The Collective
The Acid Cup 3: Day 1
Thursday, April 8
The Cuban Club
Ybor City, Florida

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

The Acid Cup, named in honor of late indie legend Trent Acid, first took place in 2016. That year, Joey Janela took home the victory. It was resurrected in 2020, to act as a closed-door fundraising stream for the wrestlers while the lockdowns prevented them from working. With Chris Dickinson’s victory that year, you could say it established a pattern where the Acid Cup winner is seen as a prominent face of the promotion. The field for this year’s edition is positively stacked, and the tournament has rightfully been one of this Wrestlemania weekend’s most hyped properties. One major component of GCW’s big tournaments has been their ability to bring in outside talent, something sorely missed in this past year’s Tournament of Death and Nick Gage Invitational. That’s remedied this year by an influx of top-notch lucha talent, highlighted with a meeting between Mexican independent mainstays Arez and Aramis that’s been circled by anyone paying attention as a can’t-miss match. Let’s get into it. 

Calvin Tankman def. Colby Corino

Tankman plays the big bully in this match, pulling back on some of his showier tendencies. And that’s awesome, not because it isn’t impressive to watch Tankman do a shooting star, but because Tankman’s so capable without that stuff. Corino looks great, not only in terms of sharp in-ring work, but the dude is positively shredded. Corino spent the bout trying to get Tankman off his feet, and finally succeeded in getting the behemoth up for a Samoan Drop late in the bout. Corino would succumb to a slew of bombs from Tankman shortly after, closed out by a mean Fire Thunder Driver. On a stacked card, this match likely wasn’t circled by many, but it was a great, succinct little number to kick the show off. More opening matches should look like this.


Laredo Kid def. Brayden Lee

These two never took off into that next gear, but it’s a thrill having Laredo in the tournament in the midst of the hottest stretch of his career, and Brayden Lee is a very capable and athletic counterpart. Lee was able to take control with a Spanish Fly, and follow with it a picturesque 450 splash. The exchanges escalated from there until Laredo swung the victory with his own top rope Laredo Fly. I imagine Laredo’s going to hit the gas pedal a little harder in later rounds, but credit to Brayden for keeping up in a solid showing. 

Dragon Bane def. KTB

I said in our preview podcast for this show I was particularly excited for this match because of what a good base KTB is. Hoo-boy, he did not disappoint. Dragon Bane was in very good hands with a KTB who could keep a much more frenetic pace than seen in the prior match, and take on any number of Poisonranas with deceptive grace. KTB (who really should be booked more this weekend) showed out with his own typically cool offense and even swung a Spanish Fly of his own before falling to a Shooting Star Press from Dragon Bane. Great stuff here; an early highlight of the weekend. ***¾

Jordan Oliver def. Edith Surreal 

Hey, look, I don’t know about this one. Edith was coming off a pretty strong match with Lee Moriarity less than two hours prior, and I don’t know what kind of trip she had to make to this venue, but she seemed to be struggling here. And Oliver? Well, look, Jordan Oliver does a lot of things I like. This recent run of longer grappling displays is not one of them. He’s solid enough to make it happen in the ring with someone like Tony Deppen, but I kid you not, at times this match looked like they were doing a walk-through for later. The heat and the schedule must have been tough, because these two have shown they’re capable of much more. 

Lee Moriarty def. JJ Garrett 

JJ Garrett was announced as a last-second replacement for Treehouse Lee, and while I’m a fan of Treehouse Lee for sure, Garrett/Moriarty is a very nice surprise of a match. Garrett’s impressed me whenever I catch him, but most of those instances featured him bullying a smaller opponent with a Steiner-esque offense appropriate of his signature mullet/singlet combination. Unfortunately, this one ended early when the heat and fatigue drove Garrett to start vomiting in the ring. That’s not a bit. 

For what it’s worth, the matchup was living up to the heights I’d quickly imagined for it before its abrupt end. Garrett was rolling with Lee’s trademark dynamic grapple-work, and beginning to open up with his array of suplexes. The first hint of danger might have been when he requested and took a drink of water midway through an exchange. Following the similarly strange ending to Hijo de Canis Lupis vs. Gino Medina during Jimmy Lloyd’s Degeneration-F a few hours earlier, I can’t help but wonder what the hell is going on out there. 

Arez def. Aramis

Look, you know the deal. Of course, this was going to be the one. From the moment this was announced, it was never in doubt. For all the talk about how many times these two have wrestled one another, in one-on-one singles action it’s really only been a small handful of matches. That makes it even more impressive to watch these two flow through beautifully fluid grappling exchanges for the first several minutes of the match. The crowd all got off their feet to acknowledge they were watching something special even before the two began to take flight, with the more frantic Aramis leaping into Arez and a section of vacated seats. Back in the ring they take things to the next gear, finding pin attempts, and in Aramis’ case, a Chaos Theory, seemingly from thin air. Arez drew “ooohs” from crowd and commentary alike, tangling Aramis’ arms in the ropes to open him up for attack. 

Then things got a little dicey; it seemed the sun was even beginning to wear on these two men, both seasoned in rough outdoor environments, and Arez appeared to tweak his knee. After taking a minute, they recovered well, with Aramis immediately stomping the injured limb. They traded a few knees in the face, as is tradition, before Aramis was able to find his twisting variation on the northern lights suplex for the win. Despite a harrowing stretch in the middle, this turned out to be a fine addition to the Arez/Aramis canon. Obviously, you should go out of your way to see this. ****

Cole Radrick def. Jimmy Lloyd & Ellis Taylor

This was originally supposed to be Radrick vs. Deppen, a big opportunity for Cole in a match I suspected he’d win. Unfortunately, Deppen had travel issues we got an impromptu three-way featuring Young, Dumb N’ Broke’s Ellis Taylor and the Different Boy Jimmy Lloyd.

I really gotta take my hat off to Radrick, who refused to sit back in light of losing his original high profile match, and turned in an inspired and manic performance under conditions that were literally making other wrestlers faint. At one point he gave Taylor a Gory-Style Facebuster onto the apron, then sprinted the perimeter of the ring just to be tossed into a row of chairs by Lloyd. Later, he flattened both men with a clothesline/bulldog combination, lifted Taylor immediately into an Air Raid Crash, and then turned around into a Death Valley Driver onto a chair from Lloyd. To their credit, Taylor accounted well for himself in a big spot and Lloyd is always a blast in multi man affairs, but this one belonged to Cole Radrick. 

AJ Gray def. Nate Webb

If I could describe this match in a word, it’d be “nice.” That might seem a little off for a twelve-ish minute exhibition of men slamming each other with chairs and tackling one another through doors, but I think it works here. It’s always nice to get a taste of Webb’s “Teenage Dirtbag” entrance on a weekend like this, and his nods to fellow veteran B-Boy (who he replaced here due to injury) were heartwarming. He and Gray played to their strengths, clobbering each other with elbows and chair shots before Webb could slip out of a Crucifix Bomb to spear Gray through a door in the corner. Of course, Gray’s a major player in Game Changer and was always destined for the second round. He put Webb away with a pair of hard lariats and a Fire Thunder Driver. It was never going to compete with the Arez/Aramis showstopper, or even Radrick’s mad dash. It was just nice. Oh hey, I forgot to keep track of Kevin Gill’s most scintGillating lines. Ah hell, here’s one before we wrap this up.  

“[AJ Gray] keeps rollin, rollin, rollin because that’s what AJ Gray does. When he’s not listening to Wakka Flakka Flame, he’s playing Limp Bizkit riffs on his new bass. True story.” 

Final Thoughts

On paper, this show was a stunner, but always seemed a little snakebitten. Still, after having to reckon with replacing four different competitors and the vengeful Tampa sun, this show still managed to be a really fun watch. KTB vs. Dragon Bane and Arez/Aramis are worth making time for this weekend.