Game Changer Wrestling
Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport X
April 4, 2024
The Auditorium at Penns Landing Caterers
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Watch: TrillerTV+

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girlies, from upper-class America to minimum-wage employees, it is time once again for BLOODSPORT WEEKEND! 🎉 🎉 🎉

This year, we celebrate the 10th incarnation of the Josh Barnett-sponsored Bloodsport. Look, I know my gimmick is to be hype for Bloodsport, but as with many this year, I’m feeling the malaise. Nevertheless, there are a few matchups that have potential this year, so let’s prepare accordingly. Give me a moment…

Much better! This year, the women’s one-night tournament comes to ~~Mania~~ Bloodsport Weekend, and the Queen of Spades makes her Bloodsport debut. This marks the first time a WWE-contracted performer steps foot into a GCW ring. In fact, NJPW, TNA, WWE, MLW, and AEW/ROH will all be represented on the same show!

Even though we’re coming at you in the written word, we will keep up our tradition of determining what would happen if Josh walked in the back and said, “Tonight’s a shoot, brothers” for each of these matchups. Now, let’s take a look at the card!

One Night Tournament
Janai Kai (0–2), Lady Frost (0–0), Marina Shafir (3–0), Lindsay Snow (2–1)

Judging by records, it seems like we have a pretty lopsided field, however you’ve got to take into account Lady Frost’s affiliation with AEW and the politics that enter there. Janai Kai is definitely there to eat a loss in the first round. What is interesting is that she is the replacement for Masha Slamovich who was removed for the Baszler match. I think it’s almost a certainty, then, that the booking has changed from its original plan. Marina Shafir is certainly going to the final, likely winning it. Our last entrant, Lindsay Snow, was the winner of the first women’s tournament held back during Covid at Bloodsport 3 beating Leyla Hirsch and Allysin Kay.

As far as I know, we don’t know the actual first round matchups will be, but my guess is Shafir beats Frost and Snow beats Kai, denying us the Frost vs Snow matchup that we’ve all been eagerly awaiting. (Joe Silva wouldn’t have been able to help himself.)

From there, Marina Shafir is going to beat Lindsay Snow in the final. Take it to the bank.

What if it was real, tho?: Real life judoka Marina Shafir dog walks everyone in this field. Janai Kai knows some kicks? Unless she’s secretly Holly Holm, it ain’t gonna be enough.

Fuminori Abe (0–0) vs Takuya Nomura (0–0)

The Astronauts explode! These 2 had an absolute banger last year, coming in 8th in the VOW MOTY poll.

“Wrestling is a fine balance of violence and technique. If you’re all about the violence, it can look sloppy and unrefined. If you put all your eggs in the technique basket, it can look unconvincing. When the balance is right… it’s beautiful. Or, as the kids say, THIS.” –Ian Hamilton

This has the possibility to be the match of the weekend and it’s one you’re not gonna miss. They’re gonna go out there and beat the tar out of each other and it’s going to be lovely. Don’t miss this one!

WIIWRT?: This is a tough one. From the little bit of digging that I did, I’ve only been able to uncover pro wrestling training for either. Cagematch lists Nomura as having kickboxing experience, but I couldn’t find any. We’re left in true uncertain waters, so this is where it gets fun. Size-wise, Nomura has 30 pounds on him. That’s significant. Especially when we’re dealing with 170 vs 200. That’s the equivalent of GSP vs pre-dad-bod Jon Jones. That’s a big deal! Add in that Nomura was trained by Hideki Suzuki vs Abe’s training by SAWA and I’m gonna have to say, all signs point to a Nomura victory.

Timothy Thatcher (2–2 JB, 0–1 MR) vs Axel Tischer (0–0)

If you’re reading this, you know who Timothy Thatcher is. You’re either a fan, or you’re not. I, personally, am not.

Axel Tischer makes his Bloodsport debut here. If the name sounds familiar, he is the former Alexander Wolfe. If you’re just now learning that he is not in WWE anymore, join the club!

Every so often, Thatcher sneaks a match past me that I end up liking. They tend to be his shorter affairs, which Bloodsport should be. So, let’s hope that’s what we get!

WIIWRT?: Despite their relatively similar size, the edge goes to the training, and for that, you gotta look at Thatcher. He probably grapples this dude until he gets tired and taps.

Matt Makowski (2–1) vs. AKIRA (0–0)

Matt Makowski returns to the Bloodsport ring for the first time since his 2021 victory over Heddi Karaoui. AKIRA, GCW regular, makes his debut. Don’t have a ton to say about this one. Good be good, could not be, hard to say.

WIIWRT?: Matt Makowski is a legitimate former MMA fighter for EliteXC and Bellator. Unless Matt Riddle’s walking through that door (put a pin in that), I like this guy’s chances against almost anyone.

Nic Nemeth (0–0) vs Mike Bailey (0–2)

Somehow, Mike Bailey has gone 0–2 at Bloodsport despite being one of the bigger stars outside the major companies. This falls into the grouping with Bailey’s match last year against Ibushi where I’d rather see it in a normal ring first. Thankfully, Nemeth has a little more in the tank here.

People forget, but Nic Nemeth is a decorated amateur wrestler, winning three championships at Kent State (go Golden Flashes). Combine that with decades of entertainment experience and I wonder if he’s actually perfect for Bloodsport. Combine that with Mike Bailey’s abilities and I think you got another potential great match here.

I assume Nemeth is winning. Poor Mike Bailey, jobber to the Bloodsport stars.

WIIWRT?: Nemeth is a wrestler, Bailey is not. That’s the whole of it.

Josh Barnett (5–1) vs Johnny Bloodsport (2–0)

I don’t want this. Who wanted this? It appears to be in the middle of the card, I’m hoping it stays that way to limit the time on it. The last thing this needs to be is long.

I do have a fringe theory, though. Do we see Matt Riddle make a return here to set up a battle for the soul of Bloodsport? Wouldn’t rule it out. Would much rather see it than this, though!

WIIWRT?: I mean, come on.

Minoru Suzuki (1–2 JB, 1–0 MR) vs. Royce Isaacs (2–4)

Here we go! This should be a fun one. Both these guys can work this style, they both have had good matches in it in the past, this has a pretty high floor. If you want dudes just going out and having a match, this is for you. It will absolutely get lost in the shuffle of the weekend, but if you’re sitting down to watch this whole show, you’re not gonna want to miss it.

WIIWRT?: The King may be a mixed martial artist and former King of Pancrase, but he is also 55. Royce Isaacs is 35. This is significant. It’s not like Suzuki isn’t showing his age these days. If Isaacs can keep away from giving Suzuki his back, I think he’s got a real shot there.

Erik Hammer (4–0) vs. Lou Nixon (0–0)

Erik Hammer is a friend of Josh Barnett’s that only works Bloodsport shows these days. He wins all his matches. This will be the same. Not sure it’s going to be any good, but it will be a match that will happen.

WIIWRT?: According to Lion Wrestling Promotions, Nixon, “boast(s) a legitimate fight record across MMA, Boxing, Muay Thai.” Erik Hammer is a long time catch wrestler, training with Barnett and others. This is actually way more appealing as a real fight! I don’t know much about Nixon’s past, but he’s much younger, so again, gotta go with the age here.

Shayna Baszler (0–0) vs. Masha Slamovich (1–2)

Surprised by that Masha record? I was. Particularly after seeing the first of those losses came against Allysin Kay. Coming off a win two years ago against Janai Kai, Masha welcomes Shayna Baszler back to the indies and to Bloodsport for the first time.

This is a big deal. In a world where pay-per-views like Forbidden Door and interpromotional dealings seem as common as ever, a WWE-contracted talent is appearing on an indie show on Wrestlemania Weekend.

I have always been fond of Baszler dating back to her MMA pioneering days. We share an oddly specific love of card magic, down to the same trick being the one that got us into it. See, she is called the Queen of Spades because of a card trick she does involving the black queens and red aces (I use the red queens and black aces as David Blaine does, personally).

I started learning card magic because of this trick. Hand me any deck of cards in the world and ask me to do a trick and this is probably going to be it. Here’s Shayna’s!

Shayna is absolutely perfect for Bloodsport and Masha is a good opponent for her. WWE vs TNA, only in GCW! Looking forward to this one, too!

WIIWRT?: The only way Masha wins is by learning some sort of other kind of magic.

The more I went down this show match by match, the more appealing it seemed. The malaise is lifting, Bloodsport is returning, nature is healing. Check it out, this Thursday night!

WrestleMania Weekend 2024 Coverage at Voices of Wrestling