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Rated R Reviews: The WRLD on GCW 1.23.22

April 18, 2022 | Posted by Mike Campbell
The WRLD On GCW Nick Gage Image Credit: GCW
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Rated R Reviews: The WRLD on GCW 1.23.22  

This is my first foray reviewing here at the ‘Mania in almost four years, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. Between Kayfabe Commentaries ceasing production and my shoot life (™ Dirty Dutch) taking precedence, there didn’t seem to be a spot for another reviewer, especially one who could only contribute so sporadically. But Larry always told me that I can review whatever the hell I want (and that’s an exact quote from him). Ever since we lost Larry, I’d been toying with the idea of reviewing something here, if nothing else just as my own way of thanking him, but I didn’t really know what to review. Then, I started hearing about this Game Changer PPV, and people not named Jim Cornette using the phrase “outlaw mudshow” to describe it. And, if there’s one thing that Larrold always appreciated about me, it was my willingness to rip on shitty wrestling and to praise good wrestling to the moon. So, enough talk, let’s get to it!

This is pretty standard fare for this sort of match. It’s just an excuse to get so many people on the card, and also to throw in a few surprise entrants for the crowd, and the reactions to Lufisto and Thunder Rosa more than justify it. Someone will enter the match hit one or two familiar spots, and then fade into the background and work the usual battle royal segments (read: doing nothing but looking like they’re doing something) until the next person hits the ring. There are a few people here that I’d like to see work a regular match, but by and large it seems like there’s a good reason that the bulk of them are working in this match and not on the PPV proper. The finish was OK for seeing Mason’s cheating and shortcuts backfire on him, but Big Vin didn’t show substantially more than anyone else to make his winning seem all that special.

Pretty much the only thing that I was able to take away from this was the fact that I’d like to see more of Shane Mercer. He seems to be the only one of this bunch that has an idea of who he is as a worker. The other five are content to dive and see who can come up with the most contrived looking spots with the most unnecessary rotations (with Dante being the “winner”). Mercer has the sense to let it work for him and put his power on display by having them take the ridiculous bumps for his suplexes and slams. In that sense, it’s too bad that Mercer had to be the one to take the fall, although the finish comes off pretty well. Reefer brings in a chair and tries to use it to assist with a leaping DDT, but Mercer is too strong for that, and decides to take Reefer to the top and slam him into the chair. Reefer counters him into a Tornado DDT on the chair for the win, essentially beating Mercer because he decided to show off like the others instead of just doing what was working for him.

Holy Crow, this is downright embarrassing for a PPV opener. Not just the blown spots, but the ridiculous lack of structure and logic. They work the mandatory dive sequence where they dive onto the pile, but the pile has to consistently move to wherever the next guy is, from the floor at ringside for Oliver, to halfway down the aisle for Gray, and then back to ringside for PCO. And the “crazy” spots that they come up with don’t wind up meaning a damn thing. Watch Raver spend far too much time setting up Colon on two chairs with a ladder on top of him and then climb another ladder to do a senton onto the whole thing, only for Colon to get back up a minute later to throw Lloyd outside to the floor. Why couldn’t, say, almost anyone else involved in the match do that? The real kicker is that there’s a run-in from John Wayne Murdoch in order to take Colon out of the match. So, not only was Raver’s senton spot stupid, dangerous, and unnecessary, but it was also rendered completely meaningless. And we can’t forget all the blown spots, well actually there’s so many of them that one probably could. PCO’s tope would have been the worst (if only due to PCO’s experience) if Gray hadn’t totally upstaged him (or maybe ‘bailed him out’ would be a better description) with whatever the hell he was trying to do before he slipped off that ladder. And Gray can’t even be bothered to sell a legit bump and fall from a ladder appropriately, as he quickly gets back up and climbs the ladder to get the brass ring and win the match.

If this is GCW’s equivalent of Barely Legal, then this is the Kaientai match. It’s just a big spotfest, but there’s a touch of structure and it’s mostly smooth and well executed by all six. GCW should have gone all out with the Lucha theme and made it a two-out-of-three-falls match, so that some of the more impressive spots had some more meaning. There were at least three instances during the early heat segment on ASF where the rudos could have pinned him, and then used the break between falls to give him a chance to recover and let the technicos have their own chance to control things. The ramped up Canadian Destroyer was right there was a viable way to give Bandito’s team their own winning fall. That’s actually the only real egregious part of the whole match. AEW has already done more than enough to devalue the spot, and these guys decide to go above and beyond to make it seem worthless. There’s no way that Arez should even be seen again in the match, let alone working actual segments with Kid on the top rope, and if he’s perfectly fine after taking the Destroyer, why is a Spanish Fly expected to keep him down? We’re once again treated to a bit of a botched finish, although it’s not terrible. Gringo and ASF get crossed up on the top rope, with ASF landing on his feet, and Gringo taking a bump like he missed a flying body press, and Gringo quickly gets up and finishes ASF with a cradle piledriver. Gringo could have sold the bump longer, but he hadn’t taken any real punishment, and it’s not inconceivable that he’d be able to think on his feet and come up with something quickly to finish off ASF, even if it’s not the most spectacular looking finish. Hell, a foul to set up the piledriver finish would have been even better and perfectly suited the lucha theme.

If only this had ended about five minutes before it actually did, after Blake’s springboard 450 splash, it would have been perfectly watchable if a bit on the spotty side. Between his intensity and some of the smart touches he added, Blake was more than able to make this seem engaging the whole way through. The only really odd thing that he did was blowing off Lio’s tope, just to do one of his own. But even then, it seemed like Lio’s was done to show how gracefully he can fly, while Blake’s was almost Darby-esque complete with the follow through, so it’s not too out there to think that Lio’s didn’t really have much impact. Probably Blake’s best moment was when he seemed to be going along with Lio’s flashiness, and then outwrestles him into a submission hold, and makes sure to pull him away from the ropes before doing so.

After Blake’s near fall from the 450 this just goes off a cliff, with Lio popping up to do a reverse rana, with a ridiculous overdone bump and sell by Blake. Then they go to the apron for some more nonsense with teases of Lio doing a German and then a powerbomb to the floor. They somewhat get things right for the finish, with Blake giving Lio a Tombstone on the floor and rolling him in and going right back to the 450 for the pin. But Blake’s flashy dive to set up the Tombstone was another piece of unnecessary flash. There’s enough consistently good and/or smart work here to make this worth checking out, and Blake is certainly someone I’d like to see more of, but it’s too bad that this had to take such a nosedive before the end.

As far as wrestling goes, this isn’t anything special. But it’s not bad for heat mongering and being an overall spectacle, and it’s hard to really expect more than that, given that neither of them is going to exactly light the world on fire with their work. The work itself is spots, prop shots, and lots of time being taken to set up props for more spots, most of which involves propping up doors. There’s an angle with Chelsea seemingly switching allegiances to Janela, and then turning on him immediately. There’s a ton of various run ins and cameos, from Virgil(!), to Hornswoggle, to Marko Stunt, to Brian Myers, and we see Chelsea get her comeuppance in the form of a piledriver from Janela. With all this excitement going on, it become rather hard to notice that neither of the two participants is really doing a damn thing to further this match by wrestling. That being said, Cardona is a verifiable heat machine, and it’s great to see that he’s been able to reinvent himself since leaving WWE and having a cup of coffee in AEW.

I don’t know if this bit between Second Gear Crew and 44OH! is considered an official PPV match, but I didn’t hear a bell, so I’m going with no.

The less said about this, the better. The only semblance of story is Ruby and Allie both trying several times for their respective finishers, and having their attempts thwarted, and when Ruby does hit the kick and Allie does her piledriver, they’re still able to kick out. The early exchanges almost seem to be done in slow motion, with cooperation being all too evident, especially from Allie. Neither one could be bothered to sell anything for more than thirty seconds. Allie hits a big German suplex to Ruby, which she puts over nicely, and then Ruby counters her attempt at a kick, and does a big backdrop suplex of her own, before collapsing like she’s totally spent. It’s safe to say that if she can think to counter Allie, and then outwrestle her to do a big suplex, then the suplex she’d just taken wasn’t all that bad. The tease of Allie doing the piledriver off the second rope was one of their few nice moments, although they didn’t need to spend so much time setting it up, and Ruby escaping it and hitting her jumping kick made for a decent finish.

Somehow, despite only having a few actual wrestling spots in the entire match, this does a better job of telling a story than anything else on this card. Effy is too preoccupied with playing to the crowd and playing ‘mind games’ with Jarrett, and it constantly gets him into trouble when Jarrett just gets angry and starts wailing on him. But, even after an extended session of Jarrett whipping him with a belt (with some nasty looking welts being raised on Effy’s back), he doesn’t take the hint and try to actually beat Jarrett. Effy gets exactly one near fall from a facebuster, and Jeff selling that even as much as he did was kind, seeing as Effy had no other real offense. But, instead of taking the hint and trying to win the match, Effy would rather tear at his fishnets and soak up the cheers of the crowd, and it allows Jarrett the chance to hit him with the guitar and finish him off with the stroke. The biggest question I had coming out of this is if the lack of actual wrestling is a sign of Jarrett’s motivational state, or his physical state.

JON MOXLEY © vs. HOMICIDE (GCW World Heavyweight Title)
I’ve seen more than enough of both of these guys to know that they know how to work, but this isn’t the match that makes that fact abundantly clear. It’s not very long to begin with, and there’s far too much time spent on trading forearms and boots to the face, rather than telling a story and taking the match somewhere. It wasn’t like they had chances to do that, the commentators bring up Homicide’s history of shoulder issues, and Mox’s long layoff surely caused him some ring rust. But instead, we’re treated to them doing their best latter-day impressions of Kenta Kobashi, by taking bumps and then popping up and making them mean nothing. Mox’s German suplex was right there to try to single out Homicide’s shoulder, and possibly take away the lariat, but Homicide just pops up and dumps Mox with his own German, and then Mox gets to his feet showing ‘fighting spirit.’

Mox’s double-arm DDT (they don’t call it the paradigm shift, so I guess it’s an AEW exclusive term) is a bit out of nowhere but following up with the bulldog choke is a nice touch from Mox. But when Homicide gets the ropes, he decides to go to the floor and throw chairs into the ring, when it would have been smarter to drag Homicide away from the ropes and do another DDT, which probably would have resulted in a good near fall. After Mox wedges the chair into the corner, and his attempt to throw Homicide into the chair predictably backfires, it’s hard to care too much about what else they do. Despite a couple of attempts, Homicide never hits the Kudo driver, so, if nothing else, they manage to keep that somewhat protected. But they trade off bigger moves and near falls, until Mox hits another DDT through two chairs, and Homicide rolls into the ropes, and then has to roll back so that Mox can pin him. Homicide kicking his leg out, like he’s trying for a rope break would have made a nice touch, if he hadn’t just been in the ropes and moved himself away from them. This sort of match worked for Cardona/Janela because neither one is really a great in-ring worker, but I expected a hell of a lot more out of these two, especially in a world title match.

People were hoping for FTR to answer the Briscoes’ challenge, but the best tag team in the business aren’t about to lower themselves to working on this show. It’s not all that much different from the Mox/Homicide match, except that it goes six minutes shorter. Trade in the forearm exchanges for hitting each other over the head with the broken pieces of a door and it’s pretty much the same match. The only cool thing was Gage playing to the crowd with the pizza cutter and Jay chucking the chair into his face. The finish comes out of nowhere, which at least speaks to them understanding how to make a big spot mean something, Gage surprises Jay with a piledriver off the second rope, and then hits a chokeslam backbreaker for the pin. But even that’s reaching for positives.

The final score: review Average
The 411
This really is just like an ECW PPV. It’s a nice milestone for GCW and their fans to say they made it to the dance, but the work here definitely isn’t up to the level that should be expected of a PPV. The only exception is the trios match, and it’s no surprise that several of those guys have been other places already.

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The WRLD On GCW, Mike Campbell