The Collective
Planet Death
Saturday, April 10
3:00 p.m.
The Cuban Club
Ybor City, Florida

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Streaming: FITE
Streaming: GCW: The Collective 2021 Bundle (FITE)

NOTE: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, wrestlers may be removed from shows due to positive COVID-19 tests or exposure, so cards may be different than what is previewed below.

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point it seems we all agreed on Alex Colon as the clubhouse leader of American deathmatch wrestling. I know, Nick Gage is still around, but these days Gage’s matches are an entity all their own. Nick Gage is The King, sure. More specifically, the king of “this shit,” but I’m talking about something else. I’m talking about the fan who has to defend deathmatch from their fellow fans that knock it as something lesser, as a shortcut for less talented performers. At its best, deathmatch rules allow a wider palette with which to paint your picture. When wielded by a capable wrestler, it’s simply a different and diverse toolset— just one that might make you a little nauseous from time to time. In Japan there are plenty of names we often point toward for examples. Names like Masashi Takeda or Jun Kasai or more recently, Toru Sugiura. At home we hold up Alex Colon, and it’s a role he’s only slid into with more emphasis following Matt Tremont’s retirement and Nick Gage’s time on the shelf. Of course, that’s not to say Colon’s the only one out there turning in outstanding work under the deathmatch banner, and I imagine Colon himself is anxious to show you so. That’s why we should all be glad that Planet Death, an Alex Colon Produce show, is part of The Collective this year.

I should mention that sometimes the detractors are right, and sometimes deathmatch is just two dumb oafs hitting each other with stop signs. That’s also awesome though; the detractors are nerds. Let’s take a look at some of the matchups:

Shlak vs. Nolan Edward

Nolan’s been consistently eye-catching in his regular haunts like ACTION and S.U.P. as a standout performer in conventional wrestling matches, but he punched his ticket to Planet Death with his work as a regular in ICW’s No Holds Barred and Pit Fighter shows. You would be hearing plenty about Nolan this weekend even if he didn’t touch deathmatch— he’s got bouts lined up with the likes of J.D. Drake, Dan Maff and Daniel Garcia—  but we should be thankful he does. His bout with Alex Colon at GCW’s Take Kare last month was the best American independent match I’ve seen all year. In the immediate aftermath of that match, SHLAK entered the ring and laid down the challenge. I’m a little disappointed that Edward drew SHLAK; I’d hoped he’d land an opponent he could better show his strengths as a wrestler with. Still, SHLAK is more than capable of providing a good car crash, and will make a fine test of Edward’s “No Flinch” label.

Akira vs. AJ Gray

I love this matchup so much. The “Death Samurai” Akira landed on most folks’ radars after a match with Reed Bentley (where Akira leapt off an elevated porch to splash Bentley through a table) stole the show at ICW No Holds Barred Vol. 2. Since then, it’s been off to the races for Akira, running through high-profile deathmatch opponents at nearly every ICW show since. Akira’s an interesting case, borrowing from a  grab bag of shoot-style influences on top of appetite for gruesome bumps. He’s been known to finish matches with a Muta Lock, usually accompanied by some sort of blade held in his opponent’s mouth — a very cool and memorable hold. It’s not every day he gets to share the ring with an opponent as talented as AJ Gray. Gray’s only recently begun to dip his toes into deathmatches, but he’s taken to it swimmingly. He’s been a regular in No Ring Death outings for No Peace Underground, but he was particularly impressive in outings for GCW last year — a meeting with Colon himself at Homecoming Pt. 1 and a total massacre against MASADA in the fifth annual Nick Gage Invitational.

G-Raver & Brandon Kirk vs. Jimmy Lloyd & Jason Gory

G-Raver went down with an injury at the GCW/Black Label Pro 2019 joint affair 2 Cups Stuffed that put him out of action for over a year, and when he returned to Game Changer the first thing he did was set his sights on the man who inflicted the injury, the Different Boy Jimmy Lloyd. It’s a welcome instance of GCW implementing more feuds and angles into their shows, and so far it’s yielded quality results. At Take Kare these two put on a clinic in a No Ropes Barbed Wire opener that was so good, I wonder if it’s a mistake to try and top it. Really, if you’re into this sort of stuff, you should go out of your way for that one. It’s easy to forget how solid Raver is between light tube spots, and Lloyd is underrated when it comes to trading bombs. Brandon Kirk will partner with G-Raver. Kirk’s been good in his role as ICW’s one true heel character, his wife Casey acting as his mouthpiece who isn’t afraid to get involved. I’m not as familiar with Jason Gory, but hey, godspeed if he’s trying to get involved with this crew.

Eric Ryan vs. MASADA

After dominating GCW for the past year as the resident overarching heel faction, it seems all things run through 44OH!, and their influence continues to expand. Their involvement led to Eric Ryan being crowned the 2020 IWA-MS King of Deathmatch, and now they’ve got MASADA in their crosshairs after a showdown with leader Rickey Shane Page in No Peace Underground. MASADA of course, carries a nearly two-decade legacy as a staple in places like Big Japan and CZW (and just about everywhere else), but these days his appearances have become increasingly sparse. He’ll take on Ryan at Planet Death, and get his shot at 44OH!’s Atticus Cogar at rSpring Break 5.

Alex Colon vs. Lucky 13

For his own opponent, Colon’s chosen an old friend in Lucky 13. With all the possibilities for show-stealing classics out there, that pick might surprise you, but these two have been in and out of rings together for the past decade plus. And for what it’s worth, Lucky can still really go! He still moves and gets airborne with all the spring he possessed as a member of The Nation of Intoxication, or the New Jersey All-Stars, or…the staff at Walmart? Early in the pandemic last year, as lockdowns were spreading through the country, GCW streamed The Acid Cup 2 as a fundraiser for their talent, and I still think about the total show-stealer of a match Lucky put up against Shane Mercer. Most importantly though, this match, a “Double Glass Crush” match, is being presented as a tribute bout to their fallen friend Danny Havoc. It goes without saying that the two have something very special in store.

Elsewhere on the card, Matthew Justice will face off with the veteran Mad Man Pondo in what promises to be the “there goes my appetite” match of the day. Also, Orin Veidt, who’s been on fire lately, will compete in a three-way with midwest up-and-comers Damon Spriggle and Ricky Noren. The event will be hosted by Markus Crane.

Planet Death will air on at 3 PM on 4/10 as part of The Collective 2021 Bundle.