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

Watch: TrillerTV+

Bloodsport. Oh, how I have a complicated relationship with you. I love the concept, but not always the execution. I sometimes find it flawed, but you keep swinging for the fences, and at times, you hit home runs. And at times Bloodsport has been a homerun. Tonight, I say it was more of a double, but a good double, one where you go into second base standing and don’t have to slide to barely miss the tag.

Josh Barnett’s vision of how pro wrestling could be, or…should be? Bloodsport is always a fascinating watch. It’s always interesting to see if the card assembled will fire on (almost) all cylinders or die out the longer it goes. There are always some intriguing match-ups and a few eye sores as well, which this show was no different in that department. In the big blathering, boisterous, bloating, bamboozling boondoggle that is WrestleMania Weekend, Bloodsport is always an interesting watch for me as it presents its version of a style of wrestling I have always greatly enjoyed. There is barely any middle ground though. When it is done well, it succeeds and even exceeds at being an incredible display. When it fizzles, you can hear the very sound of the match dying as it trys to grasp for anything meaningful to make it interesting, memorable, and relevant. Some talent can come into Bloodsport, make it fit like a glove, and excel at the format, while others get lost in the sauce and are unable to keep their head above it all. Some matches are amazing, others are boring blundering affairs. I always find myself intrigued in how things will turn out, and my curiousity is once again brought out for Bloodsport X.

I always love the presentation of Bloodsport, and this is no different. The commentary is (mostly) serious and in tone with the vibe of the show. Their vocal contributions do a great job of getting over the various wrestlers’ styles, techniques, and strategies as they compete in the ring. They give the show a sense of urgency, seriousness, and discipline that is appreciated.

I always love when they bring out the competitors for introductions before the show, always makes for a great beginning to the show and sets the tone immediately. The show was well attended, and the crowd was game and ready for some “shoot style” (Well, a version of it) wrestling. When you have a crowd that is gamed and ready you hope the competitors will be as well.

And a good portion were.

I wouldn’t call this pure shoot style, but it’s a reasonable adaptation and interpretation. That said, the different vibe, the different presentation, the shorter matches, and, at times, out-of-nowhere endings all worked in this show big time. We had first-timers come in and find ways to fit well. People such as Nic Nemeth, Charlie Dempsey, and Shayna Baszler felt like they belonged, and this might have been the most interesting Nemeth has ever been to me in a long time. Baszler fit in immediately and I wouldn’t mind seeing her in more Bloodsport if the opportunities arose. Dempsey was the REAL GEM, though, and I’d love to see him in more non-NXT environments if given the chance. Some matches got time, some went excessively quick, and they “mostly” felt like competitions (With some showmanship and regular style pro-wrestling mixed in, of course).

The first half of this show was great and how I feel Bloodsport was best represented. Every match felt like it had a purpose, its placement was justified, and all match endings felt earned or at least made sense (even if they weren’t always the popular choices for the crowd). The crowd was into it, I was into it, and some of the best matches of the night happened in the first half.

The second half was a bit of slog at times, and some of the matches disappointed me more than I was hoping. They weren’t always actively bad but never as good as I hoped and expected. This brought the show down for me a bit. I felt a good chunk of the show’s first half had way better energy and motion.  The main event was Johnny Bloodsport and Josh Barnett. Bloodsport (Johnny) mostly sticks out like a sore thumb, but I’ll give him effort for trying. It was nowhere near one of my favorite main events in Bloodsport history. Great finish, though.

Recommended Matches

  • Charlie Dempsey vs. Matt Makowski
  • Fuminori Abe vs. Takuya Nomura
  • Shayna Baszler vs. Masha Slamovich

Final Thoughts

Bloodsport overall, I would give a slight thumbs up this year. It wasn’t perfect, the first half was the better half of the show was the better, and it’s not going to be everyone’s taste. I can’t STRESS this enough. Shorter match times, not nearly as much flash, and it’s mostly the same style of match throughout the show. The biggest difference would be there are matches with more strikes, and matches with more grappling (and of course quailty over all).That can burn some people out and cause them to zone away from such an affair. However, I personally enjoy this change of pace and feel in my wrestling. Would I want it every show? Absolutely not, but a few times a year I definitely enjoy it and vibe with it. Bloodsport X was a reasonably good edition of Bloodsport and, overall, a good wrestling show. I would recommend you watch the matches I highlighted in my review if you don’t want to watch the whole show and use that as your gauge for future interest in Bloodsport.

WrestleMania Weekend 2024 Coverage at Voices of Wrestling