Game Changer Wrestling
Take Kare
March 6, 2021
Showboat Atlantic City
Atlantic City, New Jersey

Watch: FITE

After watching approximately two-thirds of GCW’s 24-hour “Fight Forever” marathon and walking away with what felt like concussion symptoms, I was happy to have a month off (barring the Bloodsport shows, but that’s a whole different deal) before returning to the promotion for Take Kare. It’s an interesting card for sure; it hits on a lot of things GCW is criticized for. The main event between Rickey Shane Page and Joey Janela featured a very compelling stipulation: Page’s GCW title against the rights to Joey’s Spring Break. While most of their cards consist of a series of slapdash matchups, much of “Take Kare” drew from prior established angles and those matches benefited a ton.

PART 1 – The Good

For instance, Jimmy Lloyd and G-Raver have been entangled in a blood feud since Raver’s return, the latter blaming Lloyd for the year he spent out of action with an injury. They jerked the curtain on Take Kare with a No Ropes Barbed Wire match that wasted little time before drawing blood. Where ordinarily a match like this would begin with a suspenseful dance to avoid the barbed wire, both men were practically wrapped in the stuff within the opening minutes. It never really stopped escalating from there. Hey, tell you what, why don’t you just look at the gifs. 

Before we continue, I implore you to re-watch that Death Valley Driver onto the floor. That’s a guy who just recently came back from a year on the shelf, and boy should we be glad he’s back. Even between these spots, the holiest shits indeed, he looked sharp and creative on offense. It was easily Lloyd’s best match since Takeda at Spring Break 3, if not the best of his career, and one of the more exciting deathmatches in recent memory. If that’s your thing, you should really watch this. 

Charles Mason made his first GCW appearance with a crowd, giving a paint-by-numbers heel promo about being rich and the crowd being fat and poor. Make no mistake about it, I love rich guys calling the crowd fat but there’s an art to it that I feel is often lost. I wasn’t convinced by Mason, which says a lot because it takes very little to convince me I’m a poor, fat lump of shit. That said, I appreciate the effort to draw some heat from the crowd because it set the table perfectly for an unscheduled appearance from primo babyface Mance Warner. When I review GCW I’m mostly in it for the shit Kevin Gill says, so I was pleased he returned to the table to lay it out better than I ever could:

“This match wasn’t on the run-sheet, but Charles Mason started running his dick suckers and now here comes Mance Warner.” 

Mason and Mance put on a crisp little match, and I walked away from it higher on Mason than I was while he was on the mic. It didn’t hurt that he was willing to be pelted in the head by a chair flung by Mance.

Brayden Lee impressed against Myron Reed during “Fight Forever”, and it’s hard to imagine a better base for his high flying than Calvin Tankman, but their match here fell off the rails a bit. Emil and Gill began to list fantasy matchups for Calvin Tankman in Big Japan, and I chose to daydream about those after Lee botched a Fosbury Flop to smithereens. Tankman eventually won on a sequence where both men just kinda fell off the top rope together. The good news is Tankman already had a very good match against 1 Called Manders in the main event of the Hybrid Wrestling show that preceded Take Kare. 

A few pre-taped segments would set the tone for what was to come next. In one, Atticus Cogar offered Effy a spot in 44OH, describing the apparent collapse of Effy’s Second Gear Crew. He mentioned Kingston being long gone and cited the others (AJ Gray, Mance Warner and Matthew Justice) never backing him in a GCW ring. Seeds were planted earlier, when Effy was seen eavesdropping in a pre-tape where RSP was hyping up the faction for the main event. 

Effy, initially insulted by Cogar’s offer, takes an especially heated approach to the match and he’s fantastic in it. While Effy’s comedic stylings are obviously very popular, it’s easy to forget how good he can be in a serious environment. To Cogar’s credit, he’s become one of the best American deathmatch guys of late, and this turned out to be a strong brawl with just enough deathmatch accoutrement. Cogar won with his headlock driver finish after stuffing Effy’s head with skewers. Afterward, 44OH entered the ring where Effy accepted their invitation to the group. The pieces were being set for the main event, and I can’t credit 44OH enough for injecting welcome plotlines to Game Changer. Before departing, Cogar dropped a challenge to MASADA for Spring Break. Neat. 

You probably want more Kevin Gill by now. Okay, here’s one: after backtracking on calling 44OH “nitwits,” Gill is sure to note, “They ARE shit-wits though, because they’re completely full of shit.”

I’m a latecomer to Nolan Edward, who cemented me as a fan with his performance against AJ Gray at S.U.P.’s tremendous offering at the Collective, “Swing of the Axe.” Game Changer’s done an excellent job establishing his opponent, Alex Colon, as a pillar of the promotion, partially filling the void left by Nick Gage. Commentary often touts him as the best deathmatch guy in the U.S., and they’re not wrong. That cache only compounds Colon’s efforts to make Edward into a fast star. On the apron, Edward sidesteps a Colon attack through the ropes and counters with a tremendous boot to the side of Colon’s head. He swiftly transitions to a swinging neckbreaker through a pane of glass, and follows that with a shotgun dropkick to a seated Colon on the floor. It’s a great sequence to get you hyped on the guy. 

It’s my favorite sort of deathmatch – a well-worked wrestling match that just happens to also feature unspeakable horrors. It flows wonderfully until Edward begins assembling a big, complicated contraption to put Colon through. But even that fits neatly into the match’s story – the rookie got a bit too cocky, and ends up on the receiving end of a top rope Spanish Fly into a mound of door and barbed wire. Colon seals the deal shortly after. Fantastic match — right up there with Lloyd and Raver — and you’re gonna want to start keeping tabs on Nolan Edward ASAP. 

If you want more background on Edward, I hope you, like me, are Licensed to Gill™: “Nolan Edward is part of the Dirty Orphan Gang, but he’s also a shoot orphan!” 

So we rolled into intermission with a real shitkicker on our hands. Two colossal matches, a number of coalescing hot angles and an even hotter crowd. A tough act for the second half to follow, to be sure. 

Part 2 – The Okay

And well, they tried, but the second half fell back into some old routines that the first had avoided and suffered for it. Tony Deppen and Ken Broadway looked like a can’t-lose matchup on paper, but the two didn’t seem to totally click. It didn’t help that the crowd seemed spent from the total sensory overload of the first half. Deppen strung together a neat nod to Bryan Danielson for the finish, hitting Danielson’s famous downward elbows before chaining into a Crossface variation of Cattle Mutilation that didn’t seem all-the-way locked in. Deppen seemed upset after the bell.  

I have a big soft spot for Jordan Oliver that took shape while I watched him talk ruthless shit to people ringside in Philly once. I think the added mass is a good look, and I can appreciate the effort to transition into a more mat-based attack (as highlighted in his two-hour bout with Tony Deppen at Fight Forever). Still, despite being in the midst of a wild push (including clean wins over Nick Gage and ACH), I think this bout with AJ Gray highlights holes in his game. The bout ran long and never quite connected. After, Oliver laid down the challenge for Spring Break to Lio Rush, which would have been more effective after a hotter match. Still, that’s a big spot, and I’ll be rooting for him. Anyway, if you haven’t gotten your Fill of Gill™ yet, here’s a doozy: 

“How great is it just to say Jordan Oliver’s name in the same sentence as Nick Bockwinkel, Rick Martel and Stan Hansen?” (Does it matter what the sentence was?) 

The undercard concluded with Allie Kat having her “Open Meow-ledge” answered by Levi Everett. It’s a shame her original opponent, Shlak, couldn’t perform. Her best role, for better or for worse, has been the scrappy underdog in unwinnable scenarios — ie. her bout with Mance Warner at last year’s “Run Rickey Run”. This was fun for what it was, but I think we were all itching for the main event. 

Part 3 – The King 

The best of the aforementioned pre-tapes was a promo Rickey Shane Page delivered into a single camera, eviscerating a Joey Janela that’s become a GCW folk hero. He referenced disappointing performances in AEW (with footage from Dynamite!) and mocked Janela for past ham-fisted weepy promos. It was ruthless and only ups the stakes for a match that, to GCW’s great credit, is very difficult to predict. Would they put the belt on Joey, a guy who’s gotta go back to AEW and lose regularly, rather than hold out for Gage? Would they be willing to compromise their signature Spring Break event, synonymous with Janela, for a Page victory? You know who could probably lay this all out much better than I could? It’s gotta be Kevin fuckin’ Gill, baby:   

“[Rickey Shane Page’s Spring Break] would be like, ‘Hey everybody, come one, come all, let’s eat a shit sandwich!’ No one would come to that.” 

If you’ve seen Joey’s GCW main events since returning from AEW, you know what to expect here. It was a long match, it made use of the entire venue, and built up to Janela jumping off something way high in the air. In terms of quality, it probably falls somewhere in the middle. Where Janela deserves a ton of credit though, is his effort in bumping around for RSP, making the champ’s stomps, lariats and slams look like death sentences. That’s been an important wrinkle in the year-plus Page title reign — while he often wins by dishonest means, he’s always portrayed as an adept ass whomper. 

The closing stretch is a total thrill ride. As had been the case for the rest of the show, its strength was in telling a story. Effy, newly adorned in 44OH gear, entered the ring, seemingly about to attack Janela. He ended up turning on the faction he’d only joined hours earlier, dispatching RSP’s goons to the backstage area. While that swerve might have been a little predictable, it cleverly drew down your guard for what would come next: Chris Dickinson, who’d just appeared at ringside to check on Janela, entered the ring to prevent his former partner in Slither from finishing off RSP. Dickinson followed by drilling Janela through the mat, securing a successful title defense for Page. His motivations were unclear, but a Dickinson heel turn may have been foreshadowed — look no further than his in-ring tantrum following the Juicy Finau match at “The World Part III”. 

And that wasn’t all. 

“For Whom The Bell Tolls” hit and at last Nick Gage, The King himself, made his return to a GCW ring. He’d out the members of 44OH one-by-one, and declare that he’ll be cashing in his title shot (earned back in July at “Homecoming”) at Spring Break. The limited and somewhat-distanced crowd goes wild. God damn. 

Final Thoughts

GCW Take Kare took some chances with mixed results, but the positives were tremendous. There’s plenty to nitpick but I think the takeaway is this: With Take Kare, GCW exhibited a growing ability to put compelling stories together, and even sprinkled in two absolute must-see matches.