FEBRUARY 10, 2024

The Jersey J-Cup is an East Coast indie tradition that dates back to the early 2000’s in the original iteration of Jersey Championship Wrestling (which later morphed into the Game Changer Wrestling of today). Back then, tournament winners included the likes of Low-Ki, Super Dragon, and Reckless Youth. 

Since the JCW brand has been reestablished as a sub-promotion of Game Changer, this is the second edition of the modern Jersey J-Cup. Last year’s was won by Jordan Oliver, who enters this tournament as JCW champion and will defend the belt in each of his matches. 

This year, the Jersey J-Cup is promoted as a joint GCW and JCW venture. The result is the best of both worlds — some of the most exciting talents from Game Changer’s talent pool, coming together for JCW’s long-running, traditional tournament. 

This show could serve as a palette cleanse for folks who are turned away by some of GCW’s antics. I know some of you just scroll through these looking for star ratings, but I don’t really think this is the kind of show for that. As a compromise for you scrollers, I’ll stick a WATCH THIS MATCH at the end for the best matches on the show. 

Jersey J-Cup 2024 First Round Match
Nick Wayne def. Marcus Mathers (16:15)

Wayne comes into this tourney as the biggest TV star, if you couldn’t tell from that February tan. The two embraced in the center, but Wayne quickly turned on the heel antics and began the match with a cheap shot. Nick Wayne with a slow, big-league, heel control period! Who’d-a thunk?

Don’t worry, though. When it came time to trade high-flying bombs at 100 MPH, both of these two were razor sharp. After both arsenals were emptied, Wayne scored a Wayne’s World for the win. 

Now that he’s an AEW guy, who’s gonna be allowed to beat Nick? Is he gonna take the belt from Jordan Oliver, his long-time tag team partne — oh no I think I just spoiled the whole tournament.

Jersey J-Cup 2024 First Round Match
Matt Makowski def. Tony Deppen (13:28)

I love Deppen, but after watching Tony wrestle for all these years, it really takes a fresh and talented opponent to get me hooked. Makowski fits the bill — a hard-hitting, submission-savvy dude. I wish he’d more recognition whenever I see folks lamenting the state of indie talent (despite never watching them…weird!). 

Deppen was a yappy prick and Makowski battered him whenever given the opportunity. Tony’s grappling style is so much fun when he’s actually in there with a guy he can let loose with. He warded off Makowski’s striking assault as long as he could, before finally relenting to a gorgeous top rope slam transitioned into a cross armbreaker. 

This was a really strong showing and a good reminder never to take either of these guys for granted.  WATCH THIS MATCH

Jersey J-Cup 2024 First Round Match
Masha Slamovich def. Man Like DeReiss (14:07)

I wasn’t too familiar with Man Like Dereiss, but his entrance mostly covered that for me. British rapper. Got it! 

Not everything in this match worked. It felt a little long and dragged for some stretches. But it did one thing I liked a lot: it played up the size and strength disparity, something that intergender matches particularly seem to avoid. Masha needed clever tricks, momentum, and leverage to get the upper hand. 

Masha’s got one of the most well-rounded toolkits in the game, though, so that was no issue. Best of all, when it came time for her to get the win, she didn’t get some banana peel roll-up — she choked Dereiss unconscious. 

This was a well-structured match, and for me, a good intro to Dereiss. He was a lot of fun in the big bully role. 

Jersey J-Cup 2024 First Round Match
Joey Janela def. Kerry Morton (17:17)

This one was preceded by a pre-tape from Kerry Morton, worrying evidence that promos might not be hereditary. 

To this match’s credit, it was smart to position Morton as the outsider asshole against GCW and New Jersey darling Joey Janela. They also took a slower, more deliberate pace, which helped contrast it against stuff like Wayne and Mathers. 

That said, as this match reached past 15 minutes, I started getting the feeling that this show was going to be very long. Joey eventually no-sold a piledriver and did a full-blown South Jersey Hulk Up™️ for the win, which was endearing even if it didn’t totally land. 

Jersey J-Cup 2024 First Round Match
Alec Price def. Jonathan Gresham (9:40)

I say often (relative to how often I write for the site, at least) that Alec Price is the best never-signed dude on the indies. So yeah, I’m pulling for him here. But also, as a short dude who just came home from the gym, I have a soft spot for Gresham.

We got tastes of Gresh’s crowd-pleasing holds and Price’s signature speed before wrapping up in a brisk, exciting nine minutes. The only thing was the finish — Gresham collided with the ref, which was seemingly supposed to put the ref out of commission for a few minutes. However, I guess the ref had taken notes from some of the prior matches on the card and sprung right back to his feet. So, when Gresham turned around and punted Price in the balls, the ref was just kinda watching him do it. 

Price would reverse the nutshot small package into a pin of his own for the win. The INTENDED finish here was a good one. Hey, whatever, no matter, this match was a blast. WATCH THIS MATCH. Even if I liked it more than you, it’s one of the shortest on the show! 

Jersey J-Cup 2024 First Round Scramble
Myron Reed def. Charles Mason, Cole Radrick, Jack Cartwheel, Mr. Danger and Billie Starkz (8:47)

Hey, look. I’ve reviewed a bunch of GCW shows in the past. Every time, I’ve dreaded writing about the scramble. I appreciate the GCW scramble. As GCW was first transitioning away from being a deathmatch hotspot, I even really loved the scrambles! But what am I supposed to write about them? “They did a bunch of cool stuff?”

Here’s some stuff I liked: 

  • This was my intro to Mr. Danger, and he had a great springboard flippy dive to the outside. That’s pretty much how you get recognized in these matches, so great job. 
  • I didn’t see a bracket before this, so at first, I was kinda bummed that a bunch of names I had circled for the tourney — like Cartwheel, Reed, Radrick, and Starz — were just doing a scramble. But on the other hand, Cartwheel, Reed, and Radrick are pretty much who you want in a scramble, and Starkz probably isn’t allowed to get pinned. Okay, I forgive this. 
  • I didn’t know Parrow is Charles Mason’s muscle now. That’s cool. I’m into that.

I spent this match thinking, “It’s a shame that Myron Reed is just here to do scramble spots and has no chance of winning.” So, I was thrilled when he actually scored the pin at the end. 

As for the match? Well, they did a bunch of cool stuff. 

GCW Tag Team Title Match
Violence Is Forever (Dominic Garrini & Kevin Ku) © def. Astronauts (Takuya Nomura & Fuminori Abe) (13:41)

It’s kind of like what I was saying about Tony Deppen earlier. Violence is Forever has been a tag team for what feels like ages. Sometimes, it doesn’t seem like there’s much left for them to do. But really, the issue is how infrequently we get to see them paired with a team that matches their skillset. Dom Guarini and Kevin Ku are interested in hitting, and getting hit, very hard. Thankfully, that’s pretty much Astronauts’ entire line of business. 

If you’re familiar with Astronauts’ body of work, good news: you got a real good Astronauts match here. Takuya Nomura, the silent, modest killer of the team, has always been one of my favorite wrestlers to watch, but I had a (correct) feeling that American crowds would immediately take to the hyper-animated Fuminori Abe. 

While Abe finally locked Ku in an Octopus Stretch, Garrini was able to break free and snag Abe for ViF’s Chasing the Dragon finish. Great stuff. 

This is your match of the night, an obvious pairing that did exactly what you’d hope together. WATCH THIS MATCH, you dummy. 

JCW Title Jersey J-Cup 2024 First Round Match
Jordan Oliver (c) def. Griffin McCoy (21:03)

Oliver survives his first in-tournament defense of the title in a matchup of former Young, Dumb and Broke stablemates. This match was given the length and card placement fitting of a title match, but it had a lot of things working against it. This wasn’t a short show, and these two had to follow the highly-anticipated, super-good tag title match. 

Oliver and McCoy are killer athletes who did a lot of cool stuff and made it look good, but I’m not sure this one really connected with me or the live audience. In the past I’ve been frustrated with the pushes Oliver gets from Game Changer, but I’m really rooting for him to keep putting it all together — the East-West Express tag team with Nick Wayne is what really warmed me up to both of them, and I’m excited for what he can glean from an upcoming Japan tour with GLEAT

As a positive, I did dig the ending. After McCoy spent the entire match taking shortcuts, Oliver got fed up and beat him with a low-blow of his own. I always love a finish where the good guy gives it back. 

Jersey J-Cup 2024 First Round Match
The Great Sasuke def. Mike Bailey (27:43)

Nearly the entirety of the first half of this match was Sasuke taking offense from Bailey. Fortunately, Mike Bailey is a very fun guy to watch perform offense. Speedball was obviously very reverent of his opponent, and at times, it was even heartwarming to watch him slow down for Sasuke’s routines. After a while though, you began to wonder — when was the 53-year-old Sasuke gonna, y’know, do something? 

Well, shame on me for casting doubt. Sasuke turned on the jets towards the match’s crescendo. A scary Senton Atomico to the apron, a picture-perfect Blockbuster, that old Senton through a chair-that-used-to-have-a-guy-in-it — it was all here, and it totally woke up a clearly tired crowd. 

There were some great nearfalls down the stretch; you really had no idea who was going forward in this tournament. At around the half-hour mark, Sasuke was able to avoid Bailey’s Ultima Weapon and roll him up for a three-count. Or maybe something more like a fifteen-count. 

CONDITIONALLY WATCH THIS MATCH. Look, it’s a lot of fun, but it’s a half hour Great Sasuke match in 2024 that you already know the result of. 

Final Thoughts

Night one of the Jersey J-Cup gave us an excellent Astronauts appearance and mostly succeeded as a high-end showcase of indie talent. I had a good time. 

Night two will feature the rest of the tournament (see the second round matchups below), a Blake Christian Open Challenge for the GCW title, and Astronauts returning to face off against the pair of Mike Bailey and Jonathan Gresham.