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)

Day 1 of The Acid Cup 3 was a mixed bag for sure. On one hand, it fought an uphill battle from the start, having to replace multiple competitors and deal with weather conditions that literally had wrestlers puking in the ring. On the other, a seriously stacked group put on a mostly strong collection of matches, with stuff like Arez/Aramis and KTB/Dragon Bane likely to end up on a few lists at the end of the weekend. Day 2 shows a lot of promise; the surviving eight participants are a murderer’s row of talent. Fingers crossed Day 2 is free of the obstacles Day 1 had to navigate. 

Calvin Tankman def. Dragon Bane

In the review for yesterday’s show I called the opening match between Calvin Tankman and Colby Corino an ideal way to open a show. Well, Tankman is 2-for-2 in that regard, as he and Dragon Bane began Day 2 with fireworks and got out before wearing their welcome. I’ve really enjoyed Tankman’s approach to his matches this week. He got eyes on him with his surprising ability to get vertical, and now he’s keeping them there by truly playing the big man. A match between him and Dragon Bane is the type of “didn’t know I needed that” dream match The Acid Cup promised when the lineup was announced, and Tankman still exhibited his athleticism in flawlessly handling Dragon Bane’s headscissors-centric offense. He ate a beauty of a Destroyer for good measure. He’d finally stop Bane’s momentum with a spinebuster, then close things out with his Hidden Blade-esque elbow strike and a Fire Thunder Driver. 

Cole Radrick def. Arez 

I’ve been wondering who’d be lucky enough to draw Arez as a second-round opponent and good for Radrick, who deserved it after having his match with Deppen fall through on Day 1, then putting on a clinic in the impromptu three-way that happened in its stead. An earlier moonsault from the apron to the floor from Arez into a wide-open section of the crowd is the first I notice just how thin the crowd is, even in comparison to the prior day. The heat and scheduling probably hurt attendance, and it’s a shame when you’ve got guys like Arez and Laredo Kid (at least we still thought we did at this point) on the show. This Acid Cup just can’t catch a break. 

Radrick’s got a chip on his shoulder, and it was on display in the open hand slaps and grinning middle fingers Cole deployed in response to Arez’s taunts. Arez would flaunt his llaveo background, contorting Radrick on the mat and following with speedy aerial maneuvers, but Radrick kept on coming back. The finish lost some impact with the commentating team of Emil Jay and Kevin Gill seemingly unaware that both men were attempting their finishing maneuvers. In a very cool sequence, Arez attempted his twisting Northern Lights suplex, but it was blocked by Radrick into a double arm suplex, right into his own finishing Cracker Jack Bomb for the upset victory. It’s a bummer to not see Arez move forward, I had my fingers crossed for a match with Lee Moriarty, but Radrick has really stood out so far. 

Lee Moriarty def. AJ Gray

This is a high profile matchup, but with Moriarty destined for a deep run in the tournament, and with AJ Gray coming off a 2 AM bout with JTG at For The Culture and a total war with JD Drake for the S.U.P./Action joint show at noon, you can forgive these two for leaving some on the table. It was fun while it lasted. Moriarty struggled to overcome Gray’s power advantage. Moriarty would find brief windows with his signature sweeps and his running double-stomp, but Gray would keep cutting them off with high angle suplexes or clubbing blows to the body. Moriarty would manage to eek it out, reversing a Crucifix Bomb attempt for a Sunset Flip pin. 

Jordan Oliver def. Brayden Lee

Laredo Kid was originally supposed to be Oliver’s opponent, but he apparently couldn’t make it in time. This tournament is cursed. I get what these two were going for— Oliver seems destined to win this tournament, a self-professed Trent Acid fan who is one of Game Changer’s most pushed commodities, and Lee being awarded a showcase for stepping in on short notice. And the match was good! Meeting in the middle ground between Brayden’s high flying and Oliver’s recent grapple-heavy tendencies, the two bashed on each other with power offense and strikes. It’s a better look for the broader-framed, breakfast-eating version of Oliver. At times, Lee had Oliver in real trouble– enough trouble that commentator Kevin Gill began to express his concern: 

“I don’t think anything’s going to save Jordan Oliver but a very cold drink and a very hot blunt…allegedly.”

Having said all that, it seemed misguided to have these two in (at this point) the longest match on the show with such a sparse and quiet crowd, and following the deflating Laredo Kid news. Credit to both for working hard, and to Oliver for getting back on track after yesterday’s disappointing matchup against Edith Surreal, but this had too much working against it. 

Hijo de Canis Lupis def. Gabriel Skye

This seemed to be a make-good for Hijo de Canis Lupis after his bout (and only other big booking this weekend) at Jimmy Lloyd’s Degeneration-F was prematurely ended by Gino Medina’s heat exhaustion. I’m glad he got a second go, and with another rock-solid opponent in Gabriel Skye. The match was a fun lucha-centric jaunt, but the real highlight came when Canis Lupis wrapped things up with a tremendous combination: top rope Spanish Fly, then a brutal-looking Go To Sleep, then a  powerbomb, and one more knee right in the mush for good measure. 

Lee Moriarty def. Calvin Tankman

With Tankman’s run of performances this weekend (jesus, it’s only Friday afternoon) and Moriarty’s performances every time he steps into a god damned ring lately, I was really excited for this matchup. The “how will this dude beat a guy twice his size” dynamic is one of my favorites to watch when executed well, and these two aced it. Tankman continued his run of strong performances, bullying Lee around the ring and continuing to work Moriarty’s chest, continuing a thread from his prior match with AJ Gray. He’d land a gorgeous gutbuster and lariat combo, and later press him overhead to drop him chest-first on the post. The injury will likely play into the final, as Moriarty was eventually able to turn the tables. He’d outlast and wear down Tankman with kicks and an advantage on the mat. The finish was very cool, seeing Moriarty take a dominant position and closing out Tankman with strikes for a ref stoppage. No surprise with these names, but this was my favorite match on the show. ***¾ 

Jordan Oliver def. Cole Radrick

Brett Lauderdale jumped in on commentary to help layout this match’s impromptu side story: both these men had big-time opponents drop out, and rejected byes in the tournament for grueling matches. They came out the gate at 100 MPH, trading bombs from the opening bell. Sometimes I see Radrick come out in that singlet and get disappointed when he’s less suplex-machine and more that-kid-that-burns-ants-with-a-magnifying-glass. In this tournament, he’s landed comfortably somewhere in the middle, the underdog scrapper with a surprisingly deep toolset. Oliver got to continue to use his added bulk, the bigger and more powerful of the two. He would cut off a fiery Radrick comeback with another Acid-inspired Yakuza Kick for the win. I liked this a lot, my favorite Oliver performance in a while. ***½ 

Non Tournament Scramble Match
Ken Broadway def. Lucas Riley, Matt Vandagriff, Damian Drake, Facade & Marcus Mathers

As GCW Scrambles go, well, this was one of them. I wasn’t familiar with Lucas Riley going in and he looked really sharp out there. Facade leapt off the ropes as Facade does, and seemed particularly excited to be there. Ken Broadway, who initially was supposed to be in the tournament, got the win with a stalling German Suplex.

Acid Cup 3 Final
Lee Moriarty vs. Jordan Oliver

The pace early on indicated these two would be attempting a drawn-out war. It was a bold move considering the atmosphere— a thin crowd losing steam in the Florida heat— but early on the pieces were in place. Moriarty, even during his entrance, was selling an injured torso, and it would make for a useful component during the match. Oliver came in with confidence running high, and the running story of him finishing matches with Acid’s Yakuza Kick made for a great near-fall in this match. In the end, it was fine but didn’t reach the heights of either semi-final match. Oliver would finally exploit Moriarty’s ribs with the Boston Crab he’s been using outside of this tournament to finish opponents and claim the 3rd Acid Cup. 

Final Thoughts 

The Acid Cup 3 on paper was such an exciting prospect that had to overcome so many unexpected hurdles just to cross the finish line. The final result might not sit well with everybody when you look at the list of competitors but Oliver was able to prove in the middle rounds that, when he’s on, he at least deserves a seat at the table. This tournament might be maligned for not living up to the sky-high hopes some might have had for it, but if nothing else, in the face of stacked odds, The Acid Cup 3 was able to provide a number of quality matchups between some of the indies’ most exciting names. All things considered, how much more can you ask for?