POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: The Wrestling WRLD reacts to GCW

John Pollock looks at GCW's big card from the Hammerstein Ballroom, WWE Raw preview, historical Royal Rumbles on this date in history & more.

POST IT NOTES

**Rewind-A-Raw is live at 11:15 p.m. ET tonight for Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso members of the POST Wrestling Café. Wai Ting and I will review the final Raw before the Royal Rumble and go through the following week at POST while also taking your feedback and questions.

**The annual Royal Rumble Pool is now open, and you can make your picks from now until Saturday at 3 p.m. ET with the winners announced next Monday on Rewind-A-Raw. It is free to enter and only takes a few minutes to make your picks among several categories.

**Rewind-A-Wai returns on Tuesday evening with a special musical review. Wai Ting will reunite with Nate Milton and Kris Ealy of The N.W.A. Podcast to review WCW’s Christmas Brawl Theme Songs CD that was released in 1996. This show will be released on Tuesday night for POST Wrestling Café members.

**The British Wrestling Experience will be part of a special podcast event, BritWres Podcasting Isn’t Dead. The in-person event will feature live editions of The British Wrestling Experience, GRAPPL Spotlight, and Graps & Claps podcasts on Sunday, April 3rd at the Northern Monk Refectory in Leeds, England. Tickets are available starting today.

POST DAILY NEWS SHOW

-A review of The WLRD on GCW
-Indie Wrestling Hall of Fame
-WrestleMania Week announcements
-NJPW cancels events
-WWE Raw preview

Audio version for POST Wrestling Café members.

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-Raw with John Pollock & Wai Ting (11:15 p.m. ET for Double Double+)
Tuesday: upNXT with Braden Herrington & John Siino
Tuesday: Rewind-A-Wai #102 – WCW Christmas Brawl Theme Songs with Wai Ting, Nate Milton & Kris Ealy
Wednesday: Shot in the Dark with John Siino
Wednesday: Rewind-A-Dynamite (10:15 p.m.)
Thursday: Bushby & Thompson’s Wrestling Adventure w/ guest Jeremy Lambert of Fightful (WWE No Way Out 2003)
Friday: Rewind-A-SmackDown (11:15 p.m. for all Patrons)
Saturday: POST Puroresu with WH Park & Joey Bay
Saturday: WWE Royal Rumble POST Show with John & Wai (Live for Double Double+)
Sunday: Wrestlenomics Radio with Brandon Thurston & Chris Gullo

WRESTLING NEWS

All eyes were on Game Changer Wrestling this past weekend with their first event at the Hammerstein Ballroom and airing on both digital and traditional pay-per-view outlets.

It was a unique show that set out to accomplish many things to varying degrees of success while also running in a state that was going to force compromises of the true GCW experience.

In the state of New York, which regulates professional wrestling, it prohibits blading as outlined the state’s codes, rules, and regulations:

A promoter of professional wrestling shall not permit cutting, blading, or gigging, whereby one or more wrestlers intentionally cut their own skin or the skin of another during the exhibition.

While not its sole identity, deathmatches have become a major calling card for GCW with the proliferation of light tubes, weapons, and excessive amounts of blood as part of the GCW package. Other than some apparent unintentional bleeding by Matt Cardona and Jeff Jarrett, there was no blood, nor did I feel that was make-or-break but it’s a show being viewed under intense examination from both first-time viewers and long-time supporters.

It’s an interesting role GCW finds itself in where they are no longer a small independent nor a major national company. They have an undeniable buzz and have grown based on having the pulse of their fanbase and creating tremendous awareness without the benefit of television. They are masters at self-promotion through the production skills of Giancarlo Dittamo and utilize social media as strongly as any wrestling company.

Based on the specialness of the Hammerstein Ballroom, a video announcement that should win an award of some kind, and the ethos of the underdogs taking the next step in their evolution, the show was an instant sell-out with over 2,000 fans in attendance – setting a new pro wrestling record in the building due to their seat configuration.

Obviously, a lot of resources went into this show and the decision to get clearance on traditional pay-per-view comes with the ability to expand your reach while also adhering to the time constraints. This led to a hard “out” at 11 p.m. ET and a very rushed main event that didn’t even reach six minutes.

The main event was the match most affected by the timing issues although the real main event was Nick Gage’s entrance. The venue exploded with those inside noting there were tears being shed by fans when he came out as the mystery partner in his first appearance since October.

While nostalgia is always going to have a feel-good element to it, and the intentions were the right ones, I thought there was too much ECW influence on this show and fans bought this show for a company with its own vision and a forward view. When ECW got on pay-per-view in April 1997, it was presented with that company’s ideology of its brand and presenting an alternative even though Paul Heyman could have used that show as a love letter to his fandom growing up as a follower of the WWWF in the Northeast.

There are times to look back, and times to look forward and GCW tried to balance both. I felt both could have been achieved by limiting all the ECW aspects of the show to be a part of Matt Cardona’s presentation and utilizing Stephen D’Angelis in that role as his personal announcer as he comes out to “Enter Sandman”. It’s a way to acknowledge the history while also keeping GCW front-and-center.

In terms of actual wrestling, the consensus match-of-the-show was a stellar Trios match where Arez, Demonic Flamita & Gringo Loco defeated Bandido, Laredo Kid & ASF in a 14-minute masterpiece with some of the most spectacular spots of the year that were nearly flawless. The finish was off but didn’t detract from an incredible display by the six wrestlers and will be the in-ring legacy of this event.

On the other hand, there was also some bad wrestling, which comes with the territory in GCW. The Grab the Brass Ring Ladder match had several frightening moments including G-Raver being determined to hit a senton off a wobbly ladder that could have been much worse. AJ Gray fell off a ladder and landed on another one that had to have been excruciating to absorb. The match was not pretty, and it seemed the ideas were too ambitious, and luck and timing were not on their side.

Some were critical of some of the key talents with the company all losing with Effy, Joey Janela, and Allie Katch. Each situation is different, but I get the complaint when all are listed together. Effy and Jeff Jarrett felt like the start of a longer program and I really liked Jarrett in the “original outlaw” role and looked to be in great shape. With Janela, it’s clearly building towards a tag match with Sean Waltman, presumably against Matt Cardona and Brian Myers. Allie Katch’s match with Ruby Soho felt like more of a one-off and perhaps that is one where you needed a “hometown win” for the GCW fans that late in the show when compounded with the other finishes including Jon Moxley and Homicide where the challenger was the sentimental favorite to that audience and lost.

It seemed everything was designed to climax with the return of Gage and winning the tag titles with Matt Tremont but the match was nothing given the time allotment but the entrance and post-match speech from Gage were very strong and will be the lasting memory above the length of the match or lack of violence one would anticipate for a Gage match.

The opinions will be all over the map but no one can make a definitive conclusion until it’s known how the pay-per-view performed and more importantly if the audience grows for future events. Promotion of upcoming events was something they could have done a better job with by informing new fans of what is coming up next and either shooting some angles or announcing a big match for Spring Break.

Running in New York gave them a lot of attention and prestige but also came with trade-offs for the genuine GCW experience and this is a company, more than most, has sold itself on the experience where the sum is greater than its individual parts.

Additional feedback from fans can be viewed below.

WRESTLING NEWS

**WWE Raw takes place from Toledo, Ohio at the Huntington Center with the final episode of Raw before the Royal Rumble. The show is promoted around several non-wrestling segments including:
*Alpha Academy vs. RK-Bro in an Academic Challenge
*The Miz throws a birthday celebration for Maryse
*The weigh-in between Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley

For the local market in Toledo, they are promoting Big E. & RK-Bro vs. Bobby Lashley, Kevin Owens & Seth Rollins as well as Becky Lynch vs. Liv Morgan vs. Bianca Belair.

The Royal Rumble has strong momentum going into Saturday’s event with over 31,000 tickets out for the event, per WrestleTix. Beyond the annual Rumble matches, this year they have done an effective job promoting Lesnar and Lashley as a dream match featuring an excellent video package and has been the best-promoted match on the show.

**Lenny Leonard spoke to Busted Open Radio on Monday and discussed the time being cut in the main event while adding the Jon Moxley and Homicide was likely close to what they had mapped out. (Transcribed by Jeremy Lambert at Fightful):

I think they were probably right about where they were supposed to be. I didn’t have it timed out while I was watching it, but I don’t think they got rushed too much. I think it was the last match more than anything. We even were cutting out…all those video packages they played, they originally had me pitching to all of those packages where I had verge I had written out that I would throw to set the stage. We had to cut that out. There was going to be a minute segment with us talking about the (Indie) Hall of Fame and some video behind it. We had to cut that out. We tried to shave as much as we could where we could when we were on the fly. I think it was the tag match that felt the brunt, unfortunately.

**Here are the matches scheduled for AEW Dark: Elevation tonight at 7 p.m. ET on the AEW YouTube channel:
*Ricky Starks & Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Matt Sydal & Lee Moriarty
*Scorpio Sky & Ethan Page vs. Mike Fowler & Logan Laroux
*Private Party vs. Action Andretti & Myles Hawkins
*Red Velvet vs. Janai Kai
*Brandi Rhodes vs. Willow Nightingale
*Thunder Rosa & Ruby Soho vs. Jordan Blade & Leva Bates
*Santana & Ortiz vs. Goldy & Breaux Keller
*Leyla Hirsch vs. Brittany Blake

**The newest episode of The Broken Skull Sessions will be added to the WWE Network on Friday with Steve Austin speaking with Becky Lynch.

**Anthony Ogogo appeared on Sunday’s PROGRESS Wrestling show at the Electric Ballroom. The interesting aspect is whether his match appears on the episode, which is scheduled to be added to the WWE Network this Saturday.

**PROGRESS has announced that Shane Strickland has been added to the Chapter 129 card on Sunday, February 20th in London.

**Former WWE performer Eva Marie is set to star in a film with Randy Couture, Oleg Prudius (the former Vladimir Kozlov in WWE), and Rashad Evans. Deadline reports that she will be filming Phoenix and wrote the following description of the film:

Phoenix centers on Fiona “Phoenix” Grant (Marie), a U.S. Army veteran Sergeant who is teaching hand-to-hand combat skills in Afghanistan when she receives word that her father, Everett Grant (Couture), a prominent security specialist, has been killed in Florida. The police report says it was suicide, but Fiona doesn’t believe it. Encouraged to take a leave of absence by her commanding officer (McDonough), she heads back to the U.S. and soon learns that the prime suspect is Maxim Vasiliiev (Prudius), a ruthless local drug kingpin with an army of mercenaries and enough legal, political and business influence to keep him outside the law.  Armed to the teeth, she plans to take out Vasiliiev with her bare hands, and nothing is going to stop her.

**Biff Busick, formerly Oney Lorcan in NXT, will return to the independent scene for Beyond Wrestling on Friday, February 4th in Providence, Rhode Island. The event is being billed as “Day 91” for Busick’s return and he will be wrestling Slade. The card will also feature Matt Cardona vs. Rickey Shane Page, LuFisto vs. Masha Slamovich, Alex Shelley vs. Matt Makowski, and Brian Milona vs. Max the Impaler.

**Being the Elite Ep. 291: “Ironic”.

ON THIS DATE

The first televised (but not the very first) Royal Rumble took place in 1988 from Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario. The move was done as a measure to counter Jim Crockett Promotion’s Bunkhouse Stampede pay-per-view that day on Long Island, New York with a free special on the USA Network. As the story goes, Pat Patterson had pitched the Rumble concept to Vince McMahon with the suspected influences coming from the annual January battle royal at the Cow Palace and his time in Hawaii. McMahon let him try it at a house show in St. Louis and it didn’t go over well. When they were looking for a hook for a television special, Patterson pitched the idea again with Dick Ebersol consulted and they went with it. The WWF was the winner that day drawing 15,000 to the venue and drawing an 8.2 rating while JCP didn’t draw well in the Northeast with only 6,000 attending the show, per the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

Yokozuna (Rodney Anoa’i) won the Royal Rumble in 1993 at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, California. This was the first year that the Rumble officially listed the stipulation that the winner would receive the title match at WrestleMania. Business was down and they went with a strong heel presence in Yokozuna for the duration of 1993 as Anoa’i would hold the championship from June 1993 until the following March.

Vince McMahon won the Royal Rumble in 1999 at the former Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California by eliminating Steve Austin last. This was certainly one of the weaker Rumble matches that was completely built around McMahon and Austin, who started the match but were removed for the duration before returning for the end. This was also the show with the infamous “I Quit Match” between The Rock and Mankind that was the subject of much scrutiny for the unprotected chair shots to the head of Foley and amplified when the match was documented in “Beyond the Mat”.

AJ Styles makes his WWE debut in 2016 in Orlando, Florida at the Amway Arena. Styles became one of the few wrestlers to wrestle at the Jan. 4 Tokyo Dome show and WrestleMania within the same year:

*****
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About John Pollock 3872 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.