashed two bundles and hit a running knee for a win. **3/4 

This match was an okay opener. Low Life Louie comes off as your stereotypical backyard type of deathmatch wrestler—sloppy but willing to butcher himself for a match. There wasn’t anything super crazy in this match, but lots of blood and a few cool spots.

Nick Gage Invitational 5 First Round – Bundles and Barbed Wire
Shane Mercer def. Lucky 13

Shane Mercer was the most impressive performer in this year’s Tournament of Survival. 

Normally known for his power rather than as a deathmatch guy, he was able to incorporate the two together to have the match of TOS against Eric Ryan. I’m really excited that he’s back in Nick Gage Invitational. Once again, he came to the ring swinging a MACE. Lucky immediately attacked Mercer’s legs with a tube bundle. He then tried to dive on Mercer outside the ring, but was caught immediately in a huge belly-to-belly suplex. After they returned to the ring, Lucky tried to jump off the ropes with a tube bundle. Mercer meant to smash the bundle with the mace, but unfortunately missed with the swing. He made up for it by suplexing Lucky onto the same bundle. Mercer set up a door lined with tubes, which he was eventually hurricanrana’d through.

Mercer stood on a chair and gave Lucky a tombstone right onto the chair. The chair bent immediately and the whole spot looked really cool. Mercer shot Lucky off the ropes, threw him in the air like Cesaro, caught him, and powerslamed him right into tubes. Another very cool spot. Mercer later hit a Moonsault and Battery, which is a moonsault while hold his opponent in his arms, and landing right on them, and immediately followed it by powerbomb Lucky over the ropes throw a barbed wire board on the outside. He rolled Lucky back into the ring for a 3 count, which Lucky appeared to kick out of far too late. ***½ 

Another good Shane Mercer deathmatch performance. There were one or two sloppy moments, but Mercer is without a doubt one of the most entertaining wrestlers on the GCW roster right now. Whether in his Iron Beast team with KTB or in deathmatches, he’s finally found his footing in GCW.

Nick Gage Invitational 5 First Round – Ladders And Light Tubes
Alex Colon def. Aeroboy

Colon is the current king of the GCW deathmatch division and is coming off of back-to-back Tournament of Survival wins. However, he’s never won Nick Gage Invitational. His opponent, Aeroboy, is a Mexican deathmatch luchador making his return to GCW. It’s great to see him back, as Mexican wrestlers like Aeroboy, Ciclope, Miedo Extremo and Violento Jack were instrumental in the rise of GCW’s deathmatch division a few years ago. Colon handed him a light tube and they were off. After a quick exchange, each grabbed another tube, then each bumped into their own tube to show they had zero fear. After diving on Aeroboy with a tube, Colon worked an open wound on Boy’s chest with a tight tube shard for a bit. A ladder was brought into the fray, which Aeroboy quickly slammed right into Colon’s face. Aeroboy did a cool job incorporating traditional lucha aerobatics and dives into a deathmatch setting. Colon’s answer was grounding him with more light tubes, some of which seemed to minimal damage because they were being smashed over a mask. Colon set up a door on the outside, but was too slow, allowing Aeroboy to hop up on the ropes and suplex Colon through the same door. Another door was set up, and Colon placed on top. Boy tried to do a flip from the ring through the door, but Colon rolled away. Aeroboy missed most of the table, catching just the corner right in the small of his back. It looked like it hurt. Another ladder was brought into the ring, which Colon again slammed onto Aeroboy’s head. It was quickly followed by a Code Red. Aeroboy scaled the later for a Swanton Bomb, but unfortunately didn’t position Colon correctly and completely missed when he landed. Colon hit a one-man Spanish Fly, but Aeroboy kicked out at one. Colon hit his patented sliding knees, but again another kickout. Finally, Colon climbed the ladder and did a double stomp from the top. He fully connected. It looked nasty. Colon picks up the win. ***¾ 

A good modern hybrid style deathmatch. They incorporated different styles together to create a match that was more than just smashing weapons on each other. A few sloppy moments kept it from climbing from good to great, but still, the best match so far.

Nick Gage Invitational 5 First Round – Panes of Glass
Masada def. AJ Gray

Masada made his first appearance in GCW since 2018. Panes of glass-lined the corners of the ring. After feeling each other out, Gray went to the top rope and tried to jump in a way that would bring down a pane of glass underneath his feet, right over Masada’s prone body. 

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work as planned. Gray landed awkwardly and Masada moved out of the way. Gray kicked Masada through the first pane. At some point, Masada cut his arm badly enough that the referee tried to tape it up mid-match, but the bandage came off very easily, leading to a ring crew member jumping into the ring to duct tape the wound. Masada arm dragged Gray through a pane of glass set up between two chairs. Masada put a pane of glass on the ground, piledrove Gray and put away Gray for good. **¼ 

This match never got going. It was slow, the crowd never came alive, there weren’t many big spots, and it was sloppy. It was brought down even more by awkward standing around trying to tape up Masada.

Blake Christian def. Jordan Oliver, Juicy Finau, Jimmy Lloyd, Cole Radrick and Levi Everett

Even though these scramble lineups are different every show, it’s hard not to feel like you’re seeing the same thing every time. 

They are a great way to cycle new guys onto a show, but when they are on every single show with a lot of the same guys over and over, it feels the same. The match started with Amish Levi Everett bringing his butter churner into the ring. Each wrestler took a turn churning the butter, until Juicy churned it too hard and Levi took the churner away. Juicy, the biggest competitor in the match, cleared the ring. Jimmy Lloyd returned with some weak chairshots to Juicy, which Radrick followed with a weak dropkick to a chair. As the match went on, it just seemed like this never clicked. Black Christian missed a big spinning kick and Jimmy Lloyd missed a swanton. Juicy went for a big dive, but unfortunately was stopped. Oliver hit a Clout Cutter on Juicy, but Christian was able to hit his own springboard cutter a few moments later. Lloyd came into the ring, Christian hit a handspring DDT and got the three. *1/2 

Sometimes I like these scrambles, but I did not like this one. Guys missed moves a lot, and while I try not to be a stickler for crispness in these types of matches, it was hard to ignore here. I don’t think anyone really looked particularly great, and just never got to the peak insanity level these types of scrambles need to really work.

After the match, G-Raver returned for the first time in a year. He suffered a major arm injury taking a brainbuster off of a ladder through light tubes. Raver talked about after his injury, his quality of life diminished: he couldn’t tie his shoes or do the smallest things. He mentioned how Danny Havoc was the only person to really reach out to him while he was hurt. After embracing Lloyd, he attacked him and blamed him for everything. Raver came to the ring with lighter fluid in his pocket, doused Lloyd and lit him on fire. 

Nick Gage Invitational 5 Semi-Final – Boards Of Fuckery
Mance Warner def. Alex Colon

Colon’s main plan of attack early was carving up Warner’s face with a knife, quickly covering Mancer’s face with blood. Colon dragged Warner around most of the ringside area, hitting him with beer cans and tube bundles. Upon returning to the ring, Colon stuck a gusset plate in Warner’s head and a kenzan into his own head and began a headbutt battle. The weapons both fell out, but the headbutts didn’t stop until Warner gained control with a Bionic Elbow. He threw Colon into three different weapon boards set up around the ring. Warner tried to knee Colon’s head into a bed of nail covered with tubes and barbed wire. It seemed like he barely connected, but it was enough to shockingly put Colon out. A bloodsoaked Warner moved on to the finals. **½ 

This match had some potential to get good, but ended awkwardly before it really picked up.

Semi-Final – Lighttube Deathmatch
Masada def. Shane Mercer

Light tubes of various forms filled the ring. Finally, Mercer was able to use his mace to smash a light tube across Masada’s stomach. Mercer then brought out a sort of barbed saw whip thing that just looked brutal and whipped Masada with it. He dug the mace deep into Masada’s forehead. Mercer picked Masada up in an electric chair, very impressive considering how big Masada is. Masada tried to get out of it, but Mercer hit a Croyt’s Wrath right through a door. Masada followed with his own DVD through a light tube door. Masada out his trademark wooden skewers and dug them deep into Mercer’s head. Finally, he landed a knee drop with a chair right onto the skewers for the victory. It’s Masada vs. Warner in the final. ***¼ 

This was decent. Mercer again was the highlight. Masada can be a bit plodding, but Mercer’s not only incorporates cool power spots into deathmatches, but he also pulls out new ones almost every match. I think he’s been the most consistent highlight in CZW this year.

Nick Gage Invitational 5 Final – Taipei Death Match
Mance Warner def. Masada

The canvas was pulled up for this match, the wooden planks of the ring fully exposed. Tubes were draped over all four sides of the ropes. Nick Gage glued glass onto each competitor’s fists. Gage being the one to distribute the glass was an extra cool touch that added to the energy of the match. Both men looked deadly serious and stoic, adding even more to the intensity. Warner again was dripping blood early. Masada made it worse by again using his skewers, even using them to pierce the inside of Warner’s mouth. Masada slammed Warner right onto a sheet of glass, the wooden boards below making the impact even worse. Mancer could barely stand, but Masada kept the punishment coming, slamming a barbed wire board over Warner repeatedly. 

Masada tried a side Russian leg sweep, but the glass pane shattered before Warner’s body was able to break it. Unfortunately, his arm was brutally sliced when he tried to elbow a tube right into Mance’s face. They obviously went home early right then, as Warner hit a DDT for the win and Masada immediately ran to the back. Warner was overcome with emotion and barely able to stand after the win. NR 

The match was good and was telling a great story of Warner overcoming severe punishment to come back, but unfortunately, it was awkwardly cut short.

Afterward, GCW champ RSP and 44OH ambushed the ring and started to pummel Warner with tubes. Gage, injury and all, ran out to the ring, but 44OH retreated. Cole Radrick tried to help but was quickly disposed. RSP saw an opportunity to defend his title against a less than 100% opponent and said that he’d put his belt on the line against Warner the next day at So Much Fun.

Final Thoughts

This was a somewhat disappointing Nick Gage Invitational. It wasn’t quite at the level of some of the previous versions. Running two completely different deathmatch tournaments per year in the same exact venue is hard, especially when talented is more limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The wrestlers worked hard, but overall it was hurt by a few lesser matches and an awkward ending to the final.