In the episode Murder of the US version of The Office, Michael Scott tries to distract his branch employees from the financial trouble that plagued the company by having them participate in a murder/mystery. Thursday, March 12th, 2020 has become a meme about #CancelCulture brought to life in extreme and terrifying circumstances. Theme parks, sporting events, and businesses closing their doors to protect the masses at large. CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, local news reports, and social media covering every single cancellation anxiously. Brett Lauderdale, the owner of Game Changer Wrestling, came out and presented us with our own distraction from the harsh realities of a global pandemic.
Emil Jay opened the show in standard fashion, the crowd chanting “G-C-DUB” behind him. Independent favourites like Chris Dickinson, AJ Gray, KTB, Jimmy Lloyd, Blake Christian, Joey Janela, EFFY, Tony Deppen, and the other outlaws flood the bar and ring lead by their leader, Brett. He needed to address the crowd; wrestling fans were watching. With a look of sadness on his face, he ran down the list of promotions at risk of losing out on their spot at Wrestlemania Weekend. Companies such as Absolute Intense Wrestling, Black Label Pro, Freelance Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerilla, and even their rivals in the deathmatch wrestling scene, Combat Zone Wrestling, had been announcing their cancellations for the coming weeks. He noted that regardless of personal animosities, the wrestling community was a family. Chris Dickinson then came to the front of the crew and with mic in hand rallied the troops. His expletive-laden speech was from the heart and got the crowd to completely neglect a somber moment in our generation. They were our distraction for the night, they were our murder mystery.
Rickey Shane Page vs. Ruckus
The talent had left the ring and out came the deceptive GCW Heavyweight Champion Rickey Shane Page (R-S Pussy for fans of GCW) followed by his 44.OH Minions, Gregory Iron, Eddie Only, and Atticus Cogar. A heat magnet in this company, he did not disappoint the masochists amongst the crowd, by telling everyone to touch one another, cough on each other, and “thin out” the heard by dying. Out came Ruckus complete with bunt in his mouth. The crowd cheered for the deathmatch legend. Two heavyweight wrestlers set a pace that could have been seen in any match on 205 Live. Flips from Ruckus, enzuguris from RSP, and interference galore from the minions that surrounded the ring. This match maintained heat and ended with RSP coming out victorious.
Adrian Quest vs. Tony Deppen
Donning a Budweiser jacket Adrian Quest entered the ring to a nice set of fanfare by the GCW faithful. Starship blasted through the bar as GCW “gatekeeper” Tony Deppen slithered out to loud fanfare. He then berated California with relevant heat magnet COVID-19 and a hot start. This match went the standard way of most matches on the independents with a back and forth chain wrestling start. Just as fast as it began the match was over. During a Tope Con Hilo Dive Deppen missed the mark and landed on his head. The ref rang the bell, Deppen got in the ring, grabbed a mic, and voiced his frustration over the match ending early. A heartfelt “Thank you, Tony” from the crowd maintained the family dynamic Brett had set at the beginning of the show.
EFFY vs Matthew Justice
The man who sets to make wrestling gayer, EFFY battled Matthew Justice in a tongue in cheek hardcore match. Kevin Gill and the Bad Boy Joey Janela helped give this match the references it needed with his mentions of Exodus and Nervosa. This match had everything that you would expect from guys who have shown a penchant for sadism, masochism, and fan service. Chair shots to the head, complete with a “CTE” chant, chair shots to the posterior, stage dives, doors, and kissing made this match a fun little story of two brothers beating the hell out of each other. The ending of this match has to be seen to be believed but ends with Matthew Justice headbanging with chair as the victor of the match.
Six Way Scramble: Jimmy Lloyd vs. Steve Sanders vs. Saieve al Sadah vs. Pinky Sanchez vs. AJ Gray vs. KTB
GCW continues their tradition with a six man Scramblef**k match. These matches really help get notoriety for GCW by being so GIF worthy. Even the negative press by the old guard is fueled by only GIFs. Exhibitions of this menagerie are a “Different kind of Boy” Jimmy fn’ Lloyd, blunt smokin’ Steve Sanders, Saieve al Sadah, Pinky Sanchez ( who decided to come out to Disturbed’s Down with the Sickness), the unsanitary Tweeter AJ Gray, and KTB. These matches are often fun because it is an assembly of styles. The greatness of this match was Pinky Sanchez continuously sneezing on his opponents. Pinky’s Team Pazuzu teammate, Chris Dickinson cheering on commentary. AJ Gry managed to pull off a top rope Powerbomb that made me fear for the safety of Steve Sanders. This match ends with the rightful champion AJ Gray continuing to show why he deserves his rematch against RSP.
Young, Dumb, n’ Broke vs. 44.OH
Young, Dumb n’ Broke came out to a symphony of boos, followed by 44.OH that got an equal amount of boos. I have my own personal issues with Ohio, due my employment with an insurance company centralized in that state. There was no winning this crowd for this match. The crowd hated every person involved. I am not going to lie and say they were all bad, because I really enjoyed this match up until the no contest call interference by the King Nick Fn’ Gage.
Nick Gage vs. Ophidian
Nick Gage is an enigma. He is open about his love for classic wrestling, yet his matches are anything but a pure wrasslin’ spectacle. He is also transparent about his past. This helped feed one of the greatest feuds I have seen in recent memory that was spread throughout six months and culminated up to my favourite GCW pay-per view Run Rickey Run. It was a masterclass in long term storytelling. This interference segued into a match with Ophidian. A heel snake who decided to disrupt the King’s catchphrase. The crowd rallied behind the fearless (aside from cops) leader, chanting “M-D-K.” This match was a hard hitting, violent, brutal affair. Door fragments and chairs littered the ring by the end of the match with Nick Gage standing tall. This match was followed by an impassioned speech by Nick Gage telling everyone that he will bleed GCW until there is nothing left of him. Then a camera shot of a GCW turnbuckle let you know that this company is filled with people who love and are passionate about it’s survival.
Shlak vs Jeff King
The crew setup the ring for some deathmatch shenanigans. “Old Timer” Jeff King made his way to the ring accompanied by a silly symphony meant to accompany Chernabog. The odd thing about Jeff King is his choice of ring attire in a deathmatch. His scar laden body adorned in a black singlet contrasts the old school “street fight” casual shorts of his opponent, Shlak. Shlak as so lovingly described by his colleagues is a remnant of our cro magnon ancestors. Imposing and just as vicious as his demeanor. This match was a beautiful blood filled festival of f*ckery complete with barbed wire, gusset plates, chairs, doors, and complete with lumbar destroying finish by Shlak. Shlak continues the assault with a couple of Ric Flair jacket elbow drops to King’s prone body.
“The Bad Boy” Joey Janela vs. “All Heart” Blake Christian
The main event of the evening saw Joey Janela take on Blake Christian. This match epitomized GCW. Young guys going at it with chain wrestling, dives and flips, parodies of other known wrestlers, Protovision, and some hardware getting involved. This match felt like it was a scouting match for Joey to see who will face his huge import Will Ospreay at Spring Break IV-Ever. Christian continuing to throw shade towards the sex pig complete with a Hidden Blade and a call to Cheeky Nandos Kick variation. When those two meet, it will be an epic match as impressive as Ricochet versus Ospreay. Janela recently has been peeling away the stigma of being a deathmatch wrestler in All Elite Wrestling and it continues in this match. He kept up with a speed demon like Blake Christian and showed that he is more than just gimmicks. While this match started as a wrestling match, it eventually sent the crowd home happy by going further into the hardcore element of GCW. A consistent joke in GCW is that Joey steals the doors for the shows from relatives of his and other wrestlers. Those doors made an appearance as well as the use of the stage and chairs. At its core, this match was a wrestling match that happened to include hardware rather than the other way around. Blake came out with the victory and gained the respect of Janela and continued to build his stock with the GCW faithful.
This pay-per view started with Brett and his troops in the ring discussing the reality of the world outside of the bar doors and it ended the same way. A bittersweet ending to an exciting event, with a bleak reminder that COVID-19 is going to hurt more in the coming weeks, not just mortality wise, but monetarily. It goes from the talent down to the people who run concessions and check in guests at hotels. These people will lose out on a payday. There is always an incentive for the city to bring an event of Mania’s magnitude and it always goes to help the community it takes place in. This bittersweet moment was further expanded upon by Janela. He spoke of the transition from meme to panic that occurred within the past two days. While he stated that pending armageddon sucks, we can look to a hero that bleeds for the fans, professional wrestling, and GCW. The hero we needed was Nick Gage, who will save us from the apocalypse with light tubes and choke breakers. While we had our hero, the true murderer was here. We just needed to see our little murder/mystery game through to the end to maintain our sanity.