Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 6
Thursday, April 8
The Cuban Club
Ybor City, Florida
- WrestleMania Weekend Schedule: voicesofwrestling.com/wrestlemania-weekend-2021-full-schedule-map
- WrestleMania Weekend Coverage: voicesofwrestling.com/category/wrestlemania-weekend-2021
I have been waiting for Jon Moxley vs. Josh Barnett for a long time. Having been denied the match twice I hesitated as the clock ticked down. I kept imagining that at the last second it would once again be swiped away from my grasp. That once again some force of nature or circumstance and this match would in a blink of the eye be subject to change. Beyond those concerns was my worry that after all this time waiting, all this time hyping myself that Barnett vs. Moxley would not deliver, that it would not hit those notes of a violent symphony that I wanted to be played. In wrestling one of the worst things to experience is being so hyped, so prepared, so ready for a match only for it to deflate you and disappoint you instead. These worries were definitely there for this card as a whole at a whopping twelve matches. I was concerned that this card was overloaded for the sake of quantity and quality at times would be sacrificed for hit. While I believed and supported in the Bloodsport concept as I looked down the card, a mix of old and new, familiar and soon to be discovered, I had high hopes but the understanding that this card could under-deliver. Wirth twelve matches the misses could outweigh the hits. Worse was the possibility that the main event I had been anticipating for so long could fall flat on its face.
We’ll get to the main event . . .trust me I WANT to get to the main event badly. First, we must journey through the undercard. An undercard that started with an unfortunate whimper in Karen Tran and Janai Kai. Two performers who are no doubt skilled in their disciplines, but this did not translate to entertainment. I’m all for grappling, I love grappling. There was a lot of grappling but it was not interesting, it was not energetic. Worse of all it was boring and was the wrong way to open this show. I’m all for giving them another chance though. They clearly have the skills, but now they must be able to translate them in the ring and in this first outing they failed to do so.
The EXACT opposite of boring grappling would happen in the second match with Matt Makowski and Heddi Karaoui flat out rocking the ring with energetic and high-level grappling, transition, submission attempts. This was a beautiful display, the match that should’ve opened the show. I consider this the moment Bloodsport 6 truly began. This ruled, perhaps my second favorite match of the show. I knew nothing of Heddi Karaoui going in and the match ended with me chomping at the bit to get to know and see more of him. Makowski rules, and he was awesome in the Bloodsport format and will be welcomed back anytime. You need to watch this match. You will come off impressed.
From there we get a good pair of matches with Bad Dude Tito defeating Victor Benjamin who gets too fancy and pays for it by being forced to submit. Then after that Simon Grimm defeats Alexander James. Simon Grimm is a staple of these bloodsport events and always performs well, and Alexander James was a solid opponent choice for him. Then we get a rematch as Alex Coughlin goes up against the man who defeated him in Royce Issacs. There was energy and hate in this match and I’m all here for it. This match was great. A legit back story of Alex Coughlin getting a second chance and wanting to avenge his loss. There was a legit feel of a struggle, and Alex Coughlin is able to survive this time around and put Royce Issacs away with a submission. I would not be unhappy with a rubber match to establish who has dominance over who. A highlight of the evening and worthy of your viewing.
Then we get Superbeast vs. Shlak which ends us with one of the most memorable visuals of the night. Shlak is busted open and is gushing buckets of that red goo that sometimes equals green. He bites down on Superbeast’s foot while locked in a submission and refuses to let go for the DQ. Officials, other wrestlers all have to rush in to break them up and keep them apart. Before the DQ I was enjoying this sloppy but intriguing affair, that was only enhanced by this grotesque display. The match may not be “great” but you gotta watch just for the visual of a bloodied, and let me put it in all caps BLOODIED, Shlak biting down in desperation on the foot of Superbeast. I had predicted this match would put the BLOOD in Bloodsport and I was right on the fucking nose.
Allysin Kay vs. Masha Slamovich was fine for what it was, but it did not high another level for me which I found disappointing. What didn’t disappoint me was being introduced to YOYA who came out of nowhere and won me the fuck over in a high-energy performance, and a very fun match against Lio Rush. There were some elements of sports entertainment to be found for sure in this match thanks to Lio Rush, but it didn’t ruin shit for me. YOYA’s high-end abilities captivated me, his ability to move, his ability to counter and dodge was amazing and I want more. I’d love for Rush to tone down or lose certain elements, I hated the backflip spot out of the ring, if he was to return. All that said I do end up recommending this match to everyone as I think people will have fun and you’ll probably be less irked about some elements than I was.
From there we get a stretch of disappointment. KTB vs. Davey Boy Smith did absolutely nothing for me and was a sub-par outing for the two men. Chavo Guerrero Jr looked in great shape against Romero, and while decent did not hit the level of some of the matches previously in the undercard. The biggest disappointment to me was Mercer vs. Dickinson, a match I was so looking forward to. When Dickinson gets hit by a nice looking (and sounding) powerbomb only to roll out and say, fuck selling, and just transition into the next move I checked out. I love both guys, I really love both guys, but this was an off night and an off performance. There are some moments in this match that were great, but overall they aren’t enough to make me give a recommendation. The top of the undercard did not deliver for me which made me hesitant and concerned going into the main event and the match that I have been anticipating for over a year.
Why the fuck was I worried?
Why the bloody hell was I worried?
This is Jon Moxley we are talking about. Moxley conversing outside of AEW in the best way possible. I love AEW Moxley, but outside of AEW, I find I enjoy Moxley most. Barnett is the man in charge, this is his vision and he has had the previous best match in Bloodsport history with Suzuki. This match FELT big before it even started and I’ll get it out of the way, THIS MATCH SMACKED ME IN MY FACE. My tits were uncalm, I was leaning forward and sunk into the action, I was saying holy shit over and over again at the violent display that I enjoyed deeply. Both men busted each other open with strikes and they were bleeding to the point I’m sure a Red Cross volunteer was rocking back and forth in the corner crying. This was vicious, this was violent. This was a vibrant and visual display of brutality that if I gave it a second thought I’d potentially feel guilty for enjoying. Two men just brutalize each other in the name of a vision they both believe in and enhanced with this match.
This is the Moxley I fucking want, I fucking crave. The no-bullshit in your face Moxley. He just wants to fight you and make you bleed. He’s a down and dirty fighter, he’s not afraid to laugh at your no joint manipulations and biting rules and dare you to do something about it. You won’t because he’s Jon Moxley and he’ll destroy you. This was Moxley at his best, his realest and heaviest. He took it to Barnett, made him bleed, made him hurt, made him feel. Moxley was in that mindset where he’ll fuck you up, then without an ounce of guilt for what he’s done go home and has sex with Renee in celebration. THIS IS THE MOXLEY I AM ALL IN FOR. He fucking ruled in this match. When he dived out of the ring to nail a dazed and bleeding Barnett on the outside I leaped out of my seat and went fuck yeah at the proceedings.
Barnett is the Warbeast and lived up to his name. I was worried this match would end up bogged down with heavy-ended and heavy-handed grappling when all I wanted was a fight. I got my fight, Barnett brought the fight. He brought the attitude, the stubbornness, the refuse to die attitude as he got hit and hammered with strikes and shots. Then he started to deliver his own. He made Moxley taste his own blood, he made Moxley taste his blood. There was so much damn blood and I was lusting for it in a way that you feel sick about later but can’t deny the satisfaction it gave. Folks, this is so far my match of Mania weekend. I cringed, and cursed as Barnett stomped a bloodied, dazed, out of it Moxley over and over again as the referee was forced to call it in an ending I didn’t see coming but appreciated. I generally appreciate they did not bullshit us with a no contest, they gave us a victor and to my shock, Moxley took a clean, well bloodied, loss that leaves room for a rematch. A rematch I now desperately want and hope we get. I said this match needed a victor and they graced me with one.
As the match ended Moxley dazed and bloodied wants to keep fighting. Kept trying to stand, to stead, to be stable and failing to do so over and over again. It was a dramatic and chaotic thing to watch and I loved it, it enhanced everything we had seen previously. This match is an easy personal five stars for me. My favorite match of the weekend so far, my favorite match in Bloodsport history. It didn’t deliver for me, it bled all over me and FORCED me to feel it. It is violent as hell, bloody as hell, but above all else it kicked all ass near and far. I highly recommend this but expect to get potentially uncomfortable at it all. They don’t hold back, aren’t afraid to take their shots, and clearly don’t mind bleeding. The main event was Bloodsport at its absolute finest and in the end makes me give this show a thumbs up. My seal of approval that if I was morbid enough I’d stamp with all the blood they bled. Lord knows there was enough of it to do so.
The undercard was uneven with highs and lows. Matches that impressed and matches that deflate. In the end I’d say the highs topped and outnumbered the lows. In the future I would recommend against overloading the card and focus on tightening it up. eight or nine matches of this format I think works best. I appreciate the variety of styles and wrestlers we got, and in that type of setting you’re going to get your hits and misses. Look at what hit, listen to what missed and go from there. Give second chances where they are due, but do not be afraid to cut loose if they still don’t work out. Everyone worked hard, even those I ended up not enjoying, and I will not take that away. I appreciate and thank everyone who took part in this event even if I personally did not enjoy them.
In the end, though you want to watch this show for the main event. Moxley and Barnett had what is going to end up being the darndest fight of the weekend. This might be my favorite thing Moxley has ever done, and Barnett proves once more that when he puts himself in the main event spot he will deliver. We have an opening for a rematch, so lets do it again. Let them make music together once more as they weave a violence symphony that assaults our ears. It won’t be pretty and it won’t be proper, but it will leave a mark on you that’ll never go away. Moxley/Barnett is everything I’ve wanted from Bloodsport, it’s going to stay with me for a long time.